TV column for Tuesday, May 23

Finales of “Dancing With the Stars,” 8:30-11 p.m., ABC; or “The
Voice,” 9-11 p.m., NBC.

Two reality giants
conclude, with a third (CBS' “Survivor”) ending Wednesday.

For this “Stars”
edition, athletes have ruled. Rashad Jennings, 32, spent eight years
in pro football and David Ross, helped the Cubs win the World Series;
they face singer Normani Kordei, 20, of Fifth Harmony. For “Voice,”
Blake Shelton has had five of the 11 winners so far, with three for
Adam Levine and the others scattered. Now Shelton has two finalists;
Levine and Alicia Keys have one apiece.

II: “Great News” season-finale, 8 and 8:30 p.m., NBC.

It's been a strong
(if uneven) first season for this comedy. Now the show has been
renewed for next season and it wraps things up with a two-part story
that gives Kate (Briga Heelan) career chaos.

She's done fine with
a weak-willed boss (Adam Campbell), but now his boss – and
grandmother – arrives. Crisply played by Christina Pickles, she
stirs instant fear. “Great News” continues to have a silly view
of the newsgathering process; it also spends too much time on Kate's
mom (Andrea Martin). Now, however, she and Kate hatch a complex
scheme that ends the season sharply.

“Prison Break,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Yes, this round of
“Prison Break” is wildly unconvincing, piling up coincidences,
close calls and miracle escapes. But as it nears next week's finish,
it remains thorougly exciting.

Seven years after
faking his death, Michael has escaped from a Yemen prison and is on
the run with his brother Linc and others. He's considered a terrorist
in the U.S. and an arch-villain in Yemen; now he's desperate to save
his ex-wife Sara, who's held captive by the mastermind she married
when she thought she was a widow. This is all hard to follow and
harder to believe ... yet passionate and involving.

ALTERNATIVE: “American Epic,” 9 p.m., PBS.

The songs on the old
records are gospel classics, glowing with joy and energy. But the
name of the composer is semi-obscure; now a British director searches
for the roots of Elder J.E. Burch.

He finds his little
church in Cheraw, S.C. He meets people who knew him ... and learns
how jazz great Dizzy Gillespie grew up in the neighborhood, savoring
Burch's music. This terrific hour also profiles the Williamson
Brothers and Curry, coal-country musicians whose John Henry song is a
classic. And a Howlin' Wolf profile brings a meeting of three gifted
bluesmen, all in their 90s.

Other choices

Nine-Nine” season-finale, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Fox. Last week, Jake and
Rosa met a tough cop (Gina Gershon) who may be crooked. Now they try
to infiltrate her gang. She turns out to be smarter than they
thought, in a clever two-parter that spills over into next season.

“Downward Dog,”
8 p.m., ABC. Imagine finding that your mind is so powerful it can
open doors. That's how this dog sees it, what with a chip-triggered
doggy door and various automatic lights and doors. It's a sharp,
funny take, alongside his owner's troubles involving work and

“The Flash”
season-finale, 8 p.m., CW. Life would be easy if it merely had one
Flash, outzooming the bad guys. Now, alas, there's Savitar, a
separate “time remnant.” Desperately, Barry battles him.

“iZombie,” 9
p.m., CW. For now, Liv and her new boyfriend are of a like mind;
they're both munching the brain of a departed daredevil, acquiring
those traits. Meanwhile, Blaine is back to his old ways.

season-finale, 9 p.m., CBS. The team travels to Miami with a top
defense lawyer (Eliza Dushku), for a case so inflammatory that it
endangers the lives of the client and the jurors.

“The Real NCIS”
(CBS) or “Frontline” (PBS), both 10 p.m. Two key non-fiction
hours collide. CBS relates a past NCIS case; PBS profiles
controversial Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

TV column for Monday, May 22

“The Bachelorette” opener, 9-11 p.m., ABC.

Channing Dungey is
used to breaking barriers, but this seemed distant. The first black
to lead a major network, she was asked about a black bachelor or
bachelorette. It might take a while, she said, because they're
usually chosen from runners-up; first, “we need to increase the
pool of diverse candidates.”

And then, less than
a year later, it all worked out: Rachel Lindsay, 31, a Dallas lawyer,
shot to the top, finishing third on “The Bachelor”; she was
promptly chosen for “Bachelorette.” After 33 editions – 21
“Bachelor,” 12 “Bachelorette” -- there's finally a black
person at the core.

II: “The Voice” (NBC) or “Dancing With the Stars” (ABC), 8

Two reality
powerhouses have their final night of competition, before naming
their champions on Tuesday. For “Stars,” two athletes –
football's Rashad Jennings, 32, and baseball's David Ross, 40 –
face singer Normani Kordei, 20, of Fifth Harmony.

And “Voice”?
Blake Shelton has dominated so far, with five of the past 10 winners;
now he has a 50/50 chance of doing it again. In the final four, he
has Lauren Duski and Aliyah Moulden; Adam Levine has Jesse Larson and
Alicia Keys has Chris Blue.

ALTERNATIVE: “Lucifer,” 9 p.m., Fox,

What started as a
quirkily adequate show has evolved into buoyant fun, as its side
characters develop. At the center is Lucifer -- glad to be here after
all those millennia in Hell -- and his brother. And now, a week
before the season-finale, there's the rich humor of their
scheming-but-daft mother (Tricia Helfer).

She's obsessed with
a flaming sword that could pierce the gate of Heaven. Meanwhile,
Lucifer bungles things with his therapist (Rachael Harris) and has a
fierce fight with Maze, who has anger issues.

Other choices

“The Lost World”
(1997), 5:57 p.m., AMC. This “Jurassic Park” sequel starts a
mixed movie night. At 8 p.m., Showtime reruns Sunday's “Twin Peaks”
opener; at 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies has the 1962 movie that
was at the center of the “Feud” miniseries: “Whatever Happened
to Baby Jane?”

“Princess Diana:
Her Life, Her Death, the Truth,” 8-10 p.m., CBS. Having wrapped up
its Monday shows a week early, CBS has this documentary and then a
“Carpool Karaoke” special.

“Gotham,” 8
p.m., Fox. What's the record for most gore in an 8 p.m. show based on
a comic book? This one – with a beheading, a behanding and lots
of fights – is somewhere up there. Also, it's no shown two
characters apparently being killed ... then returning blithely. All
of this is done with such cinematic richness that it takes a while to
grumble about the excess.

“Supergirl,” 8
p.m.,CW. When the show moved to Vancouver, it lost one of its best
characters. That's Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), Supergirl's old
boss. She did the season's first two episodes, skipped the rest and
returned last week. Now she offers some advice as Supergirl battles
Rhea (Teri Hatcher). Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), Supergirl's cousin,
is also there.

“Jane the Virgin”
season-finale, 9 p.m., CW. It's time for Jane's birth parents to
marry. Since this is television, problems abound. Rogelio gets slme
shocking news; Jane scrambles to find the right words to say at the
wedding. Meanwhile, Petra makes a rash decision and Rafael tells
Luisa to leave.

“Carpool Karaoke,”
10 p.m., CBS. Last year's hour won the Emmy for best variety special,
so here's another one. James Corden opens with a musical number and
reflects on highlights this seson. Also, Katy Perry sings in the car
with him and Jennifer Lopez takes a Toddlerography dance class.

“Better Call
Saul,” 10 p.m., AMC. Jimmy tries to settle his debts. Also, Mike
makes a connections while helping Stacey with a project.

TV column for Sunday, May 21

“Billboard Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m., ABC (also, both 5 and 8 p.m.

The final Sunday of
the TV season brings a cascade of music. There are performances by
veterans – Cher, who's getting the Icon Award, Celine Dion marking
the 20th anniversary of “Titanic” -- and more.

The Chainsmokers and
Drake lead with 22 nominations apiece. They'll perform; so will Miley
Cyrus, Bruno Mars, Nicki Minaj, Ed Sheeran, Lorde, Sam Hunt, John
Legend, Camilla Cabello, Imagine Dragons and Florida Georgia Line.

II: “Call the Midwife” season-finale, 8 p.m., PBS.

Even if you haven't
been watching “Midwife,” you can easily slide into this episode.
Like most of its season-finales, it raises the stakes; there's love,
marriage, birth, death and profound transitions.

In 1962 London, the
clinic has started giving birth-control pills. One of the midwives is
getting ready for her first child, after a mid-life marriage to the
doctor. Another is marrying the vicar. There are heartbreaking
moments and then a great finish. A tad simplified at times, “Midwife”
stirs emotions.

ALTERNATIVE: Season-finales, everywhere.

This is a night to
alert your recording devices and clear your schedule. Most shows are
wrapping up; we'll mention some of them individually, but first,
let's take an overview.

It's “America's
Funniest Home Videos” at 7 p.m. on ABC and “Bob's Burgers” at
7:30 on Fox ... which wraps “Simpsons” at 8, “Making History at
8:30 and “Family Guy” at 9. CBS has “Madam Secretary” at 9
and “Elementary” at 10; AMC has “Into the Badlands” at 10.
And two dramas have two-episode finales -- NBC's “Shades of Blue”
at 9 and 10, Lifetime's “Mary Kills People” at 10:02 and 11:02.

ALTERNATIVE II: “Twin Peaks,” 9 p.m., Showtime, rerunning at 11
p.m. and 1 a.m.

Back in 1990, “Twin
Peaks” was a prototype for imaginative shows – from “Sopranos”
to “Fargo” -- in a short-run format. It was also a reminder of
what can go wrong when that's overextended.

Now it's back, with
the same director (David Lynch), writers (Lynch and Mark Frost) and
stars, including Kyle MacLachlan, Madchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook and
Russ Tamblyn. The two-hour opener finds that the Homecoming queen has
been killed. That sort of thing happens in Twin Peaks.

Other choices

“12 Monkeys,”
8-11 p.m., Syfy. A grand experiment concludes, with an entire 10-hour
season in one three-day stretch. Our time-traveler continues trying
to stop a virus that will shatter society.

“Making History,”
8:30, Fox. Now for a cheerier view of time-travel. This clever show –
which, alas, has been cancelled – has seen Dan bounce through time
with his girlfriend Deb Revere, Paul's daughter. His schemes caused
his friend Chris to lose his faculty job; now he tries to deal with
Chris' boss (Ben Vereen). Also, Deb tries to get John Hancock and Sam
Adams to return to their era.

“Family Guy,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., Fox. Chris' girlfriend has been deported. He plans to
watch her twins for a while, but when she can't make it back, the
family takes them to Mexico. Then comes a new complication ... via
Peter's past as a sperm donor.

“Masterpiece,” 9
p.m., PBS. Here's a rare mis-step for a quality series. It's based on
the true story of the first Englishwoman to become a famous serial
killer. That's not a cheery subject, but “Dark Angel” takes it
extremes, creating a dark and dreary monotone.

“Shades of Blue,”
9 and 10 p.m., NBC. This intense season has centered on one of the
many lies by Harlee (Jennifer Lopez). She killed her abusive
ex-lover, buried the body and said he'd moved away. Now an obsessive
FBI man nears the truth, just as Harlee's boss (Ray Liotta) confronts
a betrayer.

Secretary,” 9 p.m., CBS. This show's fictional crises seem even
trickier than the real-life ones. Tonight, Russia attacks Bulgaria,
but France jeopardizes NATO by refusing to take action.

“Elementary.” 10
p.m., CBS. This could be the last new episode for a half-year or
more. CBS has ordered a new season, but not for the fall; tonight, a
gang war erupts in New York.

TV column for Saturday, May 20

'”The Wizard of Lies,” 8 p.m., HBO.

Here is the ideal
combination – a great American actor playing a consummate American

Bernie Madoff was a
popular figure in business and charity, with people begging him to
handle their investments. It turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, with
friends and charities losing billions. Robert De Niro – back to
drama, after years of comedy-- stars, wtih Michelle Pfeiffer as his
wife. Barry Levinson, an Oscar-winner for “Rain Man,” directed.

II: “Saturday Night Live” season-finale, 11:29 p.m., NBC.

A huge ratings
season for “SNL” wraps up with some double starpower.

Hosting is Dwayne
Johnson, once dismissed as a wrestler named The Rock, but now a movie
star whose “Baywatch” reaches theaters May 25. Katy Perry is the
music guest.

ALTERNATIVE: “Training Day” finale, 9 p.m., CBS.

This started with
strong prospects. It had a likable star (Bill Paxton), a familiar
title (adapted loosely from the 2001 movie) and a comfortable
timeslot after CBS' Thursday comedies. But ratings crashed and the
show was exiled to Saturdays; after filming the 13 episodes, Paxton
died at 61.

Now we can say
goodbye to the star (who also has a good supporting role in the
current movie “The Circle”) and to the show. Probing the long-ago
murder of Kyle's father, Frank (Paxton) has been captured in Mexico.
Kyle (Justin Cornwell), Tommy and Rebecca try to rescue him.

Other choices

Sports, 7 p.m. ET,
Fox and NBC. It's baseball on Fox and hockey on NBC, with the
Predators and the Ducks. Aren't predators usually quite rude to

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a SEAL candidate has been killed
before graduation; the team probes the unorthodox training he faced.
Also, Dr. Wade frets when her adopted son Danny plans to join the

Housewife,” 8 p.m., ABC . This reruns sees Taylor quitting school
activities. Now her mom is supposed to set a good example by studying
French and sticking with it.

“12 Monkeys,”
8-11 p.m., Syfy. Here's the mid-section of a grand experiment – an
entire, 10-episode season, wedged into one weekend. Four episodes
aired Friday, with three each today and Sunday. That adds up to the
third of four seasons of a high-stakes, time-travel tale.

“Downward Dog,”
8:30, ABC. If you missed the debut Wednesday, catch this quick rerun.
It views a young woman's hectic life at work and in romance ... often
with droll narration from her dog. Allison Tolman, who was so good in
the first “Fargo” series, stars, with Lucas Neff as her

“Diary of a Wimpy
Kid” (2010), 9 p.m., Disney. On the day after its sequel reached
theaters, here's a comedy about middle-school woes. If families
prefer something animated (and earlier), there's a Freeform marathon
-- “Hercules” (1997) at 2:35 p.m., “Tarzan” (1999) at 4:40,
“Monsters, Inc.” (2001) at 6:45 and “Monsters University”
(2013) at 8:55.

Junior,” 11 p.m., Fox. Here's the first half of the finale. The
four young chefs deal with something they're familiar with
(chocolate); then one has something totally new to her – goat.

TV column for Friday, May 19

“American Masters,” 9 p.m., PBS.

James Beard was born
in 1903, in a world that considered “American cuisine” an
oxymoron. Americans were supposed to envy and emulate Europeans. But
he had a mother who scoured the Oregon farm markets; he grew up
championing all kinds of food, especially from local sources.

Beard hosted a
primitive TV show, wrote 22 books, ran a cooking school out of his
townhouse ... and talked endlessly. A giant (6-foot-3, often over 300
pounds), he turned life into a food chat-room ... and, friends say,
never paid for anything. Here's a great profile, followed by a 10
p.m. rerun on Julia Child.

“The Toy Box” finale, 8 and 9 p.m., ABC.

For six weeks, we've
seen inventors bring their ideas to toy experts and – if they're
lucky – to a panel of kids. Mostly, the inventors have been likable
and their ideas have been pretty good.

Now we get one last
batch of prospects, from a hugable bug with recorded messages to a
card game that requires silly voices. It's a pretty good episode and
it thrusts one winner into the 9 p.m. hour. That's when it competes
with the other six winners, with only one going to stores.

ALTERNATIVE: “'I Love Lucy' Superstar Special,” 9 p.m., CBS.

Two 62-year-old
episodes are given new life, thanks to computer-added color.

Both center on
Lucy's claim that she's met lots of Hollywood stars. Now a
friend/rival visits. In the first episode, Lucy fakes a friendship
with Van Johnson; in the second, she hides the friend's glasses and
impersonates Clark Gable, Jimmy Durante and Harpo Marx ... until the
real Harpo arrives.

ALTERNATIVE II: “12 Monkeys,” 8-11 p.m., Syfy.

Here is a bold
experiment – a 10 episode season, packed into one weekend. Tonight
has four episodes (8, 8:45, 9:31 and 10:15 p.m.), with little room
for commercials; Saturday and Sunday have three each.

James Cole has
arrived from the future, linking with Dr. Cassandra Railly to try to
prevent a fierce virus. There's a splashy guest role for Christopher
Lloyd; James Callis of “Battlestar Galactica” also guests and
Emily Hampshire – who's been superb as a troubled genius – is

Other choices

“Maid in
Manhattan” (2002), 8-10 p.m., Fox. For no particular reason –
except Jennifer Lopez's stardom – Fox dusts off a movie that was
merely OK 15 years ago. Lopez is a maid in a mix-up romance with a
rich guy (Ralph Fiennes); Tyler Posey (“Teen Wolf”) plays her

“Undercover Boss”
season-finale, 8 p.m., CBS. Marcus Samuelsson has started
restaurants, written cookbooks and won two TV competitions. Now he
dons a disguise and scouts for aspiring chefs at classes and at
settings ranging from a soup kitchen to a high-end food truck and a
culinary institute.

“The Originals,”
8 p.m., CW. Vincent joins Haley and Freya, in a desperate effort to
stop The Hollow.

“Reign,” 9 p.m.,
CW. Darnley and John Knox launch a plan to strip Mary of her throne,
leaving a close friend of hers dead.

“Brave” (2012),
Disney; or “Ice Age” (2002), Nickelodeon, both 9 p.m. Two
animated hits start at a time when some kids go to bed. Some
grown-ups might prefer the entertaining “The Nice Guys” (2016) at
8 p.m. on HBO or two 1967 gems on Turner Classic Movies. Don't expect
any happy endings, but “Cool Hand Luke” (8 p.m. ET) and “Bonnie
and Clyde” (10:15) are beautifully crafted.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Judy Reyes (“Scrubs”) plays a community
activist who isn't a citizen; Erin tries to prevent her deportation.