TV column for Friday, Aug. 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Matilda” (1996) and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
(2005), 6 p.m. and 8-11 p.m., ABC Family.

Roald Dahl wrote
stories that were for and about children ... yet had a grown-up's
dark wit. Several were turned into movies, including these two gems
from master directors.

Matilda (Mara
Wilson) is a sweet girl with awful parents (Danny DeVito, who
directed, and Rhea Perlman). Charlie is a bright boy who wins a
chance to visit the chocolate shop of Willy Wonka (Johnny Depp). The
result has the magical touch of director Tim Burton and composer
Danny Elfman.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.

Even the good guys
have dark histories here. In this rerun, that catches up with them:
Danny (Scott Caan) and Chin (Daniel Dae Kim) have been arrested.

Now McGarrett needs
help to clear them. He turns to Joe White (Terry O'Quinn), his former
boss, and Frank Bama (Jimmy Buffett), the former Vietnam pilot.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Girl Meets World,” 8:30 p.m., Disney.

Here's a rerunion of
guys from “Boy Meets World,” which the same producers made two
decades ago.

Cory (Ben Savage),
the center of that show, is now a teacher; his brother Eric (Will
Friedle) is visited by an old friend, Jack Hunter (Matthew Lawrence).
Meanwhile, Cory's daughter ponders wether to go to the semi-formal
dance with her friend Lucas or with a classmate.

Other choices
include:

Marx Brothers
movies, 4:30 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. Here's a chronological
tour of comedy classics. That includes “Cocoanuts” (1929) at 4:30
p.m. ET, “Animal Crackers” (1930) at 6:15, “MonkeyBusiness”
(1931) at 8, Horse Feathers (1932) at 9:30, “Duck Soup” (1933) at
10:45 and “A Night at the Opera” at midnight.

“Elementary,” 8
p.m., CBS. This rerun offers a variation on crime compensation: A
serial killer leaves envelopes of cash on each victim.

“Defiance,” 8
p.m., Syfy. Nolan is suddenly freed from the Votanis Collective; now
Irisa and others must save him from Kindzi. Also, there's a startling
sight in the mine.

“Annie” (2014),
8-10:05 p.m., Starz. The basic idea made sense: Take the jaunty
family musical and move it to modern New York. The result, however,
is low on magic and weak (surprisingly) on music. The cast is filled
with voices that are merely adequate.

“Gotham,” 9
p.m., Fox. In a rerun, Gordon takes the beautiful Dr. Thompson
(Morena Baccarin) to the circus; naturally, it's soon under attack.
Also, young Bruce Wayne plans a board-of-directors meeting.

“Killjoys,” 9
p.m., Syfy. The team is jolted when it learns why Khylen is in the
Quad.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. It's a father-and-son effort, as Frank and Danny (Tom
Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg) try to nail a felon who keeps eluding
murder charges. Also in this rerun, Donnie's sister considers private
practice, after meeting a former law-school classmate (Rebecca Mader)

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 13


TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE: “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” 10 p.m., FX.

This
fictional rock band seems ideal for group therapy. There's the
egotistical front man (Denis Leary), the grown daughter (Elizabeth
Gillies) he just met, the guitarist (John Corbett) whose wife he
cheated with and more. Now a wonderfully odd therapist (Griffin
Dunne) takes them all on.

The
result leaps deftly between individual sessions, then is hilarious
when throwing everyone together. A brilliant script gets big laughs,
yet also wraps up smartly.

TONIGHT'S
MUST-SEE II: “Under the Dome,” 10 p.m., CBS.

The
good news is that this show has an endgame, after all. By the season
finale Sept. 10, CBS chief Nina Tassler promises, the dome will come
down; the show may or may not have a fourth summer.

So
this is going somewhere. Tonight, Big Jim and Julia (Dean Norris and
Rachelle LeFevre) battle Christine (Marg Helgenberger). Also, Hunter
probes the corporation that wants to profit from the dome.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Rectify” season-finale, 10-11:10 p.m., Sundance;
reruns at 1:10 a.m.

A
great series ends its tiny, six-show season with big steps. In
exchange for avoiding more prison time, Daniel reluctantly signed a
murder confession and agreed to leave Georgia. Now he and his mom
take a road trip to Nashville, with a detour to the Georgia shore.

There's
much more, including a confession about the original murder and an
arrest for a subsequent one. Daniel's sister Amantha has an
unexpected vistior; his sister-in-law Tawney returns home.

Other
choices include:

Mom,”
8 and 8:31 p.m., CBS. “Big Bang Theory” gets the week off, but
don't fret; here are two splendid reruns. Last week, “Mom” reran
a gem, involving the death of Christy's dad; tonight's second episode
follows up on that, as Christy's mom (Allison Janney) falls apart.
Before that is a rerun of the season-opener, introducing Jaime
Pressley as a wealthy recovering alcoholic.

“Beauty
and the Beast,” 8 p.m., CW. As Cat and Vincent head out to catch
Liam, they find helpful information. Also, JT searches for proof that
he's serum-free.

“The
Astronaut Wives Club,” 8 p.m., ABC. While the country seems to be
crumbling in 1969, the wives face personal change: Jo Schirra wonders
about her new role, after her husband retires from the astronaut
corps; Louise Shepherd worries when her husband undergoes dangerous
surgery.

“Mistresses,”
9 p.m., ABC. Joss is in jail, pondering what life would be if she'd
chosen Scott instead of Harry. Also, Harry's bitter that he can't
visit her in jail; and Daniel has a tape that could help her case.

“Project
Runway,” 9-10:32 p.m., Lifetime. Last week's season-opener
(rerunning in shortened form at 8 p.m.) saw designers rush to grab
four fabrics. Tonight, they do designs incorporating Hallmark cards.

“Rookie
Blue,” 10 p.m., ABC. With Oliver still the prime bombing suspect,
his colleagues try a risky plan to show that Commissioner Santana is
framing him.

“Married,”
10:33 p.m., FX. For Russ and Lina (Nate Faxon and Judy Greer), family
life is never easy. Tonight, they actually plan to take a vacation;
complications seem to appear.

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Kevin From Work” debut, 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC Family.
Kevin is
an office drone, neat and unnoticed. His world is bland ... except
for Audrey in the next cubicle. She glows; she also, of course, has a
hunky boyfriend.

“Kevin From Work”
has the feeling of an indie movie, written and filmed with subltlety
and skill. It has the social-media details of modern life, but also
adds some timeless touches. At one point, Kevin is attacking a
mailbox, trying to retrieve a love letter. Naturally, he fails; love
rarely runs smooth.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“America's Got Talent,” 8 p.m., NBC.

Now that the
audition round has finished, Wednesdays are results nights. On
Tuesday, 12 acts performed; by the end of this hour, seven will
advance to the semi-finals.

There will be plenty
of complications, of course. Viewers can do an instant save, via the
Internet; also, NBC says there will be a surprise guest performance.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Difficult People,” any time, www.hulu.com.

Julie Klausner has
mastered the art of pop-culture snark. From recaps and podcasts to
books and talk shows, she's sniped at “real housewives” and
unreal stars.

In this show, she
and her friend Billy Eichner portray exaggerated versions of
themselves. The Julie and Billy here seem to hate almost everyone
except each other. It's fun to see them snipe, but tonight that
rebound on them. New episodes appear on Wednesdays, for Hulu
subscribers; however, the first two episodes (which debuted last
week) are in front of the paywall.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. These two challenges are opposite extremes – first
vegetarian, then a meal using cuts from an animal head.

“The Middle,” 8
p.m., ABC. After showing endless patience, Sue is finally enraged: In
this rerun, her brother Axl has failed to bring home the sombrero she
needs for a school photo.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m.,, ABC. Always eager to tackle sports, Jay agrees to sub for
Cam in a bowling league. He doesn't know it's an all-gay league.

“Mr. Robinson,”
9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC. Fresh from “America's Got Talent,” viewers
will bump into this comedy; it's not worthy. The show's few good
moments involve clever musical numbers; its many awful ones involve
Craig Robinson's school colleagues, especially the lunkhead who calls
himself Magnum. Tonight's first episode, with lots of Magnum, is
awful; the second, with more music, is OK.

“Ties That Bind”
debut, 9 p.m., UP; repeating at 10 and 11. In its first scripted
series, this feel-good network has Kelli Williams as a cop. After
putting her brother in prison, she takes his two teen-agers into her
home, with her husband and kids.

“Celebrity Wife
Swap,” 10 p.m., ABC. Hines Ward and Verne Troyer aren't mistaken
for each other. Ward is 6-foot, a football star with two Super Bowl
rings and all of the Steelers' receiving records; Troyer is 2-foot-8,
known for playing Mini-me. Now Ward's wife and Troyer's girlfriend
trade places.

“Twinning,” 10
p.m., VH1. Here's the fourth round for this fairly interesting
series, which started by pitting a dozen sets of young-adult twins,
some likable and some just loud. Living separately – a new
experience for some of them – they must guess each other's
thoughts. Tonight, a prank goes bad.

TV column for Tuesday, Aug. 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Last Man on Earth,” 9-10 p.m.,
Fox.

Fox's latest
reality-show disaster is good news for viewers. In its second (and
final) week, “Knock Knock Live” finished 82nd in the
Nielsen ratings. That was bad news for Fox -- which started the
season with the quick collapse of “Utopia”; it's good news for
viewers, who get reruns of better shows.

Each has a “Saturday
Night Live” alumnus, offbeat humor and honors – Golden Globes for
“Nine-Nine” and star Andy Samberg; Emmy nominations for “Last
Man” and star Will Forte. Tonight, we see one crook elude Samberg's
undercover trap; then Forte's bungle endangers the future of mankind.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Face Off,” 9 p.m., Syfy.

While some reality
shows crash, this has thrived. It has good contestants (aspiring
movie make-up people), a smart host (McKenzie Westmore, daughter of a
make-up master) and clever challenges.

Tonight is the 100th
episode. Contestants turn couples into zombies; then a marriage
ceremony is conducted by Westmore, who has become an ordained
minister.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Tyrant,” 10 p.m., FX.

Somehow, Barry has
been able to keep the ultimate secret: He's not dead, after all.

His wife and
children think he is; so does his brother Jamal, the dictator who
left him to die in the desert, after a failed coup. Now insurgents
seem more dangerous than the government; Barry scrambles to link with
Jamal's side and to tell his “widow” that he's alive and (fairly)
well.

Other choices
include:

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. The long audition process is finally over;
now the live rounds begin. Tonight, 12 of the 36 acts perform and
viewers vote; on Wednesday, we'll learn which seven will advance.
That process will continue for two more weeks.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, a new murder offers a fresh clue about at bombing 40
years ago.

“Zoo,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. With Jamie (Kristen Connolly) accused of murder, the team tries
to gather evidence by hacking into a mainframe. Meanwhile, Chloe must
work with her former fiance in Paris.

“Teen Wolf”
(1985), 9-11 p.m., Pop. This goofy concept – an ordinary teen
turned all wolfy – keeps drawing good actors. Michael Landon made
“I Was a Teenage Werewolf” in 1957 ... Michael J. Fox made this
likable film ... Jason Bateman did the 1987 series ... and Tyler
Posey stars in the MTV series.

“Hollywood Game
Night,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. The fun parlor games have Jay Pharoah of
“Saturday Night Live” and director Kevin Smith, plus actors Haley
Joel Osment, Brandon T. Jackson, Elisha Cuthbert and Justin Long.

“Startup U”
debut, 10:01 p.m., ABC Family. Ten young people start a seven-week
camp run by Tim Draper, who has helped finance some top tech
creations. Draper's approach is goofy, but his students are
interesting. Tony Compasso totally flubs a one-minute pitch session;
his wife Erin Brady does fine at that – which you'd expect: She was
Miss USA in 2013.

“Another Period,”
10:30 p.m., Comedy Central. Beatrice really can't take the fact that
her true love (who is also her twin brother) is engaged to someone
else. She reverts to babyhood. Also in this neatly offbeat comedy,
set in 1902, their mom becomes addicted to morphine.

TV column for Monday, Aug. 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

Now things get
serious. Instead of dropping two people, the show dumps four of the
remaining 14 dancers. Whoever survives, it will be a terrific and
varied top 10.

In each previous
week, the show has dropped one “stage” dancer and one “street”
dancer. The street side lost two breakers and a “waaker”; the
stage side has lost a ballet dancer and two from jazz or
contemporary. Tonight, viewers will save some by Twitter ... and will
see some talented people leave.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Bachelor in Paradise: After Paradise,” 9:01 p.m., ABC.

Other serie – from
“American Idol” to “The Walking Dead” -- have had
after-shows, talking about what just happened. Those, however, were
latenight or Online; this one is in prime time.

There should be
plenty to talk about after “Bachelor in Paradise” (8 p.m.) --
much of it centering on Tenley Molzahn. She was a divisive force
twice in 2010 – as the runner-up in “The Bachelor” and then in
the first “Bachelor Pad.” Now she's back: If you add up the
episodes Sunday and today, she has three suitors and two-mega-dates;
one of them, tonight, is poolside, backed by 100 mariachi musicians.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Movies, cable.

The choices tonight
are strong and varied. For a popular action film, there's the
“Transformers” sequel (2011) at 8 p.m. on FX. For strong drama
mixed with taut action, Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford are superb
in “The Fugitive” (1993), at 6 p.m. on AMC. And for family fun,
“Enchanted” (2007) is a smart and, yes, enchanting tale of a
cartoon princess turned flesh-and-blood human.

Then again, we could
try a new documentary, “I am Chris Farley,” at 9 p.m. on Spike.

Other choices
include:

“Chasing Shadows,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. This
launches the second of two two-part movies about a missing-persons
team. The first was terrific, this one is fairly good; after it
concludes next week, the streaming service will make all four parts
available.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The show returns to Pittsburgh, where
the top 30 contestants from the qualifying round compete for a spot
in the Las Vegas finals.

“The Odd Couple,”
8:30 p.m., CBS. In a funny rerun, Oscar (Matthew Perry) is tempted to
jump from radio to a TV show. His agent says no, Felix says yes;
oddly, he listens to Felix.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. This rerun finds the team working quickly: The governor's
daughter has been “bio-hacked” with a virus and only has 24 hours
to live.

“Major Crimes,”
9 p.m., TNT. Wrapping up the summer half of its season, “Crimes”
probes the murder of a judge's son. The team sifts through his cases,
searching for likely suspects.

“The Whispers,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. What can be done to stop this fierce force called
Dril? One plan is to trap it and drain its energy. But if that fails
will there be retribution?

“Running Wild with
Bear Grylls,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. From “Girlfight” and “Lost”
to the “Fast and Furious” movies, Michelle Rodriguez keeps
playing tough, daring people. Now she gets a real-life challenge –
descending dangerous slot canyons, then trying to survive on the
floor of a Nevada desert.