TV column for Thursday, July 6

“The Mist,” 10 p.m., Spike.

Describing an odd,
outdoor moment, a woman says it was “as if all nature came alive.”
There's been a lot of that on TV lately. In CBS' “Zoo” (also 10
p.m. today), animals went wild; they're better now, but hybrids are
attacking. And in “The Mist,” a fog encases the town, cloaking

Now many people are
huddled in a mall, where there are efforts to establish rules. Others
– crooks, cop, clergyman – are in a church, where the policeman
fervently enforces his own rules. Despite some excesses, “Mist”
offers top-notch Stephen King, with interesting people in creepy

“Howie Mandel All-Star Comedy Gala,” 8-10 p.m., CW.

Canada has kept
giving us great comedy talent, from Jim Carrey to Samantha Bean to
all those Second City and Kids in he Hall people. So its logical that
Montreal's “Just For Laughs” festival (featuring lots of
non-Canadians onstage, too) is big and that there's this annual TV

several comedians – including Mandel – have weak material here.
Still, there ae great moments from Alonzo Bodden and newcomer Matt
Donaher,. There are also some fairly good ones from Tom Papa, Iliza
Shlesinger, J.B. Smoove, Russell Peters and Jay Pharoah.

ALTERNATIVE: “Zoo,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Here's another
chance for the outdoors to be scary. Animal hybrids have attacked in
Portland and New York; now Jackson and Logan discover a link.
Meanwhile, Mitch's problems didn't end when he was found and
unfrozen; now he's interrogated by someone claiming to be his
daughter Clementine.

The original
rampaging-animals crisis was settled, but at the cost of sterilizing
the human population. Now Abraham's research into that crisis
endangers his family.

Other choices

“Boy Band,” 8
p.m., ABC. It's time for the third six-guy group to rehearse and
perform. Afterward, the judges send one guy home, giving the show its
final 15.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Last week's rerun found Sheldon working with
Amy on her research; this one has that continue, while he also helps
Leonard and Howard ... reaching a Sheldonesque form of exhaustion.
Also, Bernadette's maternity leave is ending.

“Life in Pieces,”
8:31, CBS. Lyle Lovett plays an odd wedding planner in this rerun
and rock star Charlie Puth plays himself.

“Battle of the
Network Stars,” 9 p.m., ABC. This battle has “TV sex symbols”
(Traci Bingham, Rosa Blasi, Keegan Allen, Galen Gering and Brant
Daugherty) facing a mish-mash that includes the husband-wife duo of
Nick and Vanessa Lache, plus Jack Osbourne, Gilles Marini and Joanna

“Nashville,” 9
p.m., CMT, rerunning at 10:02. Also, 10 p.m., Nickelodeon. Widowed
from Rayna, who was his one true love, Deacon feels pressure to move
on. Also, Will shoots a big-deal commercial and Scarlett confronts
journalist Mackenzie Rhodes.

“Night Shift,”
10 p.m., NBC. An oil-field explosion creates crises. Drew and Paul
scramble to save a severed hand; Jordan (Jill Flint) and Cain (Mark
Consuelos, new this season) work out their dynamics while facing
extreme injuries. And at a military base, TC and Amira clash over
treating a Syrian child.

“The Gong Show,”
10 p.m., ABC. It's a tough night for Tommy Maitland ... who's
actually Mike Myers in character; he's chased around the stage by a
girl who's doing a handstand. Other acts include bug exterminators
playing “Toxic” on violin and, of course, a contortionist who
impersonates a tree.

TV column for Wednesday, July 5

“Snowfall” debut, 10 p.m., FX.

Leaving his South
Central Los Angeles home, Franklin went to high school with the rich,
white kids. He's bright, ambitious ... and unsure he'll get a fair
shot. Now, in 1983, he spots a chance for big money, bringing cocaine
to black neighborhoods.

We know how this
will end – families shattered, lives destroyed – but he doesn't;
his story and others provides a compelling (and R-rated) start to a
show with strong characters and a big-movie look.

“The Carmichael Show,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

Wildly inconsistent,
“Carmichael” remains fresh, controversial and worth trying.
Tonight, both stories include Bobby (Lil Ray Rel Howery), Jerrod's
semi-focused brother.

In one, he gets a
mysterious message that leads to a long-dormant family secret. In the
other, the gentrification of an old neighborhood leaves him and
Jerrod on opposite sides.

ALTERNATIVE: “Queen Sugar,” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network;
reruns at 1 a.m.

You can catch up on
this well-made (and semi-soapy drama), with the season's first three
episodes starting at 7 p.m.. Charley, a sleek businesswoman, is
helping revive the family farm, but.she forged her estranged
husband's signature to get a loan; he lied to get partial custody of
their teen son Micah.

Now Charley searches
for a more permanent home for Micah. Her brother frets about a
whitefly infestation that threatens the farm. And their sister, an
activist and journalist, adjusts to her new editor.

Other choices

Movies, cable. Want
a series filled with supernatural elements? “Twilight” films
(2006, 2009, 2010) are at 2, 5 and 8 p.m. on Freeform; the original
“Ghostbusters” films (1984 and 1989) are 8 and 10:30 p.m. on AMC.
And for a fun film in the James Bond style, catch “Kingsman“
(2015), from 7-10 p.m. on FX.

“Little Big Shots:
Forever Young,” 8 p.m., NBC. Here's the episode that was scheduled
for last week and then delayed. It includes Thomas Kelly who, at 103,
continues to be the leader and lead singer of Masters of Harmony, a
talented gospel quartet in Detroit..

“Nightcap,” 8
p.m., Pop. Penny is missing and Rachel Bloom and Naked Cowboy are
betting on if she's alive. Also, Jimmy's nemesis (Cedric the
Entertainer) is duped into doing the show.

8:30 pm., ABC. Maya can go too far at times. In this rerun she's
forced the cancellation of the homecoming bonfire, leaving students
mad at her ... and at J.J.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Phil is excited about the upcoming charity basketball
game he's playing in. That will put him alongside Charles Barkley and
DeAndre Jordan.

“To Tell
theTruth,” 10 p.m., ABC. Ever since Paul Bunyan's days, lumberjacks
have had attention; now it's time to meet a six-time world champion
in “lumberjill” competitions for women. Other contestants include
Jennifer Lopez's stunt double and the record-holder for selling Girl
scout cookies.

“This is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. The relationship between Kevin and his adoptive brother
Randall has been rocky; we learn more about it tonight. Also,
Randall's wife spends time with his biological father, bringing out a
key secret.

TV column for Tuesday, July 4

“A Capitol Fourth,” 8 p.m., PBS; most stations will rerun it at

We can expect a
good-time, party mood here. John Stamos, who hosts, will sit in with
the Beach Boys, something he's done often; The Blues Brothers (Dan
Akroyd and Jim Belushi) will sing with one of their heroes, Sam Moore
of Sam-and-Dave fame. And, of course, there will be fireworks.

Still, we can also
expect emotion. Trace Adkins will sing his “Still a Soldier”;
gospel great Yolanda Adams will do “Battle Hymn of the Republic,
backed by a chorus. Also performing are Kellie Pickler, Sofia Carson.
Mark McGrath, Chris Blue and the Four Tops.

“Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular,” 8 p.m.,
NBC, partially rerunning at 10.

Here's some more
holiday spectacle, this time from New York and with commercials
thrown in. The “American Ninja Warrior” hosts will be there,
introducing music by Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, Jennifer Lopez,
Sheryl Crow, Charlie Puth and Hailee Steinfeld.

Then it's time for
the fireworks. That will be backed by the West Point Band and Glee
Club's “Anthem,” with soloists Heather Headley, Craig Campbell
and Jamie Barton.

ALTERNATIVE: Tom Hanks films, cable.

Hanks is everywhere,
as usual. Two of his best films alternate on Spike -- “Forrest
Gump” (1994) at 12:30 and 8 p.m., “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)
at 4 and 11:30. But there's also the subtle perfection of his work in
“Sully” (2016), at 7:50 p.m. on HBO.

Then there's Hanks
as producer. On CNN (barring breaking news), his “The Nineties”
documentary has an excellent opener Sunday; tonight, his “Eighties”
reruns. It eyes '80s TV at 7 p.m. and MTV at 9, then gets serious
with Reagan (10), the Berlin Wall (11), Wall Street (midnight) and
tech (1 a.m.).

Other choices

“Rocky” (1976),
6 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m., Sundance. An American classic runs
three times, with its sequels filling the rest of the day.

“Independence Day”
(1996), 6 and 9 p.m., E. OK, you could watch this film on
Independence Day. Still, it's not really related to the holiday ...
and it's not really very good, once you lose the big-screen
spectacle. Instead, you might try Turner Classic Movies, with a
musical marathon that includes “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942) and
“1776” (1972) at 8 and 10:15 p.m. ET.

“The Words That
Built America,” 7 p.m., HBO, rerunning at 11:35. The Declaration of
Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution are read by a range of
people, from ex-presidents to middle-schoolers.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Here's a rerun of the season-opener, which introduced Wilmer
Valderrama as an undercover agent who disappeared in Argentina. Now a
deadly car explosion is linked to him.

“The Middle,” 8
and 10:30 p.m., ABC. A comedy-rerun marathon starts and ends with
this clever show. First, the kids tell their parents that the
bickering bothers them. Then Brick is writing a musical and his
brother wants to sell the Winnebago.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. It's Christmas time – yes, these are reruns –
and Dre wants it to be special for Zoey, before she goes to college.
In the second episode, he and Junior exchange pranks.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. There's a conflict for Pride, when a
beloved family friend becomes the lead suspect in an NCIS

TV column for Monday, July 3

“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8 p.m., Fox.

On a night with many
people in a holiday-eve mode, new episodes are scarce. This one, at
least, is a worthy rerun, with great dance moves during the second
half of Los Angeles auditions.

It starts with
something that's familiar on this show – gifted contemporary
dancers from Utah. Then come the detours, including a step-dancer,
two “triple-jointed” hip hoppers and a rare combination – a
champion ridin'-shootin' cowboy who says he does “belly dancing as
a hip hop fusion.” It's great fun.

II: “Life in Pieces,” 9:30 p.m., CBS.

For a fairly good
(but inconsistent) show, “Pieces” is remarkably blessed. This
summer, it's behind TV's two best comedies -- “Big Bang” on
Thursdays and “Mom” on Mondays.

Tonight's rerun has
Heather and Tim still hoping their son will annul his teen marriage
to Clementine. They bring in her odd parents – played by real-life
husband-and-wife Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally. There are other
stories, including a so-so one involving Colleen's resentful

ALTERNATIVE: “Preacher,” 9 p.m., AMC., rerunning at 10:03 and

On a rerun-stuffed
night, you might try this new episodes ... even if does create a
state of semi-permanent bafflement. Working on a tip that God loves
jazz (logically enough), the preacher heads to New Orleans with
Cassidy and Tulip ... who doesn't tell him that the journey puts her
in deep danger.

He confronts a
blonde beauty with her own secrets. It's all an interesting blur,
bookended by something else – a revisionist view of what happened
to Eugene, the well-meaning lad with the shattered face, Is that the
true version? It's tough to pin down truth in a story of angels,
demons and a jazz-loving God.

Other choices

“Janet King,”
any time, This
Australian series has sharp stories, slick filming and a top Aussie
star, Marta Dusseldorp. An eight-episode story of a cricket scandal
will be doled out at two per Monday, but the start is tough on
Americans, trying to navigate Aussie accents plus cricket rules.

“American Ninja
Warrior” and “Spartan,” 8 and 10 p.m., NBC. Surrounded by
reruns, NBC goes with new episodes, as both shows continue their
qualifying rounds.

Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. This rerun starts with Rachel
Lindsay, the Dallas lawyer, dating a pair of show-biz guys – Lee,
a musician from Nashville, and Kenny, a wrestler from Las Vegas.
After the rose ceremony, the survivors head to Scandinavia, including
Viking games.

“Superhuman,” 9
p.m., Fox. Here's one more show that's not a rerun. It offers lots of
imposing challenges, including one involving the Penn-and-Teller
magic duo.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. As members of Alcoholics Anonymous, these women have stuck with
their sobriety. In this rerun, however, they accidentally eat
pot-laced brownies.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. Lea Thompson returns as Paige's mother. In this rerun, the
team has been duped into making counterfeit money; now she must use
her grifting skills to save the day.

“Battle of the
Network Stars,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. The instant failure of “Still
Star-Crossed” (now banished to Saturdays) leaves ABC with a hole
after one of its best summer shows. Barring a late change, it plans
to show the “Battle” opener for the third time in five days.

TV column for Sunday, July 2

“Grantchester,” 9 p.m., PBS.

For some people,
this is part of a long 4th-of-July weekend, when
viewership droops. Many networks (HBO, Showtime, Hallmark) skip their
Sunday series.

Not PBS, which has
three straight new drama hours. “Grantchester,” the centerpiece,
has James Norton as Sidney, a1950s vicar, forever solving crimes with
his police friend Geordie (Robson Green). Tonight's mystery is a
smart one, with multiple poisioning and multiple suspects. Alongside
that are morose romances: Sidney's true love may be leaving; Geordie
may be having an affair.

II: Cartoon movies, cable.

As new cartoon
movies hit the theaters, their predecessors show up on cable.
“Despicable Me 3” opened Friday; now “1” (2010) is at 7:25
p.m. on Freeform and “2” (2013) is 8 and 10 p.m. on FX. And “Cars
3” arrived two weeks earlier; the original “Cars” (2006) shows
up at 5 p.m. today on Disney.

There's more, to
fill the holiday weekend. Nickelodeon has the “SpongeBob” movie
(2015) at noon, 4 and 8 p.m.; FX has”Home” (2013) at 6. And
Freeform surrounds “Despicable” with other winners – the witty
“Wreck-It Ralph” (2012) at 5:20 p.m. and “Finding Nemo”
(2003) at 9:30.

ALTERNATIVE: “America in Color” debut, 8 p.m., Smithsonian.

Each week, an entire
decade will skim past us in one hour; just think of all the
history-class and history-book time you're saving. Yes, it's often
light and surface, but adding color brings old film alive.

This starts with the
1920s, when government was hands-off. Even after the mammoth
Mississippi River flooding, the federal government stayed away. It
also left business and the stock market mostly unregulated; the
economy soared ... then crashed, leading to next week's look at the

Other choices

“My Mother and
Other Strangers,” 8 p.m., PBS. Kate Phillips, who played Jane
Seymour in PBS' “Wolf Hall,” gets part of the focus here. She's
Nurse Tillie, trying to come to the rescue in time.

“Big Brother,” 8
p.m., CBS. The show settles into its pattern – 8 p.m. Sundays
(joined next week by “Candy Crush”) and Wednesdays and 9 p.m.

“The Butler,” 8
p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network, rerunning at 11. Here's logical synergy
– Winfrey's network airing a film in which she has a co-starring
role. Based loosely on the life of a man who was the White House
butler for 34 years, it's done with subtle skill by the “Empire”
people – writer Danny Strong and director Lee Daniels. Forest
Whitaker stars, with Winfrey perfect in a small role as his wife.

“Fear the Walking
Dead,” 9 p.m., AMC. As word spreads of an incoming threat, loyalty

“First Ladies
Revealed” debut, 9 p.m., Smithsonian. This series starts with a
look at the impact style. It tends to be too fawning, especially with
Jacqueline Kennedy, who dominates this hour. Much better are the
brief sections dealing with Dolly Madison and Nancy Reagan.

Claws,” 9 p.m.,
TNT, rerunning at 10. Desna faces deep pressure, covering up the
murder of her lover. In a so-so episode, the problem expands when her
friend's hapless husband joins the hunt for the killer.

“Tennison,” 10
p.m., PBS. Last week's opener took the “Prime Suspect” figure
back to the start of her police career in 1973. Ignored by men, she
found a key clue in the murder of Julie Ann Collins, a prostitute
with a posh background. Now Julie Ann's father faces intense
questioning and her boyfriend continues with his family's bank-heist
scheme. It's a strong episode, complete with an ethical dilemma.