TV column for Friday, April 4



TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Raising Hope” season-finale, 9 and
9:30 p.m., Fox.

Sometimes wonderfully odd, and sometimes just odd, “Hope”
throws a lot at us.


Tonight ranges from a dream wedding to a bounty-hunter chase
through a grocery store. Burt grills on a shopping cart and prepares Hope for
college by teaching her beer pong. We also see a large supply of Kenny Loggins
impersonators. Some of this is clever, some not, but the season ends well.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Unforgettable” return, 8 p.m., CBS.


Popping in and out of the schedule, this show would be easy
to forget. CBS cancelled it … brought it back for a 13-week summer run … then
saw it start late because of Poppy Montgomery’s pregnancy.


That’s why “Unforgettable” has leftover episodes for the
next six Fridays. Tonight, the murder of a rich couple is linked to an old case
Al (Dylan Walsh) worked. He goes undercover, posing as a married man alongside Carrie
(Montgomery), the cop who literally remembers everything.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Bruce Springtsteen’s High Hopes,”
9:30 p.m., HBO.


Growing up in New Jersey, Bruce Springsteen considered
Walter Cichon – tough and cocky – a true rock star. Cichon was 22, an Army
rifleman, when he was apparently killed in a Vietnam battle.


Springsteen says he thought about that on a day when he
visited the Vietnam-memorial wall and then happened to sit a few tables from Robert
McNamara, who led (and later regretted) the war effort. The result is a song
that says “apology and forgiveness got no place here at the wall.” It offers a
passionate ending to a half-hour that mixes fairly interesting comments and
superb music.


Other choices include:


Movies, 8 p.m., cable. Here are master
filmmakers – Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” (1990) on IFC and Steven Spielberg’s
splendid “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977) on BBC America. Then there’s
Tim Burton’s “Lone Ranger” (2013) at 9 p.m. on Starz; it has fine moments,
repeated way too often.


“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. Who
knew going home is so lethal? For the second time in four days (the first was in
CBS’ “Person of Interest”), a high school reunion leads to a murder
investigation. This one involves Chin’s class; Rob Corddry plays a struggling
illusionist.


“Live From Lincoln Center,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). James Naughton, a two-time Tony-winner, performs
the music of Randy Newman.


“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. Frank
(Tom Selleck) assigns a cold case to one of his sons, Jamie. His other son,
Danny, probes the case of a woman who died during secret plastic surgery. Also,
Frank’s daughter meets a guy (Holt McCallany of “Lights Out”) during
speed-dating.


“Continuum” season-opener, 10 p.m.,
Syfy. This whole time-travel thing gets confusing. Soon, we have two Kieras,
two Alecs and various realities. It’s a strong hour, albeit a perplexing one.


“Mountain Monsters” season-opener,
10 p.m., Destination America. This is a lot like all those ghost-hunting shows,
except there’s a chance to actually see something. Tonight, some likable “Duck
Dynasty” types search for what’s called the “Kentucky hellhound,” fast and
fierce and maybe 500 pounds.


TV column for Thursday, April 3



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

After being bumped twice by basketball, TV’s best comedy finds
its characters at decision points.


Raj has two girlfriends, which is two more than usual. Penny
must decide whether to take a role in a cheesy movie. And Sheldon faces the
toughest choice of all – which game system to buy.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “American Idol” and “Surviving Jack,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., Fox.


First, “Idol” trims its field to seven (barring a save),
after again leaning on its past: Chris Daughtry -- who became a rock star after
finishing fourth in 2006 – sings “Waiting For Superman,”


Then “Jack” has a fairly good episode, which is a step above
last week’s opener. Frankie wants to make the baseball team with his two
friends; now they need the help of his dad – whose idea of training is to fire
a gun during a fly ball. Also, Frankie’s mom and sister bond in a discussion of
cheating on guys.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Red Road” finale, 9 p.m., Sundance.


Over the first five hours, life tightened on Harold, the
once-honest cop. When his wife Jean had a hit-and-run accident, he covered it
up. He even helped the menacing Kopus, the only person who knew.


Now forces collide. Kopus’ dad is after him; so is the drug
gang they worked for. Tonight, we learn what happened 20 years ago, when Jean’s
brother drowned. A well-crafted mini-series concludes powerfully.


Other choices include: 


“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” season-finale, 8 p.m., ABC.
Jafar’s power is growing. He imprisoned Jabberwocky, tricked Anastasia into
thinking she loves him and raised an army of dead soldiers (always the scariest
kind). It’s time for Alice and the White Rabbit to confront him with their own
army.


“Community,” 8 p.m., NBC. This detour offers animation in
the style of a 1980s “GI Joe” cartoon.


“Parks and Recreation,” 8:30 p.m., NBC .It’s up to the parks
department to save the school prom. April reluctantly attends as the date of
her husband Andy; Tom is an un-reluctant disc jockey.


“Chicagoland,” 9 and 10 p.m., CNN (unless news intervenes).
First is a rerun of last week’s terrific hour, which profiled high school
principal Elizabeth Dozier – daughter of an ex-con and an ex-nun – as she tried
to help a student get out of jail and into a job. Then a new hour sees her face
a fresh crisis. Also, the 2013-14 year starts, testing the mayor’s “safe
passage” promise after the closing of many schools.


“Grey’s Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC. A flu outbreak is filling the
hospital and infecting the staff. Now there are bets on who will be hit next;
Derek tries to fight it while preparing a key presentation.


“Two and a Half Men,” 9:01 p.m., CBS. Walden is invited to
the opening of a boutique started by Kate (Brooke D’Orsay), his former girlfriend.
Also, Alan’s girlfriend (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) -- who thinks he’s Jeff
Strongman -- wants to spend more time at his house … which, of course, isn’t
really his.


“Scandal,” 10 p.m., ABC. Abby has to step in for Olivia,
doing key White House duties. Also, Reston’s presidential campaign faces a
sudden complication.


“Elementary,” 10:01 p.m., CBS. When a pickpocket dies of
anthrax poisoning, Holmes seeks the source.


TV column for Wednesday, April 2


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Mixology,” 9:31 p.m., ABC.


After a couple so-so episodes, “Mixology” is back in form –
slick, sharp dialog and involving characters, in the high-adrenaline setting of
a singles bar.


Tom -- open-hearted and optimistic – chats with Maya, whose
life is a series of break-ups. Ron, the droll Englishman, flirts with the newly
dumped waitress. Interesting people are tossed into fun contrasts.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “The 100,” 9 p.m., CW.


Has the smoke-monster from “Lost” jumped to another show? It
seems like it, as a fierce fog races through an Earth that’s being repopulated
by teen prisoners.


Still, that serves a purpose. Forced to duck inside, the
oft-overwrought teens have moments of depth and detail. This is a surprisingly
good episode … with, alas, a truly perverse ending.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Secrets of the Dead,” 10 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).


For five centuries, Carthage was a world power. Located in
what is now Tunisia, in North Africa, it was key to Mediterranean trade; it
fought its neighbors constantly … then was overrun by Romans in 146 BC.


Did its people merely vanish? This intriguing hour follows
hints that some reached South America, 1,500 years before Columbus. It’s all
speculation, but the signs – artifacts, diseases, DNA -- stir interest.


Other choices include:


“American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. This has been a tough year
for the “Idol” women, with four voted out in five weeks. Tonight, the eight survivors
(five men, three women) will repeat their audition songs.


“Revolution,” 8 p.m., NBC. Hearing about the Patriots’ Texas
plan, Miles and Monroe rush to Austin.


“Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. Dallas must return to her Southern
home for her mother’s funeral. Tessa comes along and soon witnesses some
sibling rivalry.


“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. Claire brings the kids over to
help her dad plan a family party, but disputes follow. Meanwhile, her husband
is helping Gloria sell the apartment she had before marrying.


“Million Dollar Listing New York,” 9 p.m., Bravo. Last
season’s finale (rerunning at 8 p.m.) saw Fredrik return to Manhattan. Now he
has a big listing; Ryan also has one – an apartment that has a car elevator.


“The Americans,” 10 p.m., FX. The years of deception have
worn down Elizabeth (Keri Russell). Yes, her marriage to Phillip is a ruse; so
are their names. They’re Russian spies and he’s also “Clark,” married to a U.S.
government secretary. But last week (posing as Clark’s sister), Elizabeth heard
that wife describe his exploits in bed. This drains her … especially when she
mentors a spy who is young and sexually wild.


“Doll & Em” finale, 10 and 10:25 p.m., HBO. This
three-week oddity started as a semi-comedy and descends darkly tonight. Emily
Mortimer plays herself (sort of), hiring Dolly Wells (who co-wrote this with
her) as her assistant. There are some touching moments in the final half-hour.


 “Trip Tank” debut,
10:30 p.m., Comedy Central. There’s a type of cartoon – offbeat animation, with
harsh twists – that works wonderfully in film festivals and art houses. But a
weekly cable show? This opener has its moments -- bees try to decide if they’re
killer bees; parents give a birds-and-bees lecture that gets terribly personal.
Some bits are darkly funny; some are just dark.


TV column for Tuesday, April 1



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Mindy Project” return, 9 and 9:30
p.m., Fox.


This hour starts with a cautionary message about airplane
sex. Then it becomes much more.


Mindy has rarely been in charge of her romantic destiny.
Even tonight, she bounces between Danny (the colleague who adores her) and
Cliff. The hour starts moderately well, then becomes hilarious at a funeral and
beyond. Mindy grapples with a sex tape, an illness and her old boyfriend (Bill
Hader).


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS.


Last week, we met characters who may be around next season,
in a spin-off.


That’s in New Orleans, where Gibbs’ friend (Scott Bakula)
runs a scruffy NCIS office in the music district, with transplants from Alabama
(Lucas Black) and, newly arrived, Chicago (Zoe McLellan). These are interesting
characters in a great setting. Tonight, the story wraps up; Gibbs and Bishop
help the New Orleans people probe the murders of a congressman and more, while
others chase Washington leads


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Inside Amy Schumer” season-opener,
10:30 p.m., Comedy Central.


Funny things happen when the absolutes of scripture collide
with the shifting, wordy morals of modern life. That contrast soared in Lena
Dunham’s Adam-and-Eve sketch on “Saturday Night Live”; now Schumer has a
brilliant bargaining session with God (played, of course, by Paul Giamatti).


The rest is a quick mix of interviews, stand-up and
sketches, some brashly sexual and some quite clever.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE II: “The Story of the Jews” conclusion,
8-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).


There was a time, Simon Schama tells us, when Jews thrived
at the top of the culture in Germany, Austria and beyond. Felix Mendelssohn,
Giacomo Meyerbeer, Arnold Schoenberg and others led worlds of music, art and
thought. Then came anti-Jewish diatribes, from Richard Wagner to Adolf Hitler.


Schama’s second hour watches Jewish towns crumble everywhere,
including his maternal roots in Lithuania. It follows the great sweep to
America, where a Jew co-wrote the consummate songs of the 1930s, reflecting
despair (“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”) and hope (“Over the Rainbow”). That
ends powerfully, going from “Rainbow” to the Holocaust; the third hour is a
deep – and beautifully balanced – portrait of Israel, described by Schama as
the uneasy merger of “aspiration and reality.”


Other choices include:


“Glee,” 8 p.m., Fox. The show flashes ahead to a point months
after the glee club folded. Now many of the people are in New York, where
Rachel is a Broadway star, Mercedes is recording an album and others struggle.
Blair and Sam move in with Kurt; Artie finds the streets of New York are tough.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. The team searches for
Kensi in Afghanistan.


“About a Boy,” 9:01 p.m., NBC. When Marcus gets to be home
alone, he soon must be rushed to the emergency room by his neighbor Will … who
promptly falls for a gorgeous doctor.


“Growing Up Fisher,” 9:31 p.m., NBC. Joyce (Jenna Elfman) is
trying new things since her divorce … which is why Mel finds marijuana in their
daughter’s bag. Meanwhile, their son has a quest.


“Justified,” 10 p.m., FX. As Art – Raylan’s friend and boss –
lingers in critical condition, Raylan obsesses on nailing Darryl Crowe for the
shooting. Others focus on the missing heroin stash; the result – mixing in Ava’s
prison ordeal – is a fairly good hour, setting up what could be a huge season-finale
next week.


TV column for Monday, March 31



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “How I Met Your Mother” finale, 8-9:01
p.m., CBS.


For nine years, we’ve seen Ted in the future, telling his
kids everything EXCEPT how he met their mother. Now we’re down to the final chance,
at the time of the Robin-Barney wedding day.


Future-Ted (Bob Saget) must finish telling his kids (Lyndsy
Fonseca and David Henrie, 18 and 16 when their scenes were filmed) how he met
their mom (Cristin Milioti). Expect it to be odd and funny.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Friends With Better Lives” debut, 9:01
p.m., CBS.


Like newcomers to a brash party, comedy pilot films often
try too hard; they’re louder, cruder, less funny. With that in mind, “Lives”
could become terrific once it calms down.


The opening scene is heavy-handed; the big party moment near
the end is wildly unlikely. In between, however, is sharp dialog from likable
actors. Kevin Connolly and Majandra Delfino are terrific as parents, wondering
if their childless friends aren’t happier. Brooklyn Decker – better known as a
swimsuit model than an actress – is surprisingly good as a carefree friend:
James Van Der Beek and others join in.


TODAY’S ALTERNATIVE: Baseball openers, all day.


It’s opening day for most teams, with 13 games sprawled over
a dozen hours.


ESPN offers a doubleheader – the Cubs at the Pirates at 1 p.m.
ET, the Cardinals at the Reds at 4 p.m. And ESPN2 tops that with three games,
in more-civilized times for the West Coast; it’s Red Sox-Orioles at 3 p.m. ET,
Rockies-Twins at 7 p.m. and Mariners-Angels at 10.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Independent Lens: Medora,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings).


Here is “Hoosiers” or “Friday Night Lights” in reverse; it’s
a tender portrait of an Indiana town whose basketball team can’t win.


Medora’s factory closed and its jobs vanished. Its people
(less than 700) feel closing the school would be the final blow. Medora High –
with 33 boys and 39 girls – plays schools 10 times as big. It’s had a scoreless
quarter, 40-point losses, a winless season.


The 6-foot-5 center dropped out for a while and now crashes
with a friend while his mom is in rehab. The beefy power forward has a reading
disability. A guard lives with his grandmother and has never really met his
dad. These are people you’ll root for, in a beautifully understated
documentary.


 Other choices
include:


“Dancing With the Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Athletes thrive
on this show, but not last week. Swimmer Diana Nyad and former hockey player
Sean Avery were the first to be ousted.


“The Voice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The battle round continues
today, Tuesday and next Monday.


“Eva Marie Saint,” 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies, repeats
at 11:30. Beating the odds, Saint is a star with a 62-year marriage. At 88 when
this was taped, she spins stories with wit and charm.


“On the Waterfront” (1954), 9 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies. Now for Saint’s Oscar-winner. Possibly the best-acted movie ever, this
won eight Academy Awards, including best picture and star Marlon Brando.


“Mom,” 9:30 p.m., CBS. Christy has trouble with two
generations. Her parents are fighting; her daughter is reluctant to go to the
prom, now that her her pregnancy is so prominent.


“None of the Above” and “The Numbers Game.” 10-11 p.m.,
National Geographic. First, we see someone yank a tablecloth under the
silverware … at 115 miles an hour. Then, on the eve of April Fool’s Day, we see
the art of the scam and who is the most vulnerable. Both are mildly
entertaining.


“The Blacklist,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. An insurance man convinces
people to become contract killers.