TV column for Monday, Feb. 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Recovery Road,” 9 p.m., Freeform (formerly ABC Family).

In last week's
opener, we met Maddie (Jessica Sula), brainy and beautiful and deep
into drugs and alcohol. Her high school guidance counselor – who is
secretly a recovering alcoholic – set the rule: She could only stay
in school if she commuted from an adult rehab center.

Now she's trying to
do it without letting her friends know. Tonight, her deceptions
collide with her former best friend, who's in the same rehab center.
It's a solid start for a promising show.

TONIGHT'S ODDITY:
“The X-Files,” 8 p.m., Fox.

At its best,
“X-Files” switches tone from week to week, going from serious
sci-fi to standard mystery to occasional comedy. Now that hits an
extreme, with an hour that's ... well, just goofy.

Out in the woods,
there's a man who turns into a beast. Or maybe it's a beast that
turns into a man. Or maybe it's not a werewolf, just a werereptile.
This is a broad story, executed in a style that's only a smidgen
short of farce. You may like it, sort of ... while waiting for the
real “X-Files” next week.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “And the Oscar Goes To ...” (2014), 8 p.m. ET,
Turner Classic Movies.

No one else does
Oscar-month as well as TCM. Now this documentary about the Academy
Awards is surrounded by “31 days (and 360 degrees) of Oscar.”
That starts at 6 a.m. today (“Gigi,” 1958) and ends at 6 a.m.
March 3; there are 360 Oscar-winning or -nominated films, each
sharing an actor with the one that follows ... until the final one
links with the first.

Tonight, that
includes a lesson in epics -- “Ben-Hur” (1959) at 4 p.m. ET,
“Laurence of Arabia: (1962) at 10 p.m., “Bridge on the River
Kwai” (1957) at 2 a.m. They're great ... but very long; alert your
VCR.

Other choices
include:

“Supergirl,” 8
p.m., CBS. Superman has his Bizarro nemesis and now it's his cousin's
turn: Supergirl faces a twisted version of herself. Also, in her
alternate identity as Kara, she befriend's Cat's son.

“Superstore,” 8
p.m., NBC. It's time for the store's wedding sale, when sweet
brides-to-be converge fiercely. The result is sometimes funny,
sometimes just overwrought. It does, however, get good moments from
one of its best characters, a blithely oblivious young mother-to-be.

“Telenovela,”
8:30, NBC. Mimi has been fretting about raising her kids, but now
she's feels this is crisis time: Her son had hidden a sexy photo of
her friend Ana (Eva Longoria). Soon, everyone at the telenovela is
conferring about how to deliver “the sex talk.”

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Here's another parenthood problem: Jane's baby spills
orange juice on her computer and she can't access her thesis. She
goes to a tech specialist, played by Diego Boneta, the “Rock of
Ages” star and “Scream Queens” co-star.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. Sometimes it's handy to have the Devil as your consultant.
When a movie star's son dies after being persued by paparazzi, Chloe
the cop gets help from Lucifer.

“Independent
Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). This hour was scheduled
previously, then delayed until tonight; it traces a dark piece of
recent history: At a big Los Angeles hospital, women in labor
(usually low-income, some not speaking English) were pushed into
agreeing to be sterilized. A powerful hour includes some of the women
and the whistleblowing doctor.

“Magicians,” 10
p.m., Syfy. Quentin struggles at this secret magicians college, while
facing obsessions: His childhood friend Julia obsesses on being
rejected by the school; his classmate Alice obsesses on reviving her
dead brother. A promising show is damaged by the fact that Quentin is
tough to care about.

ALSO: The Iowa
caucuses will get heavy coverage on network newscasts and cable news
channels.

TV coumn for Sunday, Jan. 31


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Grease: Live,” 7-10 p.m., Fox (tape-delayed on the West Coast(.

If you want a loose,
live TV musical, “Grease” is ideal. The plot is slight, but the
music – in the spirit of 1950's rock – is vibrant. So this will
blend the 1972 Broadway show and 1978 movie, with some scenes onstage
(with an audience embedded) and others around the Warner Brothers
lot.

Aaron Tveit and
Julianne Hough play bad-boy Danny and too-prim Sandy. Carlos PenaVega
plays his pal Kenickie; her sometimes pals include Vanessa Hudgens,
Keke Palmer, Kether Donohue and (getting a new song) Carly Rae
Jepsen. Their elders range from Didi Conn to Mario Lopez.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Galavant” finale, 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC.

Lots of shows have
ended with a shrug, but not this one. The final night has it all –
an epic battle, gallant heroes, demon-wielding villains, passionate
romance ... and, mostly, lots of songs.

Scheming Madalena
dumped earnest Galavant, married King Richard, then dumped him and
remained queen, with his former best friend as king. Galavant soon
realized that Isabella is his ideal; Richard managed to ignore the
warrior woman who loves him. Now forces collide, alongside some
wonderfully witty songs from Alan Menken and Glen Slater, the
“Tangled” duo. It's a great finish.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Football, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN; or “American Ninja
Warrior,” 8 p.m., NBC.

If you really don't
want singing teens or crooning kings, these two kinetic competitions
seem logical. One is on three stages of the “Ninja” obstacle
course, with teams from the U.S., Europe and Japan; the other has the
top football players – except for ones that are injured or heading
to the Super Bowl.

Michael Irvin leads
one tieam, choosing quarterback Russell Wilson and two of his Seahawk
teammates who are defensive stars, Richard Sherman and Michael
Bennett. Jerry Rice chose the other, including quarterback Eli
Manning and his favorite target, Odell Beckham Jr.

Other choices
include:

“How to Train Your
Dragon” (2010), 6 p.m., FX. This mix of action and warmth leads a
good night for animation. At 8 p.m., FX has “Kung Fu Panda II”
(2011) and Disney has the zestful “Aladdin” (1992).

“Madame
Secretary,” 8 p.m., CBS. After the death of their father, Henry
(Tim Daly) and his sister (Kate Burton) collide and secrets are
revealed. Emelyn Daly, Tim's daughter, plays his niece.

“The Good Wife,”
9 p.m., CBS. Alicia battles a judge (Christopher McDonald), after
learning that a client from her bond-court time was wrongfully
imprisoned.

“Downton Abbey,”
9 p.m., PBS. This solid episode has plenty going on. That includes
potential romances for Ladys Mary and Edith ... and Tom finding new
projects now that he's back from the U.S. ... and Mrs. Hughes
fretting that wives may need to cook. All of that is overpowered by a
bigger issue: The dowager (Maggie Smith), fuming about proposed
hospital changes, has invited Neville Chamberlain. the health
minister and future prime minister. The evening's ending surprises
everyone.

“Agent Carter,”
9:01 p.m., ABC. In a change, ABC reruns Tuesday's episode, with Peggy
battling to get information about Dark Matter. That's followed at 10
by a “Shark Tank” rerun with Barack Obama.

“Mercy Street,”
10 p.m., PBS. For Foster (Josh Radnor) – a Union doctor – the
Civil War's nature offers a jolt; his mother arrives with his
brother, a Confederate soldier who needs surger. Also, Alice
(AnneSophia Robb) finds that her fiance has been deeply changed by
the war.

“Billions,” 10
p.m., Showtime. This sharp episode illustrates the potency of three
people -- the district attorney, rogue financier Bobby Axelrod and
Bobby's wife. The issues involve -- in reverse order -- a book, ice
cream bars and (really) dog-droppings, but the sub-text is: Never
back down.

TV column for Saturday, Jan. 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
SAG awards, 8 p.m. ET, TNT and TBS; repeating at 10 p.m. ET on TNT.

Unlike the Oscars,
the Screen Actors Guild awards skip the less-famous (and less-pretty)
people and focuses strictly on actors. And unlike the Oscars, they
actually have diversity this year.

That's clear in the
ensemble nods. Movies include “Straight Outta Compton” and
“Beasts of No Nation”; TV includes “Key & Peele” and
“Orange is the New Black.” Individually, Idris Elba is nominated
for movies (“Beasts”) and TV (“Luther”); other black TV
nominees include Queen Latifah, Viola Davis and Uzo Aduba. There's
more tonight, including a lifetime honor for Carol Burnett.

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

Next week, “SNL”
will be back to live, with what should be a big draw: Larry David,
popular for playing Bernie Sanders in its debate sketches, will host.

First, here's a
rerun with Elizabeth Banks hosting and Disclosure as music guest.
Banks stepped into two of the show's funniest recurring sketches –
as the lone white contestant on “Black Jeopardy” and as one of
the teens in an earnest-but-awful school show.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Black Sails,” 9 p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and
11.

Last week's strong
season-opener (rerunning today at 1:40 and 7:55 p.m.) had brief
glimpses of a potent addition – Edward Teach, soon to be known as
Blackbeard. Now Teach (played by the commanding Ray Stevenson)
reaches the island and starts disrupting the pirate power structure.

Meanwhile, a
semi-captive Eleanor tells a stunned Englishman how she amassed power
over pirates. Both are good stories ... but dominating everything
tonight is some sensational action: The ship led by Captain Flint and
John Silver heads into a truly epic storm.

Other choices
include:

“The Matrix”
trilogy, noon to 9 p.m., BBC America. The fantasty classic (1999) is
at noon, followed by “The Matrix: Reloaded” and “The Matrix:
Revolutions” (both 2003) at 3 and 6 p.m.

“The Artful
Detective,” 7 p.m. ET, Ovation. Here's a fairly interesting hour of
this cop show, set in Toronto more than a century ago. William
Shatner plays Mark Twain, who faces anger – and maybe an
assassination attempt – when he visits the Canadian elite.

Sports, 8 p.m. ET,
Fox and ABC. While others obsess on football (Pro Bowl on Sunday,
Super Bowl a week later), Fox has Ultimate Fighting Championship
bouts. ABC has a basketball preview, with tip-off at 8:30 p.m. ET;
LeBron James' Cavaliers host the Spurs, who have the NBA's
second-best record.

“The Bourne
Identity” (2002) and “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004), 8 and 10:30
p.m., AMC. Slick action and intelligent storytelling combine, as Matt
Damon plays a guy with more skills than memory.

More movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. Two all-time classics lead the night, with “Jaws” (1975)
on Syfy and “Ghostbusters” (1984) on IFC. For more-current fun,
try “Bridesmaids” (2011) on Bravo.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. Surrounded by new “48 Hours” episodes, this reruns
an hour that involves a gas attack on a bus. The team races to
prevent a larger follow-up.

“Doctor Who,”
9-11 p.m., BBC America. It's sort of “Doctor Where” in this rerun
of the two-part season-opener. The skies are frozen and Clara
disperately needs help, but can't find the Doctor. He's trapped in a
terrifying Dalek city.

“Kirby Buckets,”
10:05 and 10:30 p.m., Disney. Here are new, scripted episodes on a
night that otherwise doesn't have any. In the first, Kirby's house
becomes a makeshift mini-mart. In the second, he forgets to tip the
pizza delivery guy – who retaliates by exposing years of lies.

TV column for Friday, Jan. 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“MasterChef Junior” finale, 8 p.m., Fox.

The male domination
of “Junior” kitchens had ended now. In the first three seasons of
this show (for ages 8-13), boys had five of the six finalists and all
three winners. Not this time.

Two 9-year-old girls
prepare dinners, aiming for the $100,000 prize. Addison is from River
Forest,Ill., and says her signature dish is fresh pesto pasta with
garlic bread; Avery is from Baton Rouge, La., and says hers is
grilled rosemary lamb chop over a sweet potato mash with sauteed
asparagus.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Second Chance,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Beginning tonight,
“Second Chance” gets a second chance. It failed on Wednesdays,
holding less than half the “American Idol” audience; now it has
switched with “Hell's Kitchen,” taking a night with less
competition and – when “Sleepy Hollow” returns next week – a
logical lead-in.

Like “Hollow”
(and “Lucifer”), this links the supernatural and a standard cop
show. A disgraced police chief, who insists he was framed, was killed
and then revived in a younger body. Tonight, he tries to show his son
he was a good cop and good person. They face a psycho and another
father-son team.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Grimm” return, 9 p.m., NBC.

This show had only
six episodes ths fall, ending with a wallop. There was an attack,
Nick was about to be killed ... and then he was saved by Juliette,
his dead lover.

Well, almost by her.
This is someone named Eve – same actress (Bitsie Tulloch), same
memories implanted in her, but none of the emotions. Now Nick tries
to figure this out, with help from Trubel; Monroe and Rosalee go to
the Wesen Council, to ask about the surge in violence.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “American Masters,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

As documentaries go,
this is kind of lazy. It simply airs a long interview with the late
Mike Nichols, adding lots of clips and occasional comments by others.
Fortunately, Nichols' life was fascinating.

A German native, he
emigrated at 8 and soon learned (and mastered) English. At Chicago's
Second City, he crafted comedy and linked with Elaine May (who
directed this film). On Broadway, he directed nimble comedies; his
movie career, however, started with the fuming “Virginia Woolf”
and the classic “Graduate.” There were ups (“Angels in
America”) and downs, in a richly varied 83 yeaers.

Other choices
include:

“Vampire Diaries”
and “The Originals,” 8 and 9 p.m., CW. Both shows slide to
Fridays, as CW overloads with fantasy. In the first hour, Damon is
trapped in the Phoenix Stone, reliving a Civil war ordeal; in the
second, Vincent must use his magic and Klaus battles the Strix and
Aurora and Tristan.

“Undateable,” 8
p.m., NBC. Plans call for an hour of this ambitious live comedy, this
time with music from the Backstreet Boys.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Ed asks Kyle to secretly get an engagement
ring fitted. Alas, Mike spots him and assumes Kyle will propose to
Mandy,.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. When Ken's father pays an unexpected visit, he starts
doing chores – including buying and installing a dishwasher. Ken
does not take this graciously.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun of the season-opener, Kono and Adam are
tortured by Gabriel, on the day after their wedding. Also, the team
probes a centuries-old palace raid.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. In a busy rerun, Danny gets a chilling message from a
possible serial killer, Eddie faces her estranged father in the
hospital and Frank is accused of secretly investigating the husband
of a mayoral candidate (Mary Stuart Masterson).

TV column for Thursday, Jan. 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“You, Me and the Apocalypse” debut, 8-9 p.m., NBC.

After bumbling its
comedies for years, NBC took a wise step: It grabbed a British show,
remade it, and kept enough of the original to make this seem dark and
odd and very funny.

A comet will soon
strike the Earth, we're told, killing everyone ... except those who
reach a bunker in an English. Jenna Fischer plays a timid librarian,
wrongly convicted; Megan Mullally is a tough-talking inmate. Rob Lowe
is an eccentric priest with a shy nun as his assistant.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Republican debate, 9-11 p.m. ET, Fox News.

The final debate
before Monday's presidential caucuses in Iowa is expected to draw
lots of viewers. The leading candidates have a debate-style panel at
9, preceded by a forum for others, from 7-8 p.m.

Megyn Kelly, who
drew criticism from Donald Trump after the first Fox debate, is back
to anchor this one, with Bret Baier and Chris Wallace. She'll also
have her “Kelly File” at 11.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Legends of Tomorrow,” 9 p.m.,CW.

Early in this second
episode, we sample the visual flash of these “legends.” Atom
zooms, Hawkman and Hawkgirl soar, Heat Wave and Captain Cold zap
their weapons, Firestorm blasts and White Canary swirls with
double-sword fury. The battle scenes – there are two tonight –
are spectacular.

In between,
“Legends” is mixed. It's fun to have mismatched people forced
together, but here their thick-headedness seems arbitrary, designed
only to create problems and plot twists. “Legends” is better
during a quiet moment, when Professor Stein (Victor Garber) meets his
younger (and arrogant) self.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “London Spy,” 10-11:15 p.m., BBC America.

This five-week
mini-series delivers the extremes we sometimes expect from cable. It
is deep and tangled, superbly written and acted; it's also achingly
slow and thick and (at times) frustrating.

Ben Whishaw has
triumphed in everything from Shakespeare to James Bond films (as Q)
and BBC's “The Hour.” Now he's Danny, drifting between gay
romances; then Alex, his stoic lover, disappears. Tonight, a complex
search puts Whishaw against some gifted veterans, including Charlotte
Rampling as Alex's maybe-mother, Jim Broadbent as Danny's mentor and
Clarke Peters as an ominous outsider.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a funny rerun, Sheldon realizes Leonard
won't be living there, now that he's married to Penny. Vowing to
revert to his old ways, he interviews possible roommates.

“Jo Frost: Nanny
on Tour” debut, 8 and 10 p.m., UP. The former “Supernanny” is
back, with a brighter-looking show. Still, this opener – a South
Carolina family, with four kids, two parents and two grandparents –
is tough to watch. When a 2-year-old yells in a restaurant, it's just
shy of excrutiating.

“The 100,” 9
p.m., CW. The season opened last week with Clarke captured by Roan
(Zach McGowan of “Black Sails”). Now he's marching her, while
others want to capture, kill or rescue her. This seems like a stretch
at times; Clarke and Roan, both savvy, make key blunders. Still, it's
a tough, gritty hour.

“My Diet is Better
Than Yours” finale, 9-11 p.m., ABC. The eight-hour run concludes
with the five-kilometer run and a final weigh-in.

“The Blacklist,”
9 p.m., NBC. A medieval group has been revived, striking with
old-time weapons.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. Two murders seem linked to the recruiting program of a
for-profit college. Also, Sherlock rages when learning his dad has a
dangerous secret.

“Baskets,” 10
p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:02. There's a thin line between funny and
merely pathetic; Chip (Zach Galifianakis) crosses it often. In last
week's terrific opener (rerunning at 10:33), he went from Paris
training to rodeo clown; now he crumbles some more. There are so-so
moments, salvaged by the side characters – a trainee, Chips' mom
(Louie Anderson) and his drab friend (Martha Davis).