TV column for Saturday, Dec. 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Orange Bowl, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN.

New games keep
popping up, bearing long names – Dollar General Bowl, Famous Idaho
Potato Bowl – and short histories. But now we're reaching the three
oldest games.

The Rose Bowl has
been an annual event since 1916, the Sugar Bowl since 1935. Those two
will be Monday; the Orange Bowl – which ties Sugar for the second
oldest – arrives first, with two strong teams. Wisconsin (12-1)
will be in its first Orange Bowl. Miami (10-2) will be in its 10th;
it's 6-3 so far.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Ten Days in the Valley,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Next week, this
terrific mini-series has its two-hour conclusion. For now, ABC hints
that there may be a key moment: Jane (Kyra Sedgwick) might finally
find her daughter, who was kidnapped ... and then taken again,
apparently by a corrupt cop who killed one of the original
kidnappers.

There's also a
confrontation between two people in Jane's life – her drug dealer
and her sister.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

It's been a big year
for Tiffany Haddish. “The Carmichael Show,” where she was used
sparsely, was canceled, but the “Girls Trip” movie was a hit.
It's brought Haddish a dozen nominations so far, including a couple
of early wins.

She's also had her
first stand-up special. And here's a rerun of the Nov. 11 “SNL”
she hosted, with Taylor Swift as music guest.

Other choices
include:

“The New Edition
Story,” 8:45 and 10:53 a.m. and 1 p.m., BET. Here's the solidly
made, three-part mini-series about the group's quick career.

More bowl games.
The TaxSlayer Bowl (noon ET on ESPN) has Louisville and Mississippi
State, each 8-4. The Liberty Bowl (12:30 p.m. on ABC) has Memphis
(10-2) and Iowa State (7-5). And the Fiesta Bowl (4 p.m. on ESPN) has
Washington and Penn State; each is 10-2.

“Bachelor”
special, 8 p.m., ABC. On Monday, the show has Arie Luyendyk Jr.
launch his search. First, here's a rerun of an hour profiling him.

“The Gifted,” 8
p.m., Fox. Thunderbird leads a mission, to find out what Sentinel
Services did to his friend. Also, Lauren meets someone with useful
powers and Blink makes a key decision.

“Lethal Weapon,”
9 p.m., Fox. In an entertaining rerun, someone has died moments
before his horse won a race. Leo Getz (Thomas Lennon) insists it was
murder.

“Match Game,” 9
p.m., ABC. Alec Baldwin hosts this rerun.

“Office Christmas
Party,” 10 p.m., Showtime. As people recover from their own holiday
parties, they can watch this movie – uneven, but fairly good –
about a party gone extremely bad.

TV column for Friday, Dec. 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Masters,” 9-11 p.m., PBS.

Bob Hope, a
biogapher says, was “a man of many contradictions.” He was a
symbol of a forthright life, someone who gave 100-plus days a year to
charity and risked his life in war zones. He also spent time in
juvenile detention, dropped out of high school and cheated throughout
his 69-year marriage.

He was a rebel whose
innovations – a conversational emcee, a movie actor talking to the
camera – were fresh. He also became tied to the old ways. “Dad
got out of touch,” Linda Hope, says here. He was, in short, far
more ineresting than most of us suspected; here's a fairly good
profile.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“iHeart Radio Music Festival,” 8-10 p.m., CW.

The “iHeart”
people have pretty much taken over the CW this week, filling
five-and-a-half of its 10 hours with reruns. On Monday was the
“Jingle Ball”; Thursday and today bring a Las Vegas concert.

Ryan Seacrest hosts
a pop line-up that includes Miley Cyrus, Lorde, Big Sean, DJ Khaled
and more.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Cotton Bowl, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.

In 1937, this bowl
began with Texas Christian beating Marquette. Eventually, Marquette
would drop football, but the Cotton Bowl would keep thriving. Its
most valuable players have included future pro stars (Troy Aikman,
Joe Montana, Jim Brown, etc.) and a Supreme Court justice (Whizzer
White).

Texas has been there
22 times, Ohio State and Southern California only once each. (They
both won.) Now OSU (ranked No. 5) collides with Southern Cal (No. 8).

Other choices
include:

More bowls, all day.
ESPN has two more – the Belk Bowl at 1 p.m. ET, with Wake Forest
and Texas A&M (each 7-5); then the Music City Bowl at 4:30, with
Kentucky (7-5) and Northwestern (9-3). CBS has the Sun Bowl at 3,
with North Carolina State (8-4) and Arizona State (7-5); then the CBS
Sports Network has the Arizona Bowl at 5:30, with Utah State (6-6)
and New Mexico State (5-6).

“Terminator 2”
(1991), 7-10 p.m., BBC America. James Cameron has made two terrific
sequels -- “Aliens” and this one. This time, the cyborg (Arnold
Schwarzenegger) is here to protect Linda Hamilton, not to kill her.
“Terminator 3” (2003) follows at 10.

“Hell's Kitchen,”
8 and 9 p.m., Fox. These two reruns range from fish dishes to a
five-course dinner. In between, there's a blind taste test and
(really) a camel.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, Rollins and Carisi
are convinced that a woman's bizarre rape story is fabricated. The
others aren't so sure.

“MacGyver,” 9
p.m., CBS. Nudged back an hour to make room for a new “48 Hours,”
this rerun has Mac looking for someone who leaked classified
information to the enemy. Fortunately, he has a screwdriver and bug
spray to help him.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Kevin Dillon plays Linda's brother; in
trouble with the Mob, he begs Danny to let him stay until this blows
over. Also, Jamie takes his niece, Nikki, on a ride-along.

ALSO: Two Netflix
series offer new seasons today. It's the second season for “Bill
Nye Saves the World,” with lots of science talk, and the fourth for
the sci-fi anthology, “Black Mirror.”

TV column for Thursday, Dec. 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Music, 8-10 p.m., Fox and CW.

It's a night of
big-deal specials -- new and rerun, hip-hop and pop. CW has the pop
rerun (continuing Friday), with Pink, Harry Styles, Coldplay, Christ
Stapleton. The Weeknd and more.

And Fox has the new
“Bad Boy Story.” Sean “Diddy” Combs was 23 when he was fired
by a record company; he promptly started the Bad Boy label, scoring
with The Notorious B.I.G., Craig Mack, Faith Evans and his own
records as Puff Daddy. Last year, he assembled a “hip-hop
homecoming” with Evans, plus French Montana (currently on the Bad
Boy label), Usher, Lil' Kim and Jay Z.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Will & Grace,” 8:30 and 9 p.m., NBC.

With regular-season
football ending, the Thursday comedy battle resumes. It''s
CBS-vs.-NBC, with reruns tonight and new episodes next week.
Fortunately for NBC, “Will & Grace” has great reruns.

First, people talk
longingly (and foolishly) about the joys of 1890s New York. They soon
see variations of themselves, in a world that has no place for anyone
except rich, white heterosexuals. Then the friends are near big
career goals – a law-firm partnership for Will, a giant decorating
job for Grace. These are broadly funny episodes, each with Leslie
Jordan guesting as the bizarre Beverly Leslie.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Big Bang Theory,” 8 and 9 p.m., and “Young
Sheldon,” 8:31, CBS.

This is why it's so
hard for even the clever NBC comedies to get a Thursday foothold. CBS
has TV's best comedy, along with its fairly good spin-off.

In the first “Big
Bang” rerun, Howard and Bernadette have trouble leaving their baby
at day-care; also, plain Bert introduces his girlfriend ...played by
the gorgeous April Bowlby of “Drop Dead Diva” and “Two and a
Half Men.” In the second, Penny gets a job offer from her former
boyfriend. In between, Sheldon – a 9-year-old in high school –
wants to soothe his mom's fears by finding one friend.

Other choices
include:

Football, all day.
This is serious bowl turf, as top-20 teams collide in two 9 p.m. ET
games. Fox Sports1 has the Holiday Bowl, with Michigan State (ranked
No. 16) and Washington State (No. 18); both are 9-3. ESPN has the
Alamo Bowl, with Stanford (9-4, No. 13) and TCU(10-3, No. 15).
Earlier, ESPN has two more – the Military Bowl at 1:30 p.m. ET,
with Navy (6-5) and Virginia (6-6) and the Camping World Bowl at
5:15, with Virginia Tech (No. 22) and Oklahoma State (No. 19), both
9-3.

“To Tell the
Truth,” 8 p.m., ABC. Thursdays will be in flux for ABC until the
dramas return Jan. 18. For tonight, we get game-show reruns,
including “$100,00 Pyramid” at 9 and “Match Game” at 10.

“Superstore,” 8
p.m., NBC. In a rerun, Amy tries to show her wild side, during a
quiet Christmas Eve.

“Great News,”
9:30 p.m., NBC. Here's the lone new comedy episode, amid a sea of
reruns. Shortly after her own break-up, Katie learns that her
grandparents are divorcing after 70 years. Now she's convinced that
love is dead ... while Chuck tries to steal the affection of Justin's
new girfriend.

“Mom,” 9:30
p.m., CBS. Ever since they quit drinking, Bonnie and Christy have
been relatively sedate. Now Adam's hard-partying friends (Bradley
Whitford and Nicole Sullivan) pay a noisy visit.

“S.W.A.T.,” 10
p.m., CBS. In a rerun of a fairly good (if a bit monotone) episode,
Sherilyn Fenn of “Twin Peaks” plays the manipulative mother of
Jim Street. Also, a drug ring endangers immigrants.

“Say Anything”
(1989), 10 p.m., Pop. Cameron Crowe (“Jerry Maguire”) wrote and
directed this gem about an underachiever (John Cusack) romancing a
beautiful valedictorian (Ione Skye).

TV column for Thursday, Dec. 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Music, 8-10 p.m., Fox and CW.

It's a night of
big-deal specials -- new and rerun, hip-hop and pop. CW has the pop
rerun (continuing Friday), with Pink, Harry Styles, Coldplay, Christ
Stapleton. The Weeknd and more.

And Fox has the new
“Bad Boy Story.” Sean “Diddy” Combs was 23 when he was fired
by a record company; he promptly started the Bad Boy label, scoring
with The Notorious B.I.G., Craig Mack, Faith Evans and his own
records as Puff Daddy. Last year, he assembled a “hip-hop
homecoming” with Evans, plus French Montana (currently on the Bad
Boy label), Usher, Lil' Kim and Jay Z.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Will & Grace,” 8:30 and 9 p.m., NBC.

With regular-season
football ending, the Thursday comedy battle resumes. It''s
CBS-vs.-NBC, with reruns tonight and new episodes next week.
Fortunately for NBC, “Will & Grace” has great reruns.

First, people talk
longingly (and foolishly) about the joys of 1890s New York. They soon
see variations of themselves, in a world that has no place for anyone
except rich, white heterosexuals. Then the friends are near big
career goals – a law-firm partnership for Will, a giant decorating
job for Grace. These are broadly funny episodes, each with Leslie
Jordan guesting as the bizarre Beverly Leslie.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Big Bang Theory,” 8 and 9 p.m., and “Young
Sheldon,” 8:31, CBS.

This is why it's so
hard for even the clever NBC comedies to get a Thursday foothold. CBS
has TV's best comedy, along with its fairly good spin-off.

In the first “Big
Bang” rerun, Howard and Bernadette have trouble leaving their baby
at day-care; also, plain Bert introduces his girlfriend ...played by
the gorgeous April Bowlby of “Drop Dead Diva” and “Two and a
Half Men.” In the second, Penny gets a job offer from her former
boyfriend. In between, Sheldon – a 9-year-old in high school –
wants to soothe his mom's fears by finding one friend.

Other choices
include:

Football, all day.
This is serious bowl turf, as top-20 teams collide in two 9 p.m. ET
games. Fox Sports1 has the Holiday Bowl, with Michigan State (ranked
No. 16) and Washington State (No. 18); both are 9-3. ESPN has the
Alamo Bowl, with Stanford (9-4, No. 13) and TCU(10-3, No. 15).
Earlier, ESPN has two more – the Military Bowl at 1:30 p.m. ET,
with Navy (6-5) and Virginia (6-6) and the Camping World Bowl at
5:15, with Virginia Tech (No. 22) and Oklahoma State (No. 19), both
9-3.

“To Tell the
Truth,” 8 p.m., ABC. Thursdays will be in flux for ABC until the
dramas return Jan. 18. For tonight, we get game-show reruns,
including “$100,00 Pyramid” at 9 and “Match Game” at 10.

“Superstore,” 8
p.m., NBC. In a rerun, Amy tries to show her wild side, during a
quiet Christmas Eve.

“Great News,”
9:30 p.m., NBC. Here's the lone new comedy episode, amid a sea of
reruns. Shortly after her own break-up, Katie learns that her
grandparents are divorcing after 70 years. Now she's convinced that
love is dead ... while Chuck tries to steal the affection of Justin's
new girfriend.

“Mom,” 9:30
p.m., CBS. Ever since they quit drinking, Bonnie and Christy have
been relatively sedate. Now Adam's hard-partying friends (Bradley
Whitford and Nicole Sullivan) pay a noisy visit.

“S.W.A.T.,” 10
p.m., CBS. In a rerun of a fairly good (if a bit monotone) episode,
Sherilyn Fenn of “Twin Peaks” plays the manipulative mother of
Jim Street. Also, a drug ring endangers immigrants.

“Say Anything”
(1989), 10 p.m., Pop. Cameron Crowe (“Jerry Maguire”) wrote and
directed this gem about an underachiever (John Cusack) romancing a
beautiful valedictorian (Ione Skye).

TV column for Wednesday, Dec. 27


(PLEASE NOTE: For a couple of weeks, this Web site was down. I was still writing columns and stories and sending them to papers, but a technical glitch shut down things online. Now that's been fixed and I'm getting things back on the site, even if the time factor has already passed.)

 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Librarians,” 8 and 9 p.m., TNT, repeating at 10 and 11.

Most shows are on a
holiday break now, offering reruns or disappearing entirely. But this
one – a whimsical tale of globetrotting adventurers – goes the
other way, with two new hours.

In the first, Flynn
(Noah Wyle) gets to work with his hero, Darrington Dare. In the
second, we re-meet Nicole Noone (Sonya Walger), who was Flynn's
colleague and lover ... then became embittered, when he accidentally
propelled her 500 years into the past. She joins Baird (Rebecca
Romijn) on a mission.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special,” 8-10 p.m.,
CBS.

Two important things
happen on Sept. 11, 1967 -- “The Carol Burnett Show” debuted and
Harry Connick Jr. was born. Now, logically, Connick sings the show's
theme song with Burnett, 84.

Other stars show up
in this rerun, including Jim Carrey, Stephen Colbert, Jane Lynch, Jay
Leno, Bernadette Peters, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Martin Short and
Kristen Chenoweth. Tim Conway couldn't be there and Harvey Korman
died at 81, but Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner are there. And
everyone shows up in the classic sketches, from Mama's family to
“Gone With the Wind.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Bowl games.

Now we've reached
the serious part of the bowl blitz. There are even two games
overlapping.

At 8:30 p.m. ET
(with pre-game at 8), Fox has the Foster Farms Bowl, with Arizona
(7-5) and Purdue (6-6). At 9, ESPN has the Texas Bowl with,
logically, Texas (6-6) and Missouri (7-5). Earlier, ESPN has the
Independence Bowl at 1:30 p.m. ET, with Southern Mississippi (8-4)
and Florida State (6-6); at 5:15, it has the Pinstripe Bowl, with
Boston and Iowa (both 7-5).

Other choices
include:

“Matilda” (1996)
and “Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (1971), 6:30 and
8:30 p.m., Freeform. Here are two films adapted from books by Roald
Dahl. “Wonka” is the famous one, but “Matilda” is a delight,
with director/co-star Danny Devito capturing the dark humor.

“The Wall,” 8
p.m., NBC. Two brothers – one a college professor, the other a
Washington, D.C., cop – tackle the high-tech game show.

“Dolly Parton's
Christmas of Many Colors” (2016), 9-11 p.m., NBC. As a sequel to
her “Coat of Many Colors” film, Parton narrates another story
from her childhood. In this one (nominated for a best-movie Emmy), a
snowstorm threatens Christmas, as the dad (Ricky Schroder) scrambles
to finally buy the mom (Jennifer Nettles) a wedding ring. Also, young
Dolly's singing career gets an important nudge​.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Phil and Claire start to feel Alex is self-sufficient in
college.

“Match Game,” 10
p.m., ABC. Starting next week, this loose-spirited game show – with
Alec Baldwin hosting – will have new episodes at 10 p.m.
Wednesdays. Meanwhile, here's a rerun.

“SEAL Team,” 10
p.m., CBS. In a rerun from last month, Jason (David Boreanaz) is
unhappy about a raid that links his team with one that's led by his
longtime rival.

ALSO: On a night
clogged with reruns, we might as well re-see a movie. Three Marvel
action films collide: Syfy has “Thor” (2011) at 7:30 p.m.; FX has
“The Wolverine” (2013) at 6 p.m. and “X-Men: Days of Future
Past” (2014) at 9. For comedies, try “Spy” (2015) at 8 p.m. on
FXX or Mel Brooks original “The Producers” (1968) at 8 p.m. ET on
Turner Classic Movies.