TV column for Saturday, Sept. 10


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Aquarius” finale, 9 and 10 p.m., NBC.

Ever since
“Aquarius” arrived last summer, we've known this was inevitable:
In tonight's second hour, Charles Manson sends his followers
(including Emma) to the home being rented by Sharon Tate.

That's in the second
hour, which concludes the season ... and, presumably, the series.
It's a dark way to end things; fortunately, there's also a fictional
story to root for: In the first hour, Hodiak (David Duchovny) goes to
extremes to confront the serial killer. That leads to Hodiak's
“retirement”; in the second hour, he pursues the case without the
advantages of being a cop.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “15 Septembers Later,” 8 p.m., History; and more.

Sunday will mark the
15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. First, History
reruns its specials.

At 8 p.m. (rerunning
at 12:02 a.m.) is the recent “15 Septembers”; it uses photos
declassified this year, plus information from the 9/11 commission and
interviews with photographers and first-responders. At 10:02 p.m.
(rerunning at 2:04 a.m.) is “9/11: The Days After”; a
10th-anniversary report, it views the emotional
after-effects, including hate crimes and lingering illnesses.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Football, 8 p.m. ET, ABC.

Here is supertsized
Americana, aiming for the biggest crowd in college history. Virginia
Tech has a big stadium (66,235), Tennessee has a giant one (102,455)
... but neither can match the115,169 when Michigan hosted Notre Dame
in 2013.

The solution? The
Bristol Motor Speedway (along the Tennessee-Virginia border) is being
altered for football, holding about 150,000. The game could be OK --
Tennessee was ranked No. 9 before the season, but needed an overtime
to beat Appalachian State – and the crowd could be terrific.

Other choices
include:

More football, all
day. While ABC has what's billed as a “border battle,” Fox
counters with an intra-state fight; it's Brigham Young at Utah, at
7:30 p.m. ET. There are plenty of other games, starting at noon ET on
ABC (Central Florida at Michigan) and at least nine cable channels.

“America's Got
Talent” rerun, 8 p.m., NBC. In a rerun from Wednesday, we learn the
second half of the final 10. Their final performances are Tuesday,
with a winner named Wednesday.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, a seaman was killed before testifying at a grand
jury. The probe find the resurgence of a human-trafficking ring.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. This reruns the first of two episodes with Frances
Fisher as a convicted serial killer. A package intercepted by prison
officials raises the possibility that she knows the whereabouts of
two boys who were kidnapped yearsa ago.

“Star Wars: The
Force Awakens” (2015), 9 p.m., Starz. Here is the film that fans
semi-patiently waited 32 years for – finally continuing the story
after “Return of the Jedi.” Skillfully directed by J.J. Abrams,

it is superb
visually and OK story-wise. It makes OK use of the original stars and
adds new ones that are terrific (Daisy Ridley, John Boyaga) and so-so
(Adam Driver).

“Where Are They
Now?” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. After taking a week off, the
show returns to look at the Boyz II Men music group. It also meets
Marla Gibbs of “The Jeffersons” and the real-life food guy who
was fictionalized on “Seinfeld” as the “Soup Nazi.”

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Here's the rerun that had been annunced for
last week, with Ryan Gosling hosting and Leon Bridges as music guest.

TV column for Friday, Sept. 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“ACM Honors,” 9-11 p.m., CBS.

Many of country's
top stars – including Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban,
Luke Bryan, Toby Keith and hosts Lady Antebellum – will perform, in
a night honoring stars past and present.

Lambert, Urban,
Carrie Underwood and Little Big Town will also get awards, but this
is more about previous generations. Honors will go to Glen Campbell,
Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gayle, the Statler Brothers, Jimmy Webb and
(poshumously) Eddie Rabbit and Jeff Walker, plus studio musicans and
a songwriter. Also performing: Alicia Keys, Jason Aldean, Emmylou
Harris, Martina McBride and more.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Stand Up to Cancer,” 8 p.m. on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, 30-plus
English-language cable stations and many Spanish-language ones.

Even before the ACM
show at 9 p.m., country fans can catch Keith Urban, Dierks Bentley
and Little Big Town. They'll perform, as will Celine Dion, in an hour
stuffed with stars.

Airing on alternate
years, this will include co-founder Katie Couric, who was widowed by
cancer, and others. They include Ben Affleck, John Hamm, Viola Davis,
Kristen Wiig, Zach Galifianakis, Matthew McConaughey, Ken Jeong,
Terry Crews, Emma Stone, Anna Kendrick, Eric Stonestreet, Josh Gad,
Matt Bomer and more. Bradley Cooper, whose father died of lung
cancer, is an executive producer.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Live from Lincoln Center,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

This isn't live and
isn't from Lincoln Center. Still, it should have elegant music and
videos.

In the first road
trip of the show's 40 years, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln
Center visits Shaker Village, nestled in 3,000 acres of Kentucky
countryside. It focuses mainly on American composers, includng Aaron
Copland's “Appalachian Spring,” which includes the Shaker melody
“Simple Gifts.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “One Mississippi” debut, any time, Amazon Prime..

TV's quietest
revolution centers on Louis C.K. His own show is on hold , but he's
producing two gems in his droll, dry style -- “Better Things” (10
p.m. Thursdays on FX) with Pamela Adlon and this one.

The story compresses
events from Tig Notaro's real life: Recovering from cancer, a double
masectomy and an intestinal ailment, she returns home to catch her
mother's final moments. Surprisingly, this is mostly a comedy. Like
C.K. and Adlon, Notaro has a sharp eye for the humor in life's
details.

Other choices
include:

Marathons, all day.
BBC America continues its 50th-anniversary celebration of
the original “Star Trek,” with original episodes until 3 a.m.
Also, USA has “Modern Family” reruns from 7-11 p.m., then gives
“Stand Up to Cancer” a delayed run at 11.

“Masters of
Illusion,” 8 p.m., CW. In the lone commercial-broadcast alternative
to the cancer special, we see magicians Jonathan Pendragon, Greg
Gleason, Chris Korn, Jen Kramer, Barry & Stuart and Jarrett &
Raga. That's followed by reruns of “Masters” at 8:30 and “Penn
& Teller: Fool Us” at 9.

“True Grit”
(2010), 8 p.m., AMC. If you overlook a downer moment at the end, this
is a first-rate cowboy remake of a cowboy classic, with Jeff Bridges
and Matt Damon.

More movies, 8 p.m.,
cable. Leading the line-up is the middle film (2002) in the terrific
“Lord of the Rings” trilogy, on TNT; the third one is Saturday.
Families might try “The Descendants” (2015) on Disney. Other
films include “Fast and Furious 6” (2013) on FX, “The Time
Traveler's Wife” (2009) on Pop and Julia Roberts' so-so “My Best
Friend's Wedding” (1997) on CMT.

“MasterChef,” 9
p.m., Fox. This reruns the second half of Wednesday's episode. The
four cooks work with duck or halibut. The losing team has a pork
face-off, setting up next Wednesday's finale.

“Dark Matter,”
10 and 11 p.m., Syfy. Here are two straight new episodes, setting up
next week's finale.

TV column for Thursday, Sept. 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Pro football season-opener. 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.

Each year, the NFL
gets its season off to a flashy start. It has a pre-game show with
music –this time, Dierks Bentley and OneRepublic – and then a
major match-up.

This one has the
Super Bowl teams – with a major exception. The Carolina Panthers –
who had lost only one game before dtropping the Super Bowl – are
back, again with Cam Newton at quarterback. Denver is also back, but
Peyton Manning has retired. Champions are led by Trevor Siemian, who
was the 250th man chosen in the 2015 draft, then had
exactly one play (a kneel-down) all season.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Better Things” debut, 10 p.m., FX; reruns at 11:06 p.m. and
2:09 a.m.

Louis C.K.'s “Louie”
is a revelation – a set of wonderfully understated slices from the
life of a single dad with two daughters and a show-business career.
Now Pamela Adlon, his co-writer, has her own quiet gem, with C.K. as
her co-producer and co-writer.

We see a single mom
with three daughters and a career as an actress and cartoon voice.
That fits Adlon, who voiced Bobby on “King of the Hill.” She
finds humor in big moments – a teen asks her mom to buy pot – and
small. There's something funny about two people alternately
demanding: “What?”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Star Trek,” 8:30 p.m. ET, BBC America.

At 8:30 p.m. on
Sept. 8, 1966, NBC hesitently debuted the long-shot “Trek”
series. So exactly 50 years later, BBC reruns that first episode.
Then – one per 70 minutes (to allow for increased commercials and
promos these days) – it shows the others in order.

That continues –
pausing only from 3-6 a.m. daily – until 3 a.m. Monday. Flashing
before us is a classic that was often limited by a shortage of money,
but never by a shortage of imagination.

Other choices
include:

“Star Trek”
movies, all day, Syfy. “Generations” (1994) -- the OK movie that
linked the old and new “Trek” casts – airs at 8 a.m. and 3 and
11 p.m. “First Contact” (1996) -- with Alice Krige as the
powerful Borg Queen – is 10:30 a.m., 6 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. “Star
Trek IV” (1986) – the lightest and brightest of the films – is
at 1 and 8:30 p.m.

“Building Star
Trek,” 6-8 p.m., Smithsonian. Here's a reruns of a delightful
documentary, jumping between preparations for “Trek” exhibits and
scientists trying to match the show's fictional feats.

“$100,000
Pyramid,” 8-10 p.m., ABC. Here are reruns of four battles. It's
actor Alfonso Ribeiro and chef Mario Batali, “Shark Tank”
financiers Barbara Corcoran and Damond Johns, actors Steve Schirripa
(of “Sopranos”) and Melissa Peterman and actors Teri Polo and
Zachary Levi.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. After tonight, “Big Bang” will be in
exile for a while, moving to Mondays to make room for five football
games. So enjoy this fairly good episode, with Howard having second
thoughts about the business arrangement and Raj having confusion
about his girlfriends.

“Beauty and the
Beast,” 9 p.m., CW. Next Thursday, this emotional show ends its
four-season run. For now, as usual, there's a crisis. Vincent is
being secretly interrogated about an impending attack and may be near
the breaking point; next week, he and/or Cat may have to pay the
ultimate price.

“Code Back,”
9:59 p.m., CBS. Last week, the show reran the episode introducing
Boris Kodjoe as the ER and OR chief who's supposed to keep an eye on
the budget. Tonight, he surprises Grace by asking her out; also,
Christa must set aside her feelings about Grace, when they treat a
troubled teen.

“Queen of the
South,” 10 p.m., USA. With the season-finale coming next Thursday,
we see Camila take more steps to take over Epifanio's drug empire.
Also, Teresa and Brenda try some daring extortion.

TV column for Wednesday, Sept. 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Harley and the Davidsons” finale, 9 p.m., Discovery, rerunning
at 11:04.

If you missed the
first two parts, you can catch then at 5 and 7 p.m. They share key
flaws with the finale – cartoonish villians and a one-note approach
to dialog, which overflows with antagonism.

Still, this remains
a terrific story of blue-collar Milwaukee guys, transforming the
motorcycle world. Tonight's finale abruptly drops the previous story
(patent suits) and finds a bigger one: The Depression is crushing
everyone; instead of buying bikes, many people (including Walter
Davidson's teen son) are rebuilding old ones. There are health and
business crises ... and an abrupt, booming conclusion.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“American Gothic” finale, 9 and 10 p.m., CBS.

Last week,”Gothic”
concocted a wild explanation for the odd events: The real “Silver
Bells Killer” was slain while invading the Hawthorne mansion.
Instead of telling the police, the patriarch had his son Garrett bury
the body ... while he and his wife killed a nemesis and made it look
like an “SBK” job.

Garrett ending up
killing someone else (there seemes to be a lot of that) in the woods,
then ran away for 14 years. Now he's told what he knows to his
brother-in-law, the cop. Also, it's election day for his sister's
mayoral campaign ... while a copycat killer stalks the entire family.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Queen Sugar,” 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network,
rerunning at 1 a.m.

Big events cascaded
through Tuesday's opener, which reruns at 9 p.m. and midnight. Now
“Queen Sugar” moves to its regular night and to the easier pace
of a steamy Southern day.

The funeral of
Ernest, whose sugar-cane farm was floundering, brings back his
mismatched kids. Nova is an activist and journalist ... Ralph Angel
is an ex-con, trying to shield his son from the boy's drug-addicted
mother ... Charley is a business whiz whose basketball-star husband
was scandalized. They fret, fume and argue in a slowly engaging hour,
skillfully directed by Ava DuVernay (“Selma”).

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. With five contestants left, it's time to see who will
be in next week's finale. A mystery-box challenge will make one
person safe; others must prepare either duck or halibut and – if
they lose that one – come up with three pork dishes.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC. First is a shortened rerun of Tuesday's
performances by 11 acts. Then a new hour will tell us which five will
survive, rounding out the show's top 10.

“Modern Family,”
9 and 10 p.m., ABC. Claire has a complicated life at home and at
work. She's trying to hide a stray dog from her husband; also, she
suspects there's a mole in her office.

“Nova,” 9 p.m.,
PBS. As the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks
nears, “15 Years of Terror” looks at the mindset of a terrorists.
It shows how they use modern propaganda and social-media techniques
... and how governments try to thwart them.

“The Tyrant”
season-finale, 10 p.m., FX. A superb season concludes with Bassam –
known as Barry when he was in the U.S. -- finding his worlds
teetering. With his wife, he's ready to go to war against the people
who killed their daughter; also, he and his ex-lover Deliyah reach a
final reckoning.

“Mr. Robot,”
10:01 p.m., USA. As the FBI agent gets closer to nabbing them,
Darlene struggles to do the right thing and her brother Elliot has
doubts about Mr. Robot, the figure he fantasizes in the image of
their late father. At 11:04 p.m., the show's cast and creator will
field questions from fans.

“The Middle,”
10:31 p.m., ABC. Frankie finally has the backyard patio she's dreamed
of relaxing in. Alas, the neighbor kids are so loud that relaxation
seems impossible.

TV column for Tuesday, Sept. 6


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

Let's credit CBS for
big, bold strokes – three scripted summer dramas. Now come the
two-hour finales of all three, with “American Gothic” and
“BrainDead” on Wednesday and Sunday.

First is “Zoo,”
which links two great actors – James Wolk as Jackson, Ken Olin as
the dad who vanished and faked his death. Now they've reconciled,
trying to find a cure for animals gone wild ... and trying to squelch
the “Noah Objective,” which could destroy everything. Mitch and
Jamie have a fresh scheme to stop Noah, while others try to concoct a
final cure on the island of Pangaea.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Harley and the Davidsons,” 9 p.m., Discovery, rerunning at
10:58.

If you missed the
start of this three-night mini-series, catch it at 7. Occasionally
overwrought – lots of frenetic emotions – it's an involving look
at three blue-collar guys, competing with corporate giants.

This mid-section
retains a key flaw, with stereotypical villains; still it gives the
story fresh obstacles. The Harley-Davidson people take a stand
against “motordome” racing. They create their own flat-track
style, complete with cheerleaders and beer tents ... then have a top
racer swiped away. Their biggest obstacle is a legal one – the
failure to patent key parts. Added together, it's a powerhouse story.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “9/11 Inside the Pentagon,” 8 p.m., PBS.

Five days before the
15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, this pieces
together the events after the Pentagon was struck. It's filled with
quiet heroes.

We meet Army Col.
Marilyn Wills, who crawled and pulled a stranger to a window, then
found that (for a while) the glass wouldn't budge or break. And Navy
Capt. William Toti, who had dropped off his retirement letter on
Sept. 10 ... and retrieved it on Sept. 12. And workmen who ignored an
order to evacuate the building. These are moving stories, ending with
an emotional reunion.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Queen Sugar” debut, 10 p.m., Oprah Winfrey
Network.

Like many other
shows adapted from novels, this is thick with richly drawn
characters. And like many such shows, it's reluctant to tell us who
the characters are and why we care.

Gradually, we
realize they're the children of an old man with an 800-acre sugarcane
farm. There's a publicist, married to a rich basketball star ... an
activist, working in her New Orleans community ... and an ex-con,
raising his son because the boy's mother (an addict) would be a worse
choice. Beautifully directed by Ava DuVernay (“Salem”), this sets
the stage for Wednesday's move to its regular night.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. This continues the search for an escaped British spy. With one
colleague in intensive care, Americans link with Clayton Reeves
(Duane Henry), who will be an “NCIS” regular.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Last week, 10 semi-finalist acts performed
and five advanced. Now the other 11 have their turn; on Wednesday,
some will move up the top 10.

“Lucifer,” 9
p.m., Fox. A woman's body is found in the swimming pool of a star
quarterback. Naturally, the guy is a friend of Lucifer.

Mistresses”
season-finale, 10 p.m., ABC. The show leaps ahead several months,
finding two sets of parents dealing with babies. Marc (with April)
becomes an overly attentive dad; Harry (with Joss) has a hands-off
approach ... and has fresh problems involving someone from his past.

“Better Late Than
Never,” 10 p.m., NBC. After living in a luxury Hong Kong hotel last
week, the guys stay in a $6-a-night spot in Seoul. They also go to
pop-music school; that gives the rare chance to see a Girls
Generation video with William Shatner, Henry Winkler, Terry Bradshaw
and George Foreman.

“Atlanta” debut,
10 p.m., FX; reruns at 11:08 p.m. and 12:16 a.m. Donald Glover
(“Community”) wrote, produced and stars as a guy trying to rfix
his drifting life by managing his cousin the rapper. The result
meanders between drama, comedy and confusion; by the second
half-hour, it finally pulls us in.