TV column for Sunday, April 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Stayin' Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Bee Gees,” 8-10 p.m., CBS.

Forty years ago, the
Bee Gees ruled the music world. Their “Saturday Night Fever”
album had three No. 1 hits, won five Grammys and sold 40 million
copies. Their other records sold 180 million more.

Now Barry Gibb –
at 70, the only surviving Gibb brother – will perform, along with
current stars, some of them – Tori Kelly, Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato,
Andra Day -- born long after the “Fever” subsided. The night also
includes Keih Urban, Celine Dion, John Legend, Penatonix and Little
Big Town.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Leftovers,” “Girls” and “Veep,” 9-11 p.m., HBO.

For six seasons,
“Girls” has been a landmark series, bringing Lena Dunham's fresh
vision of modern, big-city life. Now its finale (10 p.m.) is
surrounded by season-openers.

“Leftovers”
starts its final season, with the world expected to end soon, on the
seventh anniversary of the day two-percent of mankind disappeared.
“Veep” (10:30) – winner of two straight best-comedy Emmys –
has Selena (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) workig on her legacy, a year after
she lost the presidency.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
“The Good Fight,” any time, CBS All Access.

A superb first
season concludes. Its case-of-the-week, involving cyperterrorism,is
clever and twisty, bringing back John Cameron Mitchell's perfect work
as an Internet troll with an impish sense of humor.

Then there's the
ongoing story, with Rose Leslie terrific as an earnest young lawyer
whose dad is accused of a Madoff-type scam. That ends the hour –
and the season – powerfully.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Guerrilla,” 9 p.m.,, Showtime; “American Crime,”
10 p.m., ABC.

John Ridley is the
new super-producer of deep, well-crafted dramas. His “Crime” is
superbly crafted – albeit sometimes painful to watch. That's
particularly true of this episode, with its shattering finish.

Ridley also has an
upcoming ABC documentary (about the Los Angeles riots) and now a
compelling Showtime series. In 1970s London, Marcus (Babou Ceesay) is
a mild-mannered teacher and Jas (Freida Pinto) is an intense hospital
worker. His roots are in Africa, hers are in India, both face fierce
prejudice. Then she nudges him into action; soon, they're
gun-wielding rebels, drawing national attention.

Other choices
include:

Easter
lite: For kids, there are cartoons. The amiable Peppa Pig is busy
searching for Easter eggs ... and for the bunny that's hiding them;
that's on Nick Jr.at 10 a.m. and 2, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Also at 7, Fox
reruns an “Ice Age” Easter special. And for grown-ups, “Easter
Parade” (1948), an Irving Berlin musical with Judy Garland and Fred
Astaire, is 6 p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies.

Easter
serious: It's a busy day for religious films, led by “Heaven Is For
Real” (2014), at 8 and 10:02 p.m. on Lifetime. The History Channel
starts “The Bible” documentaries at 9 a.m., with the Easter
portion from 5-7 p.m. And TCM has epics -- “Barabbas” (1962) at
11:30 a.m. ET, “Ben-Hur” (1959) at 2 p.m., “The Robe” (1953)
at 8 and “King of Kings” (1961) at 10:30.

“The
Real Jesus of Nazareth” debut, 8 p.m., Smithsonian. Back in 1977,
Robert Powell had the title role in “Jesus of Nazareth,” an epic
mini-series that included seven Oscar-winners. For this four-part
documentary, Powell returns to the Holy Land, to learn more about the
historical Jesus.

“Home
Fires,” 9 p.m., PBS. At times, this hour seems riveted in one
direction. There's som much anger and bitterness that we have trouble
remembering that people are often at their best during crises. Stick
around, however; the final minutes offer a major surprise.

“Match
Game,” 9 p.m., ABC. Martha Stewart guests, surrounded by comedy
people. That includes Horatio Sanz, Niecy Nash, Casey Wilson, Lamorne
Morris and Mario Cantone.

“Shades
of Blue,” 10 p.m., NBC. Last week ended powerfully, with Harlee
(Jennifer Lopez) admitting she's been an FBI informant. Now she faces
her colleagues' rage.

TV column for Saturday, April 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

For six years, Jimmy
Fallon was a fixture on this show – doing sketches and, eventually,
co-anchoring “Weekend Update.” He's returned often in the past 13
years, but this will only by his third time as host.

After some failed
movies, Fallon found his home eight years ago, hosting NBC's
latenight shows. He led the ratings until recently, when the
overheated political scene boosted C BS' Stephen Colbert. Now Fallon
re-visits “SNL”; the music guest is Harry Styles ... whom Fallon
parodied last time he hosted.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Ten Commandments” (1956), 7-11:44 p.m., ABC; some stations will start it at 8.

Generations ago,
moviegoers were awed by this film. They savored the size and scope;
they marvelled at the spectacle of Moses (Charlton Heston) parting
the Red Sea.

“Ten Commandments:
was nominated for the best-picture Oscar, losing to “Around the
World in 80 Days”; it won for special effects and was nominated in
five more categories. By modern standards, it often seems slow and
stiff; still, it tends to draw a big TV audience each Easter week.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Doctor Who,” 9 p.m. and midnight ET, BBC America.

Ever since 1963,
this quirky-clever show has been part of the science-fiction
landscape. It's had 12 people play The Doctor and about 50 play his
companion, zooming through space and time.

Now this is the
final season that will have Peter Capaldi as the Doctor and the
brilliant Steven Moffat (who also does PBS' “Sherlock”) as
writer-producer. And if you've missed the first 53 years, it's easy
to catch up: There are reruns all day, continuing unti 6 p.m. Sunday;
also, there's a new companion (played by Pearl Mackie), so tonight it
will all be explained to her.

Other choices
include:

“Hop” (2011),
noon, Disney. An amiable slacker (James Marsden) meets the Easter
Bunny's teen-aged son (a cartoon, voiced by Russell Brand). The
result is goofy, but fun for any age.

More animation,
cable. FXX has an all-day marathon, from the forest eco-adventure
“Epic” (2013) at 10 a.m. to “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”
(2014) at 6 p.m. and “Turbo” (2013) at 8 and 10. Disney counters
with the classic “Up” (2009) at 9 p.m.

Sports overload, all
day. The playoffs are starting in two pro sports. For basketball,
that's 3 p.m. ET on ABC and 5:30, 8 and 10:30 p.m. on ESPN; for
hockey, it's 3 and 8 p.m. ET on NBC, 7 and 10:30 on NBC Sports
Network. Also, Fox has UFC fights, from 6-10 p.m.

“The Son,” all
night, AMC. Last week's sprawling opener reruns at 6:50 p.m.,
introducing Eli as both a youth in turmoil and – much later, played
by Pierce Brosnan – as the owner of a cattle ranch in 1915 Texas.
It's flawed – an obsession with torture, a brutal view of American
Indians – but ambitious. Then a new hour – 9 p.m., rerunning at
10 -- slows the pace. Eli and one son scramble for financing; another
son is consumed by guilt about the Mexican saboteur he secretly
imprisoned and then killed in a fight.

“Ransom,” 8
p.m., CBS. A hacker plans to activate explosions worldwide, unless
the NSA provides access to confidential files. To intervene, Eric
must work with an adversary.

“Training Day,”
9 p.m., CBS. Frank (the late Bill Paxton) chases a father-son crime
team (with the son played by James Paxton, Bill's son). That brings
flashbacks to Frank's childhood with a criminal dad.

“Class” debut,
10:10 p.m. and 1:10 a.m. ET, BBC America. Ever since its earliest
days, “Doctor Who” has occasionally visited the Coal Hill
Academy. Now the students there get their own, eight-week series,
facing youth angst plus the added pressure of time-traveling monsters
and such.

TV column for Friday, April 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“First Dates,” 8 p.m., NBC.

Anyone who saw last
week's terrific opener will agree that Woody deserves a second
chance. A straight-forward carpet-layer from Nashville, he was
somehow matched with a ditz whose lone virtue seemed to be her
perfect (and surgically enhanced) appearance. Now he meets her
opposite.

That date – which
waits until the second half of this hour – is the highlight of
another fun episode. We won't spoil any surprises, but there's a
trend continuing from the opener: “Friends” was wrong, it seems
to say; gorgeous (or handsome) young heterosexuals should be avoided.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“MacGyver” season-finale, 8 p.m., CBS.

This has been a
strong first season in the ratings, giving CBS a relatively upbeat
start to its crimestopper night. Now it concludes with Mac facing his
nemesis.

That's Murdoc, a
cold-eyed killer who was in seven episodes of the original series and
is already in his fourth one here. Last week, Mac pretended to be
him, after intercepting a message. Now Murdoc wants a former cellmate
to land a job as a lab technician at the Phoenix Complex, and then
kill everyone.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERATIVE: “The Toy Box,” 8 p.m., ABC.

The tradition of a
pinata goes back forever – some say 500 years (Mexico) or 700
(Europe) or more (China). Suddenly, Americans want to change it. Last
week, one proposed a “party cannon,” shooting out candy if you
hit the target; tonight is the “pinata backpack,” sort of tag
with candy at the end.

That's one of
several ideas, alongside ballet dolls, fruit characters, snappy
(literally) little cars and two-sided books that can be seen by the
reader and the kids. Unlike “You the Jury,” it's harmless fun.

TONIGHT'S
MUST-AVOID: “You the Jury,” 9 p.m., Fox.

A complex subject –
someone's personal responsibility for crude comments that others post
on social media – is reduced to a circus atmosphere, with an awful
host (Jeanine Pirro) and a cheering crowd.

Last week's episode
– a civil-suit version of a murder trial – at least stayed
somewhat on-point. This one weaves in odd directions, while the crowd
claps, Pirro exaggerates and one person breaks down in tears. Jerry
Springer may be worse, but he's not dealing with vital subjects that
deserve some thought.

Other choices
include:

“Fortitude,” any
time, Amazon. In its first season – on the now-departed Pivot
network – this mixed gorgeous Arctic visuals and a small-town
mystery. Now it's finally back; also returning via streaming (on
Netflix) is the oft-hilarious “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. Rosie and friends head to a little town, where the former
mayor was killed.

“Great
Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS. Charles Gounod's 1867 “Romeo et
Juliette” works fairly well for people not into Shakespeare or
opera ... even if Vittorio Grigolo and Diana Damrau, 40 and 45, bear
no resemblance to the title teens.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. The show returns to the subject of Pearl Harbor. While
working the murder case of one of the last survivors, McGarrett
learns of his grandfather's involvement.

“Hop” (2011),
9-11 p.m., Disney. As the Easter weekend begins, families should
watch or record this pleasant film, mixing live actors and a cartoon
bunny. Other key films are “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) at 8
p.m. on FX, “You've Got Mail” (1998) at 8 on Pop and “Selena”
(1997) at 8:30 on Bravo.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Erin helps a former witness who wants to shut down a
drug operation in his apartment building.

TV column for Thursday, April 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Trial & Error” (NBC) or “The Big Bang Theory” (CBS), 8
p.m.

Since life is never
simple, there's a new twist: For one night, TV's best comedy and its
best new comedy air at the same time. The latter is “Trial,”
which sets up Tuesday's finale with this transplanted episode: After
28 days of prosecution testimony, Josh finally starts his defense ...
amid a major setback.

And “Big Bang”?
Last week, Bernadette was reluctant to end her maternity leave; now
she and Howard have a hard time leaving the baby at day care. And in
a twist similar to one on “Man With a Plan,” an oafish friend
(Brian Posehn) introduces his gorgeous girlfriend (April Bowlby of
“Drop Dead Diva”).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Scandal,” 9 p.m., ABC.

For the second time
in three days, we get the 100th episode of a show. On
Tuesday, it was “Switched at Birth”; tonight, “Scandal” has a
“what-if” episode.

Last week, people
learned of the plot behind the assassination of the president-elect.
Now Olivia (Kerry Washington) imagines what life would have been like
if she hadn't rigged a previous election.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Grey's Anatomy,” 8 p.m., ABC.

The tenuous
relationship between Meredith and Nathan gets an airborne shaking.
She had disliked the guy, because Owen did. (In Jordan, he cheated on
Owen's sister, whose helicopter later vanished.) Meredith and Nathan
did have some in-car sex, but no dates; she resisted, because Maggie
likes him.

But now they're
seatmates on an airline. We can expect another quickie – what is it
about Meredith and vehicles? – and then an in-flight crisis. That
could get us in the mood for “Scandal.”

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef
Junior,” 8 p.m., Fox. It's Christmas-cooking time. (Really.) The
klds must make gingerbread houses, then try to duplicate one of
Gordon Ramsay's holiday favorites.

“Powerless,”
8:30 p.m., NBC. Last week, we met Green Fury (Natalie Morales of “The
Grinder”), who's simply known in the comics as Fire. She zoomed in
to rescue Teddy. He's now quite smitten – life-saving will do that
– but Emily needs her help to deliver on a big idea.

“Chicago Med,” 9
p.m., NBC. When Dr. Halstead's unsupportive father is admitted, it
seems to trigger other parental problems. Dr. Rhodes reflects on
troubles with his dad ... Dr. Charles' daughter's odd behavior
intensifies ... and Dr. Manning feels the complications of being a
working mother.

“Riverdale,” 9
p.m., CW. During all their years of teen-show stardom, we never
envisioned Luke Perry and Molly Ringwald marrying and divorcing each
other. Now they finalize their split, as their son Archie tries to
hide his true feelings. Also, a birthday party for Jughead spins out
of control.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Looming is the potential for big change. Bonnie and Adam
are ready to take their relationship to the next step; Christy
suddenly adopts the healthy habits of her new boyfriend (Bret
Harrison of “Grounded for Life” and “Reaper”). After decades
of unhealthy habits, this is drastic.

“Life in Pieces,”
9:30, CBS. Maybe Matt and Colleen will think twice having kids; their
attempt to watch their niece Lark is disastrous. Also, Tim and
Heather rehash a long-ago argument.

“The Catch,” 10
p.m., ABC. On the legitimate side, Alice and Val re-examine the case
that first brought them together. On the sneaky side, Ben and Rhys
fear their undercover status has been compromised.

TV column for Wednesday, April 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Experience” conclusion, 9-11 p.m., PBS.

With fresh American
troops stepping in for the battered allies, World War I is finally
turning. Woodrow Wilson ponders the rest of his goal – to create a
League of Nations and make it a war to end all wars.

Clouding that, this
terrific documentary says, were Wilson's personal flaws. At times, he
favored racial segregation, opposed women having the vote, suppressed
free speech and had German-Americans arrested. One man says Wilson
had “high ideals, but no principles”; another calls him “both
the great democrat and one of the most oppressive figures in American
history.”

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Shots Fired,” 8 p.m., Fox.

At first, this was
basic enough – one victim (a white college student), one suspect (a
black cop), a governor trying to quash trouble by sending Ashe and
Preston, a black lawyer and prosecutor.

But now they've
found a witness in a second case, the murder of a black teen.
Unfolding is a beautifully layered portrait of complex racial issues.
A scene between Ashe and the sheriff is similar to the understated
perfection of the “In the Heat of the Night” movie. That's about
as good as a drama gets.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Hollywood Darlings” and “Return of the Mac”
debuts, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Pop; rerunning at 11 and 11:30.

This has become a
cable staple – the mock reality show, with Hollywood people playing
variations of themselves. One show (Larry David's) is great, several
(including Joey McIntyre's new show at 8:30) are OK ... and
“Hollywood Darlings,” which precedes it, is quite awful.

The first problem is
these former child stars – Jodie Sweetin of “Full House,”
Beverley Mitchell of “7th Heaven,” Christine Lakin of
“Step by Step” -- look so much alike. That's symbolic of the
fact that “Darlings” finds no interesting differences beteen
them, Afterward, a quirky “Mac” is welcome.

Other choices
include:

Movies, all night.
Top movies start early – the brilliant “Godfather” (1972) at 4
p.m. on AMC, the Harry Potter finale (2010 and 2011) at 4:30 and 8:30
p.m. on Freeform and the compelling “Gone Girl” at 5 p.m. on FXX.
Others follow, leading to two thoroughly entertaining 9 p.m.. films
-- “Princess Bride” (1987) on Pop and “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
(2015) on Starz.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC. In the first rerun, a
rape suspect is defended by his powerful family. In the second (the
400th overall), a teen uses a rifle to protect his mother.

“Empire,” 9 .m.,
Fox. Nia Long's impressive career has ranged from “Fresh Prince”
and “Third Watch” to the recent “Beaches” remake. Now, as
Giuliana, she's providing fresh competition for Cookie – whose son
Hakeem's is ready to launch an epic 21st birthday party.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. At a family wedding, people try to keep Jay from bumping
into his ex-wife (Shelley Long). Also in this rerun, Cam fumes about
someone who was rude at Lily's recital.

“Major Crimes”
season-finale, 9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 10. Last week's hour
(rerunning at 8) involved the search for a deadly bomber. Now the
team knows who it is, but doesn't know the next target.

“Designated
Survivor,” 10 p.m., ABC. Trying to get his first bill passed, the
president forms an unlikely alliance. Meanwhile, Hannah (an FBI
agent) warns Ritter (Secret Service) of a new threat.

“Hap and Leonard,”
10 p.m., Sundance, rerunning at 2 and 4 a.m. This is one of those
hours that leave you shouting “Call the police” at your TV
screen. A predator is likely to strike that night, killing a child at
the carnival; the guys know it, but resist all possibilities for
help. There are redeeming moments – the flashy zest of a carnival,
the reliable work of Irma P. Hall, 81 – but not enough.