TV column for Sunday, Aug. 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Sharknado 5: Global Swarming,” 8 p.m., Syfy, rerunning at 10:01.

Maybe, by some odd
twist in life, you've never seen the previous “Sharknado” movies.
That's no problem – you can catch all of them from noon to 8 p.m.
... or just take our word for it: These films have goofy concepts,
quirky scripts and some truly bizarre casting.

A shark-storm hit
Los Angeles in the first film, New York in the second, then more. Now
the entire planet is in danger. Fin and his bionic wife (Ian Ziering
and Tara Reid) search for their son, who is aswirl; they come across
the pope and the queen of England, played, of course, by Fabio and
Charo.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“American Grit” finale, 8-10 p.m., Fox.

This action reality
show started with a basic concept: City folks head into the
wilderness, with tough-guy coaches ... and tougher-guy host Jon Cena,
the wrestler-turned-actor.

Tonight, a
double-elimination cuts things down to the final four; then one
person must pick someone to eliminate. That leaves three people, in
the final push for a $250,000 prize.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Chesapeake Shores” season-opener, 9 p.m. Sunday,
Hallmark.

Everything is
gorgeous here, including the setting and the people. Still, problems
persist.

Abby and Trace
(Meghan Ory and Jesse Metcalfe) fell in love as teen-agers, then
split. She succeeded in business, he scored briefly in country music;
now both are back home and happy – almost. In the first minutes, we
hear of his two crises. Meanwhile, Abby has to rush to work, her dad
has a big business deal, her sister is overwhelmed by her new project
and their mom is back. Life gets tanged.

Other choices
include:

“Knocked Up”
(2007) and “Wedding Crashers” (2005), 4:40 and 7:30 p.m., Comedy
Central. Here's an entertaining double-feature for grown-ups, with
clever scripts and bright actors. For family fun, the vibrant
“Descendants 2” musical is 9 p.m. on Disney.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., A BC. One round has the families of Lea Thompson and
Sandra Lee. The other has women from “The Bachelor” (Jubilee
Sharpe, Amanda Stanton, Lace Morris, Olivia Caridi, Caila Quinn) face
men from “Bachelorette” (Luke Pell, Wells Adams, Daniel Maguire,
Robert Graham and Chase McNary).

More games. “The
Wall,” which is a clear ratings success, has a rerun at 8 p.m.;
“Candy Crush,” which clearly is not, has a new episode at 9

Cable collision, 9
p.m., everywhere. Now that HBO's “Game of Thrones” is back, this
is TV's toughest hour. Tonight, two cable shows start their seasons
(“Chesapeake Shores” and Showtime's “Ray Anthony”) and two
continue -- “Power” on Starz and “Claws” on TNT, both
rerunning at 10.

“The Nineties,”
9 p.m. ET, CNN ( barring local news). The decade brought bursts of
violence, only one case (the first World Trade Center bombing) linked
to the Middle East. Others included the Unabomber, Oklahoma City,
Waco, Ruby Ridge and anti-abortion activist Eric Rudolph.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a Homeland Security agent is
poisoned and the team discovers counterfeit goods and stolen
government money..

“100,000 Pyramid,”
10 p.m., ABC. Bobby Moynihan has been busy, jumping from NBC's
“Saturday Night Live” to a promising CBS comedy this fall. Now he
visits a third network, facing Debi Mazar. The other round has Wendie
Malick against Jesse Palmer, who went from pro football to “The
Bachelor” and “Good Morning America.”

TV column for Saturday, Aug. 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Turn,” 9 p.m., AMC, rerunning at 10:02.

In its four seasons,
this tale of Revolutionary War spies has been interesting, but
uneven. Now – this week and next – it is ending powerfully.

Posing as a Redcoat,
Abe has learned of the British vulnerability in Yorktown. He takes
the information to George Washington, who has some clever deception
by land and immense French help by sea. Some other stories – one
involving Benedict Arnold's wife, another involving a nasty British
officer – are merely OK. But the key one is compelling; it's
October of 1781 and a continent is about to transform.

TODAY'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Big Hero 6” (2014), 8 p.m., ABC, and more.

This is a day when
families can camp together in front of the TV. At night they don't
need cable; they can catch this film – an Oscar-winner for best
animated feature – about a tech kid saving the planet.

The rest is on
cable. Freeform, has switched its cartoon marathon a bit, but starts
with classics – “Snow White” (1937) at 9:05 a.m., “Alice in
Wonderland” (1951) at 11:10, “Pinocchio” (1940) at 1:05 p.m.;
in the evening, it has action with “Tarzan” (1999) at 5:20,
“Mulan” (1998) at 7:20 and “Brave” (2007) at 9:25. Disney has
the non-cartoon “Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer” (2011) at
8 p.m.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
“Son of Sam” documentaries, cable.

Thursday will mark
the 40th anniversary of the day David Berkowitz was
arrested, ending New York's “Son of Sam” ordeal. Today, two
cable channels jump in.

The Smithsonian
Channel reruns its “The Lost Tapes: Son of Sam” at 2 p.m. and 2
a.m.; it manages to paint a compelling portrait, using only footage
(especially newscasts) from the time. Investigation Discovery is
more ambitious. At 9 p.m. ET, rerunning at midnight, its two-hour
“Son of Sam: The Hunt For a Killer” includes fresh interviews
with cops, victims and more.

Other choices
include:

Football Hall of
Fame, 7-10 p.m. ET, ESPN. The induction ceremonies are strong on
offense – quarterback Kurt Warner, running backs Terrell Davis and
LaDanian Tomlinson, placekicker Morton Andersen. They're joined by
defensive end Jason Taylor and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

“Doubt,” 8 and 9
p.m., CBS. After failing earlier (despite big stars and a comfy
timeslot), “Doubt” was exiled to Saturdays. A week before its
finale, lives are crumbling around Sadie (Katherine Heigl). She's
defending her sometimes-lover (Steven Pasquele) in a murder trial
that's going badly. Also, her mom (Judith Light) remains in prison.

“The 'F' Word”
and “Love Connection,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. Gordon Ramsay and Andy
Cohen host these reruns dealing with two eternal favorites, food and
romance.

“Declassified,”
9 p.m. ET, CNN (barring breaking news). This hour outlines the FBI's
search for the men responsible for the deadly highjacking of EgyptAir
Flight 648 in 1985.

“In an Instant,”
10 p.m., ABC. On Thanksgiving eve of 2014, two cousins (ages 11 and
9) were building a snow fort in Newburgh, NJ. A plow driver
unknowingly dumped more snow on top of them. This hour – shortened
from a two-hour film in June – recalls the frantic effort to find
and rescue them.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. Flipping its pattern, NBC
nudges “Dateline” to 8 p.m., following it with this “SVU”
rerun. A rape suspect argues that his genetics made him do it.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Emily Blunt hosts this rerun of a
pre-election episode, with Bruno Mars as the vibrant music guest.

TV column for Friday, Aug. 4


TONIGHT'S
SHOULD-SEE: “WE Day,” 8 p.m., CBS.

The “WE Day”
movement has only been big in the U.S. or a decade; during that time,
however, it's worked wonders in stirring young people to give time
and money to community projects.

This special
includes an April concert in Los Angeles, but also visits other
places. The concert has lots of music – it's hosted by Selena Gomex
and includes Demi Lovato, Alessia Cara, Stomp, DJ Khalid and Alicia
Keys – and talk. Guests range from Oprah Winfrey to Seth Rogen and
Miss Piggy.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Great British Baking Show” finale, 9 and 10 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

This is pledge-drive
time, when stations tend to sweep things away and insert specials.
Many, however, will still make room for this quietly pleasant – and
extremely British – show.

We're down to the
final four home bakers now. In the first hour, they must make a yeast
cake with a fruity top, then must bake several mini-cakes. In the
second, they try meringues; they also must make a British classic,
with only one recipe instruction and no measurements.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: All night, Syfy.

Lots of silly shark
stuff has filled Syfy this week, to get us ready for “Sharknado 5”
on Sunday. Wisely, however, the channel has left its excellent Friday
line-up alone.

At 8 p.m.,
“Killjoys” has Johnny battle someone from his past, while Dutch
has her own agony. At 9, “Dark Matters” may find answers about
Two's past; that starts when Android's friend Victor makes a distress
call. And at 10, “Wynonna Earp” forces Doc to make an impossible
choice.

Other choices
include:

Tom Hanks films,
5:30 p.m., VH1, and 6:56 p.m., Starz. VH1 has Hanks' beloved
“Forrest Gump” (1994); Starz has his “Inferno” (2016), which
wasn't even universally beliked.

More movies, cable.
A strong night starts with “Black Swan” (2010) at 5 p.m. on
Lifetime and “The Help” (2011) at 7 on TNT; it peaks with the
brilliant little “Juno” (2007) at 8 p.m. on Pop. Also: the
“Addams Family” films (1991, '93) at 6:40 and 8:50 on Freeform,
“Titanic” (1997) at 9 p.m. on VH1.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, the judges have their third
round of cuts. The fourth and final one is coming Tuesday, setting up
the live rounds.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. A rerun brings in the purveyors of fine ingredients, from
butchers and beekeepers to herb growers and vegetable farmers. Then
the contestants must use those ingredients.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, William Forsythe returns as a private
detective, working a kidnapping case. The victim is a rich woman
whose husband may be hiding something; the team helps.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Danny probes the death of an elderly woman who was hit
by a stray bullet in her home. Also in this rerun, Erin tries to help
her detective find a legal solution to a personal matter; their dad,
the police commissioner, must discipline a disrespectful cop.

“CNN Special
Report,” 10 p.m., CNN (barring breaking news). Back in 1994,
Carolyn Warmus was convicted of killing her lover's wife. It was soon
dubbed the “Fatal Attraction murder” and there were two TV
movies, with Jenny Robertson and Virginia Madsen playing her. Now CNN
looks at the case.

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 3


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Football, 8 p.m. ET, NBC.

Really? Football? It
was seven weeks ago that the pro hockey and basketball seasons ended.
Those are winter sports; now, shuffling spring and summer aside, we
have a fall sport.

This is the annual
Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio, with the first pre-season game
(tonight) and the Hall induction (7 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN); Dallas
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is involved with both. On Saturday, he'll
be inducted; first, his team plays the Arizona Cardinals, during a
tricky time: Jones and his coaches are still sorting out the
off-season troubles of several Cowboy players.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “The Guest Book” debut, 10 and 10:30 p.m., TBS.

Quirky characters
have rippled through Greg Garcia's previous shows, “Raising Hope”
and “My Name is Earl.” Now he's found a way to have a new batch
of characters each episode.

This is a vacation
cabin; Charlie Robinson is the manager, Kellie Martin is the local
cop and others (Garrett Dillahut, Laura Bell Bundy, etc.) are nearby.
But the main stories involve the guests: In the first episode, a
mild-mannered science teacher wants to spice up his marriage; in the
second, a devout mom (Stockard Channing) is appalled that her son is
engaged to an atheist (Mary Lynn Rajskub).

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “I Love Kellie Pickler” season-opener (CMT) or “The
Chris Gethard Show” debut (Tru TV), both 11 p.m.

This is a
time-of-night when we really should be watching “The Daily Show”
... or Conan ... or the local news. Tonight, however, two quirky
alternatives arrive. CMT has a reality show, built on the easy,
Nashville charm of Pickler; tonight, her husband tries to roust
squirrels from the attic.

Opposite that
country tone, Gethard has a weekly talk show that started on New York
cable; now it leaps to the national level. It's a free-form show,
done live, with famous people and a young studio audience – sort of
what David Letterman or Steve Allen would have done, if confined to
public-access.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. With Sheldon moving across the hall, it's
time for he and Leonard to divide their possessions. Naturally, they
agree on nothing. It's a terrific rerun.

“Boy Band,” 8
p.m., ABC. The 11 remaining guys tackle a vital skill in the boy-band
spectrum – singing sad songs about break-ups.

“Battle of the
Network Stars,” 9 p.m., ABC. It's a generational battle. One team
has people who played kids on TV; that includes Jimmie Walker and
Mackenzie Phillips – who did “Battle” when they were on “Good
Times” and “One Day at a Time” – plus Jonathan Lipnicki,
Krista Marie Yu and Jeremy Miller. They face TV parents – Greg
Evigan, Chad Lowe, Jackee Harry, Ted McGinley and Lesley Fera.

“Nashville,” 9
p.m., CMT. Given a chance to do the Grand Ole Opry, Deacon hesitates.
Juliette lands a mascara commercial, but disagrees with the director.
Also, Gunnar and Avery sample life on the road.

“Zoo,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. As Jackson battles the fierce hybrids, we're learning that his
family is at the core. A look into his sister's past shows how the
crisis started; Ken Olin returns as their father.

“The Mist,” 10
p.m., Spike. Would anyone really try to duck danger by going into a
psych ward? These characters do; they wouldn't if they knew they're
in a Stephen King story.

“What Would Diplo
Do?” debut, 10 p.m., Viceland. James Van Der Beek plays a comic
version of the real-life electronic-music star known as Diplo.

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Salvation,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS.

Here are
back-to-back episodes of this slickly crafted science thriller. The
government is being secretive about the fact that a meteor will
destory the Earth; its plans are iffy, but a mismatched trio – a
grad student, a tech billionaire and a government insider – are
trying other solutions.

Tonight, Liam (the
student) learns who's been selling secrets to the Russians; also, he
helps his new love Jillian adjust to her new job. Darius (the tech
guy) scrambles to prove he's not a traitor.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Sinner” debut, 10 p.m., USA.

Cora (Jessica Biel)
lives your standard, small-town life. She's a wife (working in her
father-in-law's business) and a mom; she does nothing unusual ...
except for the time she savagely stabs a stranger.

Why did she do it?
No one seems to know, including her. In the episodes ahead, a local
cop (Bill Pullman) finds secrets about her, about her victim and even
about himself.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Baroness Von Sketch Show” debut, 10 p.m., IFC,
reruns at 1 a.m.

Some of TV's
greatest sketch-comedy people – “SCTV,” “Kids in the Hall,”
transplants to “Saturday Night Live” -- are Canadians. Most of
them, alas, are guys.

Now four women take
over. Most are comedy writers; all are skilled actresses. This opener
packs 13 sketches into a half-hour. A few (including the final one,
at a cottage) fall flat, but most are clever. Especially sharp are a
women's-products meeting and what seems to be the world's worst book
club.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Lowe Files” debut, 10 p.m, A&E,
rerunning at 11:03 p.m.

Ghosthunting shows
often deteriorate into people trying to get excited about a few blips
and beeps. But here's a family that makes it fun: Rob Lowe is a
lifelong fan of the supernatural; now he takes his semi-skeptical
sons (college students, 23 and 21) on weekend jaunts.

This opener visits a
former reformatory in central California. There are the usual blips,
but these guys make it easy to watch; stick around at the end, for a
station's report on which doughnut Rob Lowe ate.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Arriving at the kitchen are the purveyors of fine
ingredients – butchers and beekeepers, vegetable-growers and herb
gardeners. What they bring must be formed into dishes.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8 p.m., NBC. Juggling its Wednesday line-up, NBC inserts
this “best of auditions” hour. Also, at 10 p.m. it has a “Law &
Order: Special Victims Unit” rerun involving a clash between
freedom-of-religion and a rape investigation.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC. After an injury, Jerrod's brother –
not a great student – wants to go to college; his career choice
draws no enthusiasm. That's followed by a rerun in which their dad
makes a decision that incites family controversy: He'll vote for
Donald Trump.

“Modern Family,”
9 amd 10 p.m., ABC. In the first rerun, Haley spends a day with the
daughter of her older boyfriend, Rainer Shine. In the second, her mom
goes to a wedding with Mitchell; also, Cam is infuriated by a rude
parent at Lily's recital.

Dramas, 10 p.m.,
cable. This continues to be an amazing hour for new summertime
dramas. Alongside “The Sinner” are FX's “Snowfall,” the Oprah
Winfrey Network's “Queen Sugar,” BBC America's “Broadchurch”
and Syfy's “Blood Drive.” Maybe you should tape them all.

“Portlandia,”
10:30 p.m., IFC. After the “Baroness” debut, savor the great
American sketch show. This is the funny season-opener, with Carrie
and Fred trying to learn how to tell stories to friends.