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.

TV column for Monday, Sept. 5


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Rizzoli & Isles” series finale, 9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at
11.

For seven seasons,
this has provided something that's way too rare – a solidly made
series that wraps up a story each week. At the core is an ideal
mismatch -- Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon), the tough Boston cop, and
Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), the fashionable, know-it-all medical
examiner.

Now the final season
reruns at 9 a.m., leading to this farewell. The case involves a
murder victim who was handcuffed to his bed; meanwhile, people are
busy making farewell videos for a party.

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

Not all business
stories take place in dreary boardrooms. The tale of Harley-Davidson
motorcycles begins with three hard-scrabble Wisconsin guys, then
rushes into fierce races.

At times, “Harley”
becomes monotone: Most of its blue-collar characters share the same
edgy attitude; most others are streotype villains. Beyond that,
however, is a solid story, with bigger companies being battled by
three guys who wouldn't quit – the hard-scrabble Davidson brothers
and their brainy engineer friend Bill Harley. At its best, “Harley”
has great period flavor and high-octane race scenes.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Mistresses,” 10:01 p.m., ABC.

This is changeover
time for ABC: Today and Tuesday, “Bachelor in Paradise” (8 p.m.)
and “Mistresses” have two-night season finales.

For “Mistresses,”
tonight brings endless emotional tangles: April hasn't told Marc
she's pregnant ... Karen moves forward with Adam, but faces trouble
from Lydia ... Kate fumes at Joss. Then Tuesday's finale will
suddenly jump the story months ahead.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “800 Words” opener, any time, www.acorn.tv.

It's been 26 years
since “Northern Exposure” delivered something magical – a
quirky little town, viewed by a total outsider. Now we get a sort of
“Southern Exposure.”

George is a widowed
writer who feels he and his two teen-agers need a new life. He sells
his home in Sydney and buys one, sight-unseen, in small-town New
Zealand. Then things go thoroughly, hilariously wrong. Acorn, a
subscription streaming service, will dole out the eight episodes at
two-per-week. Some are merely pretty good, but the first hour is a
pure delight.

Other choices
include:

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. The “next generation” edition is
down to its final four now, with a winner being named next Monday.
The two boys are the youngest and oldest – J.T. Church (whose
specialty is jazz) was 10 when the season started, Kida Burns (hip
hop) was 14. The girls are Emme Hellenkamp (tap), 11, and Tate McRay
(contemporary and ballet), 13.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Last week, half the finalists took on the
first stage of the course. Now the others have their turn, setting up
next week's championship.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 and 9 p.m., CBS. TV's best comedy makes its temporary
move to Mondays. It still has one more Thursday rerun, then won't
return there until CBS finishes its five-Thursday football run.
Tonight's first rerun includes a special “Fun With Flags”
podcast; the second one finds the news of Bernadette's pregnancy
greeted with cheer, worries and karaoke.

“The Essential
Hillary Clinton” and “The Essential Donald Trump,” 8 and 10
p.m. ET, CNN, rerunning at midnight and 2 a.m. With only two months
before the election, here are profiles.

“15 Septembers
Later,” 9-11:02 p.m., History. Six days before the anniversary of
the Sept. 11 attacks, this special catches memories from officials
and first-responders, plus photos and reports that were released this
year. It reruns at 1:03 a.m. and is surrounded by 9/11 reruns, from 4
p.m. to 4 a.m.

“Running Wild With
Bear Grylls,” 10 p.m., NBC. Getting close to to the season-finale, this show has Olympic ski medalist Lindsey Vonn tonight and Mel B, of Spice Girls fame, on Wednesday.

"Roast of Rob Lowe," 10 p.m., reruns at midnight. In between his departed comedy ("Grinder") and his upcoming regular role on "Code Black," Lowe draws barbs from comedians.

"Mary + Jane" and "Loosely, Exactly Nicole" debuts, 10 and 10:32 p.m., MTV, rerunning at 11:04 and 11:34, MTV. The TV season gets an early start, with a pair of youthful comedies.

 

TV column for Sunday, Sept. 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Building Star Trek,” 8-10 p.m., Smithsonian; repeats at 11.

It was 50 years ago
on Sept. 8 that “Star Trek” debuted on NBC. The show would limp
through three seasons of so-so ratings and modest budgets ... then,
in different ways, would live forever.

This terrific
special visits a world with distinguished “Trek” fans. The
National Air and Space Museum restores the original Engerprise model,
so it can take its place next to the crafts of Lindbergh and the
astronauts. A pop-culture museum in Seattle gathers artifacts. And
scientists keep trying to create real-life versions of tractor beams,
invisibility cloaks, laser guns, warp speed and more.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “BrainDead,” 10 p.m., CBS.

The summer's best
show hasn't drawn the attention it deserves. Now, a week before its
two-hour finale, there's still time to join in.

As a new Senate
aide, Laurel (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has had some success; last
week, her video prevented a war. So far, however, she's convinced few
people of the real threat: Key officials in Washington – led by
Sen. Red Wheatus (Tony Shalhoub) -- have alien bugs that invaded
their brains. Now Laurel and her brother, a senator, search a massive
budget bill, to find Red's secret agenda.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “ABC Fall preview,” 7 p.m., ABC (after football on
the West Coast).

Networks like to
have cheery specials, telling us that their new fall shows are
terrific. Now ABC strikes first ... and is partly telling the truth.

It does, indeed,
have the best new network show -- “Designated Survivor,” with
Kiefer Sutherland as a lowly official, thrust into the presidency. It
has a sharp “Secrets and Lies” mini-series, a promising
crime/court show (“Conviction”) ... and several shows that are
merely ordinary. Here's a sampling.

Other choices
include:

Racing, 6 p.m. ET,
NBC. On the final Sunday before the pro-football season begins, NBC
has NASCAR's Southern 500, from Darlington, S.C.

“The Simpsons,”
7 and 8 p.m., Fox. The first rerun flashes back to when the Simpson
and Flanders families vacationed in the Grand Canyon. The second has
Selma and Patty attempt a conversion: After all those years of
puffing cigarettes, they've learned that their dad died of lung
cancer.

Football, 7:30 p.m.
ET, ABC. A college game on a Sunday night? That's a rarity, but ABC
is taking advantage of the last chance before the pros take over.
Notre Dame (ranked No. 10) visits Texas.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. This rerun finds the Nine-Nine linking
with a neighboring precinct. That puts Jake (Andy Samberg) with his
old police partner (Damon Wayans Jr.).

“Madame
Secretary,” 9 p.m., CBS. As the Pakistan government wobbles in this
rerun, the U.S. considers a drastic step – going into the country
to seize and secure its nuclear weapons.

“Fear the Walking
Dead,” 9 p.m., AMC, and more. Yes, some cable channels are sticking
with reruns during the holiday weekend. Still, 9 p.m. has new
episodes here and on USA (“The Last Ship”), Hallmark (“Chesapeake
Shores”) and Starz (“Power”). And “The Strain” looms at 10
p.m. on FX.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30 p.m., Fox. With a lot of spare time on her hands –
there are, after all, only a few people still alive -- Gail (Mary
Steenburgen) has been drinking a lot of wine. Now the others confront
her. Also, Todd mayhave extra duties in the propagation of the
species.

“Murder in the
First,” 10 p.m., USA. The season concludes, in an hour that adds a
grisly new murder.

TV column for Saturday, Sept. 3


TODAY'S MUST-SEE:
Football, ABC and CBS.

The first Saturday
of the college season is led by a top-of-the-line ABC triple-header,
with four of the six teams nationally ranked. At noon ET, Oklahoma
(ranked No. 3) faces Houston (No. 15). Then it's LSU (No. 5) and
Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m. and Alabama (No. 1) and Southern California
(No. 20) at 8.

And if you prefer
the pros? At 8 p.m., CBS offers an hourlong profile of Brett Favre,
the Hall of Fame quarterback. It's an advance from the NFL Network,
which starts its “A Football Life” series on Sept. 16 and will
plans this Favre hour for Oct. 21.

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

Exiled to TV's
least-watched night, “Aquarius” offers a rarity – new,
expensive-looking episodes on a Saturday. That won't last long; next
week brings the two-hour finale.

Tonight's first hour
finds Emma reconciling with her dad, the troubled lawyer. The second
reflects a true event: Terry Melcher – son of Doris Day, friend of
the Beach Boys – wanted to record Charles Manson's music. Both
hours reflect trouble for Hodiak (David Duchovny) and his young
colleagues

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

“SNL” thrives
when hosted by an actor – not just a musician or “personality”
– who can leap into any sketch. That's what it has in this rerun,
with Ryan Gosling hosting and Leon Bridges as music guest.

The Christmas
sketches – Gosling as a fervent believer in Santa and an as elf who
wants to be punished – are one-joke, but others are hilarious. He's
an alien abductee, whose experience was much rosier than Kate
McKinnon's. And the “third-hand news” guy, next to Bobby
Moynihan. And the token white guy in “The Wiz.” And in a clever
take-off on bad sitcoms, his friend (Kyle Mooney) suddenly turns
cool.

Other choices
include:

More football, all
day. Opening day needs a few quirks; in this case, it's a game at
7:30 a.m. ET, with Boston and Georgia Tech in Dublin. Most channels –
ESPN, Fox Sports1, CBS Sports Network – start their first games at
noon ET; CBS starts at 3:30 p.m., with UCLA at Texas A&M.

Harry Potter
marathon. Here's the Potter series from the start, with movies at 7
a.m. (2001), 10:30 a.m. (2002), 2:30 p.m. (2004), 5:30 p.m. (2005)
and – skipping one – 9 p.m. (2009). Today's final three movies
will rerun Sunday, prior to the two-part finale (2010 and 2011) at
5:30 and 9 p.m. Sunday.

“Transformers”
movies, cable. Here are the first three films, overlapping a bit. TNT
has the original (2007) at 5 p.m.; FX has the next two at 6 (2009)
and 9 p.m. (2011).

“Hotel Hell,” 8
and 9 p.m., Fox. Both reruns involve mother-son operations. The first
is in Newtown, Pa.; the second is at Mohican Castle in Loudonville,
Ohio ... complete with a fairytale castle wedding.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a rerun of Wednesday's results hour, it's
decision time for the 10 acts that performed Tuesday; five will
advance and be the first half of the show's top 10.

“Holy Hell,” 8
p.m., CNN (barring breaking news), rerunning at 10. If you missed
this compelling documentary on Thursday, catch it now. Will Allen
spent 22 years in a group called Buddhafield, serving as its
unofficial filmmaker. After having doubts about its eccentric leader,
he left; seven-plus years later, he's molded his old films and new
interviews into an involving view of cult life.

“Home Free,” 11
p.m., Fox. This super-generous show – a new home for every
contestant – is getting a latenight rerun. Tonight starts with
three contestants; on Sept. 17, we'lll see (again) who wins.

TV column for Friday, Sept. 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The LEGO Movie” (2014), 8 p.m., TBS or “Bonnie and Clyde”
(1967),

8 p.m. ET, Turner
Classic Movies.

Any generation
should be happy tonight. For kids (and others) there's a witty,
animated gem; for grown-ups, there's the film that took the
true-crime tale to new heights.

“Bonnie and Clyde”
is No. 41 on the American Film Institute list of best American
movies. It won Oscars for cinematography and supporting actress
Estelle Parsons and was nominated for eight more, including Warren
Beatty, Faye Dunaway and best picture. “LEGO,” oddly, was
nominated only for its “Everything is Awesome” song; voters
snubbed a movie in which everything is, indeed, awesome.

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

For two years and 13
episodes, the Five-0 people have sought Gabriel Waincraft. The
brother of Chin's late wife Malia, he's an ex-con who – in a gang
initiation, long ago – killed Chin's father.

In this rerun, they
have him ... and must protect him. He's wounded, inside a dilapidated
building, as enemy gunmen prepare to storm in. In the midst of a
shoot-out, cops look for a way to get out.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Football, cable.

On Saturday, the
college season will reaches full-speed ... including an ABC
triple-header that totals five nationally ranked teams. Tonight
should help get us in the mood.

Nationally, it's
Kansas State at Stanford (ranked No. 9) at 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1,
Army at Temple at 7 p.m. on CBS Sports Network and Colorado State at
Colorado, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Other games have regional telecasts,
including Furman at Michigan State (No. 12) on the Big Ten Network.

Other choices
include:

Video Music Awards,
8-10:30 a.m. and 7:30-10 p.m., MTV. Sunday's show delivered more than
it had promised. Yes, it promised performances by Rihanna, Britney
Spears, Future and Nick Jonas, plus a duet by Arianna Grande and
Nicki Minaj. But Rihanna did four songs, not one; added to the night
were the Chainsmokers and – in a 15-minute swirl – Beyonce.
Here's a rerun of the night.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m. CBS. It's action-hero time in this rerun:
Top-secret information has been stolen from a container at the site
of a fire; now Sam and Callen go undercover as firefighters.

“Chesapeake
Shores,” 8 p.m., Hallmark. If you've missed the first three Sundays
of this solidly made series, there's still time to catch up. In this
rerun, Abby (a business executive) and Bree (a writer) ponder moving
back to their gorgeous home town, where their sister is opening an
inn. Meanwhile, Trace (Jesse Metcalfe) gets disturbing news from his
past life in Nashville.

“Killjoys,” 9
p.m,, Syfy, rerunning at 11. In a desperate attempt to stop Level
Six's plan for the Quad, team members link with an old enemy.

“Miracle on the
Hudson,” 9 p.m., National Geographic. A week before the Tom Hanks
film “Sully” opens, here's a rerun of the documentary about
Chesley Sullenberger's unprecedented landing of a distressed airliner
on the Hudson River.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. While pursuing a robbery crew, Danny and Baez work with
a detective (Johnathon Schaech) from another precinct. That's a
problem for Baez: This is the guy who broke her heart, years ago.
Meanwhile, the cop who was acquitted of a shooting is now up for
promotion.

“Dark Matter,”
10 p.m., Syfy, rerunning at midnight. As chaos breaks out on the
ship, we learn more about the crew members' dark pasts.