TV column for Saturday, May 3

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

There are only three weekends left in the “sweeps” ratings
period (and in the official TV season), so “SNL” has fresh episodes. Reruns
will be confined to 10 p.m.; the 11:29 shows are new.

Tonight, actor Andrew Garfield hosts, one day after his
second “Amazing Spider-Man” film opened; Coldplay is the music guest. Next are
Charlize Theron and The Black Keys; the May 17 season-finale has “SNL” alumnus
Andy Samberg, with St. Vincent as music guest.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Orphan Black,” 9 p.m., BBC America.

Sarah has her daughter back, but that’s little comfort. On
the run with Sarah’s foster brother Felix, they hide in a cabin and meet a key
person from the past.

It’s another terrific hour, led by Tatiana Maslany’s perfect
work as Sarah and as all her clones. Watch her tonight as Alison, a homemaker
starring in a community musical … and Cosima, a brainy doctoral student … and
others, from a feral captive to a dying cancer victim. Each has depth and

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “In the Heat of the Night” (1967), 8-10
p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.

As racism keeps returning to current news, it’s a good time
to see one of the all-time great films.

Sidney Poitier plays a big-city police detective. Visiting
his family in the South, he becomes entwined in a murder case – first as a
suspect and then working with a bigoted sheriff (Rod Steiger). Two great actors
collide brilliantly, backed by Norman Jewison’s direction and Quincy Jones’
score. The result won well-deserved Oscars for best picture and for Steiger,
the script, the editing and the sound.

Other choices include:

“Transformers” (2007), 8-11 p.m., ABC. All this teen (Shia
LaBeouf) wanted was an old car and maybe a chance to meet girls. His car turned
out to be a robot, fighting to save the planet; the girl (Megan Fox) turned out
to be hot. A clever script is paired with director Michael Bay’s usual flair
for action,.

“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox. Here’s a rerun of the “Homeland”
take-off, with Kristen Wiig as the jumpy federal agent. It’s followed by a “24”
preview at 8:30 and, at 9, a rerun of Monday’s “Following” finale.

“2 Broke Girls,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun is from a year ago,
after the women’s cupcake shop had failed. They agree to deep-clean a hidden
part of the diner and find something that revives their hopes.

“Friends with Better Lives,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Newly divorced,
Will (James Van Der Beek) isn’t used to the singles scene; Kate is, so she
helps him. Also in this rerun, Andi’s pregnancy heightens her libido and her
sense of smell … leading to a funny discovery about Jules (Brooklyn Decker).

“The Mentalist,” 9 p.m., CBS. Here’s a rerun of the episode
that re-booted the show. Having caught Red John, Patrick Jane has found peace
and a girlfriend (Emily Swallow); then the FBI offers him a job.

“Da Vinci’s Demons,” 9 p.m., Starz; reruns at 10 and 11,
previous episode reruns at 8. In South America, Leonardo sees lethal danger; in
Italy, Clarice gets help from Carlo and Lucrezia attracts the sultan’s son.

“Fargo,” 10 p.m., FX. TV critics – a cantankerous bunch –
seem to agree on this one: The TV version of “Fargo” is superb, with quiet wit,
quick surprises and wonderful characters. There’s still time to catch up,
before the fourth episode airs Tuesday. The first three rerun today at 10 p.m.,
11:36 p.m. and 12:50 a.m.

TV column for Friday, May 2

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Shark Tank: Swimming with Sharks” and
“Shark Tank,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC.

The Friday comedies have ended their seasons now, so ABC
will doubles its sharks for a while.

First, Lara Spencer hosts a look at the show. The six investors
talk about each other and we get follow-ups on previous entrepreneurs, from a
20-year-old with her sugar-scrub product to former football pro Bubba Baker,
with Bubba’s Boneless Ribs. We also learn which product has been the most
successful; then the new pitches begin, including party tableware that turns
into compost.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Hawaii Five-0” and “Blue Bloods,” 9
and 10 p.m., CBS.

A week before their season finales, both shows try big

First, McGarrett heads to Afghanistan with Catherine, to rescue
a boy who once saved his life. Then the police commissioner (Tom Selleck) leads
a hunt for an undercover cop’s killer. Also, his granddaughter Nicky gets help
from her uncle Jamie, searching for a former classmate who is living on the

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Matilda” (1996) and “Cloudy with a
Chance of Meatballs” (2009), 7 and 9 p.m., ABC Family.

Two popular kids’ books were adapted into movies, in starkly
different styles.

“Meatballs” is light and animated, as a boy’s invention (turning
water into food) oversucceeds. “Matilda” started with Roald Dahl’s gloomy tale
of a mistreated girl with special powers. Danny DeVito directed it brilliantly;
this may be too dark for some kids, but many adults will savor its wit and

Other choices include:

“Unforgettable,” 8 p.m., CBS. It’s always tough to be stuck in
an elevator with a mayor, especially when a cybercrook threatens to kill both
of you. (Cybercrooks are good at maneuvering elevators.) Now Carrie must save
her boss Elliot and, of course, the mayor.

“Thor” (2011), 8-11 p.m., FX. When they began making their
own movies, the Marvel people skipped the usual action filmmakers. This is
directed by a gifted Shakespearean (Kenneth Branagh), with supporting roles for
gifted stage people (Tom Hiddleston,  Colm
Feore) and an Oscar-winner (Anthony Hopkins).

Radio Disney Music Awards, 8:15 to 9:45 p.m., Disney
Channel. Alongside the awards (One Direction, Justin Timberlake, etc.), this
rerun has performances by Austin Mahone, Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, R5, Becky
G and Zendaya.

“Grimm,” 9 p.m., NBC. Trubel (Jacqueline Tuboni) is being
introduced to this grim world. When Nick and Hank take her on a police ride
with Hank, a murder chase strikes a chord.

“Mountain Monsters,” 10 p.m., Destination America. On the
eastern edge of West Virginia, Pocahontas County people claim to have seen a
1,200-pound aquatic fire creature. The team searches.

“Hannibal,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Will Graham seems increasingly
willing to put his mind in dark places … and to let Hannibal Lecter guide him
there.  Meanwhile, Jack leads an FBI
probe of another nasty tableau.

Roast, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central. In this rerun, James
Franco is roasted by Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Sarah Silverman, host Seth Rogen
and more.

TV column for Thursday, May 1

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

This has been a dandy combination – TV’s best show and one of
the all-time great comedians.

Bob Newhart won his first Emmy, at 83, for his first “Big
Bang” appearance; now his third one starts with the news that his character
(Professor Proton) is dead. Even then, the comedy continue in dream scenes with
Sheldon (Jim Parsons). Two Emmy-winners, masters of dry comedy, blend

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “iHeart Radio Music Awards,” 8-11 p.m.,

The “iHeart” Web site has landed big stars for its CW
specials. Now it moves up to NBC, with performances by Drake, Pharrell,
Pitbull, Kendrick Lamar, Thirty Seconds to Mars and two of NBC’s “Voice”
judges, Blake Shelton and Shakira.

Nominated for artist of the year are Justin Timberlake, Maroon
5, Imagine Dragons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Rihanna -- who sings on two
of the best-single nominees, “Stay” (with Mikky Ekko) and Eminem’s “The Monster.”
Also nominated are Timberlake’s “Mirrors,” Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” and Drake’s
“Hold On, We’re Going Home.”

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Life Below Zero,” 9 p.m., National

Preparing for winter is imposing when you’re above the
Arctic Circle. We see Sue Aikens shutting down the hunting camp where she’ll
now spend seven months alone … and Erik Salitan, a guide during
hunting-and-fishing season, spending his off-time checking traps … and Andy
Bassich hunting beaver.

Then there’s Agnes Hailstone, a native Inupiaq who has a
husband and seven kids. With no grocery store in sight, she hopes to kill a
moose before winter descends. These are interesting lives to follow.

Other choices include:

“Machete,” 7:45 p.m., IFC; “Saint George,” 9 p.m., FX. It’s
an odd night for Danny Trejo. In the movie, he’s a former Mexican officer,
taking blood revenge; in the series, he’s George Lopez’s goofy uncle.

“Grey’s Anatomy,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC. In a change, ABC is
starting with a rerun of the episode that saw Cristina ponder alternate
futures. Then a new episode has her seek Meredith’s advice. Isaiah Washington,
who played her lover Preston Burke until leaving the show in 2007, is a guest

“Two and a Half Men,” 9:01 p.m., CBS. Alan’s new girlfriend (Kimberly
Williams-Paisley) wants him to confess his real identity to Larry. Also, Alden’s
on a road trip with Jenny and Barry.

“Bad Teacher,” 9:31 p.m., CBS. Even when they’re bluntly heavy-handed,
CBS’ comedies tend to be funny. Last week’s debut, alas, was one without the
other. This episode finds Meredith desperate, when a student won’t let her date
her rich father.

“Portlandia” (IFC) and “Sirens” (USA), 10 p.m. Both cable
comedies end their season. The oft-brilliant “Portlandia” sends its characters
to a feminist retreat. The inconsistent “Sirens” finds Johnny upset because
Theresa may leave town for a new job; his solution is to propose.

“Black Box,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. Brilliant and bipolar,
Catherine has confessed her situation to her lover. But will she do the same to
her boss at the hospital, where she’s a gifted neurosurgeon?

TV column for Wednesday, April 30

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

Four weeks from its finish, this sleek comedy keeps getting
better. Yes, there’s still too much Bruce, but at least this episode admits how
annoying he is; its other stories are first-rate.

Last week ended with Liv (very drunk and virtually engaged)
suddenly kissing Ron (the droll Englishman) … who passionately returned the
kiss, even though he was talking to Jessica at the time. That’s when Liv’s
boyfriend arrived. Tonight’s episode ends hilariously, with the sexy bartender’s
song to Jessica.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Chicago P.D.,” 10 p.m., NBC.

Tuesday’s “Chicago Fire” started with a fierce bomb blast at
a hospital, alongside a race day. Firefighters made some rescues and disabled a
second bomb, but now there’s much more for the police to do.

One cop (Kim Burgess) was already at the race; now she frets
for her niece. A firefighter (Shay) has been concealing a serious injury. And
police question everyone – especially those involved with the Syrian
ambassador’s surgery – as they worry about more bombs.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Suburgatory,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.

For three seasons, Dalia has avoided effort or emotion. “Grades
don’t define me,” she explains; she focuses on what does define her – tanning,
shaping, glossing and such.

Somehow, her mother still expects her to get into a good
college; an admissions officer disagrees. The result – contrasted with Dalia’s
diligent neighbor Tessa – makes a clever episode, especially when Dalia
explores her potential in the military or the fast-food industry.

Other choices include:

“American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. The bad news is that it’s
an all-white final-five, for only the second time in 13 seasons. The good news
is that – despite last week’s departure of the talented C.J. Harris – these are
gifted singers. Tonight, each is mentored by Jason Mraz and does a song chosen
by viewers.

“Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS. Things have been tough for the
pretty people lately. Only one of the six members of the original “Beauty”
tribe (Jefra Bland, 23, a former Miss Kentucky Teen USA) remains, against three
each from “Brawn” and “Brains.” Tonight brings some auction strategy.

“The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. Sue is suddenly serious about
earning a scholarship. Frankie is serious about work – trying to cover up the
fact that she forgot to send appointment-reminder cards to the patients.

“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. Failing at his one task (waiting
at home for a repairman), Phil tries to concoct an elaborate lie. The pressure
gets to him … and to Gloria, who is planning the family portrait.

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” 10 p.m., CBS. A series
based entirely on cyber-crimes? That’s what CBS has in mind, anyway. This
episode doubles as a pilot film, with Patricia Arquette as the cyber-expert.

“The Americans,” 10 p.m., FX. Philip is wavering now,
weighed down by last week’s missions (which went lethally off-plan) and by the
ongoing dispute over his daughter’s new interest in Christianity. In the midst
of this come tough assignments and a risky decision to trick Annelise into
doing one of them.

TV column for Tuesday, April 29

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Chicago Fire,”10 p.m., NBC.

It’s race day in Chicago, a bright and cheery time.
Firefighters are setting up a booth; an off-duty cop (the Kim Burgess character
from “Chicago P.D.”) brings her niece.

Then a bomb bursts in a hospital, bringing high-octane
trouble. One firefighter is buried; another is concealing a brutal injury. Two
little girls hover near death. One doctor is stuck on a ledge, another is grabbing
a spare liver. It’s a gripping hour that leaves some crises for Wednesday’s “Chicago

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Fargo,” 10 p.m., FX.

Who was that guy whose body was discovered in the Minnesota
snow? This hour – skillfully mixing slow humor and quick violence -- starts
with a flashback, then booms ahead.

Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) has been asked to stifle a blackmailer;
naturally, he sees a chance to take over and blackmail for much more. A Duluth
cop (Colin Hanks) realizes he let himself be intimidated into not catching
Malvo during a traffic stop. And only one deputy suspects what viewers know –
that mild-mannered Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) killed his wife

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle,” 9
p.m., PBS (check local listings).

As the Hispanic community grew and transformed in Los
Angeles, Ruben Salazar seemed to ignore it. He married a non-Latino, lived in
Orange County, assimilated.

Then Salazar, a Los Angeles Times reporter, began to agree
with the young rebels he had once scoffed at. He criticized officials and the
police … then was killed by a police tear-gas canister. The events, more than
40 years ago, still draw controversy and help illustrate a changing era.
Ranging from Salazar’s editors to his daughter to his richly written journal,
this hour tells a strong story.

Other choices include:

“Agents of SHIELD,” 8 p.m., ABC. Cobie Smulders – known
mostly for “How I Met Your Mother” – plays Agent Maria Hill, a role she’s
already had in two movies. She tries to help Coulson as his team crumbles.

“Glee,” 8 p.m., Fox. Shirley MacLaine guests as a socialite,
befriended by Blaine. Also, Rachel endangers her Broadway role by auditioning
for TV; Mercedes tries to include Santana in her record deal.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. A Marine photographer disappears,
before he can testify in a controversial murder trial. Meanwhile, Abby tries to
help a young homeless woman reconnect with her family.

“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. Some important software
has been stolen and the lead engineer’s 10-year-old daughter is missing. Sam,
who once provided protection for her, searches for a link.

“New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. Worried that a dance will be
sabotaged, Jess gets her friends to chaperone.

“The Mindy Project,” 9:30, Fox. Mindy is dating a cop (Tim
Daly); Danny is unhappy.

“Celebrity Wife Swap,” 10 p.m., ABC. After being a regular
in four situation comedies (from “Martin” to “Happily Divorced”), Tichina
Arnold has a leisurely life in New York with her husband (an assistant
basketball coach) and their 9-year-old daughter. Kelly Packard, a former
“Baywatch” beauty, has a busy California life, with her husband (a doctor),
four kids and many animals. Now they swap coasts and lives.

“Game of Arms” season-finale, 10 p.m., AMC. This show has
been following arm-wrestling teams in five cities. Now they converge for a
double-elimination tournament in Los Angeles.