TV coumn for Monday, Jan. 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Odd Couple,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., CBS.

In many ways, this
has seemed like the ideal CBS comedy. Taped in front of an audience
(a notion the other networks have abandoned), it has slick, quick
laughs and a likable cast led by Matthew Perry.

Still, CBS has been
iffy. The second season sat on the shelf for seven months, before
being shown. This third is ending after 13 episodes; Perry grants
he's not expecting a fourth. Still, it's good that the last two
episodes air together, giving an hour of low-key fun. In the first
episode, Oscar grumbles when Felix wants them to go to church and
support Dani's singing; in the second, the men fight and split.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Gotham” mid-season finale, 8 p.m., Fox.

This could well be
the most visually spectacular hour in TV history. It has swirling
carnival rides, a house-of-mirrors showdown and unrelenting action
and emotion, all at an operatic fervor.

It also may be the
most brutal and masochistic. The people change, but the notion –
one man captive, while others wreak destruction, physical or verbal
– persists; even young Bruce Wayne beats someone fiercely. All of
this is getting somewhere; by the end of the hour, lives have
transformed and we'll be anxious for the show's return April 24. But
the journey to get this far is truly brutal.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Dick Van Dyke and the Other Woman,” 11 p.m., GetTV.

For a brief moment,
Mary Tyler Moore's career was wobbling. After triumphing on “The
Dick Van Dyke Show,” she'd made on big movie (“Thoroughly Modern
Millie”) and several little ones. She'd done a musical that flopped
so badly that it folded befiore getting to Broadway.

Then Van Dyke asked
her to be in his special and gave her the best lines. Critics raved,
ratings soared, CBS gave her a deal ... and the MTM company was born,
creating quality TV. After Moore's death (at 80), here's a chance to
see the show on Dish network (373) or a digital substation (check
www.get.tv/get-the-channel).

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Witness For the Prosecution,” any time,
www.acorn.tv.

Agatha Christie's
short story keeps being remade. It's been a play, a Billy Wilder
movie and at least five TV versions. Its stars have included Marlene
Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Ralph Richardson, Diana Rigg, Edward
R.Robinson and Sarah Churchill; Ben Affleck plans to direct and star
in it for next year.

Here's the longest
version so far, a two-part mini-series with Toby Jones, Andea
Riseborough and (briefly) Kim Cattrall. It's a cunningly crafted
story with skillful actors, but it's not for jollies. Christie is not
afraid to belt us, adding enough twists to leave us surprise, if not
terribly happy.

Other choices
include:

“The Bachelor,”
8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Here's an abrupt shift – from Waukesha, Wis., to
New Orleans. There, Nick Viall and 13 women range from a concert date
to a “haunted” plantation.

“Celebrity
Apprentice,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. Last week saw the ouster of three
celebritie – well, two semi-celebrities and (Chael Sonnen, Porsha
Williams) and rocker Vince Neil. Now the seven survvivors

work for a
basketball team and try to sell fitness equipment.

“Lucifer”
mid-season finale,. 9 p.m., Fox. When was the last time you heard
anyone say he was going to die for a little while, so he could
retrieve something from Hell? It's a shaky plan, even for Lucifer,
but it provides a fairly strong hour, with a desperate race to find
an antidote to save Chloe.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Ralph's classmate has disapeared, after a
field-trip run-in with a dangerous mobster.

“Amerca's Next Top
Model,” 10 p.m., VH1. We reach the halfway mark tonight, trimming
the field (orignally 14) to seven. Contestants to duo shoots at the
estate of luxury designer Phillipp Plein.

“Quantico,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week, the show settled into its new night with
the CIA trainees learning the fine art of seduction. Tonight, they
learn about betrayal; Javier Munoz, who understudied the title role
in Broadway's “Hamilton,” plays the Venzuelan official who's the
target. And flashing forward, the hostage crisis continues, with Alex
reluctantly teaming with Miranda.

TV column for Sunday, Jan. 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Mercy Street” and “Victoria,” 8 and 9 p.m., PBS.

Life has been tense
for the Greens. They're Confederates, but their Virginia mansion has
become a Union hospital. In this strong hour, their daughter schemes
to seduce a Union officer and steal secrets.

There are some dark
moments ... so you'll welcome the buoyant “Victoria” episode that
follows. The teen queen may, reluctantly, be ready to marry ... but
considers the prospects to be dolts. Stick with both hours; “Mercy”
ends fiercely, “Victoria” ends joyously.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Miss Universe pageant, 7-10 p.m., Fox.

A year ago, Steve
Harvey became the Bill Buckner of beauty pageants – making a huge
error at a crucial time: He announced that Miss Guatemala had won ...
then found it was really Miss Philippines.

The crown was
shifted, Harvey was apologetic ... and now he's back to host anew.
This time, the pageant will be in the Philippines ... home of the
winner who was almost a loser.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” 2 p.m., MeTV.

The show's pilot
film has possibly the best scenes in TV comedy history -- Mary's job
interview with Lou Grant, who proclaims, “I hate spunk.” That
launches a three-hour marathon in honor of Moore, who died Tuesday at
80. The “Chucky the Clown” episode is at 3:30 p.m., with the
finale at 4:30.

MeTV is on satellite
and cable and -- in most markets – on the digital sub-station of
local stations. To find it, check www.metv.com/wheretowatch
and insert your zip code.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II:Screen Actors Guild awards, 8 and 10 p.m., TNT; 8 p.m.
ET, TBS.

There will be plenty
of TV awards tonight, including a career one for Lily Tomlin. Still,
much of the attention will be in the movie categories, which suggest
who's ahead in the Academy Award race.

The SAG and Oscar
lists of best-actor nominations are identical -- Ryan Gosling, Casey
Affleck, Denzel Washington, Andrew Garfield, Viggo Mortensen. The
lists share three best-actress nominees (Meryl Streep, Emma Stone,
Natalie Portman) and nine of the 10 people in supporting categories.

Other choices
include:

“Black Sails,”
11:40 a.m., Starz. First, here's the third season of this epic pirate
series. Then the fourth begins powerfully at 9 p.m. (rerunning at 10
and 11), as people develop in the pre-“Treasure Island” era. John
Silver is live up to his “Long John” reputation ... Edward Teach
is heading toward his “Blackbeard” image ... and the pirate
island of Nassau is wobbling under civilized English rule.

“Tristan und
Isolde,” noon, PBS (check local listings). Grab some popcorn and
settle in for four-and-a-half hours of Wagnerian shock and awe. The
Metropolitan Opera season-opener stars Stuart Skelton, who was
Siegmund in the Met's “Ring” cycle, and Nina Stemme.

“To Tell the
Truth,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. Did you ever want to meet the guy who
played Barney the dinosaur? Or the one who holds the record for
longest distance in a wing suit? Or the twins who have a restaurant
staffed only by twins? You can tonight ... but they'll be alongside
some imposters.

Pro Bowl, 8 p.m. ET,
ESPN. Football's best players – some of them, anyway – collide in
Florida. Lots of players dropped out because of injuries or because
they're headed to the Super Bowl. That still leaves plenty of top
quarterbacks – Drew Brees, Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins for the
NFC, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger for the AFC.

“Love By the 10th
Date,” 8-10 p.m., Lifetime. If you missed this film Saturday, catch
a quick rerun now. Eyeing the modern dating scene, it's sometimes
contrived, sometimes quite adult, but usually bright, clever and
likable.

“Madam Secretary,”
9 p.m., CBS. As Jay pushes for a peace treaty between Iran and
Israel, the work strains his marriage. Also, the murder of a peace
advocate endangers the plan.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. Here's a variation on a familiar plot: A gunman takes
hostages, demanding that Sherlock find his son's killer in 16 hours.

“Conviction,” 10
p.m., ABC. The final show of the season – and, presumably, the
final one ever – has Hayes revisiting a case. She scrambles for a
way to free someone convicted 10 years ago.

 

TV column for Saturday, Jan. 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Love By the 10th Date,” 8-10 p.m., Lifetime.

For the second
straight week, Lifetime has a strong movie to fill the Saturday void.
Last week had tears and songs with the “Beaches” remake; tonight
finds fun in the modern datiung scene.

Gabby (Meagan Good)
is an artist with talent, a good magazine job, great friends ... and
no romance. Guys don't know they're in love until the 10th
date, she's told; she's never made it to No. 10. Now she and a friend
aim to reach 10; one friend (Kelly Rowland) interviews an elusive
reggae star, another has complications in an open marriage. Sometimes
contrived and often adult, this is bright and well-played.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Sports overload, ABC, Fox and cable.

We expect sports to
be big on cable Saturdays; tonight, the ESPN networks have college
basketball and NBC Sports Network has pro hockey's all-star weekend.
But beyond that, the big networks jump in.

On Fox, it's
“ultimate fighting” at 8 p.m. ET. On ABC, it's pro basketball,
with a preview at 8 p.m. ET and the game at 8:30. The Golden State
Warriors – with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and the
best record in the pros – host the Los Angeles Clippers, with Chris
Paul and a 30-16 record.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Dirty Dancing” (1987), 6 p.m. and midnight, Bravo;
and/or “Saturday Night Fever” (1977), 8 and 10:30 p.m., AMC.

Few films have
managed to skillfully blend dance, music and emotion. Here are two of
the best.

First, Jennifer Grey
is a teen who meets a dance instructor (Patrick Swayze) in the
Catskills; as the song says, she has the time of her life. Then John
Travolta is a tough-but-earnest Brooklyn guy who conquers the disco
world, to a throbbing BeeGees beat.

Other choices
include:

“Star Wars: The
Force Awakens” (2015), 6:40 p.m., Starz. Here's a dandy
double-feature: This strong (if flawed) adventure leads into the
terrific “Ghostbusters” remake (2016) at 9 p.m. For more fun, try
two Meryl Streep films -- “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006), at 7
and 9:30 p.m. on E, “Julie & Julia” (2009) at 8 p.m. on Pop.

“Ransom,” 8
p.m., CBS. Enrico Colantoni guests in this show from his native
Canada. He has kidnapped an engineer who designs key software. As
negotiators try to deal with him, someone else is intercepting the
emails and sabotaging the process.

“The Nice Guys”
(2016), 8 p.m., HBO. While Ryan Gosling gathers well-deserved praise
and awards for “La La Land,” catch his previous film. Its story
is a bit goofy, but the pairing is a delight: Gosling plays an
underskilled private-eye, paired with a tough and grim Russell Crowe.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Christmastime problems,
small (the “secret Santa” gifts) and large: Dr. Wade's adopted
son is a suspect, after holiday burglaries turn deadly.

“Where Are They
Now?” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. After a two-month break, this
show returns with more catch-ups. There's Phylicia Rashad, who soared
in “The Cosby Show,” then did key Broadway revivals and won a
Tony. And singer Jon Secada. And Lindsey Stirling, who drew fame a
decade ago at 20, when she used YouTube to show her blend of
electronic violin and dance.

“10th
Date: Girls Night In,” 10:02 p.m., Lifetime. The actors in the
“10th Date” movie discuss their own dating adventures,
good and bad.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. This reruns the Nov. 19 episode, with
Kristen Wiig hosting and The XX as music guests.

TV column for Friday, Jan. 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Landmarks Live,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Leaping around the
music universe, this new series puts popular performers in logical
settings. The opener had Alicia Keys in New York; summer will have
six concerts, starting with Andrea Bocelli in Italy. And tonight,
it's Brad Paisley with an outdoor concert in his native West
Virginia.

Paisley is your
all-purpose country star. He can be funny one moment -- “Alcohol,”
“Celebrity,” “Online,” “The Fishin' Song” -- and deeply
emotional the next, from “Whiskey Lullaby” to “Welcolme to the
Future.” He's had three Grammys, 14 Country Music Association
awards and a lot to sing about.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” 9 p.m., CW.

What happens if two
colleagues suddenly have a long kiss in a stalled elevator? Rebecca
takes the Rebecca-ish route – she moves up her wedding date with
Josh and throws herself into frantic activity. Her boss takes a
different approach – obsessing on a “cleansing” drink that
mostly has him pass gas.

This creates lots of
room for sight gags, some of them rather childish. But as Rebecca
swirls about – simultaneously the bride, maid-of-honor, wedding
planner and more – we do get some funny chaos.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Z: The Beginning of Everything” debut, any time,
Amazon.

Zelda Sayre had just
turned 18, a judge's daughter in Montgomery, Ala. She drank, danced,
smoked, flirted, savored attention; still, she also savored words and
books and ideas. F. Scott Fitzgerald was 21, a Princeton drop-out
from Minnesota; an Army lieutenant, he vowed to be a great writer.

Their romance and
marriage would both nourish his career and sabotage it. We know that
the story will end with alcoholism, drugs and schizophrenia. Still,
the early phase – played by David Hoflin and a chaming Christina
Ricci – is great fun to watch.

Other choices
include:

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. A night of reruns begins with the U.S. embassy in Latvia
being overrun; fortunately, Mac has a chisel and a matchbook. Also,
his friend (Justin Hires) finally knows his secrets.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Mike (Tim Allen) wishes his two sons-in-law
knew how to fix things; his solution is to pit them against each
other. Meanwhile, his youngest daughter is unsettled when her
boyfriend says he loves her.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Ken's diagnosis could keep a high school basketball star
from playing in the big game. Meanwhile, Pat shows Ken's wife his
secret coffeemaker.

“Sleepy Hollow,”
9 p.m., Fox. There's a monster (not an elected one) in Washington,
D.C.

“Emerald City,”
9 p.m., NBC. Last week, Dorothy risked everything to save a little
girl. The kid and Lucas got free, but Dortohy's been captured by the
vengeful West. That sets up this hour, which pushes TV's obsession
with torture ... but leads to a key meeting at the end of the hour.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. In last year's Valentine's Day episode, a double murder
(linked to marital infidelity) leads people to recall their past
valentine misadventures;

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This year's season-opener found Danny in deep trouble:
A lawyer (Michael Implerioli) had new evidence against him in the
shooting of a serial killer.

TV column for Thursday, Jan. 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“How to Get Away With Murder” return, 10 p.m., ABC.

When we first met
Annalise, she ruled the classroom and the courtroom with fierce
confidence. It was precision, Emmy-winning work for Viola Davis.

And now,
two-and-a-half seasons later? In jail, awaiting charges for arson and
murder, she's shattered; Davis is perfect again. Alongside that are
sunny flashbacks, plus the start of the case. This should take up the
season's final six episodes, so settle in for a long, bitter and
well-acted ride.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Scandal” season-opener, 9 p.m., ABC.

Life has been tough
for this show's intense fans. After an eight-month break, due to
Kerry Washington's pregnancy, “Scandal” was set for last week ...
then delayed again, with no logical explanation. That second delay
makes sense when you see this episode -- which is a fairly good one,
in its own odd way.

It starts on
election night, with the results still wobbling. From there, the plot
twists keep growing to an operatic (well, soap-operatic) extreme.
This is a big, brash hour, including some plot twists that are
borderline absurd ... but that's sort of what fans have been
semi-patiently waiting for.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Riverdale” debut, 9 p.m., CW.

The Archie Andrews
in old comics was a sweet chap at the soda shop. The one in the
“Archies” cartoon had an intellect that never surpassed the
lyrics to “Sugar Sugar.” Neither would recognize this Archie.

He's an immensely
handsome guy who has a secret lover ... and a secret about a murder
... and a tiff with Jughead ... and now a triangle. He's loved by the
girl next door (Betty) and the new girl in town (Veronica), a beauty
whose family was once rich and is now disgraced. Some scenes –
Archie and the secret lover, anyone and the mean girl – are
wretched; the rest offer Archie 2.0, strongly told.

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

Here is a bold move:
Returning from a two-month break, the show has an episode that
doesn't include the hospital or (except for narration) its top star.
Instead, it sends Jo, Arizona and a reluctant Bailey to a prison
hospital, where a teen will soon face a complicated childbirth.

For viewers and for
the characters, this is a wrenching hour. There's depth to each
person, especially the teen, played with agonizing complexity by
relative newcomer Anna Jacoby-Heron.

Other choices
include:

“The New Edition
Story,” 5-11 p.m., BET. If you missed the first two chapters –
with Boston teens forming a pop group – catch them at 5 and 7. The
finale (9 p.m., rerunning at 11) starts with soaring success for the
group and for ex-member Bobby Brown. Then come the complications.

“Superstore,” 8
and 8:30 p.m., NBC. Next week, this will resume its new episodes. For
now, one rerun focuses on drug-testing, another on dog-adoption day
and both include the adventures of Cheyenne, the teen mom. In one,
she keeps talking about the baby; in the other, she fights with the
dad.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a terrific rerun, a flood in Amy's
apartment gives her the chance she's wanted – to move in with
Sheldon, her boyfriend and (once-a-year) lover.

Mom,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. Christy tries to be the AA sponsor of a hunky newcomer
(Joe Manganiello), but is way too atracted to him. That part is
fairly funny, but some of the best moments come when her mom attends
an upscale charity gala with Jill. 

“My Kitchen
Rules,” 9 p.m., Fox. So far, four of the five duos have cooked for
this mobile dinner party. Now Andrew Dice Clay and his wife Valerie
have their turn; then the two duos with the lowest scores have a
sudden-elimination cook-off.

 

“Mary Tyler Moore:
Love Is All Around You,” 9-10 p.m., CBS. In a late switch, CBS is
inserting this special about Moore, who died Tuesday at 80. The first
“golden age of comedy,” as it was later called, was propelled by
the shows she starred in (“Dick Van Duke Show” and “Mary
Tyler Moore Show”) and the company she co-owned (MTM).

“The Blacklist,”
10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun of the season's second episode, Red needs
help from Tom and the task force, to trace someone who may know where
Alexander Kirk is.