TV column for Tuesday, April 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC; “Switched at Birth.” 9:01-10:32,
Freeform.

Here, oddly, are two
baby-switching tales, almost back-to-back. The first is funny, as
Brick meets the family that mistakenly had him for a month; add some
Axl/Lexie moments and it's a great episode.

The second is
dead-serious – the 100th episode, expanded, with a few
flashbacks and a lot of big-deal moments. One plot twist – Bay's
dad belittles her tattoo-artist career – is lame, but the others
work well. Two romances reach turning points, two job offers tempt
people to move ... and Toby gets fresh insight.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Trial & Error,” 9:01 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

This started with
Josh reaching an odd town, ill-equipped for his first trial. His
staff was inept, his home office was disinterested ... and his
defendant (John Lithgow) kept incriminating himself.

Now the trial begins
as Josh's alternate-suspect plan crumbles. His investigator searches
for a key cell phone and tries to learn why the defendant's lover
isn't on the prosecution's witness list..

AND MORE FUN:
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” return, 8 p.m., Fox.

Always stretching
for big, broad laughs, this show is sometimes funny and sometimes
just silly. Tonight, it mostly has the good stuff.

That starts with
Gina (Chelsea Peretti) back from a bus accident, insisting she's not
disabled. Then The precinct IS evaluated by TeddY, who was dating Amy
until she left him for Jake. Soon, Jake and Amy make a hilarious
attempt at faking a fight. Yes, it's goofy ... and “Nine-Nine” at
its best.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “American Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS; concludes
Wednesday.

This powerful
chapter begins 100 years and five days ago. Woodrow Wilson had
convinced the U.S. to go to war; he returned to his office ... and
wept. Then the massive build-up began.

George Creel – an
idealist who had created the election slogan “he kept us out of
war” -- launched a massive and effective campaign to get everyone
into the war. And John Pershing, who fit the image of a general,
began training the troops (many of them draftees) that the Allied
forces desperately needed.

Other choices
include:

Fast, furious films,
cable. This is why we pay our cable bill, to get variety: At 7 p.m.,
FX has “Fast & Furious 6” (2013); at 8, E has “Fast &
Furious” (2009). Also, Spike has “The Fast and the Furious”
(2001) at 5:30 p.m. and “2 Fast 2 Furious” (2003) at 8. There
seems to be a lot of fury.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun of a Thanksgiving-time episode, Ellie's brothers
visit for the holiday ... and pester her co-workers to learn whom
she's dating. Also, after being sent to Guantanamo Bay to gather
evidence, she questions her previous NSA Work.

“The Fosters”
season-finale, 8-9:01 p.m., Freeform. Callie has 24 hours to take a
plea-bargain and a three-year sentence, or go to trial. She uses some
of that time to help Diamond; Stef and Mike use it to push their
investigation. Also, Mariana sparks a protest and Jesus receives
tough news.

“iZombie,” 9
p.m., CW. When a teen-ager and her dad are killed, it seems logical
to eat their brains, in order to investigate their deaths. Not so
logically, Liv chomps the man and Major chomps the girl; his teen
slang moments are sometimes funny and sometimes bufoonish. Alongside
that, however, is a sharp murder probe, making this a particularly
good episode.

“Outsiders,” 9
p.m., WGN. With water running low on the the mountain, G'Win wants a
peaceful run for necessities; Big Foster has other ideas. Also,
Haylie confronts Matt about poisoning the Farrells.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. This rerun has a decorated petty officer
found dead inside a sports area,. That leads to a kidnapping case
that began in Mexico.

TV column for Monday, April 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS; continues through
Wednesday.

Old Europe was a
tangle of aristocracy – kings, a kaiser, a czar and more; then the
shooting of an archduke plunged it into a war that would kill more
than 15 million people. This terrific opener follows the early years
of trench warfare and poison gas, which Americans followed from a
safe distance.

It also begins a
deep portrait of Woodrow Wilson, who remains an enigma. An educator
and an idealist, he also reflected his Southern roots, even
re-instating segregation in the federal government.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Angie Tribeca” season-opener, 10:30 p.m., TBS.

For a moment,
there's a possibility that Angie (Rashida Jones) would actually
retire from police work. After all, motherhood is important to her
... if she can just remember the kid's name and age.

Not to worry, she's
soon back, with a big case. “The worst has happened – a rich
white guy has disappeared,” her boss solemnly informs. This is a
truly nasty white guy, one who kills rhinos and illegally parks his
helicopter in front of the taxidermy shop. Now every cop is on the
case; Angie even visits an all-knowing convict (Chris Pine). It's an
erratic – but often funny – start to a promising season.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Better Call Saul” season-opener, 10 p.m., AMC;
reruns at 12:10, 1:30 and 3:30 a.m.

First, the entire
second season reruns, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. We see Bob Odenkirk
as Jimmy McGill, the shabby lawyer who would (in “Breaking Bad”)
call himself Saul.

The new season
starts with a typically odd reminder of his post-Saul life, as an
unhappy mall food worker. Then it's back to Jimmy in full scramble.
His rich-and-phobic brother (Michael McKean) is out to get him; his
law practice and romance with Kim (Rhea Seehorn) is wobbling. Also,
Mike (Jonathan Banks) is being stalked. It's typical “Saul,”
strange and oddly interesting.

Other choices
include:

“The Voice,”
8-10 p.m., NBC. The “knockout round” concludes, with judges
choosing between two teammates, after they perform separately.
There's a recap Tuesday, with the live rounds next week..

“Kevin Can Wait,”
8 p.m., CBS. Kevin, the retired cop, forms a sudden friendship with
Harry Connick Jr. and even becomes his driver.

Brad Pitt movies, 8
p.m., cable. Pitt battles zombies in “World War Z” (2013) on FX
and Angelina Jolie in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (2005) on Lifetime; in
both, he faces steep odds. He joins friends (George Clooney, Matt
Damon, Julia Roberts, etc.) for a heist in the clever “Ocean's
Eleven” (2001) on CMT.

“A Goodbye to
Girls,” 8:30 p.m., HBO. We're six days away from the final episode
of “Girls,” one of TV's most distinctive shows. Here (after an 8
p.m. rerun of the second-to-last episode) is a tribute to it.

“Superior Donuts,”
9 p.m., CBS. Arthur (Judd Hirsch) encourages Franco to pursue his art
career – but wasn't expecting a mural on the front of the doughnut
shop. It draws neighborhood controversy.

“2 Broke Girls,”
9:30, CBS. After being gone for two weeks, “Girls” returns with
Caroline going to a press junket for the movie about her life as a
once-rich socialite whose dad was convicted of fraud. She promptly
bumps into her former boyfriend.

“Homeland,” 10
p.m., Showtime. If you missed it Sunday, here's a quick rerun of the
season-finale. It also airs at 8 p.m.

TV column for Sunday, April 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Crime,” 10 p.m., ABC.

This deeply layered
series keeps getting strong praise and weak ratings. The first two
editions drew 14 Emmy nominations, winning twice for Regina King in
support; this third one is just as good ... but not easy to watch,
with grim storylines that often seem unrelated.

Now ABC has given it
a new lead-in (see next item); meanwhile, the story keeps unfolding.
In this edition, King is a social worker, working with a teen
prostitute who's preparing for an abortion. Also, Jeanette (Felicity
Huffman) agonizes over the way her husband's family treats migrant
workers,

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Match Game” return, 9 p.m., ABC.

While its big-deal
dramas stumble on Sundays, ABC has thrived in the summer by reviving
old game shows. Now it has dumped “Time After Time” and brought
back this one, which emphasizes humor.

Many of the people
have “Saturday Night Live” links, including host Alec Baldwin and
panelists Jay Pharoah and Ana Gasteyer. Others are Adam Carolla,
Caroline Rea, Tyson Beckford and Jenna Fischer.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece: Home Fires,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Last week's
season-opener started blithely – Claire married Spencer, the
postman who's a conscientious objector – and ended harshly: Peter
Barden, factory owner and village patriarch, died in a car crash.

Now his widow faces
fresh jolts, plus the return of her opponent in the women's club.
Life keeps changing in this 1940 English village: The pastor is a POW
... the butcher's son remains missing ... some men are back, damaged
physically or emotionally. Dr. Campbell starts cancer treatments as
his daughter faces scorn for her affair. It's another strong hour of
big events and understated performances.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Changeover time, pay-cable.

This is transition
time for the biggest pay-extra networks. At Showtime, “Homeland”
has its season-finale at 9 p.m.; next week, it launches “Guerilla,”
a tough drama based on real-life London radicals.

At HBO, “Crashing”
(10:30 p.m.) ends its brief season and “Girls” ends – almost;
the show, one of TV's most distinctive, will wrap up its sixth and
final season next Sunday. And Starz reruns the terrific “White
Queen” miniseries (noon to 10:05 p.m.); next week, it starts the
“White Princess” sequel.

Other choices
include:

“Little Big
Shots,” 7 and 8 p.m., NBC. First, a rerun ranges from a 4-year-old
Shakespeare expert to a 12-year-old singer and harpist from Romania.
Then a new episode includes twin boxers, a group of banjo players and
– this requires a daring parter – an 11-year-old professional
knife-thrower.

“Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. In current times, Emma is convinced to help
Gideon, as a way to stop the Black Fairy. And in a flashback, the
Black Fairy tries to mold Gideon into an ideal apprentice.

“Making History”
and “Last Man on Earth,” 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., Fox. Here are reruns
of exceptionally good episodes. First the “History” pilot sees a
semi-slacker use his dad's invention to travel to colonial days and
woo Paul Revere's daughter. Then we see the virus outbreak in its
early days, through the eyes of an empty-headed socialite (Kristen
Wiig).

“Madame
Secretary,” 9 p.m., CBS. Elizabeth asks a Hollywood star to help
persuade the president of Kyrgyzstan to end human trafficking. The
extra attention, however, may put a captive at risk.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. The murder victim is considered by Sherlock to have been
one of the word private detectives in New York City. Also, Sherlock
wants to battle a private-eye organization.

“Shades of Blue,”
10 p.m., NBC. This powerful hour begins with a compelling monolog
from the FBI agent who obsesses on Harlee (Jennifer Lopez); it ends
with Wozniak holding a tense meeting with his team. In between, they
pursue the man who killed Nava's ex-fiancee and framed Harlee.

TV column for Saturday, April 8


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

This is a big TV
week for Louis CK. On Tuesday, Netflix debuted his stand-up special,
an ambitious one ranging from religion and abortion to the daily
chaos of parenting; now he returns to host “SNL.”

His three previous
rounds have been among the show's best, with classic moments that had
him as a forlorn Abraham Lincoln and as the only white contestant (a
Black history professor from Brigham Young University) on “Black
Jeopardy.” This time, his music guests are The Chainsmokers.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Training Day,” 9 p.m., CBS.

The good news is
that CBS is resisting the rerun cascade on Saturdays. Pairing this
show with “Ransom” (a Canadian transplant), it has two hours of
new, scripted shows.

And the bad news is
that this is merely an end-of-the-line night. “Training Day”
failed during its Thursday run; now its final seven episodes begin
their Saturday exile. Tonight, Frank (the late Bill Paxton) obsesses
on bringing down a defense lawyer who has helped clients eliminate
witnesses.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Son” debut, 9 p.m. Saturday, AMC (repeating at
11:08) and Sundance.

Saturdays can be a
splendid night for westerns, AMC has shown. The cable channel has
already given us “Broken Trail,” “Hell on Wheels” and “The
American West”; now comes an epic series.

We meet Eli in his
tragic, frontier youth; then we jump ahead to 1915. As played by
Pierce Brosnan, he's a steely patriarch, trying to keep his South
Texas cattle ranch going, as resistance grows in Mexico. Many viewers
will dislike the brutal portrayal of American Indians and the fierce
use of torture; beyond that, however, is a visually and emotionally
sprawling portrait of a world in transition.

Other choices
include:

“Titanic”
(1997), 6:30 p.m., VH1; or “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of
the King” (2003), 8 p.m., TNT. Both films proved it's possible to
have a big-budget action film that's also skillfully crafted. Each
made a fortune at the box office and won a pile of Oscars, including
best picture.

“Safe Haven”
(2013), 6:30 p.m., E. Two Nicholas Sparks stories run back-to-back.
“The Last Song” (2010), at 9 p.m., is merely OK, boosted by
decent work from Miley Cyrus; “Safe Haven,” however, stands out
because it's perfectly directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

“Ransom,” 8
p.m., CBS. When a family is held hostage, Eric becomes suspicious: He
learns this is the second time the dad has been kidnapped.

“MasterChef
Junior,” 8 p.m., Fox. In a rerun of Thursday's amiable hour, the
kids cook for an enthusiastic crowd – Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts
who have just finished hiking and setting up camp. Then the losing
team bakes macaroons – choosing stuffing that ranges from lemonade
to bacon.

Basketball, 8:30
p.m. ET, with preview at 8. Here are two teams that have already
solidified their places in the pro play-offs, which start April 23:
San Antonio hosts the Los Angeles Clippers.

“Prison Break,”
9 p.m., Fox. This reruns Tuesday's season-opener. Like previous
editions, it has sharp writing and a cinematic feel; it also,
however, brings a sense of disillusionment. After all that effort to
break Linc out of prison, it turns out that he's sad, solemn and on
the run.

“Kevin Hart:
Seriously Funny,” 10 p.m., Comedy Central. The night wraps up with
reruns from some sharp stand-up comics – Hart at 10 and 11 p.m. and
Chris Rock at 12:05 a.m.

TV column for Friday, April 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“First Dates” debut, 8 p.m., NBC.

On a night stuffed
with three new reality shows, this is the winner. Produced by Ellen
DeGeneres, it has the same qualities – a sleek look and thoroughly
likable people – that make her “Little Big Shots” a hit.

This show simply
chooses blind dates, then tapes them at an upscale restaurant. In the
hour we saw (tentatively the opener), it mostly aimed for logical
matches – two self-described geeks ... a towering military woman
and a guy hobbling from a basketball injury ... a widow and a warmly
clever widower. But there's also a mismatch that seems almost
mischievous; it adds a counter-spin to a fun hour.

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

With all those
reality shows, we turn to CBS for its specialty – solid, scripted
shows that wrap up a story each episode. This one has Murdoc, the
villain from the old and new “MacGyver.”

The team has
intercepted a message, telling Murdoc whom to assassinate. Now Mac
must pose as the killer, to save the target and learn why the hit was
ordered.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “You the Jury” debut, 9 p.m., Fox.

In 2011, Robyn
Gardner, 35, went to Aruba with Gary Giordano, 50. Gardner – who
had just lost her dental-office job -- had met him on the Internet a
year earlier, but had met him only occasionally ... and had a steady
boyfriend. Later, Giordano said she'd been swept away by waves; she's
never been found.

Police – eyeing a
$1.5-million insurance policy (still in dispute) in his name –
arrested him, but didn't file charges. Now lawyers – plus Giordano,
Gardner's sister and more – argue this in a civil case. That hour
is tentatively set for the debut of “Jury,” which is both quite
interesting and terribly tacky.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Toy Box” debut, 8 p.m., ABC.

It isn't easy, we're
told, to develop a new toy. One person borrowed $50,000 from his
kids' college fund; another sold his house and took the family on a
recreational-vehicle tour to sell his idea. A third said she's spent
33 years and $350,000; at times, she and her husband had to move in
with friends.

Even now, they're
far from their goal. Tonight, five people present ideas ... three
move to a panel of kids ... and one is the winner. Except that the
winners of each episode then compete, with only one given the
go-ahead. It's a long shot, but in the opener, the inventors and the
kids are a delight.

Other choices
include:

“The Get Down”
season-opener (Netflix) and “American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner
Story,” any time. One streaming service has the second half of Baz
Luhrmann's immensely ambitious story of the early days of hip hop;
the other uses documentary footage and re-enactments to tell Hefner's
story.

“Fargo” (1996),
7:21 p.m., Starz. On April 19, the third season of the “Fargo”
series will begin. First, here's another chance to see the small gem
that launched it.

“Rosewood,” 8
p.m., Fox. Villa proves a case in her old “Little Havana”
neighborhood.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. OK, this sounds serious: The team members ae captured
and, CBS says, face certain death. Except we doubt that it's certain,
because there will be another episode next week.

“Great
Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS. It was 100 years and one day ago that
the U.S. entered World War I. PBS starts a superb documentary series
Monday. First,however, is “Young Men,” a wordless film that
brilliantly blends dance, music and richly cinematic visuals.

“Unseen Enemy,” 10 p.m. ET, CNN (barring breaking news), rerunning at 2 a.m. The modern world can do much
to prevent pandemics, this powerful World Health Day film says; it
also does much to propel them. “Enemy” shows success against
smallpox and AIDS and the fleet spread of Ebola and Zika.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. It's a tough court case for Erin: She's trying to get a
murder conviction, with her ex-husband as the defense lawyer.