TV column for Wednesday, June 7

“CMT Music Awards,” 8-10:30 p.m., CMT (where it reruns at 11:30),
plus Nickelodeon, Spike and TV Land.

This is a night to
erase all the fading lines between country and rock. Darius Rucker (a
former rock star) links with Jason Aldean and Charles Kelley, in a
tribute to the late Southern-rocker Greg Allman; Kelley's group (Lady
Antebellum) will also link with Earth, Wind and Fire, on dance
classics. And country duo Florida Georgia Line links with
electronic/pop duo The Chainsmokers.

On the all-country
side, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban combine. Solo stars include
Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Kelsea Ballerini, Thomas
Rhett, Brett Eldredge and host Charles Esten.

“MasterChef,” 8 p.m., Fox.

At the start, we
meet a Sicilian ballet dancer who semi-pirouettes around the kitchen.
“People think I'm crazy,” he says. “I don't disagree with
them.” And at the end of the hour, we meet a Texas rancher.

Somewhere between
those extremes are all sorts of home chefs. One person says her
cooking reflects her Colombian roots; another says his reflects 11
years in India. A Hawaiian proclaims that “if it doesn't have meat,
it's not a real meal” -- then is assigned to do a cupcake. It's a
fun hour, filling out the top 20.

ALTERNATIVE: “Kingdom,” 8 and 11 p.m., DirecTV/AT&T.

In last week's
season-opener, Garo kept injecting himself into fighters' lives. He
convinced Alvey to return to the ring for a “legends” match; he
also tried to sign Ryan, who has retained his championship.

Alvey is happy about
the money .. and about being a “legend.” That means Lisa must
hire a new trainer -- adding another quirky, macho character to this
intriguing show; her bigger concern is keeping Ryan from signing a
deal before the big offers arrive. It's a strong hour, with shaky
personal moments for Alvey and his sons – Nate, trying to remain in
the closet; Jay, groping at life as a non-fighter dad.

Other choices

Basketball previews
at 8 and 8:30 ET and game, 9 p.m., ABC. Yes, Golden State seems
overwhelming so far – a record 14 straight play-off wins, including
the first two games in the finals. But now the best-of-seven series
moves to Cleveland.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 8 p.m., CBS. Nudged to a different night (and earlier
time) this week, the show reruns an episode about a murder at a rowdy
motorcycle rally. The band Blackberry Smoke performs.

season-opener, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Pop, rerunning at 11 and 11:30. Ali
Wentworth plays a talk-show booker in this comedy. Now a new
co-worker shares her job; he wants her to bump Juliana Margulies and
book a boxer. Then come misunderstood intentions with Alec Baldwin
and his wife.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9 p.m., NBC. Is it possible to have a funny episode about an
old woman who wants to die? Possibly, but we won't see it now.
Usually quite clever, “Carmichael” stumbles tonight: Jerrod's
paternal grandmother (played by Marla Gibbs, 85) wants to die; the
guys try to talk her out of it. Loretta Devine isn't in this episode,
leaving no one to rescue us from the heavy-handed humor.

9:30, NBC. When her child-care choices vanish, Amy has to sneak her
daughter to work. That's against the rules, so Jonah is soon involved
in the cover-up.

“This Is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. After the splendid pilot film, this second episode did a
good job of putting “Us” on its track. In flashbacks, we see the
young parents struggle to raise three 8-year-olds; nowadays, we see
those three facing wobbly lives – Kevin pondering his choices after
quitting his TV series ... Kate furiously trying to shed weight ...
and Randall adjusting to having his biological dad with him.

10:30, CMT. After Esten hosts the awards show, we can see him in this
rerun of the season-opener. Now widowed, he struggles to raise his
daughter (a rising star) and step-daughter.

TV column for Tuesday, June 6

“iZombie,” 9 p.m., CW.

Most of the
regular-season shows are gone now, either shelved or wallowing in
reruns. But this odd (and oddly clever) show is a happy exception,
with four new hours left.

Liv is a doctor who
accidentally became a zombie. (Things like that happen at parties.)
Now she works at a morgue, munching the brains of murder victims, to
help catch the killers. This time, however, she and her friend Peyton
are on a wild goose chase. Also, Ravi is startled when he learns what
the “zombie truth hunters” are planning. The episode's title,
alas, is “Return of the Dead Guy.”

II: “Animal Kingdom,” 9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 10 p.m. and 1

Last week's
powerhouse season-opener (rerunning at midnight) jolted “Smurf.”
Her heist crew – sons, adopted son, grandson – departed to do
jobs on their own. Now we see how divided they are.

Deran needs a quick
score, to buy a bar. Baz wants something bigger and slower – a
church heist, no less; but he's also trying to find his wife ...
unaware that Pope killed her. And Craig is drifting amid drugs, booze
and teenaged Nicky – bringing one of tonight's big moments. There
are several.

ALTERNATIVE: “The American Epic Sessions,” 8-11 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

In three superb
episodes, “Epic” traced the folk musicians who were discovered in
the 1920s, when record companies finally had portable studios. Now
modern stars take turns with the old equipment.

Jack White is in
charge, recording with his band, with Nas and with Elton John. Some
parts tonight are slow and dry, but there are great moments with Ana
Gabriel on “Mal Hombre,” Rhiannon Giddens on “One Hour Mama”
and more. And things close with Merle Haggard (who died a year ago,
at 79) and Willie Nelson (now 84); two music masters try a machine
that's was in use before the were born.

Other choices

D-Day programming,
cable. On the anniversary of the 1944 invasion, a few channels will
feature World War II. On History, that's “World War II From Space”
(8-10 a.m.) and the final two hours (2-4 p.m.) of “The World Wars.”
On American Heroes Channel, “Hitler” is 2-8 p.m. ET, with
“Surviving D-Day” from 8-10 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“Downward Dog,”
8 p.m., ABC. Nan has tolerated her sorta-boyfriend, the genial
slacker Jason. But now she meets Eric (Timothy Omundson, who was King
Richard in “Galavant”), sort of a better version of Jason. Alas,
Eric's well-trained dog crushes the confidence of Nan's dour dog

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. When the team has a new lead on the case, Bishop is determined
to avenge the murder of her boyfriend Qasin. That's a rerun, but a
new “48 Hours” at 10 views a real NCIS case.

“Shakespeare in
Love” (1998), 8 p.m., HBO. On July 10, TNT will launch “Will,”
a series about young Shakespeare. It's promising ... but few things
can match this Oscar-winning gem.

“The Middle,”
8:30 and 10:30 p.m., ABC. “The Middle” is at both ends tonight,
starting and ending a string of five comedy reruns. In the first,
Mike and his brother (Norm MacDonald) seek assisted living for their
dad (John Cullum, 87); in the second, Axl nears graduation, without
sending out job resumes.

“Genius,” 9
p.m., National Geographic. An exhausted Einstein faces serious health
issues. Also, he's the lone scientist to resist Germany's military
build-up, putting him at odds with his friend Fritz Haber.

“The World of
Dance,” 10 p.m., NBC. Here's the second of three qualifying rounds.
It follows the second of many audition episodes for “America's Got
Talent,” from 8-10 p.m.

TV column for Monday, June 5

“Gotham” season-finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

If you think you've
got troubles, imagine the poor folks in Gotham City. First, there's a
deadly virus spreading; and now Fish Mooney (who's been superbly
played by Jada Pinkett Smith) is back.

She joins a cascade
of villains. There's the strange Hugo Strange, the mad Mad Hatter and
the chilly Mr. Freeze, plus future versions of Riddler, Penguin,
Poison Ivy and more.

“Still Star-Crossed,” 10:01, ABC.

Last week, this odd
experiment – sort of a Shakespeare/”Scandal” mash-up –
started shakily. Romeo and Juliet wed and died; we kind of thought
that would happen. Along the way, the dialog was stiff and
old-fashioned, the visuals were hyper-modern and neither served the
story well.

But now we're to the
part that goes beyond Shakespeare. To keep peace, Prince Escalus
insists on another marriage to link the warring families. Benvolio
Montague, Romeo's hard-partying cousin, must marry Rosaline Capulet,
Juliet's cousin, who's an orphan, working as a maid for her own

ALTERNATIVE: Cosby coverage, all day.

On the day Bill
Cosby's sexual-assault trial is scheduled to begin, we can expect
extensive news coverage, plus at least two documentary hours – 9
p.m. on Investigation Discovery and 10 on CNN.

The former has
overheated narration and uneven sources -- a National Enquirer editor
and a screechy psychologist get the same status as a Washington Post
reporter and top lawyer Gloria Allred. Still, it does have specifics
from two accusers and has the key deposition, when Cosby said he had
seven types of Quaaludes in his home, not for his use. That admission
-- made in 2005, unsealed by a judge last year – becomes key to
the charge that he raped former basketball player Andrea Constand.

“The Heart Guy,” any time,

Something special
happens when a city guy moves to a charmingly eccentric little town.
That's been a great formula for everything from “Northern Exposure”
to two shows -- “Doc Martin” and “800 Words” -- that are
already on this streaming site. Now here's another dandy example.

Hugh is a gifted and
arrogant Sydney surgeon who went too far. The medical tribunal
condemns him to a year in his hometown, a fictional place named
Whyhope. The story – filmed in the appealing town of Mudgee,
three-and-a-half hours northwest of Sydney – mixes humor, heart and
makeshift medicine.

Other choices

Hockey, 8 p.m. ET,
NBC. It's the fourth game of the best-of-seven finals, with the
Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nashville Predators.

“Kevin Can Wait,”
8 p.m., CBS. An all-rerun night on CBS starts with this silly (but
fairly funny) episode: Nudged by friends who say he lets his wife
rule the house, Kevin does some re-arranging.

Movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. The beauty of this night is its variety. “American Sniper”
(2014, TNT) has the understated perfection of Bradley Cooper and
director Clint Eastwood; “Edward Scissorhands” (1990, Syfy) is
deliciously overstated by director Tim Burton. “Roman Holiday
(1953, 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies) has a radiant, Oscar-winning
performance from Audrey Hepburn.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. The Monday line-up gets classier (and funnier) with visits by
two Thursday shows – this one (Adam moves in) and “Life in
Pieces” (Cary Elwes plays Joan's writing teacher).

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. Presidential elections are even wilder in TV fiction than
in real-life. “Scandal” had murder, imprisonment and the
Electoral College taking initiative; now “Scorpion” repeats a
November episode that had someone trying to throw the election into

“Better Call
Saul,” 10 p.m., AMC. Jimmy is pushed to try a desperate step. Also,
Nacho adds a new skill and Mike considers an alliance.

TV column for Sunday, June 4

“American Ninja Warriors: USA vs. the World,” 8-11 p.m., NBC.

What started as an
obscure cable show has become a summer success. Now NBC is trying to
boost its new season, which will start June 12; it had a celebrity
special last week and has this all-star one.

The U.S. team has
stuntwoman Jessie Graff and frequent competitors Drew Drechsel and
Brian Arnold, plus Daniel Gill, Josh Levin and Jake Murray. The
European team – which has two world-class rock-climbers – has
people from England, France, Sweden, Denmark and Italy. The Latin
American team – with several climbers and an acrobat – is new,
with people from Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela.

Cable's crowded night.

For premium
channels, this is busy. HBO has the “Leftovers” series finale at
9 p.m., with “Silicon Valley” at 10:15; Starz has the
season-finale of “White Princess” at 8, with “American Gods”
at 9.

And Showtime? After
“Twin Peaks” at 9, it has the erratic but fascinating “I'm
Dying Up Here” at 10. In the 1970s, Los Angeles was the center of
the stand-up comedy world and the Comedy Store -- which Mitzi Shore
received in a divorce settlement -- was ground zero. This
fictionalized look has Melissa Leo as a club owner, with a rich (but
uneven) mixture of hope, doom, joy and one-liners.

ALTERNATIVE: “Fear the Walking Dead” season-opener, 9-11:10 p.m.,

There's much to
fear, it turns out. The zombies are rampant, but now Madison and
Travis (the superb Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis) face a new enemy;
with their daughter Alicia, they're searching for their son Nick;
they've been taken to a military-type compound, with its own odd “lab

After a slow and
perplexing start, this has all the ferocity – and, of course,
brutal gore – that “Walking Dead” fans expect, plus some major
plot shifts. One bonus: Curtis has played many ethnic groups, but
this episode, in particular, lets him celebrate his roots in the
Maori, the native New Zealanders.

ALTERNATIVE: “The Good Witch” (Hallmark) or “Site Unseen”
(Hallmark Movies & Mysteries), both 9 p.m.

In a night
overloaded with warriors, dunkers and zombies, some people may want a
gentler alternative. Fortunately, Hallmark has two of them, each
pleasant and semi-adequate. On “Good Witch,” Cassie suddenly has
competition when it comes to delivering advice; also, a new teen
brings mixed feelings.

Meanwhile, TV really
doesn't have many crime-solving archaeologists. Now comes a movie
based on the first of six “Emma Fielding” novels. Emma (Courtney
Thorne-Smith) and students are looking for old artifacts, but find a
new body. That plunges them into a moderately interesting murder

Other choices

“A Few Good Men”
(1992) and “American Sniper” (2014), 5 and 8 p.m., TNT. Here are
two films that have two things in common – both are about soldiers,
both are superbly made – yet are opposites. Rob Reiner's “Men”
ripples with great Aaron Sorkin dialog; Clint Eastwood's “Sniper”
has Bradley Cooper's beautifully understated performance as real-life
shooter Chris Kyle.

Basketball, 8 p.m.
ET, ABC. Here's the second game in the best-of-seven finals with the
Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. There's a Jimmy Kimmel
show at 7 and a pre-game show at 7:30.

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. This rerun parodies a cable sports show. We see Bart go
from delinquent to basketball star (coached by Homer, of course) and
then get involved with the Mafia.

“Madam Secretary,”
9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Elizabeth struggles to prevent a civil war
in Algeria, where her husband is trying to keep antiquities from
being destroyed.

“The Next
Revolution” debut, 9 p.m. ET, Fox News. Steve Hilton hosts this
political show. In the opener, Silicon Valley people say they've been
quiet about their political views, for fear of backlash.

“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. After sitting on the shelf for four months, this medical
show has some summer reruns on Wednesdays and Sundays. Then it will
disappear again until mid-season.

TV column for Saturday, June 3

“In an Instant” season-opener, 9-11 p.m., ABC.

Back in 1993, James
and Jennifer Stolpa, 21 and 20, were rushing to his grandfather's
funeral with their 5-month-old baby. Then a blizzard hit, stranding
them in a remote part of the Nevada mountains. Six days later, he
left them in a cave and tried a near-impossible (two-day, 40-mile)
trek to get help.

It's a spectacular
story that was told in a 1994 TV movie (“Snowbound”) and on “I
Shouldn't Be Alive” episode. Now it's in this excellent series,
which mixes re-enactments and survivors' comments.

“World of Dance,” 8 p.m., NBC.

The world has lots
of dancers who can stir up a commotion, it seems. They leap, loop,
kick, contort; in this rerun of Tuesday's opener, they make
spectacular visuals. Unlike Fox's “So You Think You Can Dance,”
this focuses mostly on groups, sometimes creating Vegas-style

There are clearly
some talented people here, onstage and beyond. (Derek Hough, Jennifer
Lopez and Ne-Yo are judges, with Jenna Dewan Tatum as host.) At
times, however the commotion is unrelenting; this is sort of how the
Roman emperors would do a TV dance show.

ALTERNATIVE: Tim Burton movies and more, all night, cable.

Burton's masterful
“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005) is 6 p.m. on Syfy,
leading into his “Alice in Wonderland” (2010), which is merely
pretty good, at 8. Also at 8, HBO has his “Miss Peregrine's Home
for Peculiar Children” (2016).

Other talented (and
subtler) directors are also available with three excellent films. At
8 p.m., there's Clint Eastwood's “American Sniper” (2014) on TNT
and James Mangold's “Walk the Line” (2005) on Starz; at 8:30 on
E, “Safe Harbor” (2013) is an ordinary story, quietly elevated by
Lasse Hallstrom.

Other choices

Children of the Earth,” 1:10 to 8 p.m. ET, BBC America. Suddenly,
all the children everywhere are frozen in place, simply chanting, “We
are coming.” This is strange behavior, even for children. That
starts the five-part, 2009 tale that drew well-deserved praise,
including a Television Critics Association nomination for best movie
or mini-series. John Barrowman and Eve Myles star.

“To Tell the
Truth,” 8 p.m., ABC. In this rerun, we meet the world's fastest
woman, plus a Hudson River plane crash survivor and show-business
people who don't get noticed – the actor who was Barney the
dinosaur, the composer of the “Seinfeld” theme and one of
Beyonce's colleagues in Destiny's Child.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
8 p.m., CBS. It's Halloween – yes, this is a rerun-- and a medium
with a checkered past was supposedly scared to death by a
poltergeist. Also, Kono and Adam are kidnapped.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. Two high school students were the sole survivors when
their families were killed. In this rerun, the team looks for
anything that connects them.

“Doctor Who,” 9
p.m., BBC America. Fresh from “Torchwood” (a “Who” spin-off),
there's a “Who” rerun at 8 p.m. and then a new hour, with Bill
and Nardole making a dangerous rescue attempt.

“Genius,” 10
p.m., National Geographic. This rerun catches Albert Einstein in a
pivotal period. His academic work in Berlin is thriving, but his
marriage has crumbled; his wife has returned to her homeland and he's
increasingly attracted to his cousin Elsa.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Chris Pine host this rerun, with LCD
Soundsystem as the music guest.