TV column for Friday, July 10

“American Masters,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Three years ago,
this documentary offered a fresh take on a fascinating story: Harper
Lee, a young woman from small-town Alabama, wrote “To Kill
Mockingbird,” drawing raves and a Pulitzer Prize. Then she sort of
vanished – no second novel, few public appearances.

The film offered
rich comments from admirers (Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw), authors,
historians and more. But now “Go Set a Watchman” (which Lee, 89,
had written before “Mockingbird”) has been found and published.
Four days before it reaches stores, here's an updated version of the
Lee profile.

“Masters of Illusion” season-opener, 8 p.m., CW.

Avoiding the rerun
blahs, CW added a double burst of magic. On Monday, it showed some
terrific magicians on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” then had that
duo guest on “Whose Line Is it Anyway.”

Now it will rerun
the “Whose Line” episode at 8:30. First, it has this
season-opener, packing lots of acts into a busy half-hour. That
includes Greg Frewin, Michael Turco, Rick Thomas, Murray Saw Chuck,
Barry & Stuart and Sos and Victoria.

E: “The Spoils Before Dying” finale, 9 and 9:30 p.m., IFC.

This three-night,
six-episode comedy miniseries is produced by Funny or Die (Will
Ferrell's Web site). It brings back many of the “Spoils of Babylon”
people, including Ferrell (as the author of these overheated tales),
Kristin Wiig and Haley Joel Osment, this time as Alistair Barnaby St.

Michael Kenneth
Williams plays a jazzman accused of murder. Tonight, he's given an
injection and left for dead. He doesn't die (sorry to spoil that
surprise) and later confronts J. Edgar Hoover with key evidence.
Afterward, the whole miniseries reruns from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Other choices

“Masters of Sex,”
6 p.m. to midnight, Showtime. Two days before the third season opens,
here's a chance to re-see the second half of last season. It starts
with Dr. Masters (Michael Sheen) depressed and impotent, because his
colleague and sometimes-lover Virginia Johnson is seeing other men.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of the seventh and final
auditions session. On Tuesday, judges will decide which acts will
perform live for the viewers' votes.

“Elementary,” 8
p.m., CBS. Bumped out of Thursdays by “Under the Dome,” this
Sherlock Holmes tale will take over this slot for a while. Tonight's
rerun involves the mudrer of a bioengineer.

Animated movies, 8
p.m., FX and 9 p.m., ABC Family. Families get a choice tonight. FX
has “The Lorax” (2012), based on a great Dr. Seuss book; ABC
Family has “Despicable Me” (2010), on the same night that its
sequel (“The Minions”) reaches theaters.

“The Messengers,”
9 p.m., CW. With contradictory clues, the Messengers have opposite
views of their next target. Meanwhile, Vera discovers the master plan
they've been fighting.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. This rerun has two hostage situations. Danny searches
for the $18.5 million his brother owes; also, a young girl was
kidnapped while her father was on a secret mission.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Jamie, a street cop, finds a homeless teen who says his
aunt has been killed by her boyfriend; he asks his brother Danny, a
police detective, to help. Also in this rerun, their sister Erin is
incensed when she's pulled from a case she was prosecuting.

TV column for Thursday, July 9

“Dates” debut, 9 and 9:30 p.m., CW.

Oona Chaplin should
know comedy, tragedy and romance. Her grandfather was Charlie
Chaplin, her great-grandfather was Eugene O'Neill, her mom (Geraldine
Chaplin) starred in “Doctor Zhivago.”

Now she links all
three genres. This smart series – which seems more like HBO than CW
-- has a date each half-hour; tonight's second one is OK, but the
first is brilliant: Will Mellor plays a good-hearted lunk who meets
his opposite, a cynical beauty. That's Chaplin, who's done lots of
drama (cable's “The Hours” and “Game of Thrones,” PBS'
“Crimson Field”); now she adds comedy and romance.

“The Astronaut Wives Club,” 8 p.m., ABC.

Against the backdrop
of the Cuban missile crisis, the Apollo astronauts face instant

Deke Slayton learns
whether his heart murmur will keep him behind a desk. Gordon Cooper
sees if his wife Trudy (a pilot herself) will modify her rage and
their no-sex relationship. And for everyone, things are complicated
by the arrival of the Gemini astronauts and their families.

ALTERNATIVE: “Rectify” season-opener, 10 p.m., Sundance.

Released from prison
on a technicality, Daniel has insisted he didn't kill his girlfriend.
Viewers believe him; so do his sister and her lover, who's his
lawyer. But now, desperate to avoid a new trial, he has confessed and
accepted a time-already-served plea bargain.

That sets up the new
season for one of TV's better and subtler dramas, one filled with
mixed emotions. Daniel is mostly sympathetic, but he brutalized his
step-brother Ted, who had taunted him. Now Ted – enraged by his
wife's friendship with Daniel – holds that over him in a tough,
solid episode.

Other choices

“The Big Bang
Theory” and “Mom,” 8 and 8:31 p.m., CBS. In a pair of funny
reruns, Sheldon volunteers for a one-way mission to Mars and Christy
apologizes for her many misdeeds.

“Aquarius,” 9
p.m., NBC. Ken Karn, the big-time lawyer, has been offered a top spot
with the Nixon campaign. First, he must hide his relationship with
Charlie Manson ... and maybe with a long-ago murder case that Hodiak
has re-opened. That's in a fairly good episode (by this show's low
standards) that also brings a jolt for Hodiak's young, undercover

“Wayward Pines,”
9 p.m., Fox. In its own creepy, controlled way, this town has seemed
safe. But now an explosion has left two people in critical condition.
Ethan investigates; also, Kate (Ethan's former federal-agent
colleague) is on her own, when her husband opts out of her covert

“Mistresses,” 9
p.m., ABC. Triangles complicate this soap opera. Karen is shaken by
her tryst with Alec and his wife. Jos finds that her almost-groom
wants his ring back ... just as her relationship implodes with the
guy (her sister's ex-husband) she left him for on their wedding day.

“Big Brother,”
9:01 p.m., CBS. It's time for the second eviction.

“Rookie Blue,”
10 p.m., ABC. A jail riot breaks out, just as the cops are
transfering prisoners there. Now Andy and Juliet are trapped with a
dangerous prisoner who's desperate to prove her innocence.

season-opener, 10 p.m., Syfy. Visually stunning but emotionally
distant, this series is set 25 years after God vanished and Gabriel's
dark angels took over most of Earth. Now they've captured Alex (the
chosen one), while his lover Claire finds her rule of the former Las
Vegas is wobbling. Then a sudden bombing changes everything. Also,
Michael (the good angel) finds the one town that is somehow
protected. It's a big opener that is often violent, sometimes brutal,
occasionally involving.

TV column for Wednesday, July 8

“Key & Peele” season-opener, 10 p.m., Comedy Central.

At this year's White
House Correspondents Dinner, many people had their first encounter
with a brilliant comedy notion – the “anger translator.”
President Obama used calm, careful words ... and Luther
(Keegan-Michael Key) said (or raged) what he really meant.

It's an idea this
sketch show delivers often ... only with Jordan Peele as Obama.
Tonight, he and Luther meet Hilary Clinton. That's in a big night for
Comedy Central: Hannibal Burress' quiz show (“Why?) debuts at
10:30, followed by reruns of “The Daily Show” (with Bill Clinton)
and “The Nightly Show.”

“Extant,” 10 p.m., CBS.

In this second
season, the show has put a couple major actors alongside Oscar-winner
Halle Berry. Last week, it added Jeffrey Dean Morgan (the “Magic
City” star and Joe DiMaggio in the Marilyn Monroe mini-series) as a
cop; now David Morrissey (the “Walking Dead” governor) plays a
respected general.

Tonight, Molly and
JD (Berry and Morgan) learn of another pregnant woman who has
inexplicable (and maybe fatal) symptons. Also, Julie (Grace Gummer)
struggles with Ethan's rebellion.

ALTERNATIVE: “The Spoils Before Dying,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., IFC.

Last summer, IFC
gave us “The Spoils of Babylon,” a comedy mini-series with some
broadly funny moments. Now some of the same people are back with this
three-night, six-part film.

Will Ferrell –
whose Funny or Die produces this – again plays the author of a
tacky novel this is based on. Six other “Saturday Night Live”
people (led by Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph) are in the cast, along
with Michael Sheen, Haley Joel Osment and Michael Kenneth Williams
... playing a jazzman with 48 hours to clear his name. A sampling
shows there are (again) some great moments.

Other choices

“America's Got
Talent,” 8 p.m., NBC. Before making their cuts next Tuesday, the
judges offer replays of some of their favorite auditions. That's
followed at 9 p.m. by a rerun (from June 29) of the “American Ninja
Warrior” try-outs from Pittsburgh.

“Melissa &
Joey,” 8 p.m., ABC Family. Here's a neat fantasy detour, sort of
like when “Happy Days” found Mork. Unfrozen a century after an
avalanche, Melissa and Joey find that Lennox and Zander are married
and living amid government control. A fairly funny series takes some
dandy twists.

“Baby Daddy,”
8:30 p.m., ABC Family. Amid some medical questions, Ben wonders who
would watch his daughter if he dies. That's followed, alas, by
overwrought, overacted moments.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Sal (Elizabeth Banks) may not be ideally suited for
motherhood: In this rerun, she abandons her baby in the midst of a
belated baby shower.

“First Peoples,”
9-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The final piece of a
well-crafted, three-week series offers revisionist views of
Neanderthals: Their brains were larger than ours, but they may have
had few social impulses. Unlike our ancestors from that same era,
they lived only in small groups and left no hints of art or music.
Instead of dying out, they may have simply been absorbed by our

“Rain Man”
(1988), 9 p.m., Starz; or “North bt Northwest” (1959), 10 p.m.
ET, Turner Classic Movies. Here are triumphant moments in the careers
of, respectively, Dustin Hoffman and Alfred Hitchcock.

“Million Dollar
Listing San Francisco” debut, 10 p.m., Bravo. Propelled by tech
wealth, San Francisco property values have jumped by one-third this
show says. Now we meet two guys (one an Afghanistan native) who hope
to have a $50-million ales year ... and one who eyes $100 million.

TV column for Tuesday, July 7

Shark overload, cable.

Three networks seem
to share cable's mission of frightening us each summer. AMC has the
Steven Spielberg classic “Jaws” (1975) at 7:45 p.m., with its
sequels at 10:45 p.m. (1978) and 1:15 a.m. (1983). NatGeo Wild reruns
“When Sharks Attack” episodes, from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Then there's
Discovery, with its 28th annual Shark Week. After lots of
reruns, “Bride of Jaws” (9 p.m.) traces the creature –
estimated at 18 feet and 3,000 pounds – Australians have dubbed
Joan of Shark. At 10, “Sharks of Cuba” re-examines reports of a
23-foot great white, caught 70 years ago.

II: “Hollywood Game Night” season-opener, 10:01 p.m., NBC.

Last season, this
unassuming show got decent ratings and an Emmy, for Jane Lynch as
best reality host. Now it's back, this time as a summer series with a
big “America's Got Talent” lead-in.

Lynch again conducts
a pack of pop-culture games, with two regular people each joined by
three celebrities. Tonight has a married couple (singer John Legend
and model Chrissy Teigen), plus three actors – Jesse Tyler
Ferguson, Zachary Quinto and Jane Krakowski – and chef Giada De

ALTERNATIVE: “American Experience,” 8 and 9 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

Amid the current
agony in Charleston, S.C., viewers might want to visit Angelina
Grimke's life. She grew up there, the youngest of 14 chilldren of a
wealthy, slaveowning lawyer. She wrote a passionate piece for William
Lloyd Garrison's anti-slavery newspaper and became a strong
abolitionist speaker.

Grimke is one of
five people whose stories entwine in the three-part “The
Abolitionists,” which reruns tonight and next Tuesday. Others are
Garrison, author Harriet Beecher Stowe, militant John Brown and
Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became a centerpiece of the

Other choices

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. Here's the seventh and final round of
regular auditions. Next week, the judges will decide who gets to the
live shows at Radio City Music Hall.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Stuck in the airport because of bad weather, Tony, Ellie and her
husband (Jamie Bamber of “Battlestar Galactica”) work a case
involving an elevated terrorist threat, in this rerun.

8:30 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Dre plans 15th-anniversary
vow-renewal. Things get complicated when his wife's parents (Beau
Bridges and Anna Deavere Smith) – the hippies who named her
“Rainbow” -- show up. They soon argue with his parents (Laurence
Fishburne and Jenifer Lewis).

“Zoo,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. On three continents, this animals-gone-wild crisis is growing.
In Botswana, Jackson rescues a friend and learns the lions no longer
show fear. In Los Angeles, Jamie and Mitch find a link to a bio-tech
firm. And in Paris, Chloe must confront her deepest fear.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. This rerun involves the murder of a petty
officer who was planning to propose. A search, however, finds no sign
that the girlfriend exists.

“Tyrant,” 10
p.m., FX. This hour took a fascinating twist after Jamal faked the
execution of his brother Barry, instead leaving him to die in the
desert. Rescued by Bedouins, he's decided it's too risky to get out;
for now, he'll stay in their village with a false identity ... while
his “widow” and kids deal with his will, back in Pasadena.
Meanwhile, Jamal is stunned by another family connection; also, an
idealistic young couple is rethinking a plan to flee the country.

“Hollywood Cycle”
debut, 10 p.m., E. In Hollywood, people will pay big money to ride
bicycles that go nowhere. Now this reality show follows the staff and
patrons at a stationary-cycle spot.

TV column for Monday, July 6

“Penn & Teller: Fool Us” season-opener, 8 p.m., CW.

The world is
apparently full of great magicians who blend humor, deft moves and
sheer originality. This series – trying to concoct a trick that
baffles Penn and Teller – is filled with them tonight.

One guy keeps
transferring objects between a computer screen and real life; another
performs “surgery” to find proof amid someone's innards. And
Handsome Jack explains that his great beauty shouldn't blind us. (No
problem there.) He's fresh, fun, smart ... and thoroughly

II: “So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

TV's best reality
show reaches a turning point tonight. At the Las Vegas callbacks,
judges choose 10 people for the “stage” team and 10 for the
“street” team.

When the live shows
begin next week, they'll be led by gifted ex-contestants. Travis Wall
and Stephen “tWitch” Boss were runners-up in 2006 and 2008
respectively. Boss is a great street dancer; Wall, studio-trained,
has had four straight Emmy nominations for choreograpy. This could be
a great year.

ALTERNATIVE: “The Fosters,” 8 p.m., ABC Family.

This isummer, Maia
Mitchell has had silly fun (and strong ratings) in “Teen Beach 2.”
But she's also been terrific here as Callie, a deeply layered teen,
surviving in foster care.

Tonight, she
convinces Brandon to accompany her on a mystery trip to Mexico. Back
home, his two foster moms have many woes: They argue about hiring a
contractor; they also find a pregnancy test.

Other choices

“Garden State”
(2004), 7:10 p.m., Starz. Zach Braff (“Scrubs”) made a delightful
debut as a movie auteur, writing, directing and starring. From her
first monolog, Natalie Portman has a great character.

Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. This is when things get tense
and/or spicy. There are five guys left and Kaitlyn Bristowe has to
choose the final three who will have what the show calls “overnight
dates.” We see the first of those dates, plus lots of rumors and

“2 Broke Girls,”
8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Max and Caroline take out a loan, so they
can mass-produce their cupcake T-shirts.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. Suddenly, these computer guys have to be survivalists.
Their helicopter crashes, igniting a wildfire that could trap them.

“POV,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Last week, this documentary series left
us watching a man's world crumble; this time, we see several lives
wobble. We follow two people – a Seattle man, a New York woman –
trying to overcome past errors and retrieve their kids from the
foster-care system. It's a tough ride, but an informative (and,
occasionally, uplifting) one.

“The Whispers,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. When Claire assembles children who have heard from
“Drill” (the scheming, disembodied voice), she makes a key
breakthrough. Meanwhile, Wes studies the mysterious rock in Mali and
has a disturbing idea of Drill's master plan.

“The Island”
finale, 10:01 p.m., NBC. A darker version of “Survivor,” this
dumped 14 guys on an island with no food or water and with no fun and
games. Now the brief (six-episode) series ends; survivalist Bear
Grylls visits the men at the end of their 28-day stay, to see how
they're doing.