TV column for Tuesday, Nov. 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Navy SEALs: Their Untold Story,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

Draper Kauffman was
on his honeymoon when he got word that the Navy needed him
immediately; he paid the bellboy $5 to say he couldn't find him. The
next day, he got his assignment: Create a team of “frogmen” who –
with only swim trunks and fins – could disable the barriers to
D-Day ships.

Two decades later,
that team would evove into the SEAL (Sea-Air-Land) unit, high-tech
and highly skilled. It faced fierce Vietnam duty, performed
spectacular rescues and killed Osama bin Laden. This Veterans Day
documentary has clumsily written narration and odd detours, but a
great story to tell.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“New Girl,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Living with your
ex-lover, it seems, can put a crimp on your dating life. Jess and
Nick learn that here, soon weaving a lie. The result is no match for
last week's hilarious big-lie episode, but has its moments.

One such moment
comes while Schmidt is moping because his ex-girlfriend Cece may get
breast-reduction surgery. That links with the Jess/Nick lie, to
create a splendid misunderstanding.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Veterans Day shows, cable.

An epic “Concert
for Valor” will be live from Washington, D.C., complete with Bruce
Springsteen, Carrie Underwood, Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson, Eminem,
Jessie J., Dave Grohl, the Black Keys and Metallica. That's at 7 and
10 p.m. on HBO, which plans to open its signal for non-subscribers.

There's more -- “A
Hero's Welcome,” 9 p.m., Food Network ... the “Dogs of War”
opener (with service dogs helping veteran), 10 p.m, A&E ... And
movies. At 8 p.m. ET, for instance, Turner Classic Movies has “The
Fighting Sullivans” (1944); at 8:30, AMC has Clint Eastwood's
“Heartbreak Ridge” (1986).

Other choices
include:

“The Voice,”
8-10 p.m., NBC. Doubling its usual Tuesday length, this is the second
half of the top-20-singers portion. On Wednesday, we'll learn which
12 will survive.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. The murder of a retired master sergeant points to a charity
scam.

“Selfie,” 8
p.m., ABC. Eliza had worked hard to nudge Henry into a romance. Now
that he's there, he's too distracted to be her mentor; naturally, she
tries to create a break-up.

“Modern Family,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. With “Manhattan Love Story” canceled
(deservedly), ABC has been scrambling. Tonight, that brings a rerun
of the episode that saw Alex visiting the Cal Tech campus. Soon, her
dad and siblings are part of a psychology experiment.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. A murder victim was a Navy officer who had
top-secret security clearance. Now the team must determine if any
intelligence information was breached.

“The Real Death
Valley,” 9 p.m., Weather. In a barren section of Texas, the border
wars are 70 miles north of the border. This disturbing report tells
of people dying while skirting a roadblock.

“Forever,” 10
p.m., ABC. Henry can't die, but he can feel pain .... as a sexy
dominatrix is ready to demonstrate. Also, Abe (Judd Hirsch) is
visited by his two-time ex-wife (Jane Seymour).

TV column for Monday, Nov. 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Ice Warriors,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Rico Roman lost his
legs in a 2007 explosion in Afghanistn. After a year in a hospital,
someone suggested sled hockey. “How many Hispanics do you see play
hockey?” he recalls saying. “No way.”

Now he links with
two other ex-soldiers, on one line of the U.S. paralympic team; the
second line has “kids,” ages 15, 16 and 20. On one end, their
sticks dig into the ice as they propel to almost 35 mph; on the
other, they offer ambidextrous hockey shots. It's a great story, told
perfectly by director Brian Knappenberger, composer John Dragonetti
and some amazing athletes, going for Olympic gold.

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

Here a special-deal
episode, something “Castle” does well: Rick(Nathan Fillion) feels
he's been transported into an alternate universe, where he and
fiancee Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) have never met.

First, he must
convince these “strangers” -- Beckett, Ryan and Esposito – to
let a quirky crime-novelist work on a murder case. The result leads
to a pivotal point in the Castle-Beckett relationship.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Jane the Virgin,” 9 p.m., CW.

By now, we know
“Jane” can be broadly funny. It has a cunning narrator and a
telenovela-style plot that leads to statements like this one
tonight: “Petra cheated on me with my dead best friend.”

But the surprise is
that it does straight drama so well. Gina Rodriguez is terrific as
Jane and Justin Baldoni brings humanity to the rich guy who (through
a clinic mix-up) is the biological father of her baby-to-be. Now Jane
– already mad at her mom – finds someone else was withholding
information.

Other choices
include:

“The Voice,”
8-10 p.m., NBC. This is the week the show temporarily expands to
three nights and five hours. Between today and Tuesday, the top 20
people will sing; on Wednesday, we'll see 12 survive.

“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. After two straight close calls, Tommy
Chong has reached the final six. Last week, he was again in the
bottom two, but Michael Waltrip was sent home.

“Gotham,” 8
p.m., Fox. On one level, we see Gordon (the future police
commissioner) investigate a fight club. On another, Bruce (the future
Batman), a rich orphan, tries to return to school.

“Sleepy Hollow,”
9 p.m., Fox. Henry (John Noble) has sent a succubus to suck the life
out of people. Ichabod and Abbie rush to stop this.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. We knew it would come to this: Someone has developed an
algorithm that artificially creates hit songs. The creator (Scott
Mescudi, who raps as Kid Cudi) joins a murder probe.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9:59 p.m., CBS. A man who was killed by a drome was
linked to a terrorist group. Now Nell (Renee Felice Smith) need her
drone expertise to prevent a disaster.

“The Blacklist,”
10 p.m., NBC. Red heads to Moscow with his former nemesis Berlin
(Peter Stormare), who has been manipulated by someone else. Alan Alda
is back as Fitch, another enemy. Also, Liz struggles to keep her
secret from getting out.

TV column for Sunday, Nov. 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox.

As his dating life
flounders, Jake (Andy Samberg) gets sage advice: Don't talk shop;
don't say you're a cop. With a sexy stranger (Eva Longoria), that
works perfectly ... and then falls apart hilariously.

One other plot twist
– Amy running for union steward – is pretty good. Another –
Gina and Charles feuding after their break-up – is quite lame until
a great pay-off in the final minute.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
(if you get HBO): “The Newsroom” season-opener, 9 p.m., HBO.

One of the smartest,
sharpest shows in TV history has been semi-ignored. After being off
the air for 14 months, “Newsroom” gets only six episodes for its
third and final season.

They'll be great
ones, apparently. Tonight, the Boston Marathon bombing catches this
cable-news operation at a bad time. The producer is on jury duty, the
anchor (Jeff Daniels) is oddly frazzled ... ande everyone is gun-shy,
after last season's trouble with bad sources. Crackling with
brilliant dialog from Aaron Sorkin (“West Wing”), this seems like
the start of a superb, six-week ending.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece Contemporary,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check
local listings).

Last season, we met
an old spy (Bill Nighy) whose dying friend gave him vital papers. The
prime minister (Ralph Fiennes) seethed; now “Turks & Caicos”
finds our spy on a Caribbean island.

Trouble finds him.
He meets an odd American (Christopher Walken), some scheming
businessmen and a fragile beauty (Winona Ryder). Helena Bonham Carter
arrives, leading to another movie next week. Despite some flaws –
everyone seems to talk in the same, opaque way -- it's a dandy,
tropical journey.

Other choices
include:

“Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. Emma has captured the Snow Queen ... who is way
too crafty. Also, the relationship between Regina and Robin Hood gets
complicated as they try to save his wife.

“A Cookie Cutter
Christmas,” 8-10 p.m., Hallmark. Cable's Christmas season started
on the day after Halloween; this is already Hallmark's third new
holiday film. Tonight's tale of feuding ex-friends has a jaunty
start, a dippy finish and an adequate mid-section, salvaged by Erin
Krakow's likability.

“In the Wings on a
World Stage,” 8-10 p.m., Ovation. This documentary about a theater
tour has drawbacks. At its best, it makes you wish you were seeing
the play, instead; at its worst, people trade cliche compliments.
Still, “Wings” is well-done and the subject is grand -- Kevin
Spacey touring in “Richard III.” The theaters – from
ultra-modern in China to 2,000 years old in Greece – are stunning.

“The Good Wife,”
9 p.m. (or later, with football overrun), CBS. Alicia again faces the
cunning Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), this time on a college rape
case. Also, she gears up her political campaign.

“CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation,” 10 p.m. (or later), CBS. In an episode scheduled
previously, then delayed, the women expect some sunny fun at a
conference. Then a shooting erupts.

The Comeback,” 10
p.m., HBO. In its only season, “Comeback” had Lisa Kudrow as
Valerie, a fading TV actress, trying to re-start her career with a
reality show; the result drew some praise, three Emmy nominations and
few viewers. Nine years later, the second season begins, with Valerie
hiring a student film crew. There are a few drolly funny moments,
plus many others that just seem repetitious.

“Getting On”
season-opener, 10:40 p.m., HBO. The second season of this so-so
drama-comedy starts by giving the nurses extra layers of humanity.
Alex Bernstein and Niecy Nash are excellent as extended-care people
working with a thick-headed doctor (Laurie Metcalf).

TV column for Saturday, Nov. 8


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Animation, 5-11 p.m., ABC Family.

Here's a chance to
tour the history of great animation.

First are two recent
Pixar classics: “WALL-E” (2008) and “Up” (2009), at 5 and 7
p.m., are remarkably constructed; each has a warm, almost
heartbreaking start, before the fun begins. Then is a long-ago gem:
Using traditional animation, “Sleeping Beauty” (1959) has moments
– the fairy godmothers' color war, for instance – that remain
delightful, 55 years later.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Football, everywhere.

After way too many
weeks of mismatches, three networks have prime-time collisions of
ranked teams.

Fox starts at 7:30
p.m. with Kansas State (ranked No. 7) at Texas Christian (6). At 8,
CBS has Alabama (8) at Louisiana State (16); ABC has Ohio State (14)
at Michigan State (8).

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Hell on Wheels” return, 9 p.m., AMC; repeats at 10
p.m. and 2 a.m.

After a month-long
break, this sharply crafted series returns for the season's final
three weeks.

First, the entire
season (so far) reruns at 11 a.m.; at 8 p.m., we see frequent enemies
Cullen and Durant combine to protect the endangered city of Cheyenne.
Then, in the new episode, they link to save a criminal; also, Louise
tries to support Ruth after a loss.

Other choices
include:

“The Mysteries of
Laura” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 8 and 9
p.m., NBC. The network – given to late switches on Saturdays –
has tentatively set these reruns. They have the advantage of being
the only thing (outside football) on a big-four network.

“Inside Fame,” 8
p.m., CMT. It was seven years ago that Lady Antebellum released its
first single; “Love Don't Live Here” reached No. 3 on Billboard's
country chart. The group has gone on to have six No. 1's, two No.
2's, six Grammys and even a No. 2 pop song, “Need You Now.”
Here's a profile.

“The Dirty Dozen”
(1967), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies, or “Dirty Harry”
(1971), 9 p.m., Sundance. Good movies fill a dirty night. Anyone for
“Dirty Dancing” or “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”?

“Doctor Who,” 9
p.m., BBC America. In the season-finale, cybermen invade London.

“Survivor's
Remorse,” 9 p.m., Starz; reruns at 9:30, 11 and 11:35. Here's the
season-finale of this drama-comedy about Cam, a basically decent
young basketball millionaire and his extended family. The five
previous episodes start at 6:15 p.m.; then an ex-girlfriend of Cam's
cousin brings trouble.

“The Chair”
finale,10 p.m., Starz. Over 10 episodes, this interesting show has
seen the same script transformed into very different movies –
writer-director Anna Martemucci's “Hollidaysburg” and
actor-director Shane Dawson's “Not Cool.” Now we'll see final
glitches and learn which was voted the best.

“A League of Their
Own,” 10 p.m., VH1. For a brief blip during World War II, women had
their own pro baseball league. Under director Penny Marshall, that
was turned into a skillful blend of drama and comedy, with Geena
Davis, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell and more.

TV column for Thursday, Nov. 6


TV column for
Thursday, Nov. 6)

By MIKE HUGHES

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“White Collar” season-opener, 9 p.m., USA.

For five brainy
seasons, white-collar criminals have been caught by an unlikely pair.
Neil (Matt Bomer) is a scam-master; Peter (Tim DeKay) is the only FBI
agent who was smart enough to catch him.

They're friends, but
Neil still has his schemes – even though he's limited by an ankle
tether.

Now the final,
six-episode season starts in chaos. Neil has ditched his tether and
vanished. Peter scrambles to find him and bring down the Pink
Panthers gang.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Mom,” 8:31 p.m., CBS.

Last week's
season-opener reminded us that this is a sharp, funny show, mostly
worthy of its new slot behind “Big Bang Theory.” It also launched
an odd plotline: After missing work because of her dad's illness,
Christy (Anna Faris) tried gambling to get the rent money; she won,
but was promptly robbed.

Now she's in a
low-end motel with her two kids and her mom (Allison Janney) – who
tries to pierce Christy's misguided optimism. Kevin Pollak is back as
the dad, with Jaime Pressly as Jill, leaning on Christy as her
Alcoholics Anonymous sponser.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Gracepoint,” 9 p.m.,, Fox, or “Olive Kitteridge,”
7-11 p.m., HBO.

Beautifully crafted,
these miniseries have much in common. Each views small-town life
darkly; each has quiet, naturalistic dialog, delivered with
understated perfection.

The difference is
that you can catch HBO's full story in one chunk; during these four
hours, you'll keep wanting to strangle and/or hug Olive (Frances
McDormand). For “Gracepoint,” this is the sixth of 10 hours.
Tonight, suspicion piles onto Jack (Nick Nolte), a convicted
pedophile. There's superb work by Nolte, Michael Pena (as the father
of the murdered boy) and Anna Gunn (as a cop).

Other choices
include:

“Bones,” 8 p.m.,
Fox. The subject turns to immigrants, as the team probes human
trafficking and as Arastoo and Cam talk of marriage. Ironically,
Phyllis Logan – who played O'Brien, a scheming staffer, on “Downton
Abbey” -- plays a harsh employer, suspected of killing her former
maid.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Amy and Bernadette decide to re-create a prom
night on an apartment rooftop. Naturally, this confuses Sheldon.

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. Convinced that Jake isn't really guilty, Olivia looks for
more information.”

“Two and a Half
Men,” 9:01 p.m., CBS. Last week, “Men” launched its final
season, pushing it in a bizarre direction. Fearing it will take
forever to be approved for adoption as a single dad, Walden wants
Alan to join in a fake marriage. That could happen tonight, complete
with Michael Bolton singing.

“The McCarthys,”
9:30 p.m., CBS. In last week's dandy opener, Ronny reluctantly agreed
to be his dad's assistant coach. Now comes a bigger challenge –
having family members express their feelings.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. Sherlock finally gets a fresh chance to team with Watson
(Lucy Liu). His apprentice Ophelia, jealous of their rapport, soon
complicates things.

“Covert Affairs”
return, 10 p.m., USA. With six episodes left this season, Annie
(Piper Perabo) is in crisis. Belenko has shot Ryan (Nic Bishop), her
lover; next, he may go after Arthur (Peter Gallagher), her mentor,
who is running Ryan's security firm. She rushes to Istanbul.