TV column for Monday, June 2


,TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “24,” 9 p.m., Fox; and “Longmire”
season-opener, 10 p.m., A&E.

This is more than we expect in the summer – two macho
adventures, airing back-to-back. One is as tense as a big-city crisis, the
other as casual as a Wyoming prairie, but both are well-made.


Less than halfway into its 12-hour season, “24” has already
had explosions and disasters; now Jack has a scheme to lure the leader of the
drone-takeover plan. “Longmire” is a droll, smart show about a quiet Wyoming
sheriff (Robert Taylor) and his big-city deputy (Katee Sackhoff); tonight, he
faces the aftermath of the arrest of Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond
Phillips).


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Mistresses” season-opener, 10:01 p.m.,
ABC.


We really can’t expect beauty and brains in one show, can
we? Sleek and stylish, “Mistresses” has great visuals and a plot that’s big
enough to choke a soap opera.


Last summer, Karen (a doctor), was loved by a married
patient and (after his death) by his son; the widow retaliated with a gun.
Also, Savi (Alyssa Milano) was pregnant – via her husband or her colleague –
before a car crash. Now someone has died, but it takes a few minutes to learn
who. More crises happen to Josslyn (Savi’s free-spirit sister) and April. It
all looks great, anyway.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Beauty and the Beast” return, 9
p.m., CW.


Three months ago, Vincent was suddenly arrested for murder …
just as the show was taking a break. Now it’is back for a six-episode summer
run, with Cat trying to free him.


She’s the beauty, he’s the beast (sometimes) and more
problems loom. The show will be back sometime next year; that’s progress for a
network that once lacked mid-season shows … or new summer shows.


Other choices include:


“The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Here’s the second
half of a tryst that began Sunday with Andi Dorfman taking the 16 remaining
bachelors to Santa Barbara, Cal.


“A Hard Day’s Night” (1964), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies. A half-century ago, people assumed all rock movies would be dim-witted.
(This assumption is verified by “Go Go Mania,” the 1964 oddity that follows at
9:45 p.m. ET.) Then along came this wondrous little black-and-white  film, mixing Richard Lester’s stylish
direction with the charm of the Beatles’ music and attitudes.


“Mom,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. In a funny episode that reran
Thursday, Christy met a guy (Nick Zano) who looks great and drinks heavily. This
rerun finds her so smitten with him that her mom must do her chores.


“Mike & Molly,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., CBS. In a late change,
CBS is inserting these reruns. The first has Molly encouraging Mike to try
something new; the second has her trying something very new – operating a
forklift in Vince’s warehouse.


“Ladies of London” debut, 10 p.m., Bravo. OK, there are
plenty of “Real Housewives” shows with American women behaving badly; now it’s
time to see if Europeans throw drinks and tip over tables.


More summer series, 10 p.m., cable. If you missed the “Halt
and Catch Fire” opener Sunday, try it tonight on AMC; the early days of
computers are shown as a compelling and confusing battleground. Meanwhile, FX
has two more half-hours of the splendidly unpredictable “Louie.”


TV column for Sunday, June 1



TONIGHT’S MUST-TRY: “Halt and Catch Fire” debut, 10 p.m.,
AMC.

As “Mad Men” takes its mid-season break, a similar show
steps into its spot. Again, we’re at an industry turning point; again, a
handsome man with a foggy past is a master of pitches.


This time, it’s 1983 and Joe (Lee Pace of “Pushing Daisies”)
wants to join two computer geniuses – a shy dad and a taut blonde with an
alternative attitude; they’ll scheme to take on IBM. The story is hard to
follow and Joe is hard to like; still, there’s a sleek energy and intelligence that
will hold us for a while.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Agents of SHIELD,” 8-11 p.m., ABC.


After a wobbly start, this show did well enough to be back
next season. Here are three key reruns.


First are episodes that ran consecutively in April. John
Garrett (Bill Paxton) and Antoine Triplett return to search for The
Clairvoyant; then the team is trapped, with a traitor in its midst. The third
episode jumps ahead to the season-finale, a battle against the forces of HYDRA.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Love Finds You in Sugarcreek,” 7, 9
and 11 p.m., UP; and/or “The Color of Rain,” 1, 9 and 11 p.m., Hallmark Movie
Channel.


These feel-good networks insert key movies on the Sunday
when bigger networks are napping.


“Rain” is the true story of two widowed parents. Its flaw –
a massive one – is that viewers know exactly where the story is going; the lone
detour is late and lame. It makes up for that (partly) with solid performances
by Lacey Chabert and Warren Christie, the Canadian actor who co-stars in ABC’s
“Motive.”


“Love” finds a depressed dad (Tom Everett Scott) stranded with
his son in a tiny town with a solid Amish community. It’s a simple story with
some giant plot holes; still, it has a good script, fine performances
(especially by Scott and Sarah Lancaster) and great visuals, with the real
Sugarcreek, Ohio, as backdrop.


Other choices include:


“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer)
returns in this rerun … and Lisa is astonished that she actually has some
things in common with him.


“Elementary,” 8 p.m., CBS. A transplanted rerun finds
Sherlock probing the murder of a man who ran a “Ponzi” financial scheme,
providing a surplus of suspects.


Movies, 8 p.m., cable. TNT has “The Town” (2010), the
praised film Ben Affleck directed and starred in before triumphing with “Argo.”
USA counters with “Safe Haven” (2013); beautifully directed by Lasse Hallstrom;
it has a young woman (Julianne Hough) on the lam.


“The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds both firms
fighting to continue representing a prized client, after he’s arrested on drug
charges … possibly from a leak in Alicia’s firm.


“Cosmos,” 9 p.m., Fox. The hour starts with a trip to Venus
… which is way too warm for our tastes. That launches a look at global warming
and at global solutions.


“Believe” and “Crisis,” 9 and 10 p.m., NBC. Both shows
continue with new episodes. First, Bo and Tate confront Skouras (Kyle MacLachlan);
then the FBI finds the location where the teens are held captive.


“Game of Thrones,” 9 p.m., HBO. Tyrion (Emmy-winner Peter
Dinklage) faces a verdict.


“Silicon Valley,” 10 p.m., HBO. At a massive computer
convention, the guys have their program – not quite ready – in a competition
that could determine their future. It’s a pivotal episode and a good one.


TV column for Saturday, May 31



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Da Vinci’s Demons,” noon to 10 p.m.,
Starz.

 

A great season concludes. If you don’t get Starz, try to
catch “Demons” later; if you have Starz, settle back to savor the entire
season, with the finale at 9 p.m., repeating at 10 and 11.


Leonardo da Vinci has been obsessed with a mystical book. He
pursued it to South America, where he  found
a recording made by his mother, using a primitive code; then he returned to
despair: Prince Lorenzo, trying to forge a Florence-Naples coalition, instead
was captured by the fake Pope … who has secretly imprisoned the real one. Can
this be saved? And what of the Ottoman invaders? Stay tuned.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Sing Your Face Off” debut, 9-11 p.m.,
ABC.


Here’s the definition of a summer-Saturday show – easy to
watch, easier to forget. Each hour, five semi-celebrities impersonate singers;
they get big help from make-up, but the voices are their own.


Points are awarded (lamely), but it’s hardly a fair fight.
Sebastian Bach (portraying Adam Levine and Lady Gaga tonight) is a big-time
singer; 14-year-old China Anne McClain (Rihanna, Tixna Turner) is surprisingly
good. At the other extreme, basketball player Landry Fields (Lionel Richie,
Pitbull) has never performed; somewhere in between are Jon Lovitz (Elton John,
Luciano) and Lisa Rinna (Dolly Parton, Britney Spears).


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction,
8-11 p.m., HBO.


Most award shows have poor presenters and awful acceptance
speeches. Not here, at least when HBO is done editing. An opening tape reminds
us that rock people are frank and (often) funny. Then we get instant proof when
Chris Martin gives a witty introduction of Peter Gabriel, then jams with him.


Linda Ronstadt couldn’t be there, but was represented
wonderfully by Glenn Frey’s presentation and the voices of Carrie Underwood,
Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Sheryl Crow and Stevie Nicks. Also inducted were Hall
and Oates, Cat Stevens and three bands – Kiss, Nirvana and the E Street Band.


Other choices include:


“Aliens” (1986), 6 and 9 p.m., IFC; or “Titanic” (1997),
6:15 and 10:20 p.m., Oxygen. James Cameron is a deeply gifted director and
writer, as we see tonight. “Aliens” is a rare case of a sequel, from a
different director than the original, working perfectly; then, after “Terminator”
time, Cameron made “Titanic.”


More movies, cable. At 7 p.m., there are two strong dramas, “Deliverance”
(1972, Sundance, also at 9:30) and “The Dark Knight” (2008, AMC). For fun, try “My
Fair Lady” (1964) at 8 p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies or cartoons on ABC
Family – “Mulan” (1988) at 7:45, “The Little Mermaid” (1989) at 9:45.


Baseball, 7:15 p.m., Fox; or basketball, 8:30 p.m., TNT.
Baseball fans, varying by region, get Tampa Bay at Boston or Pittsburgh at the
Los Angeles Dodgers. Basketball has Oklahoma City at San Antonio.


“Bet on Your Baby” season-opener, 8 p.m., ABC. Ever wonder
how fast a toddler can unroll toilet paper? If so, you’ll find this hour to be
at least moderately entertaining.


“Mike & Molly,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS. The first rerun has
Molly’s shoe spree creating financial trouble. The second has Mike wounded on
the job; he’s thinking of cherishing each day and quitting the police.


“The Mentalist,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a mapmaker may
have been killed after discovering a spy ring.


TV column for Friday, May 30



TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Crossbones” debut, 10 p.m., NBC.

In real life, we’re told, the pirate Blackbeard was killed
in 1718, at 38. This series concocts an alternate history: Presumed dead, he
rules a pirate island in 1729. A British spy is sent to kill him, but has
bigger concerns – prevent Spanish rule and protect a longitude device that
could tip the balance of power.


There are vast plot problems here, overshadowed by an
immense plus: John Malkovich is Blackbeard. His beard isn’t black (or very big)
but his persona is huge and dark and filled with Malkovich-style glee.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “MasterChef” and “I Wanna Marry
Harry” debuts, 8 and 9 p.m., Fox.


The good news is that Fox pushes hard to give us fresh shows
in the summer. The bad is that it’s so quick with changes that even its own
listings are wrong. In this case, the network was still listing “24” and “Gang
Related” reruns, after shifting to these reality shows.


Fortunately, these reruns (both season-openers) are on the
good side of reality. “MasterChef” has Monday’s episode, with 30 amateur cooks
bringing their favorite dishes; “Harry” has the one that aired on May 20 (in
another late switch), with Americans given the impression they’re dating Prince
Harry.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Marriage Boot Camp” season-opener, 9
p.m., WE.


Here are five couples with reality
roots, but little else in common. Tanisha Thomas (“Bad Girls Club”) drinks a
lot and yells a lot; her first separation from Clive Muir came a month after
their marriage. At the opposite extreme are Trista and Ryan Sutter (“The
Bachelorette”), still looking cozy after a decade.


Then there are Traci Braxton
(“Braxton Family Values”) and Kevin Suratt, who each admit to affairs, plus two
engaged couples. Roger Mathews says sex has been scarce since he proposed to
Jenni “JWoww” Farley (“Jersey Shore”); Gretchen Rossi is Slade Smiley’s third “Real
Housewives of Orange County” romance. Now all are pushed and Thomas explodes;
it’s odd therapy, but noisy, interesting television.


Other choices include:


Movies, 8 pm., cable. Think of
this as a summer-movie night, inside your TV set. There’s the “Star Trek”
reboot (2009) on FX and the delightful “The Muppets” (2011) on Disney. “The
Wedding Crashers” (2005, TBS), has amiable actors – Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson,
Rachel McAdams, Isla Fisher – in summer-style fun. The “Lincoln Lawyer” (2011,
TNT), with Matthew McConaughey as a troubled lawyer, is OK.


 “National Memorial Day Concert,” 9-10:30 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Here’s a rerun of Sunday’s concert, mixing emotional
tributes and great voices of country (Jennifer Nettles), classical (Anthony
Kearns), Broadway (Megan Hilty) and reality shows (Caleb Johnson, Danielle
Bradbery, Jackie Evancho.


“Hart of Dixie,” 9 p.m., CW. This
reruns the season-opener, with Zoe returning – briefly, she thinks – from New
York, to get a reference that will help her land a big-city job.


“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. A
friend of Lt. Grover (Chi McBride) disappeared after apparently committing a
murder; now McGarrett helps Grover investigate. Also in this rerun, Kono
continues her search for Adam.


“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. Two
brothers – both cops and sons of the police commissioner – face personal
tangles in this rerun. Jamie’s conduct is questioned, after a gang-member he
was chasing is killed. Danny finds that the fiancé of his ex-girlfriend
(Charisma Carpenter) may be dealing drugs.


TV column for Thursday, May 29



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Sixties” debut, 9 p.m., CNN.

As the world quaked in the1960s, everything seemed to change
… except TV. Even in 1968-69, three of the top five shows in the Nielsen
ratings were “Mayberry,” “Family Affair” and “Gomer Pyle.”


This hour, “Television Comes of Age,” finds tiny hints of
change – two black stars (Diahann Carroll and Bill Cosby) … variety shows that
stirred with their content (Smothers Brothers) or style (“Laugh-In”) … and news
coverage with fresh vigor. It’s an OK hour, but has too broad a topic with too
little depth; on future Thursdays, better episodes (on Cuban crises, the
Kennedy assassination, etc.) have sharper focus.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Gang Related,” 9 p.m., Fox.


Deep conflicts ripple through Ryan Lopez’s troubled world.
He’s a cop (a good one, usually), secretly working for Javier Acosta, the crime
boss who protected him during childhood; one of Javier’s sons (straight-arrow
Daniel) is his best friend; the other (cruel Carlos) is his worst enemy.


In last week’s opener, Carlos killed the friend and police
partner of Ryan … who retaliated with an anonymous tip to the rival gang, which
blasted Carlos with crossfire. It was jolting … and short-sighted. In tonight’s
taut, well-made episode, police scramble to avoid a fierce gang war.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Undateable” debut, 9:01 and 9:30
p.m., NBC.


Rightly or not, Danny (Chris D’Elia) figures he knows a lot
about romance. Rightly (for sure), he figures the people around him don’t. With
help from his sister (Bianca Kajlich), he’ll guide them.


That sounds like fun … and sometimes is. Still, “Undateable”
is a very jokey show, casting stand-up comedies who try too hard to force a
laugh or add a broad gesture. It’s at its best when the laughs come naturally …
especially with the wonderfully understated humor of Ron Funches, as Shelly.


Other choices include:


“Hollywood Date Night,” 8 p.m., NBC. An all-new, all-comedy
NBC night starts here. The stars of the underappreciated (and cancelled) “Trophy
Wife,” Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford, join Arsenio Hall, actors Tony Hale
and Adam DeVine, and designer Nate Berkus.


“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Sheldon
crestfallen after his discovery is disproven.


“Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m., CBS. Jenny has usually been
the love-‘em-and-leave-‘em type in her lesbian romances. But now Brooke (Aly
Michalka, the former “Hellcats” star) refuses a second date; in disbelief, Jenny
turns to Walden for advice.


“The Normal Heart” (2014), 9 p.m., HBO. Shortly after
catching Jim Parsons’ comic perfection in “Big Bang,” see him deliver moving drama.
Some of the characters are overwrought, even for a time (early in the AIDS
crisis) when rage was needed. Parsons and Julia Roberts balance that with quiet
intensity.  


“Last Comic Standing,” 10 p.m., NBC. Auditions continue, as
judges sift a 100-comedian field.


“Elementary,” 10:01 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Sherlock Holmes
facing a police inquiry, after an investigation goes terribly wrong.