TV column for Sunday, Sept. 28

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Resurrection” season-opener, 9 p.m.,

Last season ended roughly. The sheriff called in the Army
and had most of the returned-from-the-dead people hauled away. The outside
world soon was convinced that it was all a hoax.

Now Martin (Omar Epps), a federal agent, wakes up dazed and
confused. What has happened? Is there a cover-up? This opener gives fresh
energy to an already terrific show; that includes an important arrival and a
powerhouse realization during tonight’s final minutes.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “The Simpsons” season-opener, 8 p.m.,

First, we get a peek at what “The Simpsons” will look like
in a few millennia. (You really didn’t expect the show to ever end, did you?)

Then come two things that we’ve never seen in the first 25
seasons – a well-deserved roast of Krusty the Clown and a long look at a Jewish
Heaven. There are great moments, with brief guest spots from Sarah Silverman,
Jackie Mason and master roaster Jeff Ross.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Once Upon a Time” season-opener, 8
p.m., ABC, with preview at 7.

Driving home from a drunken party, two ruffians really don’t
expect this – a blonde beauty in an elegant ballroom gown, trudging down the
road. They zoom toward her; she blasts their truck into ice.

Ah yes, more trouble in this dandy show’s two worlds. In
fairy-tale land, we meet Elsa the Ice Queen (of “Frozen” fame) and her sister;
we see newlyweds Belle and Rumpelstiltskin. But Elsa finds Storybrooke … which
is already shaken by Emma saving Marian, whose husband Robin Hood had a romance
with Regina. Will Regina return to her evil ways? Will Storybrooke freeze? It’s
fun finding out.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE II: “The Strain,” 10 p.m., FX.

Yes, this hour delivers the big monster moments that “Strain”
fans expect. Eichhorst invades the pawn shop; Palmer, the mogul, learns whether
his deal with the devil will bring renewed life.

Alongside that, however, are quietly powerful emotions. We learn
the back story of Setrakian’s monster quest. And Ruta Gedmintas has great
moments as Dutch Velders, the young hacker now trying to make amends, after
realizing Palmer had hired her to do evil.

Other choices include:

“Masterpiece,” 8 and 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). In
1875 London, John Moray ran a department store and prepared to marry Katherine,
the owner’s daughter … until she realized he loves Denise, the shopgirl. Moray
was banished; Katherine left. Tonight, both return, in a lush hour that starts
the second and final season of “The Paradise”; that’s followed by the season’s
third and final Miss Marple mystery.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” season-opener, 8:30 p.m., Fox. Last
season ended with Jake (Andy Samberg) pretending to be a dirty cop, so he could
work undercover. Now he’s already cozy with the Mob. (Hey, he’s a charming
guy.) That’s the start of a fast, funny episode that also has station-house

“The Good Wife,” 9 p.m., CBS. The season started powerfully
last week, with Cary charged with aiding a drug deal. It’s apparently a ploy to
get to the drug kingpin he and Alicia represent … complicated by the
prosecutors’ rage at Alicia and her husband. Maneuvers continue, while Diane
prepares to switch firms.

“Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex” season-finales, 9 and 10
p.m., Showtime. Ray’s dad has a new scheme. Then Masters and Johnson finally
release their research results to the public.

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” season-opener, 10 p.m.,
CBS. Starting its new night, “CSI” has a bomb in Finlay’s car … a call from
(maybe) the Gig Harbor Killer … and a double role for Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

TV column for Saturday, Sept. 27

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

The 40th season opens with Chris Pratt – a comedy
guy on “Parks and Recreation,” an action hero in “Guardians of the Galaxy” -- hosting
and Ariana Grande as music guest. It also brings key changes.

Michael Che (briefly of “The Daily Show”) joins “Weekend
Update,” becoming its first black anchor. Unfortunately, Colin Jost stays and
Cecily Strong will focus on sketches. Also, Nasim Pedrad has left, Pete Davidson
will be a writer and others (Brooks Wheelan, Noel Wells, John Milhiser) were

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Music for Change: The Global Citizen
Festival,” 9 p.m., NBC.

This last-minute addition is stuffed with stars. Hugh
Jackman hosts from New York’s Central Park, in an annual concert designed to
fight worldwide poverty.

No Doubt is expected to have its first performance in two years.
Also scheduled are Carrie Underwood, Jay Z, Alicia Keys, Fun, Tiesta and The

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Friday Night Lights” (2004) and “The
Blind Side” (2009), 6:30 and 9 p.m., ABC Family.

Both movies have true stories with football backdrops; both
have country star Tim McGraw in support.

And both are well-crafted. Based on a non-fiction book about
high school football, “Lights” isn’t as good as the TV series that followed,
but it’s still a strong movie. “Blind Side” is propelled by Sandra Bullock’s
brilliant, Oscar-winning work as a rich Southerner who provided a home for a
good-hearted giant.

Other choices include:

Westerns, all night. Choose young or old Clint Eastwood.
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966) is 4:45 p.m. on AMC; the Oscar-winning
“Unforgiven” (1992) is 8 p.m. on Reelz. Both are slow (“Ugly” is ultra-slow),
but well-crafted. AMC also has “Hell on Wheels” at 9; Cullen scrambles to free
his workers.

Football, 8 p.m. ET, Fox and ABC. Fox has 7th-ranked
Baylor and Iowa State; ABC has 8
th-ranked Notre Dame and Syracuse.
Cable has much more, all day.

“Madam Secretary” and “Scorpion,” 8 and 9 p.m., CBS. Here
are reruns of two pilot films, both so-so. “Madam” is earnest, but try; “Scorpion”
is fun, but strains believability.

“The Voice,” 8 p.m., NBC. This rerun is a logical lead-in
for the concert. One of the new “Voice” judges is Gwen Stefani, who will also
be performing in the Central Park show with her group, No Doubt.

Cedar Cove,” 8 p.m., Hallmark Last week, every blonde woman
was in dismay, but many of the brunettes were OK. Tonight, troubles – guy woes,
cyber-bully woes – are equal-hair offenders. 
All this is against the gorgeous backdrop of waterfront Washington. In
snappy little scenes (written and acted competently), beautiful and
well-meaning people face life’s problems.

“Outlander” mid-season finale, 9 p.m., Starz. Last week’s
episode (rerunning at 8) saw Claire marrying a Scotsman in 1742, to legally
block the English from interrogating her. It turns out that she really likes
the guy … but then she spots a possible link to her 1940s self. It’s a strong
scene, setting up a cliffhanger. 

“Doctor Who,” 9 p.m., BBC America. The fierce Skovox Blitzer
is ready to destroy mankind.

“The Intruders,” 10 p.m., BBC America. New information may
block the ascension of Rose (Miranda Cosgrove). Also, she asks Jack why Amy
(Mira Sorvino) has been acting so odd lately.

TV column for Friday, Sept. 26

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Amazing Race” season-opener, 8
p.m., CBS.

For its 25th season, “Race” slides from one of
the highest-viewership nights (Sundays), to one of the lowest. Still, we can expect
the skill that has brought 10 best-reality-competition Emmys in 12 years.

This edition has plenty of couples – three dating, one
engaged and two married; that includes Bethany Hamilton (who returned to
surfing after losing an arm to a shark at age 13) and her husband. There are
also sisters, friends and a mother-daughter duo. They’ll try to race 26,000
miles in eight countries.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Live From Lincoln Center,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings).

Other networks avoid stage performances, unless there’s a
prize involved. PBS savors them; over the next 11 Fridays, it will include two
theater events (“Porgy and Bess” and “The Nance”), several concerts (Tony
Bennett and Lady Gaga, Kristin Chenoweth, an “Austin City Limits” anniversary)
and more.

First is this hybrid -- the New York Philharmonic’s semi-staged
concert production of Stephen Sondheim’s powerful “Sweeney Todd.” Bryn Terfel,
an operatic bass-baritone, sings the title role of the demon barber; Emma
Thompson is his pie-baking companion

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Shark Tank” season-opener, 8 and 9
p.m., ABC.

The new season quickly hits the extremes. One notion has
several investors tossing around big-money offers; another is proclaimed by
Kevin O’Leary as “one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard.”

During that first hour, we hear such phrases as “re-engineering
the athletic sock” and “pre-revenue” (in short, they’ve made zero so far) and “put
the ‘man’ in ‘manicure.’” And yes, these sometimes work; an update shows six
products (including dog food created by a 10-year-old) that have soared.

Other choices include:

 “The Mysteries of
Laura,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a rerun of Wednesday’s episode, a woman has been killed
after making a date Online. Now Laura (Debra Messing) must go undercover.

“Gotham,” 9 p.m., Fox. If you missed Monday’s debut, here
(after an 8 p.m. “Utopia”) is a second chance to enter Gotham City at its low
point, before Batman emerged. The story gets a bit monotone, heavy on the
darkness and torture; still, the visuals are gorgeous as “Gotham” creates its
own world.

“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. While other networks are
content to include Friday reruns, CBS has a full night of season-openers. This
one offers a scheme that also spiced this summer’s “24”: Terrorists have seized
control of armed drones; now they’re using them against regular people.

“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. Two police detectives, Danny
Reagan and Maria Baez, are escorting drugs to a remote incineration spot. Then
they’re attacked; she’s seriously injured, he seeks revenge.

“The Knick,” 10 p.m., Cinemax. After a flashback preamble, “Knick”
quickly hits overdrive. Irishmen are convinced a black man has killed an Irish
cop; soon, a race war erupts. Most intriguing is how far some of the characters
have gone. When “Knick” started, the chief surgeon (Clive Owen) was a bigot and
the ambulance driver was a rude oaf; now both have their heroic moments. It’s a
big, tough episode that leads to some small, tender moments.

TV column for Wednesday, Sept. 24

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

Life is comfy for Andre and Rainbow (Anthony Anderson and
Tracee Ellis Ross). He’s an advertising executive, she’s an anesthesiologist
and money is abundant.

The trouble, he feels, is that their kids have no feel for
their black heritage; their son wants to have a bar mitzvah, like his
classmates do. Produced by Anderson and Laurence Fishburne (who plays his dad),
this is a smart show, but a one-note one that leaves us wondering if there’s
enough story to keep going.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Survivor” and “Big Brother,” 8 and
9:30 p.m., CBS.

Right before “Brother” ends its season, “Survivor” starts one.
And for the second time, it has each person competing with someone close to him
or her.

There’s a father and son, a mother and daughter, a father
and daughter. There are brothers and twin sisters (the Andersons, from two
rounds of “Amazing Race). There’s a married couple, some college sweethearts
and two dating duos. One includes John Rocker, the former major-league pitcher
whose comments – “the biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the
foreigners” – preceded his decline.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Bridge,” 10 p.m., FX.

Last week was clouded by Marco’s absurd decision to head
into Fausto’s armed compound virtually alone, to suggest a surrender. The suggestion
was rejected and he was captured.

Now the Mexican government’s Marines consider an attack,
while Sonya digs through Eleanor’s crime ledger. It’s a fairly good hour with
some superb moments. One little gem comes when a calm avenger briefly visits
the office of Robles, who is a corrupt police captain and a rapist.

Other choices include:

“The Mysteries of Laura,” 8 p.m., NBC. In last week’s opener
– entertaining, but overwrought – Laura (Debra Messing) dealt with her nasty
sons and showed that her police boss was a killer. Alas, the new boss is her estranged
husband. Yes, that’s wildly unlikely; so were parts, but we’ll give this a
chance as it moves into its time slot. When a woman is killed during a date set
Online, Laura goes undercover.

“Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). A delightful,
three-week penguin documentary starts with the frantic extremes these creatures
face, as they head to their breeding ground.

“Nova,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Yes, there are
brilliant hackers out there, stealing our identities. This hour views the other
side – squadrons of geniuses, trying to combat cyber-theft.

“Modern Family” season-opener, 9 p.m., ABC. Fresh from its
fifth straight best-comedy Emmy, “Family” eyes some changes at the end of the
summer. Cam is still in his honeymoon mood; Mitchell is more matter-of-fact.
Also, Alex’s return transforms her family’s dynamics.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” season-opener, 9
p.m., NBC. The season starts with Olivia raising a foster baby and Amaro exiled
to traffic duty. Then those fates merge, when he arrests a teen prostitute.

“Chicago PD” season-opener, 10 p.m., NBC. After being off
the air for two months, this show returns with troubles everywhere. Voight is a
crash victim while driving undercover … Burgess dislikes her new partner … and
Lindsay (Sophia Bush) meets her mom (Markie Post) for the first time in

TV column for Tuesday, Sept. 23

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “NCIS: New Orleans” opener, 9 p.m., CBS.

We’re used to all the just-the-facts characters on “NCIS,”
“CSI” and “Law & Order” shows. Some have pristine offices; many seem to
have pristine lives.

Not this one: Dwayne Pride (Scott Bakula) runs his little
NCIS bureau in of an old building surrounded by the music and flavor of New
Orleans. He sometimes lives there (his marriage seems to be wobbling), savoring
his co-workers (Lucas Black, Zoe McLellan) and others. In tonight’s opener, the
victim was once a troubled young man Pride mentored. In the “NCIS” mode, it’s a
fairly solid, straightforward tale.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Forever,” 10:01 p.m., ABC.

After a terrific debut Monday, “Forever” settles into its
time slot. It has another good mystery, alongside the ongoing story of Dr.
Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd), a medical examiner.

Henry (has been around for 200 years, reviving after each
death. Only one person (Judd Hirsch) knows this; a cop (Alana De La Garza)
knows only that this odd guy is worth linking with. Tonight, they try to learn
why a young woman plunged from a bridge; only Henry feels it wasn’t suicide.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: All night, PBS (check local

Real lives can create some of the best storytelling. Tonight
starts at 8 p.m. with “Finding Your Roots,” tracing three people – Stephen
King, Gloria Reuben, Courtney Vance – who knew little about their dads; they
get big surprises. It ends with a late addition -- “Joan Rivers: A Piece of
Work” (2010) at 10:30 p.m.

In between is an “American Masters” detour, “The Boomer List.”
Here is one person for each baby-boomer year, from 1946 (author and Vietnam vet
Tim O’Brien) to 1964 (actor John Leguizamo). Individually, their stories range
from dull to fascinating; together, they offer a snapshot of an era.

Other choices include:

“Awkward,” 4-10:33 p.m., MTV. First, catch up on the season
so far. Then the show returns (after a three-month pause) with Jenna facing
finals. Also, “Faking It” opens its season at 10:33.

“Dancing With the Stars,” 8 p.m., ABC. This is the second
and final week of a Tuesday results show. Next week, “Stars” reverts to the
clumsy one-show-a-week format.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. The season starts with action. Escorting
a computer engineer, Gibbs and McGee are on the run from Russian mercenaries. Their
colleagues try to find them with techno-skills.

“Candid Camera,” 8 p.m., TV Land. Imagine an overgenerous
yogurt machine; it just won’t stop. Or a waitress who samples all your food.
That’s in the finale of the first season of this “Candid” revival. Mayim Bialik
and Peter Funt host, with Carnie Wilson as the waitress.

“Agents of SHIELD” season-opener, 9 p.m., ABC. Now fugitives,
the “SHIELD” people still must save the world. Guest stars include Lucy
Lawless, Patton Oswalt, Adrian Pasdar, George Stephanopoulos (really) and Hayley
Atwell, in the role (Peggy Carter) she’ll play in the mid-season “Agent

“Chicago Fire” season-opener, 10 p.m., NBC. Last season
ended with a deadly hospital explosion. Now the chief tries to pull his squad back
together; Severide has disappeared and Casey goes looking for him.