TV column for Monday, July 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.

TV's best
competition show now has its 10-dancer teams ... almost. Last week,
judges chose the “stage” and “street” teams, coached by
Travis Wall and tWitch respectively. The stage kids (two ballet
dancers, a tapper, the rest jazz or contemporary) are younger, with
only three over 20; half of the street dancers (from krump to
waacking to hip hop) are between 28 to 30.

But now one dancer
is out. Tonight, we learn who it is and why; all (including the
replacement) dance and viewers vote. Also, Jason Derulo does a
two-song medley and Michelle Obama talks to Cat Deeley.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Running Wild with Bear Grylls” season-opener, 10:01 p.m., NBC.

Sure, Kate Hudson
has had some priviliged time in the Hollywood turf of her mom (Goldie
Hawn). But she also grew up in the Colorado mountains that her
stepdad (Kurt Russell) savors. So she was ready to join Grylls on
this trip to Italy's Dolomite Mountains ... sort of.

Few things could
prepare you for crawling through World War II bunkers, eating bugs
and descending a 250-foot cliff. It's an impressive opener that
Hudson handles with a mixture of fear and zest.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

The “overnight
dates” began last week, when Katilyn Bristowe, 30, the former
dancer from Canada, was with Nick Viall, 34. It wasn't their first
time together, fans knew.

Now she has her
nights with Ben Higgins, 26, and Shawn Booth, 30. (Higgins is a
personal trainer; the others are software salesmen.) Then she chooses
the final two, before meeting their families.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Vera,” any time, www.acorntv.com.

In 1984, a year-long
strike pitted miners against Margaret Thatcher's British government,
enflaming rage on both sides. Now that provides the backdrop for this
story.

After a wild chase,
police discover a 30-year-old murder. Vera (Brenda Blethyn, the
gifted two-time Oscar nominee) probes. It's a dark psychological
drama, as was last week's season-opener; there are two more films
this season, which Acorn (a streaming service) will release on the
next two Mondays.

Other choices
include:

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. An earlier round saw 30 contestants
survive in Venice, Cal. Now they compete again, for a shot at the
finals in Las Vegas.

“Penn &
Teller: Fool Us,” 8 p.m., CW. This is a fun show, but CW has been
juggling episodes. Last week, it opened the season with the one
originally scheduled for tonight; next week, it has the one that was
set for the opener. Give it a try, anyway; the magicians are
remarkable.

“Chasing Life,”
8 p.m., ABC Family. Last week's season-opener saw April trying to
adjust to her setbacks in health (her leukemia persists) and career
(she's jobless). She had her engagement partry with Leo, but still
seems fond of Dominic. Tonight, there's room for fun: She and Beth
head to Bermuda for vacation; her sister has an odd time making a
short movie.

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. This reruns the episode that introduced Brendan Hines
(“Lie to Me,” “Scandal”) as Ralph's dad; Paige (Katharine
McPhee) tries to manage her son's expectations. Meanwhile, the team
pursues three escapees, one of them a brilliant hacker.

“The 2000s,” 9
p.m., National Geographic, repeating at 11. Combined with Sunday's
opener (which reruns at 7 p.m., this is a quick tour of the decade.
It's slick and surface, but the finale has great, first-person
accounts of the tsumani and Hurricane Katrina and of the exposure of
Abu Ghraib tortures.

 

“Cuban Chrome,”
10 p.m., Discovery. When it comes to preserving old cars, the Cubans
should be masters. The 1961 embargo has left some people working the
same cars for a half-century. Now this series – the first American
one shot entirely in Cuba – follows the A Lo Cubano Car Club.

“Whispers,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. People are starting to take Wes' findings
seriouslys; tonight, he tells the president about the mysterious
force behind the voice called Dril. Meanwhile, Claire tries to
communicate with Dril; her husband Sean, who had been under Dril's
influence, faces prison.

TV column for Sunday, July 12


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Strain” season-opener, 10 p.m., FX.

On a night packed
with strong cable choices, this one is beautifully crafted. It's also
brutal, nasty and repulsive ... which means it's definitely not for
everyone.

Guillermo del Toro
(“Hellboy,” “Pan's Labyrinth”), who co-created the show,
directed a stylish preamble that shows Abraham (the ancient Armenian
monster-fighter) in his boyhood. Then we're back to business: A
rag-tag group – two doctors, a hacker, a cop and Abraham – try to
save a New York that's overrun by vampires. It's not easy or tidy,
but it offers visual skill and emotional power.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Masterpiece: Poldark,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Last week ended
powerfully: Ross Poldark – barely surviving on the edge of
England's landowner class – suddenly romanced and married Demelza,
the street urchan he had rescued and hired as a maid.

Now he faces waves
of criticism, alongside other crises. There's a death ... a sagging
marriage ... the financial struggles of local fishermen and Poldark's
miners. And Demelza reluctantly makes her first society appearance. A
tough but well-made hour ends beautifully.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The 2000s: A New Reality” (National Geographic) or
“Destination Wild: Real Angry Birds” (NatGeo Wild), both 9 p.m.

Switch between
sister channels and you'll find a winner either way. One side
(concluding Monday) has its latest speed-ride through a decade. It's
sleek and slick and kind of shallow, but does offer occasional depth
– especially when raging about a poorly planned attempt to nab
Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

In a MUCH different
mode, “Destination” travels the globe to find real-life angry
birds. The result is often funny, occasionally harsh and always
visually impressive.

TONIGHT'S QUIRK:
Miss USA pageant, 8-11 p.m., Reelz.

This was supposed to
be the night's big network draw. But after political comments by
Donald Trump, NBC and Univision dropped out; so did both hosts, both
singers and most of the judges.

Now the pageant
moves to Reelz, an obscure channel (once limited to movie promos and
such) that rescued a dumped Kennedys miniseries four years ago. It
found Todd Newton (who has an Emmy and three nominations for cable's
“Family Game Night”) to host, with Alex Wehrley. She was the Miss
Wisconsin in this pageant six years ago and now studies film and
works for E and her own Web site.

Other choices
include:

“Paw Star Game,”
5 p.m., Hallmark, repeating at 8. Copying the “Puppy Bowl”
(Animal Planet's alternative to the Super Bowl), Hallmark offered
cute kittens. Now here's a summer variation.

“Playin' for
Love,” 7 p.m., UP; repeats at 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Robert Townsend,
once one of the hippest guys around, has made a surprisingly bad
film. Townsend directed, co-wrote and stars as a high school
basketball coach. The basketball portions are awful and the rest is
weak, except for a dandy song score, with Skye Townsend (Robert's
daughter) as music consultant and sometimes singer.

“American Ninja
Warrior: USA vs. The World,” 8-11 p.m., NBC. To fill its sudden
Miss USA vacancy, NBC reruns a special from last year, with five
Americans facing people from Europe and Japan.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC. We get the answer to a nagging
question: Sure, the “Duck Dynasty” people are good at hunting,
businesse and Bible studies, but how are they at game shows? In the
second half-hour, they face the family of Katy Mixon, who plays the
lusty sister on “Mike & Molly”; the first episode has the
families of actresses Niecy Nash and Cheryl Hines.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. In a rerun, Jake tries to learn what's
made the captain so gloomy. Also, a suspect pretends to be sweetly
senile whenever Amy and Rosa are around.

“Ray Donovan”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Showtime. Ray quietly tackles other people's
woes (including a kidnapping), while his world crumbles. There's his
father (Jon Voight), an ex-con who goes from babysitter to
opportunist, and his father figure (Elliot Gould). It's a tautly
powerful episode.

“Masters of Sex,”
10 p.m., Showtime. A terrific hour jumps between two key moments –
the first press conference for the “Human Sexual Response” book
and a previous stretch editing the book, at a cottage shared by the
Masters and Johnson families. Soon, big stories revolve around three
kids.

TV column for Saturday, July 11


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The McCarthys,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., CBS.

This comedy burst
onto the fall line-up with a fresh perspective. Brian Gallivan based
it on his own life, always feeling like an outsider in a Boston
family filled with sports zealots. Tyler Ritter (Jason's brother,
John's son, Tex's grandson) led an appealing cast.

Ratings were so-so
and it was soon dumped, but CBS still has new episodes to brighten
Saturdays in July. Tonight, the siblings battle over who would be the
best to execute their parents' estate. Then Ronny (Ritter) has a
therapy session ... which is crashed by his entire family.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Celebrity Family Feud,” 8-11 p.m., ABC.

This amiable show
offers two half-hour episodes each Sunday. Now here are reruns of the
firstt six, starting with a battle between the fictional “Black-ish”
family and the real Toni Braxton and her sisters.

That's followed at
8:30 by Monica Potter vs. Curtis Stone. Also: AFC vs. NFC football
stars at 9 p.m., people from “The Bachelor” and “Dancing With
the Stars” at 9:30. At 10, one team is led by Phil McGraw of “Dr.
Phil,” another has comedy siblings Garry and Penny Marshall; at
10:30, teams are led by Kevin McHale, 27, and Fred Willard, 75.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Power,” 9 p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11:05.

Late in this
excellent hour, a strong confrontation sends this series spinning in
new directions.

Last week's episode
(rerunning at `12:55 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7:55 p.m.) saw Angela (Lela
Loren), the assistant district attorney, become convinced that Tommy
Egan is “Ghost,” the drug kingpin. Now she confronts Holly (Lucy
Walters), Tommy's lover, who knows the truth: “Ghost” is James
St. Patrick, Angela's lover. The resulting scene is beautifully
written and played.

Other choices
include:

Movies, 6:30 p.m.
and beyond, cable. For big-scale adventure, try “The Hunger Games”
(2012) at 6:30 p.m. on ABC Family, or two 8 p.m. films -- “Thor”
(2011) on FX or “Oz” (2013) on Syfy. Also at 8, Disney repeats
“Teen Beach 2” (2015).

“The Millers,”
8-9 p.m., CBS. Making up for so-so writing, this show has TV's best
comedy director (James Burrows) leading a terrific cast (Will Arnett,
Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges, J.B. Smoove, more). Now it adds a
dandy guest star, Cloris Leachman as Aunt Louise. That's at 8 p.m.,
with th show's Thanksgiving episode at 8:30. Yes, the second season
never made it to November.

“Running Wild,”
8 p.m., NBC. The second season starts Monday, with Bear Grylls taking
celebrities on tough jaunts. To get us in the mood, this rerun has
Channing Tatum in Yosemite National Park.

“Sharksanity,” 9
p.m., Discovery. On the second-to-last day of “Shark Week,” we
get viewers' favorite shark clips. That hour is surrounded by lots of
reruns, plus new “Sharkopedia” hours at 8 and 10.

“Atlantis,” 9
p.m., BBC America. Ariadne's life teeters, when her would-be resuers
must hide.

“Jonathan Strange
& Mr. Noerell,”10 p.m., BBC America. After helping England win
the Battle of Waterloo, Jonathan Strange expects a comfy life.
Naturally, it doesn't work that way.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Bill Hader hosts, with Hozier as music
guest.

TV column for Friday, July 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Masters,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Three years ago,
this documentary offered a fresh take on a fascinating story: Harper
Lee, a young woman from small-town Alabama, wrote “To Kill
Mockingbird,” drawing raves and a Pulitzer Prize. Then she sort of
vanished – no second novel, few public appearances.

The film offered
rich comments from admirers (Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw), authors,
historians and more. But now “Go Set a Watchman” (which Lee, 89,
had written before “Mockingbird”) has been found and published.
Four days before it reaches stores, here's an updated version of the
Lee profile.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Masters of Illusion” season-opener, 8 p.m., CW.

Avoiding the rerun
blahs, CW added a double burst of magic. On Monday, it showed some
terrific magicians on “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” then had that
duo guest on “Whose Line Is it Anyway.”

Now it will rerun
the “Whose Line” episode at 8:30. First, it has this
season-opener, packing lots of acts into a busy half-hour. That
includes Greg Frewin, Michael Turco, Rick Thomas, Murray Saw Chuck,
Barry & Stuart and Sos and Victoria.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIV
E: “The Spoils Before Dying” finale, 9 and 9:30 p.m., IFC.

This three-night,
six-episode comedy miniseries is produced by Funny or Die (Will
Ferrell's Web site). It brings back many of the “Spoils of Babylon”
people, including Ferrell (as the author of these overheated tales),
Kristin Wiig and Haley Joel Osment, this time as Alistair Barnaby St.
Bixby-Jones.

Michael Kenneth
Williams plays a jazzman accused of murder. Tonight, he's given an
injection and left for dead. He doesn't die (sorry to spoil that
surprise) and later confronts J. Edgar Hoover with key evidence.
Afterward, the whole miniseries reruns from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“Masters of Sex,”
6 p.m. to midnight, Showtime. Two days before the third season opens,
here's a chance to re-see the second half of last season. It starts
with Dr. Masters (Michael Sheen) depressed and impotent, because his
colleague and sometimes-lover Virginia Johnson is seeing other men.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of the seventh and final
auditions session. On Tuesday, judges will decide which acts will
perform live for the viewers' votes.

“Elementary,” 8
p.m., CBS. Bumped out of Thursdays by “Under the Dome,” this
Sherlock Holmes tale will take over this slot for a while. Tonight's
rerun involves the mudrer of a bioengineer.

Animated movies, 8
p.m., FX and 9 p.m., ABC Family. Families get a choice tonight. FX
has “The Lorax” (2012), based on a great Dr. Seuss book; ABC
Family has “Despicable Me” (2010), on the same night that its
sequel (“The Minions”) reaches theaters.

“The Messengers,”
9 p.m., CW. With contradictory clues, the Messengers have opposite
views of their next target. Meanwhile, Vera discovers the master plan
they've been fighting.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. This rerun has two hostage situations. Danny searches
for the $18.5 million his brother owes; also, a young girl was
kidnapped while her father was on a secret mission.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Jamie, a street cop, finds a homeless teen who says his
aunt has been killed by her boyfriend; he asks his brother Danny, a
police detective, to help. Also in this rerun, their sister Erin is
incensed when she's pulled from a case she was prosecuting.

TV column for Thursday, July 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Dates” debut, 9 and 9:30 p.m., CW.

Oona Chaplin should
know comedy, tragedy and romance. Her grandfather was Charlie
Chaplin, her great-grandfather was Eugene O'Neill, her mom (Geraldine
Chaplin) starred in “Doctor Zhivago.”

Now she links all
three genres. This smart series – which seems more like HBO than CW
-- has a date each half-hour; tonight's second one is OK, but the
first is brilliant: Will Mellor plays a good-hearted lunk who meets
his opposite, a cynical beauty. That's Chaplin, who's done lots of
drama (cable's “The Hours” and “Game of Thrones,” PBS'
“Crimson Field”); now she adds comedy and romance.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Astronaut Wives Club,” 8 p.m., ABC.

Against the backdrop
of the Cuban missile crisis, the Apollo astronauts face instant
change.

Deke Slayton learns
whether his heart murmur will keep him behind a desk. Gordon Cooper
sees if his wife Trudy (a pilot herself) will modify her rage and
their no-sex relationship. And for everyone, things are complicated
by the arrival of the Gemini astronauts and their families.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Rectify” season-opener, 10 p.m., Sundance.

Released from prison
on a technicality, Daniel has insisted he didn't kill his girlfriend.
Viewers believe him; so do his sister and her lover, who's his
lawyer. But now, desperate to avoid a new trial, he has confessed and
accepted a time-already-served plea bargain.

That sets up the new
season for one of TV's better and subtler dramas, one filled with
mixed emotions. Daniel is mostly sympathetic, but he brutalized his
step-brother Ted, who had taunted him. Now Ted – enraged by his
wife's friendship with Daniel – holds that over him in a tough,
solid episode.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory” and “Mom,” 8 and 8:31 p.m., CBS. In a pair of funny
reruns, Sheldon volunteers for a one-way mission to Mars and Christy
apologizes for her many misdeeds.

“Aquarius,” 9
p.m., NBC. Ken Karn, the big-time lawyer, has been offered a top spot
with the Nixon campaign. First, he must hide his relationship with
Charlie Manson ... and maybe with a long-ago murder case that Hodiak
has re-opened. That's in a fairly good episode (by this show's low
standards) that also brings a jolt for Hodiak's young, undercover
colleague.

“Wayward Pines,”
9 p.m., Fox. In its own creepy, controlled way, this town has seemed
safe. But now an explosion has left two people in critical condition.
Ethan investigates; also, Kate (Ethan's former federal-agent
colleague) is on her own, when her husband opts out of her covert
plan.

“Mistresses,” 9
p.m., ABC. Triangles complicate this soap opera. Karen is shaken by
her tryst with Alec and his wife. Jos finds that her almost-groom
wants his ring back ... just as her relationship implodes with the
guy (her sister's ex-husband) she left him for on their wedding day.

“Big Brother,”
9:01 p.m., CBS. It's time for the second eviction.

“Rookie Blue,”
10 p.m., ABC. A jail riot breaks out, just as the cops are
transfering prisoners there. Now Andy and Juliet are trapped with a
dangerous prisoner who's desperate to prove her innocence.

“Dominion”
season-opener, 10 p.m., Syfy. Visually stunning but emotionally
distant, this series is set 25 years after God vanished and Gabriel's
dark angels took over most of Earth. Now they've captured Alex (the
chosen one), while his lover Claire finds her rule of the former Las
Vegas is wobbling. Then a sudden bombing changes everything. Also,
Michael (the good angel) finds the one town that is somehow
protected. It's a big opener that is often violent, sometimes brutal,
occasionally involving.