TV column for Monday, April 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Voice” (NBC) or “Dancing With the Stars” (ABC), 8-10:01
p.m.

Last week was busy
for “Voice,” trimming from 20 singers to 12. Now tonight's show
stuffs a dozen performances into two busy hours; then viewers vote,
with the top 10 announced Tuesday.

Meanwhile, “Dancing”
is down to eight stars (well, semi-stars), after dropping Michael Sam
last week. Willow Shields, the 14-year-old “Hunger Games”
co-star, led the judges' scores with 39 out of 40; at the bottom were
Chris Soules (“The Bachelor”) and Suzanne Somers, with 27 and 28.

TONIGHT's MIGHT-SEE:
“Gotham,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Jada Pinkett Smith
has gripped fame in many ways -- as a producer (“Hawthorne,”
“Latifah,” “Annie”), wife (Will), mom (Jaden, Willow) and
actress. Now this role offers some of her best moments.

She's Fish Mooney,
held in an evil asylum and hatching a brilliant and perverse escape
plan. That storyline is excellent; others – involving Oswald
Cobblepot and introducing Milo Ventimiglia as The Ogre – are so-so,
laced with brutality that's despicable for an 8 p.m. show based on a
comic book.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Bates Motel,” 9 p.m., A&E.

Last week saw Norma
Bates – brilliantly played by Vera Farmiga – hit extremes. She
managed to blackmail powerful people, with the sheriff's help ...
then learned that her older son was secretly housing her brother (his
dad) who had raped her.

Tonight starts with
Norma in mega-meltdown. Someone is stalking the sheriff ... and her
son is sliding closer to being the Norman we know from “Psycho.”
It's a strong hour, ending powerfully.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Driver,” any time, www.acorn.tv.

Classic “crime
noir” tales often told of an ordinary guy being tugged into the
quicksand o lawbreaking. Here's a variation of that, fuelled by the
understated perfection of David Morrissey.

He's Vince, a
British cabbie whose fine-looking life – bright wife, home, two
kids – is crumbling. Then a driving job brings easy money and iffy
impact. Stick with the mini-series, which this streaming service
releases over three Mondays. This first chapter is fairly good; the
third (April 27) is superb.

Other choices
include:

“2 Broke Girls,”
8 p.m., CBS. Max likes a hot-looking co-worker at The High
Restaurant. Alas, the owner (Sandra Bernhard) has a no-hookup
policyfor employees.

“Sleeping Beauty”
(1959), 8 p.m., Disney. Here's a cartoon classic, for families to
watch together.

“Mike &
Molly,” 8:30,. CBS. Margo Martindale, an Emmy-winner from
“Justified,” guests as the estranged sister of Mike's acerbic
mom.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. Walter is jolted when he learns Cabe's secret about a
past mission.

“Turn,” 9 and 10
p.m., AMC. Abe, a spy for George Washington, is determined to
infiltrate the pro-British forces in New York City.

“Independent
Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Alongside the usual
frustrations of youth, this film says, many teens lack a steady home.
In Chicago, we see them in emergency shelters or group housing or a
teacher's basement. The film is often moving and sometimes
heartbreaking..

“Castle,” 10:01
p.m., ABC. When a 1980s star is killed, Castle gets help from people
who played action heroes long ago. Ted McGinley is a guest star.

TV column for Sunday, April 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“A.D.,” 9 p.m., NBC.

“Why won't this
business end?” one leader groans. “Why couldn't this Jesus stay
dead?”

Don't expect that.
Last week's opener ended with the rolling away of the stone in front
of the tomb; this week ends with the resurrection. Richly film and
acted, “A.D.” deftly mxes familiar biblical moments and
speculation of what officials were saying and doing. The Romans
provides the intensity and action that modern viewers seem to need.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“MTV Movie Awards,” 8 p.m. ET, MTV, rerunning at 10 and
midnight.

If nothing else, MTV
makes sure its award shows are fun. In two busy hours, it will have
music (Fall Out Boy and the cast of “Pitch Perfect 2”), comedy
(Amy Schumer hosts) and starpower.

There are special
awards for Kevin Hart, Shailene Woodley and Robert Downey Jr. Other
awards range from silly (“best shirtless performance”) to
serious. Up for best movie are “Gone Girl,” “Boyhood,”
“American Sniper,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Fault
in Our Stars.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: '“Game of Thrones” season-opener, 9 p.m., HBO.

This is HBO's big
night, including two comedy season-openers, one good (“Silicon
Valley” at 10 p.m.) and one great (“Veep” at 10:30). And
preceding that is “Thrones,” epic in scope and in look.

Tywin Lannister has
been slain. Now one of his offspring (tiny Tyrion) is on the run,
drinking and grumbling; another (Cersei) schemes to retain her power.
Also, Daenerys finds that keeping power is tougher when she doesn't
have her dragons for dependable back-up.

Other choices
include:

“Nurse Jackie,”
3 p.m. , Showtime. This deep drama – once a comedy, now often
dipping into tragedy – is ready for its final season. First, the
previous season reruns; then the season-opener – Jackie's in jail
and in detox – is at 9 p.m., rerunning at 9:30, 11 and 11:30.

“Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. The Author is running loose in Storybrooke.
Emma must find him before Gold does.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9 and 9:30, Fox. Constantly evolving, this show has had
Phil (Will Forte) as a frequent and inept liar. Tonight – in a
funny-strange episode – he learns his lesson.

“The Good Wife,”
9 p.m., CBS. Alicia battles a recount effort in her election.

“Battle Creek,”
10 p.m., CBS. It turns out that Russ – the rumpled and honest cop –
has a convicted counterfeiter (Candice Bergen) for a mom. In a
terrific episode, she helps him with a case and offers some
much-needed meddling in his love life.

“American
Odyssey,” 10 p.m., NBC. Last week ended with crises everywhere. An
American soldier (Anna Friel) is the lone survivor of an attack that
seems to be from her own people. Now – disguised as a man and
holding a flash drive that has proof of corporate corruption –
she's on the lam. It's a fairly good hour, despite an absurdly
contrived moment at a protest.

“Wolf Hall,” 10
p.m., PBS (check local listings). Cardinal Wolsey has been sent to
York, but Cromwell tries to salvage things with a hesitent King Henry
VIII. It's a subtle and involving hour.

“Lizzie Borden
Chronicles,” 10 p.m., Lifetime. This overcrowded timeslot didn't
really need any more dramas. Still, “Chronicles” had a smart
opener last week, with Lizzie cleverly disposing of the two problem
men in her life. Here's a strong follow-up, with a smart Pinkerton
detective closing in.

TV column for Saturday, April 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Movies, all day, cable.

Today is like a
master class in filmmaking, with work from the best directors. That
includes Francis Coppola's gems back-to-back – twice. “The
Godfather” (1972) and “Godfather, Part II” (1974) air at 9 a.m.
and 1 p.m. on AMC, then repeat at 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.

Both won
best-picture Oscars. So did Martin Scorsese's “The Departed”
(2006), which airs at 5:45 and 9 p.m. on IFC, and Danny Boyle's
“Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), at 9 p.m. on Sundance.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“In an Instant,” 9-11 p.m., ABC.

On Saturdays that
are clogged with reruns, “Instant” has provided well-crafted
stories that mix re-creations and the memories of survivors. We've
met people who lived through a plane crash, a bridge collapse, a
hostage crisis and near-death experiences in a corn silo and a
storage shelter.

Now there's one
final show, this time focusing on a Florida policeman and a
shoot-out.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Outlander,” 9 p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10:05 and
11:10.

There are mixed
blessings for a nurse who accidentally travels from the restrained
world of 1945 England to the macho world of 1743 Scotland. This hour
starts with the plus side, a beautifully sensual (and R-rated) scene
with her new husband; it ends with the minus side.

In between, her
knowledge of history gives her a key edge in negotiations. Her
knowledge of medicine is little help for her friend Geillis, who's
headstrong, lustful and self-destructive.

Other choices
include:

Racing, 7 p.m. ET,
Fox, and boxing, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. College basketball has finished
and pro baseball has barely started, but other sports fill in. Fox
catches NASCAR at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. NBC (which
switches to hockey next week) has Danny Garcia fight Lamont Peterson.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Granger (Miguel Ferrer)
poisoned, apparently an inside job. Hetty promptly orders a
lockdown.

More movies, cable.
“The Help” (2011), a skillful blend of comedy and dead-serious
racial drama, airs at 8 p.m. on TNT; it was nominated for best
picture and won for Octavia Spencer in support. Also, there are two
fairly good comedies -- “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (2008) at 8
p.m. on Bravo and “Bridesmaids” (2011) at 8:30 on USA.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. This reruns the Halloween-week episode that saw a boy
disappear during the holiday ... then reappear a year later, when
another boy went missing.

Roast, 9-11 p.m.,
Comedy Central. Kevin Hart is the night's star. He hosts the Justin
Bieber roast, has a new special at 11 p.m. and has reruns surrounding
this at 7 p.m. and from midnight to 2 a.m.

“Aloha Vet”
season-finale, 9 p.m., NatGeo Wild. Amid the beauty of Hawaii, Dr.
Scott Sims has varied duties. One goat (the luckier one) gets its
horns trimmed; another is castrated. Also, there's flea work for
Milo, a tiny dog who happens to be a good surfer and looks great in
sunglasses.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. This has been a great year for Taraji
Henson, whose “Empire” soared in the ratings. Now she hosts
“SNL,” with music from Mumford & Sons.

TV column for Friday, April 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Live at Lincoln Center,” 9 p.m., PBS.

One of the great
voices from Broadway and beyond gets the spotlight. Norm Lewis, 41,
is a Florida native and a powerhouse baritone who keeps breaking
barriers.

He's done 11
Broadway shows, including being the first black man in the title role
of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Others roles have ranged from
traditional (“Porgy and Bess”) to being Billy Flynn in Chicago,
Javert in “Les Miserables” and King Triton in “The Little
Mermaid. This concert goes from opera to pop (“What's Going On”),
from gospel to Porgy's “I Got Plenty Of Nothing.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Cristela,” 8:31 p.m., ABC.

After an iffy start,
this show – likable characters, so-so scripts – has been making a
final push for renewal. The season's last two new episodes (today and
next week) could reshape it ... if it returns.

After a decade in
college and law school, Cristela prepares for her bar exams, with her
fellow interns. Then her sister loses her job; their mom wants
Cristela to ditch the exams and work a hair salon.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “12 Monkeys” season-finale, 9 p.m., Syfy.

Smartly adapted from
a 1995 movie, this has been a good series ... that could have been a
great mini-series. Instead, the story keeps being stretched and
twisted.

In 2043, the world
remained devastated by a 2015 plague. Jones, a time-travel scientist,
keeps sending the tough Cole back to try to change things. He's
already killed the evil Goines, met Goines' troubled daughter and
fallen in love with a beautiful doctor ... but nothing has changed.
Now he's back in the 1980's, confronting Goines anew, while Jones
faces a new threat.

Other choices
include:

“Animal House”
(1978), 6 and 8:30 p.m., IFC. This wonderfully anarchic comedy leads
a big cable movie night. Eddie Murphy's terrific “Beverly Hills
Cop” (1984) is 7:30 p.m. on VH1; at 8, Pop has Robin Williams
“Birdcage” (1996), National Geographic has the solidly crafted
“Killing Jesus” (2015).

“Date Night”
(2010), 8-10 p.m., Fox. Here's one more movie, this one a
funny-enough comedy. Tina Fey and Steve Carell find a hectic backlash
after stealing someone's dinner reservation.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. For Kaitlyn Dever, 18, this is a richly
varied week. In the final “Justified” episodes, she's Loretta, a
tough and calculating teen trying to mold her own crime empire; here,
she's innocent Eve, whose love life tonight brings a set-up and
speculation.

“The Amazing
Race,” 8 p.m., CBS. So far, the “blind-date” couples are doing
better than the ones who were together before the show. Four of the
five newcomers are still in the running; half of the other six are
gone. Tonight, for the first time, “Race” reaches Monaco.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. This is why Elvis impersonators should stick to sequins:
One is killed and his body is stolen, apparently because there are
real diamonds sewn into his costume.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. A celebrity chef has been killed in his own restaurant.
Also, Peter Coyote guests as a senator who wants a favor and Leslie
Hope returns as an investigative reporter.

“American
Masters,” 10 p.m., WCET. This rerund a fairly good portrait of
Sister Rosetta Tharp, whose gospel approach suggested an early soul
sound. PBS' “International Jazz Day” concert – ranging from
Wynton Marsalis and Herbie Hancock to Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder
– will be delayed until 3 a.m.; the jazz event then airs often
digitally on CET Arts, starting 9 p.m. Wednesday.

TV column for Thursday, April 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Mom,” 9:01 p.m., CBS.

In its second
season, “Mom” has been jumping nimbly between laughs and tears.
Both are comfortable turf for Allison Janney, who has Emmys for drama
(“West Wing”) and comedy (as Bonnie in “Mom”).

Last week, Bonnie
hurt her back, was prescribed pain pills ... and promptly reverted to
her old, addictive ways. Now – with the show airing a half-hour
earlier than usual – she tries to keep it a secret from her
daughter, who's also a recovering addict; it's a story that continues
next week.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Grey's Anatomy,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC.

First, here's a
chance to drift way back. ABC reruns the pilot episode, when Meredith
was a young surgical resident, ready for her first shift – after
unwittingly sleeping with Derek, the star surgeon.

Then we get a new
episode. She's married to Derek and not at all happy to learn that
his sister Amelia has an affair with Owen. Love gets messy sometimes
... as Catherine learns while trying to help a man whose wife took
drastic revenge for his cheating.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Comedians” debut, 10 p.m. today, FX, repeats at
11:03.

Two masterful comics
play themselves – or twisted variations. We see Billy Crystral, 67,
as self-centered and self-serving, Josh Gad, 34, as shallow and
desperate.

Now they're forced
to work together; “my grandmother would be thrilled,” Gad
grumbles. Both men mock themselves beautifully, in a fake documentary
that delivers some big laughs.

Othert choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 and 9:30 p.m., CBS. After a new episode at 8, “Big
Bang” offers a hilarious rerun at 9:30. Sheldon insists he and Raj
can survive under salt-mine conditions; Amy has doubts.

“Jaws” (1977), 8
and 11 p.m. AMC. This is a week when AMC remembers that the “C”
stands for classic. It delivers Steven Spielberg's first big hit
today, then has Francis Coppola's “Godfather” (1972) and
“Godfather, Part II” (1974) several times Saturday and Sunday.

“The Odd Couple,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Felix, the hypochondriac, faces a fresh crisis: His
doctor (Erinn Hayes) is dating Oscar.

“Backstrom,” 9
p.m., Fox. In the midst of a tough case involving the murder of a
young sex surrogate, Backstrom receives disturbing news about his
mother.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. Holmes and Watson sometimes get help from a hacker group.
Now one of its people has been killed; to solve the case, they join a
Civil War being fought on the Internet.

“Red Road,” 10
p.m., Sundance. Last week's season-opener started quietly, with
tribal recognition finally going into effect. It ended powerfully,
with Kopus finding the chief's body. Junior inexplicably covered for
him then, but in a strong hour tonight, Junior wants revenge.

“Louie”
season-opener, 10:33 p.m., FX, repeats at 11:35. Don't expect big
laughs, in the “Comedians” or “Big Bang” style, here. If
anything, Louis C.K.'s show is even more slow and droll than in the
past. Tonight, his pot-luck supper plans go awry; in its own, odd
way, “Louie” is a delight.