TV column for Saturday, July 9


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

The new
“Ghostbusters” movie reaches theaters on Friday, but we can see
most of its stars in this rerun. Melissa McCarthy hosts, linking with
Kate McKinnon as cat-lovers and with Leslie Jones in a wild sight-gag
bit that has people watching a film's test screening.

Those three are the
new “Ghostbusters” stars, along with “SNL” alumna Kristen
Wiig. Also tonight, Kanye West is the music guest, complete with a
rap battle against (really) Kyle Mooney.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The American West,” 10 p.m., AMC.

Three giant figures
dominate tonight. Wyatt Earp – a former railroad worker, buffalo
hunter and brothel bouncer – becomes the Dodge City deputy marshal,
injecting some law and order. Billy the Kid goes the opposite way;
born in a New York slum, orphanned at 15 in New Mexico, he becomes a
gunslinger.

And Crazy Horse?
Less than a year after his triumph over George Custer, he's stymied
by the army strategy of killing buffalo to deplete food sources.
After moving to a reservation, he's apparently bayoneted by a guard.
“I think we all died that day,” says lakota historian historian
Larry Pourier.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Outlander,” Starz, or “Hell on Wheels,” AMC;
both 9 p.m.

A time-travel epic
peaks tonight in two eras. In 1746, Claire and Jamie try to avoid the
crushing defeat known as the Battle of Culloden; in modern times, she
tries to tell the truth to her daughter. That's in a 90-minute
“Outlander: season-finale that repeats at 10: 30 p.m. and midnight,
then four times Sunday.

It collides with a
compelling “Hell on Wheels,” which was scheduled for last week,
then moved. Mei Fong has been disguising as a man, but loving Cullen
as a woman. Now the brutal Chang knows her secret. The result,
rerunning at 11:01 p.m., mixes fierce gunplay and deeply tender
emotion.

Other choices
include:

“Hairspray”
(2007), 7 p.m., E. This vibrant musical offers an early start to the
night's movies. Others include Aaron Sorkin's “The American
President” (1995, 7 p.m., Pop), the comedy “Forgetting Sarah
Marshall” (7:15, Comedy Central) and the intense “Black Mass”
(2015, 8 p.m., HBO).

“Roadies,” 7-9
p.m. and 10:45 p.m. to 12:45 a.m., Showtime. Nimbly written and
directed by Cameron Crowe (“Jerry Maguire,” “Almost Famous”),
this has emerged as one of the best new series in a while. The third
episode will be 10 p.m. Sunday, but here's a chance to catch the
first two together; mixing humor, drama, sex and and music, they
introduce the people who work a rock band's tour.

Olympic trials, 8-9
p.m., NBC. The gymnasts are taking the day off, before their finals
Sunday. Track-and-field, however, continues today and from 7-8:30
p.m. Sunday.

“Angel From Hell,”
8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS. A ratings failure during the regular season,
“Angel” at least gives us some new comedy episodes on summer
Saturdays. Tonight, Amy (Jane Lynch), the guardian angel, tries to
nudge the dating life of Allison (Maggie Lawson), a diligent doctor.
In the first episode, she suggests a fling; in the second, she tries
to facilitate a first kiss.

“Hello, World”
debut, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Discovery. Nature scenes are paired to
contemporary music. That starts with Usher's “Strong” and
Christina Aguilera's “Light Up the Sky.”

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun of the 150th episode
starts on a day off for Sam and Callen. Then they get a call, saying
people woill be killed if they don't follow instructions.

“The Grinder,”
11:30 p.m., Fox. With his brother (Fred Savage) diverted, Dean (Rob
Lowe) gets a key role in their dad's big case. That follows an 11
p.m. rerun of the sketch show “Party Over Here.”

TV column for Friday, July 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.

At 83, Carol Burnett
has a key place in TV history, including six Emmys and almost 30
nominations. Most of those are for sketch-comedy brilliance, but she
also has three nominations for dramas.

Here's the third
“Five-0” visit for Burnett, playing McGarrett's aunt, a cancer
survivor. This time, she returns with his sister (Taryn Manning),
plus her own bucket list and her husband's ashes. That offers some
emotional moments, against the backdrop of a search for stolen World
War II bombs.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Olympic gymnsastics trials, 9-11 p.m., NBC.

Last month, viewers
saw Simone Biles leap to her fourth straight national championship.
Biles – 19 years old and a mere 4-foot-9 -- totaled 125 points,
easily topping two Olympic gold-medalists – Aly Raisman (121.1) and
Gabrielle Doublas (117.8), plus Lauren Hernandez (120.5).

That still leaves
one more step to clinching a spot on the Olympic team. The first
round of the trials are today, with the finals on Sunday.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Dark Matters,” 10 p.m., Syfy.

It's time for the
sort of mission that show-business loves – one with impossible
odds. The good news is that there's lots of swirling action; the bad
is that it ... well, still feels kind of impossible.

Crew members finally
know why they don't remember who they are. (Trying to wipe out one
memory, a tech whiz inadvertently wiped out every memory on a rogue
ship.) They're learning who they really are ... but now they must
escape from a prison. The result is long on great action, short on
believability.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Say Anything” (1989), 8-10 p.m., Pop.

Beautifully written
and directed by Cameron Crowe, this clever film is a teen classic,
with John Cusack and Ione Skye as the maybe-couple.

And yes, Crowe's
skills remain sharp, 27 years later. At 11 p.m., Showtime reruns the
second episode of “Roadies,” his terrific series about the people
working a rock tour. The third episode is Sunday.

Other choices
include:

Track-and-field
Olumpic trials, 6-8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, then 8-9 p.m., NBC.
The trials continue today on cable, then move to NBC for the rest of
the weekend.

“CSI: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. Deeks has been arrested and is being
interrogated as a murder suspect. The others scramble to clear him.

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. So far, “Joo-Joo” has worked well as a confidential
informant. Now, however, he's a murder suspect; the case offers fresh
surprises about his life.

“Penn &
Teller: Fool Us,” 9 p.m., CW. New episodes will start Wednesday.
Meanwhile, here's a rerun with magic from Derek Hughes, Reuben
Moreland and Suzanne and Jared Kopf.

“Killjoys,” 9
p.m., Syfy. This one – like the “Dark Matters” that follows –
involves a semi-impossible task. In this case, the team must yank
escaped convicts out of the criminal-run Old Town.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. When a mobster is killed, there are fears of a mob war;
Danny tries to catch the killer quickly. Also, his dad, the police
commissioner, hesitates when someone wants the same shield number
that was worn by his late son.

TV column for Thursday, July 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Greatest Hits,” 9 p.m., ABC; and more, 10 p.m., cable.

Somehow, Thursdays
have becoe a rock party. At 10 p.m., cable viewers can try a terrific
“Roadies” rerun on Showtime or “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll”
on FX. First, this show takes hits from a five-year stretch, adding
flashy lighting, zesty editing and bouncy young fans. This time, it's
1995 to 2000.

Hanson does
“Mmmbop,” John Legend does “Ex Factor” and, with Lauryn Hill,
“Doo Wop (That Thing), the Backstreet Boys do “Everybody” and
(with Meghan Trainor, “I Want It That Way.” Other duets have
Jewel and Tori Kelly, Coolio and CeeLo Green, LL Cool J and Wiz
Khalifa.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Life in Pieces,” 8:31 p.m., CBS.

This clever (if
inconsistent) comedy has had fun with the guys' non-macho moments; a
tree-chopping, for instance, became a mass failure. Now Greg (Colin
Hanks) is heading to the same gym as Colleen, his brother's intense
girlfriend. He goes overboard in gearing up.

In separate stories,
this rerun has competing garage sales (one of them a secret) ... the
kids holding a party while their parents are away ... and the entire
family having second thoughts about eating lobster.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” 10 and 10:32
p.m., FX.

Tonight's episode
pretty much sheds “&Drugs&Rock&Roll.” It's all about
sex – mostly lesbian and three-way – discussed with unrelenting
frankness. Some viewers will consider it fun; others will find it
relatively short of the show's usual touches – witty dialog, sharp
character insights and great music.

That reruns at 11:03
p.m., after a rerun of last week's season-opener: After the death of
a former back-up singer, band members range from remorse to rage,
along with some comedy and insights.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Home Free,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Yes, this is
probably the most generous show on TV; each week, it gives a new home
(a beauty) to someone's hero. But it's also gone through an odd
transformation. Once a show about building things, it now downplays
that; Mike Holmes (who hosts with Tim Tebow), has his crew do most of
the work.

That leaves
contestants doing odd contests and telling emotional stories. Yes,
these are worthy folks; an Afghanistan vet, trying to win a home for
the soldier who saved his life, has trouble working a nail gun with
only six fingers that work well. Still, their stories get
repetitious, while the rest fades.

Other choices
include:

“WALL-E” (2008),
7:15 p.m., Disney, and more. Sometimes slow, sweet and wordless, this
animated gem ends up delighting kids and grown-ups. Families also
like “Elf” (2003, 7:30 p.m., Starz), but Tim Burton's “Alice in
Wonderland” (2010, 8 p.m., AMC) has a great look and a so-so
script. Aty 8 p.m., grown-ups have “About a Boy” (2002) on Pop or
the well-crafted “Suffragette” (2015) on HBO.

“Bones,” 8 p.m,
Fox. As Bones and Booth return to work, they find that everything has
changed ... including the fact that someone else has Booth's office.
What hasn't changed is the fact that the cases are messy; this rerun
involves organ harvesting.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Sheldon doesn't take tragedy well ... and in
this rerun his laptop has died; he ends up sharing a secret with Amy.
Also, when Leonard and Howard lie to their wives to catch an early
movie screening, Raj tells on them.

“All the
President's Men” (1976) and “The Candidate” (1972), 8 and 10:30
p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. What we need this election year –
any election year – are these terrific Robert Redford films. One,
the true story of the Watergate reporting, reminds us of the
importance of truth and journalism. The other, pure fiction,
demonstrates vividly what can be done with mere image.

“Beauty and the
Beast,” 9 p.m., CW. There's a new nemesis out there and Vincent
must work outside the law. That puts him at odds with his wife Cat,
the cop.

“Aquarius,” 10
p.m., NBC. For young cop Brian Shafe, undercover work with Charles
Manson is taking a toll; now he battles addiction. Meanwhile, Hodiak
(David Duchovny) tries to help a former war buddy. And Ken Karn, the
Nixon man, tries to find dirt on Bobby Kennedy.

 

TV column for Wednesday, July 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Tyrant” season-opener, 10 p.m., FX.

When all this
started, Barry was a Pasadena pediatrician, far removed from his
family's brutal legacy. He returned home for a wedding ... and hasn't
left since. At one point his brother, the dictator, left him to die
in the desert. Rescued by a young Bedouin woman, he became a
revolutionary hero.

Now the brother
(shot by his own daughter-in-law) is barely alive; Barry might take
over. In other hands, this could all be absurd; “Tyrant,”
however, gives each character depth and believability. Barry is
deeply layered; he's a good man in an awful situation, a reluctant
hero who would rather be home.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“American Gothic,” 10 p.m., CBS.

The first two
episodes have offered a well-crafted portrait of the Hawthornes –
bright, attractive people with, of course, deep secrets. Alison is a
strong candidate for mayor, but one brother (Garrett) disappeared for
years; the other (Cam) lies about having overcome his drug addiction.

There's more. Their
mother manipulated a hospital machine, killing their dad. And in
their storage room are silver bells ... like the ones used by a
serial killer. Tonight, police start to suspect the family; Cam tries
to erase his past, while Garrett wants to re-connect with his. And
the mayoral campaign continues.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Royal Pains” finale, 10 p.m., USA.

For seven seasons,
this was a prime example of the “blue-sky” shows that propelled
USA and TNT – pretty people in pretty places, with stories that are
resolved quickly. As networks stretch for grittier shows and
continuing stories, “Pains” was given an eight-episode
mini-season to wrap things up.

Hank still has his
“concierge doctor” practice in the Hamptons, but now his patron,
Boris, is moving and wants him to come with. Meanwhile, Hank's
brother and sister-in-law ponder a life-changing step. And Divya, who
started as Hank's physician assistant, makes a key discovery.

Other choices
include:

Animated movies,
cable. It's a good night to be a kid, with the fun “Bolt” (2008)
at 7:15 p.m. on Disney and a marathon on FXX. “The Lorax” (2012)
is 4 p.m., followed by “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2”
(2013) at 6 p.m. and “Despicable Me 2” (2013) at 8 and 10.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. In a change from the usual style, Gordon Ramsay offers a
quick lesson before each challenge. First, he shows how to
deconstruct a lobster; then he shows how to make lobster tortellini
in a seafood broth. Contestants have 25 minutes for the first part,
45 minutes for the second.

“Young &
Hungry,” 8 p.m., Freeform. With his new app ready to go, Josh hires
an assistant who happens to be diligent and efficient. This is, of
course, a sharp change from what the others (Gabi, Elliot and
Yolanda) got him accustomed to; they conspire to get the new guy
fired.

“Wayward Pines,”
9 p.m., Fox. Leaders have assumed that the “abbies” (aberrant
creatures) have little intelligence. Now – after their well-planned
attack that destroyed crops – Dr. Yedlin has his doubts and tries
to communicate with their leader. Also, CJ (Djimon Hounsou) reflects
on his long, difficult life.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. As the retirement of her father nears, Claire wants to
clear the clutter from her own house, before taking over the family
closet business; the others resist. And post-retirement? Gloria wants
to learn how to golf, so she can spend time with him.

“The Night Shift,”
10 p.m., NBC. TJ and Topher race to a concert site, where a fireworks
explosion has created chaos and devastation; then there's a second
explosion. Meanwhile, Syd (Jennifer Beals) is back from Afghanistan
and trying to find a new life for her and her daughter.

“Greenleaf,” 10
p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. You can catch up on the three
most-recent episodes at 7 p.m., then catch more troubles for this
church family. As Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield) tries to smooth a dispute
with a deacon, her children face marital problems. Her son Jacob
continues his cheating, pushing his wife to the limit; and the
husband of her daughter Charity is questioning his sexuality.

TV column for Tuesday, July 5


(Pease keep in mind that for Turner Classic Movies,
unlike most networks, you have to adjust the times for each time
zone)

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“No Man Left Behind,” 8 and 9 p.m., National Geographic.

In a Colombian
woods, two American DEA agents knew they were about to die. One was
wounded; unable to outrun drug dealers, he desperately covered
himself with leaves. The other – already shot – was on the ground
as a gunman stared down, shooting again point-blank. Both were
doomed.

Except that both are
telling their story, decades later. That hour debuts at 9 p.m.,
following a rerun of last week's opener, which told the “Black Hawk
Down” story of soldiers trapped inside Somalian unrest. Both hours
combine re-enactments with first-person memories of truly compelling
events.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Zoo” (CBS) or “Dead of Summer” (Freeform), both 9 p.m.

In “Zoo,” the
team has lost its only government ally; now it must scramble to save
Geneva, Switzrland. And in “Dead,” which had a promising start
last week, problems start to cascade.

One camp counselor
becomes an absurdly overwrought villain; others merely seem
contrived. Supernatural elements pile up, while the show's bast
actors are wasted. The talented Elizabeth Mitchell (“Lost”) has
little to do as the camp owner; Elizabeth Lail (Anna in “Once Upon
s Time”) plays someone who's easily duped. This show still has
potential, but for now it's sinking into excess.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Westerns, all day, Turner Classic Movies.

This month, every
Tuesday and Wednesday will offer a ride through the history of cowboy
movies. That starts at 6:15 a.m. ET with the first one – the
11-minute “Great Train Robbery” (1903). Later, we get Gary Cooper
in “The Plainsman” (1936) at 6 p.m. ET and then John Ford films
with John Wayne.

That starts at 8
with “Stagecoach” (1939), which won two Oscars (for its music and
supporting actor Thomas Mitchell) and was nominated for best picture
in a bountiful year. Then are “The Searchers” (1956) at 9:45,
“Fort Apache” (1948) at midnight and “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”
(1949) at 2:15 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“The Social
Network: (2010), 5:30-8 p.m., FXX. Tonight's best movies start early.
This one won Oscars for its editing, its music and Aaron Sorkin's
brilliant script, and was nominated for best-picture. Also notable:
“Aladdin” (1992) at 7:20 p.m. on Disney and “The Wolf of Wall
Street” (2013) at 8 on FX.

“Hotel Hell” and
“Coupled,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. Both shows pause to rerun their
fairly-good openers. In “Hell,” Gordon Ramsay visits a gorgeous
Idaho lodge that sagged after a family tragedy; in “Coupled,” a
dozen women arrive and begin the process of pondering guys,
one-by-one.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. David McCallum became a full-fledged TV star more than a
half-century ago, in “The Man From UNCLE.” Now this rerun focuses
on him. A murder case forces Ducky (McCallum, 82) to reveal he's been
part of a secret society that tries to solve cold cases.

“Pretty Little
Liars,” 8 p.m., Freeform. The women are about to make the biggest
mistake of their lives, Freeform tells us. (Yes, there have been some
that are hard to top.) The problem starts when they try to protect
Alison by rescuing her from the hospital.

“Uncle Buck,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. This so-so comedy ends its rerun with two
episodes, one loose – with Buck in charge, the place is a mess,
complete with ice and fire – and the other maybe serious: Buck
takes the kids back to the neighborhood where he and their dad grew
up.

“Containment,” 9
p.m., CW. Struggling to reveal what really started the virus
outbreak, Lex and Leo argue about their next move. Also, a rumor
spreads that there's a way out of the containment zone.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. Nudged back an hour to the spot where it
will be this fall, this has a rerun with a crisis for Pride and Sonja
(Scott Bakula and Shalita Grant). Escorting a key witness back from
Texas, they're ambushed.