TV column for Saturday, Feb. 15

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: Olympics, all day, NBC and cable.

Some fans will be up early, to watch hockey. The U.S. and
Russian teams collide at 7 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network, while the women
start quarterfinals at 7:30 a.m. on MSNBC. Others will wait for NBC.

The afternoon (3-6 p.m.) has medals for the women in
1500-meter short-track and the five-kilometer, cross-country relay and for men
in skeleton. The evening (8-11:30 p.m.) has medals for women in super-G Alpine
skiing and for men in many things – 1,000-meter short-track, 1500-meter
speedskating and large-hill ski jumping. Latenight (midnight) has women’s
curiling, with the U.S. and Sweden.

TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “The Whole Gritty City,” 9-11 p.m.,

New Orleans seems to be filled with extremes – glorious music
and glowing spirits, gnawing poverty and brutal crime rates. For kids, says
Wynton Marsalis, “their refuge (is) the band room. It’s their safe haven from
the tyranny of low expectations.”

Marsalis, the jazz great who grew up there, hosts this “48
Hours” special. It focuses on three band leaders preparing their kids for Mardi
Gras, and on five of the kids, each touched by violence.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: Movies, 8 p.m. and cable.

At the midpoint of Black History Month, cable has two Oscar-winners
for best picture. “In the Heat of the Night” (1967, 9 p.m., USA) pairs two of
the greats; Sidney Poitier plays a big-city police detective who works a case
with a bigoted sheriff, played with Oscar-winning perfection by Rod Steiger. “Crash”
(2004, 9:45 p.m., Showtime) is a rich tapestry of racial moments, large and
small, in modern Los Angeles.

And if you just want great music, “Dreamgirls” (2006) is
8-11 p.m. on ABC. Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar in her acting debut, working
alongside Beyonce, Anika Noni Rose, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx.

Other choices include:

“Rake,” 8 p.m., Fox. In a rerun, Keegan represents three
Amish bakers who shaved the beard off a bishop. He also meets someone he doesn’t
need – a woman who shares his obsession with gambling.

“Person of Interest,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds it tough
for the guys to stay anonymous, when they try to save a tech billionaire who
has massive resources of his own.

“The Following,” 9 p.m., Fox. In a rerun, Ryan and his niece
struggle to stay ahead of the FBI.

“Atlantis,” 9 p.m., BBC America. In the conclusion of a
two-part story, Jason tries to rescue Ariadne, who has been sentence to

“When Calls the Heart,” 9 p.m., Hallmark. It’s time for the
Miners’ Games … and maybe for Jack to loosen his overprotective approach to

“Black Sails,” 9 p.m., Starz. Last week’s episode (rerunning
at 8 p.m.) ended powerfully when Eleanor – enraged by an attack on her lesbian
lover – banned Rackham from captaining one of the ships. Now the aftershocks
begin. Her father is retrieved from house arrest and we get hints of Captain
Flint’s secret. In the final minutes, fresh events bring more brutality and

TV column for Friday, Feb. 14

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: Valentine’s Day specials, 8 p.m.

Romance is everywhere tonight. On a “Bones” rerun (Fox),
Booth and Brennan marry. Movies include ones that are fairly new one (“Chance
at Romance,” Hallmark), lame (“The Prince & Me,” 2004, ABC Family) and
splendid – “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993, TV Guide) and “The Family Man” (2000,

Then there are ABC cartoons, gentle and bittersweet.  Charles Schulz wrote the 1975 “Be My Valentine,
Charlie Brown” (8 p.m.); “A Charlie Brown Valentine” (8:30) was made in 2002
from his cartoons.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: Olympics, 3-5 p.m., 8-11:30 p.m.,
12:05-1:05 a.m., NBC; also cable.

Tonight, someone moves into Scott Hamilton turf, as the
men’s figure-skating champion.

And more medals are handed out: The men have super-combined
Alpine skiing. Women have the skeleton and the freestyle skiing aerials.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS; and
“Dirty Sexy Funny,” 11 p.m., Epix.

Two sides of Donnie Wahlberg are on display tonight. On a “Blue”
rerun, he has his usual one – taut and intense. He finds a dazed man who is
covered with his girlfriend’s blood and has no idea what happened.

Then there’s a burst of goofy fun. In “Dirty,” Jenny McCarthy
introduces female comics, dropping some clever films in between; Wahlberg (her
real-life boyfriend) is a delight as bad Internet dates. As for the comics, the
first two – Justine Marino and Tammy Pescatelli – are excellent; the others are

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE II: “Helix,” 10 p.m., Syfy.

So far, the dark dealings in this Arctic research lab have
perplexed viewers and the Center for Disease Control team. Clearly, Dr. Hatake
and his adopted son have a hidden agenda.

Now a strong hour adds their boss, played zestfully by Jeri
Ryan. She’s smart, scheming, charming and evil. Meanwhile, most people infected
by the virus have a zombie-like rage, but one (Dr. Julia Walker) seems to be
getting better. Also, an Arctic native probes who has been kidnapping her

Other choices include:

“East of Eden” (1955), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.
James Dean stars in Elia Kazan’s classic drama.

“Great Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). In
London, the National Theatre celebrates its first 50 years with a flurry of
brief scenes from dramas, comedies and a few musicals. It’s only mildly
entertaining, but the talent – Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Derek
Jacobi, more – is stunning.

“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Jorge Garcia
(“Lost”) is a conspiracy theorist, helping a probe.

“Enlisted,” 9 p.m., Fox. Here’s a second chance to see the
clever pilot film, as a tough soldier (Geoff Stults) is demoted to a platoon of
inept ones – including his two brothers.

“Raising Hope,” 9:30, Fox. In the rerun of an OK episode, a
stranger (Jeffrey Tambor) has been spying.

“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover 2,” 10 p.m., Investigation
Discovery. Think of this as a bitter-but-fun anti-Valentine. Three true stories
mix re-enactments and real women who exacted extreme revenge.

“Banshee,” 10 p.m., Cinemax. Our hero had been doing fine
with his fake identity (as Sheriff Hood, even squelching the real Hood’s son)
and his stash of diamonds. Now both matters implode.

TV column for Thursday, Feb. 13

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “American Idol,” 8 p.m., Fox.

For “Idol,” this is a chance to regain its old oomph: “The
Voice” doesn’t return until Feb 24 (after the Olympics); “The X Factor” will
never return. “Idol” can soar.

Tonight is a key step: Judges, who sent 212 people to
Hollywood, have been trimming ever since. In an hour tonight, they try to get
the field down to 30 semi-finalists.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: Winter Olympics, 3-5 p.m., 8-11:30
p.m., 12:05-1:05 a.m., NBC; also, cable.

This is a night for women to skate fast; there are medals
for 500-meter short-track and for 1,000-meter speedskating. Men have medals in
free-style, slope-style skiing.

Also, the men figure-skaters start their two-night
competition. Evengi Plushenko, still gifted after winning as gold and two
silvers in the previous three Olympics, tries for yet another.

TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Enchanted” (2007), 8-10 p.m.,

Right now, moviegoers can see Amy Adams in “American
Hustle,” being clever, crafty, sexy and scheming. So it’s interesting to flash
back and see the sort of nice-girl role she used to be confined to.

We meet a cartoon princess who’s thrown into a nether world
by an evil queen. She’s startled to be in Manhattan … and more startled to be a
real, non-cartoon person. The result – complete with three buoyant,
Oscar-nominated songs – is a delight.

Other choices include:

“Oz, the Great and Powerful” (2013), 6:45-9 p.m., Starz.
Tonight brings a double sampling of Sam Raimi, the director of the Spider-Man
trilogy. He made this oft-splendid film, with James Franco as the con man who
finds his wonderland, long before Alice; he also directed the “Rake” episode at

“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. An all-rerun night for CBS
starts with this dandy episode. Sheldon finds Amy overload, when she gets a job
at the university. Also, Bernadette boots Howard out.

“The Millers,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. If you’re keeping track, this
is the show’s fourth rerun in eight days. That sort of explains why we’re
seeing a Halloween episode (visiting the house of a “witch”) on Valentine eve.

“Rake,” 9 p.m., Fox. Here’s proof that economics is a tough
game – the mayor’s chief economic advisor is accused of killing and eating a
young accountant. Keegan defends him, in an hour directed by Raimi.

“The Crazy Ones,” 9:01 p.m., CBS. A softball game raises
doubts about a previous sports triumph by Simon (Robin Williams).

“Two and a Half Men,” 9:31 p.m., CBS. When Berta injures her
back, Walden and Alan think it may be time for her to retire..

“Elementary,” 10:01 p.m., CBS. Sherlock and Watson are
probing the Mob. Watson, however, also uses her new detective abilities to help
a friend trace a mystery man.

TV column for Wednesday, Feb. 12

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: Winter Olympics, 3-5 p.m., 8-11:30 p.m.,
12:05-1:05 a.m., NBC.

Pairs figure-skating – strong on crowd-appeal, weak on
American winners – wraps up. So do two events in which Americans do well –
women’s snowboarding halfpipe and men’s 1,000-meter speedskating, where Shani
Davis could be the first individual to go gold in the same skating event three

Also tonight are women’s Alpine skiing downhill and
(late-night) the luge doubles finals.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “The Beatles: The Night That Changed
America,” 8:30-11 p.m., CBS.

In a late switch, CBS offers a quick rerun of one of the
best TV specials ever.

The two surviving Beatles – Paul McCartney, 71, and Ringo
Starr, 73 – close the night, first individually and then together. Long before
that, however, this is already a superb night.

Current stars – Maroon 5, Katie Perry, Keith Urban, Usher,
Brad Paisley, Alicia Keys and more – race through the Beatles songbook, backed
by brilliant instrumentalists. There are clips from the Beatles’ American debut
on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” 50 years ago, and memories of the people who were

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

This smartly offbeat show sat out the first three months of
the season, while ABC tried lesser comedies. Then it boomed back sharply with
this season-opener, rerunning tonight.

Abandoned (again) by her mom, Tessa returns home. Her dad
broke up with Dallas (whose daughter is fuming at Dallas); he also has grumpy
dog, drawing instant neighborhood disapproval.

Other choices include:

“American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. Now that Fox has decided
not to bring “X Factor” back, “Idol” has the network all to itself. In two hours
tonight and one Thursday, it must trim down to its semi-finalists.

“Best in Show” (2000), 8-10 p.m., CW. Droll and dry, this
mostly improvised movie is set at a dog show. Christopher Guest co-starred and
directed his witty friends, including Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Michael McKean
and Parker Posey. The get few big moments, but many pleasant ones.

“The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. This rerun finds Brick receiving
so much information on his iPad that he’s afraid of … well, everything. Dave
Foley is bask in his funny role as the school counselor.

“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. Phil finds that newly divorced
women are good for his real-estate work … and time-consuming. Meanwhile, Gloria
thinks the baby is cursed and Cam has a fake cat funeral.

“Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond,” 10 p.m., BBC America. Last
week ended with a dark time for Ian Fleming, long before he created James Bond.
The adventurous young woman he loved was killed in a bombing raid; Fleming
descended into a sometimes-sadistic relationship with a beauty who had both a
husband a lover. Tonight’s hour sees him frustrated, leading to a stronger
episode in next week’s finale.

TV column for Tuesday, Feb. 11

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: Olympics, 3-5 p.m., 8-11:30 p.m.,
12:05-1:05 a.m., NBC; also cable.

On one side is pairs figure-skating; it tends to have
everything (style, grace, power) except American winners. On the other is
snowboarding; Americans win that one a lot.

Tonight, the men’s snowboard halfpipe concludes, with Shaun
White hoping for his third straight gold in the event; the pairs skating starts,
with the short programs. Also, women have their finals in ski jumping (normal
hill) and in free-style, slope-style skiing.

TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” 9:30 p.m., Fox.

Last week’s delightful episode saw the luckless Boyle
finally get lucky. He talked food (his only point of expertise) with a sexy
foodie, played by Marilu Henner.

Now his colleagues urge him not push the romance too fast.
Meanwhile, Holt (Andre Braugher) has a new opponent; also, Rosa and Amy have
trouble taking a costumed crimefighter seriously.

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

When Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid robbed a train or a
bank, they brought smarts, skill and dynamite. They were, however, in the end
of a Wild West era.

The Pinkerton detective agency – big and relentless – stayed
in pursuit. When the guys cockily posed for photos, the pictures ended up on wanted
posters; when they retreated to South America, a letter home was intercepted.
Here’s a fascinating hour, following an 8 p.m. rerun on Billy the Kid.

Other choices include:

“The Goldbergs,” 8-9:30 p.m., ABC. Here’s a sampling of
three reruns of this likable show, catching an eccentric family in the 1980s.
First, a father-daughter roller-rink tradition is in danger, now that Erica is
a moody teen-ager. Then her brother wants to do karate in the school talent
show. And at 9, their mother is stunned when she invites the new neighbors and
they don’t respond.

“Dads,” 8-9 p.m., Fox. This so-so show ends its first season
with two episodes. First, Camilla (Vanessa Lachey) demands everyone quit
drinking, after her father-in-law (Martin Mull) ruins the family couch. Then
Eli and his dad (Seth Green and Peter Riegert) bicker so much that one ends up
in the hospital.

“New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox. Linda Cardellini, of “ER” and “Mad
Men” fame, plays Jess’ wild sister.

“Twisted” return, 9 p.m., ABC Family. Hiding from police,
Danny finally tells friends what happened years ago, when his aunt was killed.
He also gets a hint that his dad may be alive and searches for him; so does his
mother (Denise Richards) and her friend (Ivan Sergei). Also, Lacey has key
information about Regina. 

“Killer Women,” 10 p.m., ABC. Molly (Tricia Helfer) probes
the death of a basketball star.

“Justified,” 10 p.m., FX. Raylan seeks revenge – something
he’s good at – for the attack on Allison, the brainy social worker. Also, Boyd
is desperate to protect his wife Ava.