TV column for Saturday, May 5


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

A decade ago, Donald
Glover was an NBC prodigy -- writing for “30 Rock” at 23,
co-starring in “Community” at 25. Now, at 34, he's hit his prime.

Glover has won Emmys
as star and director of “Atlanta” ... and been nominated as
writer and producer. He's also won a Grammy as a rapper dubbed
Childish Gambino. And on May 25, he plays Lando Calrissian in the Han
Solo prequel. First, he doubles tonight as the “SNL” host and the
music guest.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Ransom,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Life is complicated
enough when Eric (Luke Roberts) is negotiating a standard hostage
situation. Now that gets tangled up with international terrorism.

Working on the
release of an arms dealer's son, he uncovers a much bigger plot. As
Zara (Nazneen Contractor) rushes to prevent the attack, she must work
with an abusive former colleague.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, 8 p.m., HBO.

Some of the greats
in rock history converged on Cleveland last month. Here are
highlights, including lots of music, reunions and comments –
sometimes emotional, sometimes just whimsical.

Bon Jovi was
inducted – Howard Stern proclaimed that “another sign of the
zombie apocalypse" – and performed with Richie Zambora for the first
time in five years. The Cars reunited for the first time in seven
years. Others inducted were the Moody Blues, Dire Straits and two
posthumous choices – Nina Simone (her passionate music sung by
Andra Day and Lauryn Hill) and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Other choices
include:

Kentucky Derby, NBC.
The actual race is expected to start shortly after 6:46 p.m. ET ...
and to be done two minutes later. So, naturally, NBC is starting its
coverage at 2:30.

More sports. The pro
playoffs collide. Basketball? It's Boston at Philadelphia at 5 p.m.
ET on ESPN, then Toronto at Cleveland at 8:30 on ABC. Hockey? NBC
has Pittsburgh at Washington at 7:15 p.m. ET; then the NBC Sports
Network has Winnipeg at Nashville at 9:30.

“Trainwreck”
(2015), 6 p.m., FX. There are plenty of light movies, starting with
Amy Schumer's clever comedy. At 7 p.m., Hallmark reruns last week's
appealing “Beach House” and CMT has Burt Reynolds' goofy “Smokey
and the Bandit” (1977), with its sequel (1980) at 9:30.

“MasterChef
Junior,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. With 12 young chefs remaining, there's
a speed test involving eggs benedict. Also in this rerun, the kids
can create anything that includes chocolate.

“Race” (2016), 8
p.m., BET. Here's a solid re-telling of one of the great true-life
sports stories: Jesse Owens, a sharecropper's son from Alabama, moved
to Cleveland with his family, starred at Ohio State ... then crushed
Adolph Hitler's plan to make the Olympics an “Aryan supremacy”
showcase.

“Trading Spaces,”
8-9:06 p.m., TLC. Hildy Santo Tomas, a former designer on the show,
returns for this “battle of the basements,” with Clinton Kelly.

“Nate &
Jeremiah By Design,” 9:06 p.m., TLC. After six years of renovation
failures by other designers, a woman turns to Nate Berkus and
Jeremian Brent.

“The Carbonaro
Effect,” 10 p.m. to midnight, TruTV. When in doubt, catch some of
these reruns. Michael Carbonaro mixes magic skills and personal
charm, while creating hidden-camera surprises.

TV column for Friday, May 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Live From Lincoln Center,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Stephanie J. Block
has spent decades on the edge of fame. Rejected by Disneyland, she
persisted ... and starred in its “Beauty and the Beast.” She
starred in the developing “Wicked” ... but lost the role when it
went to Broadway. She's had two Tony nominations, but didn't win;
she's famous, but not really.

But now this is her
week. On Tuesday, she had great scenes in NBC's “Rise,” as the
mother of a teen who's unsure of his sexuality; tonight, she gets the
spotlight. Block – who can turn songs into epic moments of comedy
and/or drama – performs in an intimate setting.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“MacGyver” season-finale, 8 p.m., CBS.

On (almost) every
Friday, CBS offers three solid cop shows. All are renewed for next
season, but “MacGyver” is wrapping up early, to make room for a
celebrity edition of “Undercover Boss.”

Tonight, Mac tells
Matty he's quitting the Phoenix Foundation; then he gets a shocking
surprise. Also, we meet Oversight (Tate Donovan), who has a history
with Matty.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Lots of shows, Netflix.

Each Friday, Netflix
seems to have a new batch of shows. And this one is bigger than
usual.

Movies? “Manhunt”
is from action master John Woo; “Anon” stars Clive Owen and
Amanda Seyfried. Series? “Dear White People” focuses on black
students at an Ivy League school; “The Rain” has young people in
a post-apocalpytic world. Non-fiction? David Letterman interviews
Tina Fey ... Carol Burnett has kids solving grown-ups' problems ...
And “End Game” sees end-of-life approaches in two hospitals.

Other choices
include:

“The Princess
Bride” (1987), 7 and 9 p.m., BBC America. Rob Reiner's comic fairy
tale remains a delight. Other good movie choices include “The Blind
Side” (2009), at 7:45 pm. on Freeform, and two films at 8 – “Baby
Mama” (2008) on VH1 and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015)
on TBS.

“MasterChef
Junior,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. First, the young chefs start a pop-up
restaurant, treating 30 alumni from the show. Then they're told to
prepare dishes inspired by their grandmothers.

“Blindspot,” 8
p.m., NBC. Bill Nye plays a science guy, appropriately; he helps his
daughter, Patterson, in the lab. Meanwhile, Jane and Weller are
hunting a dangerous criminal, after getting jolting news about
Avery's father.

“Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. Henry faces trouble in two eras. Nowadays, Roni
and Lucy try to wake him and stop Gothel; in a flashback, young Henry
ponders what path to take.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Junior's friend witnessed a Mob murder. Now she's on the
run, while Junior tries to untangle the case.

“America Divided”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Epix. Gretchen Carlson was at the front of a
massive shift, when she accused her Fox News employers of sexual
misconduct. Eventually, the channel dropped its founder (Roger Ailes)
and its star (Bill O'Reilly). Now Carlson views “Washington's War
on Women.”

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Frank collides with a company that refuses to unlock a
terrorist's phone. Meanwhile, his son Danny and daughter Erin ponder
a shaky tip about murder plans.

TV column for Thursday, May 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

On “Young
Sheldon,” we get the rich contrast between brothers: Sheldon savors
books and science; Georgie prefers football and TV. Now we finally
meet the grown-up Georgie.

Sheldon's wedding
will be next week, in the season-finale, but his mother has a rule:
She won't be there unless he invites Georgie. So Sheldon returns to
Texas (bringing Leonard) to mend a family feud. Georgie is played by
Jerry O'Connell, an athletic sort who played a football star in
“Jerry Maguire.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Comedy season-finales, 8, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

It's a mixed batch,
as usual, for these uneven comedies. First is “Superstore,” with
the corporate CEO arriving for a town hall. Some sequences, including
the final one, are hilarious; others are just juvenile.

Then “A.P. Bio”
has Jack ready to return to college comfort; it has some good
moments, but not many. And at 9:30 (after a good “Will & Grace”
rerun), “Champions” has Michael preparing for his first date.

TONIGHT's
ALTERNATIVE: All night, Turner Classic Movies.

Ever since TCM began
in 1993, Robert Osborne -- an elegant and warm-hearted man who loved
movies and movie people. -- was its host. He died last year; now
here's an 86th-birthday tribute.

At 8 p.m. ET
(rerunning at 4:30 a.m.) is a 2014 “Private Screenings,” with
Osborne telling Alec Baldwin about a life that ranged from small-town
movie buff to failed actor and then columnist. At 11:30 p.m. is a
2015 Osborne tribute. Also: Classic films -- “Dodsworth” (1936)
at 9:30 p.m., “Laura” (1944) at 12:30 a.m -- plus Osborne's chats
with Liza Minnelli and Ernest Borgnine at 2:15 and 3:15.

Other choices
include:

“Spectre”
(2015), 5-8 p.m.., FX. Some viewers can make it a James Bond
triple-feature, new (“Spectre”) and old: Switching to Epix,
they'll find the so-so “Man With a Golden Gun” (1974) at 8 p.m.
and the excellent “Never Say Never Again” (1983) at 10:15.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Worried because he hasn't heard from his mother, Alex
drives to Iowa with Jo. Also, Meredith's presentation draws in
interest and Jackson struggles to restore the reputation of his
family's foundation.

“Gotham,” 8
p.m., Fox. There's trouble all over Gotham – chaos at the police
department, a futile chase for Gordon and a friend of Bruce turning
paranoid and destructive.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Previously, Sheldon nudged his grandmother (Annie
Potts) toward a college prof (Wallace Shawn). Now he's keeping track
of their relationship.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Christy didn't know her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor
(Yvette Nicole Brown) would be this demanding: Now Christy is
actually expected to be nice to her mother.

“Quantico,” 10
p.m., ABC. Last week, Alex hesitantly returned to the spy world –
in a new, self-contained unit led by Owen. It its first mission, Ryan
must infiltrate a white supremacist group.

“Atlanta,” 10
p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:16 and 11:49. Earn recalls his
middle-school days. That's part of a busy stretch for Donald Glover;
he hosts “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, has the “Atlanta”
season-finale next Thursday ... and plays Lando Calrissian in the new
Han Solo movie, May 25.

TV column for Wednesday, May 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Originals,” 9 p.m., CW.

Even if you haven't
been watching “Originals” -- and you probably haven't – this
hour is worth trying. It starts well, ends sensationally and adds a
terrific character to the series.

This flashes back to
when Elijah decided to shed painful memories and to avoid endangering
others; he had his memory wiped away. Now he's unaware that he's a
vampire ... or what a vampire is. He meets Antoinette, played by
Jaime Murray, a gifted fantasy actress from “Once Upon a Time”
(Fiona), “Defiance” (Stahma) and “Warehouse 13” (H.G. Wells).
“Originals” gets a terrific new vampire.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.

Shelley Long is back
as DeDe, Mitchell's mom. When she arrives unexpectedly, he and Cam
realize the effect she has on their lives.

And for Mitch's
sister Claire? It seems that the safest time to disappoint her is
after her spa day. Now her husband and their three kids each have bad
news they want to deliver during that brief window.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Colony” season-opener, 10 p.m., USA.

In the first two
seasons, Will and Katie (Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies)
strained under the rule of outer-space aliens and their human
collaborators. Now – aided by a former collaborator official --
they've escaped from walled-off Los Angeles and fled to the
mountains.

This is peaceful,
pastoral ... and temporary. They have an important device, but can't
get it to the Resistance. The hour offers strong action and the quiet
drama of good people in an awful situation.

Other choices
include:

“Empire,” 8
p.m., Fox. Last week, Lucious and Cookie hit Eddie hard – parading
angry women in front of his biggest backer. Now they try to finish
him off, while Cookie strains to complete a promise – reuniting a
former cellmate, now dying, with the ballerina who is her biologic
daughter.

“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. Tonight, people must confront their personal issues: A safety
threat throws them into a lockdown. Also, Naolmi Campbell returns as
Alex's upscale mother, paying a sudden visit.

“Nova Wonders,”
9 p.m., PBS. Midway through this intresting hour, we meet one of the
“poop donors.” These are people – generally young and athletic
– who are paid $40 per bowel movement. The results are turned into
pills for some internal ailments. That's just one piece – albeit
the weirdest one – in a look at still-early studies of the microbes
inside people, and their effects for bad and good,

“Designated
Survivor,” 10 p.m., ABC. Still facing an investigation from a tough
lawyer (Michael J. Fox), the president is also negotiating to free an
American held prisoner in a foreign country.

“The Americans,”
10 p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:04 p.m. and 12:08 and 1:30 a.m. The gap
between Philip (trying to retire from the spy business) and Elizabeth
(more intense than ever) keeps growing. Last week, she killed two
people while a young child was in the next room; he refused to lure a
young woman into a kidnapping. Now, in a subtly solid episode, their
lives retreat into near-silence.

“Archer.” 10
p.m., FXX, rerunning at 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. Last week's opener
ended with a crippled plane. Now Pam, Fuchs and a princess are
parachuting into an island jungle, while Archer tries to find a place
to land. Also, a jilted bride fumes. It's a fast, fun bit of animated
comedy-adventure.

“Brockmire,” 10
p.m. ET, IFC , rerunning at 1 a.m. At times, the Brockmire character
simply becomes repetitious, an uninteresting pile of bad behavior.
Fortunately, Charles – his assistant, sidekick and boss – adds
some redeeming humanity. Tonight, his foul family arrives for his
birthday.

TV column for Tuesday, May 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Rise,” 9 p.m., NBC.

Most shows will
settle for a couple good characters, with plus some stock ones to
bounce off. Not “Rise”; even its side characters bristle with
depth and human complexity.

We were ready to
dismiss the football coach and his daughter as cliche; now they draw
deep empathy. Tonight, Stephanie J. Block – a musical-theater star
who has a PBS special Friday – has a great scene as the mother of
the sexually unsure Simon. Then there's Sasha, who was almost
invisible until her pregnancy storyline; tonight's scene with her
transgender friend is one of the best anywhere this year.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Pauley Perrette has
a special spot in TV history. This is her 355th episode as
Abby – 351 here and four on spin-offs. That's one behind Mark
Harmon as Gibbs, two ahead of David McCallum as Ducky.

In primetime,
non-cartoons, they're topped only by a few people from long-ago shows
or from the “Law and Order” shows, and by Kelsey Grammer as
Frasier on many shows. And now Perrette is leaving. Tonight --
alongside a crime story -- Abby wins a dinner-for-two at an upscale
restaurant in an igloo. (Really.) She has to decide which co-worker
to bring. And next week, she says farewell.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Civilizations,” 8 p.m. Tuesday, PBS.

Two potent forces –
art and religion – often blend and sometimes collide. This hour
includes ancient images (35,000 or more years old) and thoroughly
modern ones. In London, St. Paul's Cathedral – which began services
in 1697 – has a modern video installation alongside gorgeous, old
sculptures. Richly detailed and beautifully filmed, this hour leaps
from the Acropolis to Stonehenge, from Leonardo da Vinci to a driver
in India who paints grand spiritual images on the side of his truck.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Frontline,” 10 p.m., PBS.

When hurricanes
battered Texas and Florida, Laura Sullivan reports, federal help
moved quickly. But seven months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is
still short of electricity, water and hope.

Why? She starts with
finances: The Puerto Rican government, its current governor says, had
a “Ponzi scheme” of loans to pay off loans; Wall Street enabled
it and profited. As the economy crumbled, the infrastructure was
ignored. Also, disaster plans were sluggish. Tarps, sent elsewhere
for another storm, weren't replaced; inexperienced companies failed
to get new ones. Federal flubs continue.

Other choices
include:

“Roseanne,” 8
p.m., ABC. The previous episode saw Roseanne's mom (Estelle Parsons,
90) arrive after being ejected from her nursing home. Now Roseanna
and her sister argue about where she'll live.

“The Middle,”
8:30, ABC. Brick might ruin the prom, Axl didn't give his sister a
birthday card, but their dad has a bigger problem: He can't figure
out the new TV remote.

“LA to Vegas,” 9
p.m., Fox. In the season-finale, Ronnie applies for a job with
another airline, possibly endangering her relationship with Bryan.
And Captain Dave is ready to propose to Patricia.

“The 100,” 9
p.m., CW. Most of last week's season-opener was a terrific, one-woman
drama, with Clarke surviving a scorched Earth. In the final minutes,
it deteriorated to a lot of macho strutting and fighting. Now it
deteriorates further, inside the bunker, as Octavia reluctantly
gropes for control.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. A current case matches one that Gregorio
(Vanessa Ferlito) studied during FBI training. She contacts her old
behavioral science professor.

“Genius,” 10
p.m., National Geographic, rerunning at 11. After jumping around
wildly in its two-hour opener, “Genius” has an OK episode
focusing on two key times for Pablo Picasso. As a young man, mourning
his friend's suicide, he meets an admirer (T.R. Knight) and launches
his work's “blue period.” At 61, he meets Francoise Gilot, 21, a
brainy painter who resists and intrigues him.