TV column for Thursday, July 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Greatest Hits,” 9 p.m., ABC; and more, 10 p.m., cable.

Somehow, Thursdays
have becoe a rock party. At 10 p.m., cable viewers can try a terrific
“Roadies” rerun on Showtime or “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll”
on FX. First, this show takes hits from a five-year stretch, adding
flashy lighting, zesty editing and bouncy young fans. This time, it's
1995 to 2000.

Hanson does
“Mmmbop,” John Legend does “Ex Factor” and, with Lauryn Hill,
“Doo Wop (That Thing), the Backstreet Boys do “Everybody” and
(with Meghan Trainor, “I Want It That Way.” Other duets have
Jewel and Tori Kelly, Coolio and CeeLo Green, LL Cool J and Wiz
Khalifa.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Life in Pieces,” 8:31 p.m., CBS.

This clever (if
inconsistent) comedy has had fun with the guys' non-macho moments; a
tree-chopping, for instance, became a mass failure. Now Greg (Colin
Hanks) is heading to the same gym as Colleen, his brother's intense
girlfriend. He goes overboard in gearing up.

In separate stories,
this rerun has competing garage sales (one of them a secret) ... the
kids holding a party while their parents are away ... and the entire
family having second thoughts about eating lobster.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” 10 and 10:32
p.m., FX.

Tonight's episode
pretty much sheds “&Drugs&Rock&Roll.” It's all about
sex – mostly lesbian and three-way – discussed with unrelenting
frankness. Some viewers will consider it fun; others will find it
relatively short of the show's usual touches – witty dialog, sharp
character insights and great music.

That reruns at 11:03
p.m., after a rerun of last week's season-opener: After the death of
a former back-up singer, band members range from remorse to rage,
along with some comedy and insights.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Home Free,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Yes, this is
probably the most generous show on TV; each week, it gives a new home
(a beauty) to someone's hero. But it's also gone through an odd
transformation. Once a show about building things, it now downplays
that; Mike Holmes (who hosts with Tim Tebow), has his crew do most of
the work.

That leaves
contestants doing odd contests and telling emotional stories. Yes,
these are worthy folks; an Afghanistan vet, trying to win a home for
the soldier who saved his life, has trouble working a nail gun with
only six fingers that work well. Still, their stories get
repetitious, while the rest fades.

Other choices
include:

“WALL-E” (2008),
7:15 p.m., Disney, and more. Sometimes slow, sweet and wordless, this
animated gem ends up delighting kids and grown-ups. Families also
like “Elf” (2003, 7:30 p.m., Starz), but Tim Burton's “Alice in
Wonderland” (2010, 8 p.m., AMC) has a great look and a so-so
script. Aty 8 p.m., grown-ups have “About a Boy” (2002) on Pop or
the well-crafted “Suffragette” (2015) on HBO.

“Bones,” 8 p.m,
Fox. As Bones and Booth return to work, they find that everything has
changed ... including the fact that someone else has Booth's office.
What hasn't changed is the fact that the cases are messy; this rerun
involves organ harvesting.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Sheldon doesn't take tragedy well ... and in
this rerun his laptop has died; he ends up sharing a secret with Amy.
Also, when Leonard and Howard lie to their wives to catch an early
movie screening, Raj tells on them.

“All the
President's Men” (1976) and “The Candidate” (1972), 8 and 10:30
p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. What we need this election year –
any election year – are these terrific Robert Redford films. One,
the true story of the Watergate reporting, reminds us of the
importance of truth and journalism. The other, pure fiction,
demonstrates vividly what can be done with mere image.

“Beauty and the
Beast,” 9 p.m., CW. There's a new nemesis out there and Vincent
must work outside the law. That puts him at odds with his wife Cat,
the cop.

“Aquarius,” 10
p.m., NBC. For young cop Brian Shafe, undercover work with Charles
Manson is taking a toll; now he battles addiction. Meanwhile, Hodiak
(David Duchovny) tries to help a former war buddy. And Ken Karn, the
Nixon man, tries to find dirt on Bobby Kennedy.

 

TV column for Wednesday, July 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Tyrant” season-opener, 10 p.m., FX.

When all this
started, Barry was a Pasadena pediatrician, far removed from his
family's brutal legacy. He returned home for a wedding ... and hasn't
left since. At one point his brother, the dictator, left him to die
in the desert. Rescued by a young Bedouin woman, he became a
revolutionary hero.

Now the brother
(shot by his own daughter-in-law) is barely alive; Barry might take
over. In other hands, this could all be absurd; “Tyrant,”
however, gives each character depth and believability. Barry is
deeply layered; he's a good man in an awful situation, a reluctant
hero who would rather be home.

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

The first two
episodes have offered a well-crafted portrait of the Hawthornes –
bright, attractive people with, of course, deep secrets. Alison is a
strong candidate for mayor, but one brother (Garrett) disappeared for
years; the other (Cam) lies about having overcome his drug addiction.

There's more. Their
mother manipulated a hospital machine, killing their dad. And in
their storage room are silver bells ... like the ones used by a
serial killer. Tonight, police start to suspect the family; Cam tries
to erase his past, while Garrett wants to re-connect with his. And
the mayoral campaign continues.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Royal Pains” finale, 10 p.m., USA.

For seven seasons,
this was a prime example of the “blue-sky” shows that propelled
USA and TNT – pretty people in pretty places, with stories that are
resolved quickly. As networks stretch for grittier shows and
continuing stories, “Pains” was given an eight-episode
mini-season to wrap things up.

Hank still has his
“concierge doctor” practice in the Hamptons, but now his patron,
Boris, is moving and wants him to come with. Meanwhile, Hank's
brother and sister-in-law ponder a life-changing step. And Divya, who
started as Hank's physician assistant, makes a key discovery.

Other choices
include:

Animated movies,
cable. It's a good night to be a kid, with the fun “Bolt” (2008)
at 7:15 p.m. on Disney and a marathon on FXX. “The Lorax” (2012)
is 4 p.m., followed by “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2”
(2013) at 6 p.m. and “Despicable Me 2” (2013) at 8 and 10.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. In a change from the usual style, Gordon Ramsay offers a
quick lesson before each challenge. First, he shows how to
deconstruct a lobster; then he shows how to make lobster tortellini
in a seafood broth. Contestants have 25 minutes for the first part,
45 minutes for the second.

“Young &
Hungry,” 8 p.m., Freeform. With his new app ready to go, Josh hires
an assistant who happens to be diligent and efficient. This is, of
course, a sharp change from what the others (Gabi, Elliot and
Yolanda) got him accustomed to; they conspire to get the new guy
fired.

“Wayward Pines,”
9 p.m., Fox. Leaders have assumed that the “abbies” (aberrant
creatures) have little intelligence. Now – after their well-planned
attack that destroyed crops – Dr. Yedlin has his doubts and tries
to communicate with their leader. Also, CJ (Djimon Hounsou) reflects
on his long, difficult life.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. As the retirement of her father nears, Claire wants to
clear the clutter from her own house, before taking over the family
closet business; the others resist. And post-retirement? Gloria wants
to learn how to golf, so she can spend time with him.

“The Night Shift,”
10 p.m., NBC. TJ and Topher race to a concert site, where a fireworks
explosion has created chaos and devastation; then there's a second
explosion. Meanwhile, Syd (Jennifer Beals) is back from Afghanistan
and trying to find a new life for her and her daughter.

“Greenleaf,” 10
p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. You can catch up on the three
most-recent episodes at 7 p.m., then catch more troubles for this
church family. As Lady Mae (Lynn Whitfield) tries to smooth a dispute
with a deacon, her children face marital problems. Her son Jacob
continues his cheating, pushing his wife to the limit; and the
husband of her daughter Charity is questioning his sexuality.

TV column for Tuesday, July 5


(Pease keep in mind that for Turner Classic Movies,
unlike most networks, you have to adjust the times for each time
zone)

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“No Man Left Behind,” 8 and 9 p.m., National Geographic.

In a Colombian
woods, two American DEA agents knew they were about to die. One was
wounded; unable to outrun drug dealers, he desperately covered
himself with leaves. The other – already shot – was on the ground
as a gunman stared down, shooting again point-blank. Both were
doomed.

Except that both are
telling their story, decades later. That hour debuts at 9 p.m.,
following a rerun of last week's opener, which told the “Black Hawk
Down” story of soldiers trapped inside Somalian unrest. Both hours
combine re-enactments with first-person memories of truly compelling
events.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Zoo” (CBS) or “Dead of Summer” (Freeform), both 9 p.m.

In “Zoo,” the
team has lost its only government ally; now it must scramble to save
Geneva, Switzrland. And in “Dead,” which had a promising start
last week, problems start to cascade.

One camp counselor
becomes an absurdly overwrought villain; others merely seem
contrived. Supernatural elements pile up, while the show's bast
actors are wasted. The talented Elizabeth Mitchell (“Lost”) has
little to do as the camp owner; Elizabeth Lail (Anna in “Once Upon
s Time”) plays someone who's easily duped. This show still has
potential, but for now it's sinking into excess.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Westerns, all day, Turner Classic Movies.

This month, every
Tuesday and Wednesday will offer a ride through the history of cowboy
movies. That starts at 6:15 a.m. ET with the first one – the
11-minute “Great Train Robbery” (1903). Later, we get Gary Cooper
in “The Plainsman” (1936) at 6 p.m. ET and then John Ford films
with John Wayne.

That starts at 8
with “Stagecoach” (1939), which won two Oscars (for its music and
supporting actor Thomas Mitchell) and was nominated for best picture
in a bountiful year. Then are “The Searchers” (1956) at 9:45,
“Fort Apache” (1948) at midnight and “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”
(1949) at 2:15 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“The Social
Network: (2010), 5:30-8 p.m., FXX. Tonight's best movies start early.
This one won Oscars for its editing, its music and Aaron Sorkin's
brilliant script, and was nominated for best-picture. Also notable:
“Aladdin” (1992) at 7:20 p.m. on Disney and “The Wolf of Wall
Street” (2013) at 8 on FX.

“Hotel Hell” and
“Coupled,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. Both shows pause to rerun their
fairly-good openers. In “Hell,” Gordon Ramsay visits a gorgeous
Idaho lodge that sagged after a family tragedy; in “Coupled,” a
dozen women arrive and begin the process of pondering guys,
one-by-one.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. David McCallum became a full-fledged TV star more than a
half-century ago, in “The Man From UNCLE.” Now this rerun focuses
on him. A murder case forces Ducky (McCallum, 82) to reveal he's been
part of a secret society that tries to solve cold cases.

“Pretty Little
Liars,” 8 p.m., Freeform. The women are about to make the biggest
mistake of their lives, Freeform tells us. (Yes, there have been some
that are hard to top.) The problem starts when they try to protect
Alison by rescuing her from the hospital.

“Uncle Buck,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. This so-so comedy ends its rerun with two
episodes, one loose – with Buck in charge, the place is a mess,
complete with ice and fire – and the other maybe serious: Buck
takes the kids back to the neighborhood where he and their dad grew
up.

“Containment,” 9
p.m., CW. Struggling to reveal what really started the virus
outbreak, Lex and Leo argue about their next move. Also, a rumor
spreads that there's a way out of the containment zone.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. Nudged back an hour to the spot where it
will be this fall, this has a rerun with a crisis for Pride and Sonja
(Scott Bakula and Shalita Grant). Escorting a key witness back from
Texas, they're ambushed.

TV column for Monday, July 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“A Capitol Fourth,” 8 and 9:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Each July 4, PBS
gives us a splendid concert from the Capitol Lawn, complete with
fireworks, the National Orchestra and a rich range of music.

This year has stars
from pop (Smokey Robinson, Gavin DeGraw) and gospel (Yolanda Adams).
There's a Broadway emphasis, with two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster,
nominee Chris Jackson (“Hamilton”) and the cast of Gloria
Estefan's “On Your Feet.” And there are alumni of “Glee”
(Amber Riley), “The Voice” (Cassadee Pope, Alisan Porter) and
“America's Got Talent” (Jackie Evancho).

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: More Fourth music, NBC and CBS.

Switch around and
you'll keep finding music and then fireworks.

NBC (8 and 10 p.m.)
is in New York with Kenny Chesney, Meghan Trainor, 5 Seconds of
Summer and the Rockettes. CBS catches the Boston Pops, with Demi
Lovato, Nick Jonas and Little Big Town.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Houdini & Doyle” finale, 9 p.m., Fox.

A clever idea that
didn't click, this departs on a night when few people will notice.

In real life, Arthur
Conan Doyle (the Sherlock Holmes creator) and Harry Houdini were
friends, even though Doyle wanted to believe in the supernatural and
Houdini was a passionate de-bunker. This series has them working
cases together in 1901. Tonight, their police partner wants help
probing her late husband's past. Also, almost everyone in a small
village dies simultaneously.

Other choices
include:

“Jaws” (1975), 1
and 6:30 p.m., AMC. On the day after “Shark Week” concluded,
cable jolts us anew with this Steven Spielberg classic. The
subsequent “Jaws” films were done without Spielberg. The second
(1978) is at 4 and 9:30 p.m.; others are at midnight (1983) and 2:15
a.m. (1987).

“The Bachelorette”
(ABC) and “So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox), 8 p.m. Unwilling to
try a new episode tonight, both reality shows tentatively plan to
repeat last week's episodes. For “Dance,” that's the one that
chose the season's 10 finalists.

“Mom,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun finds Christy (Anna Faris, 39) and Fred (Harry
Hamlin, 64) warming up to each other. Candace – Fred's daughter and
Christy's ex-husband's girlfriend – is not pleased.

“2 Broke Girls,”
8:30, CBS. In a rerun, Max meets an old friend. Jealous, Caroline
looks for new friends ... and doesn't choose wisely.

“Devious Maids,”
9 p.m., Lifetime. Viewers are quite sure Spence (Grant Show) didn't
kill his wife; so is Rosie, who takes a big risk in an attempt to
clear him. Meanwhile, Zoila – pretending to be the owner of the
spot she's housesitting for – decides to stir up some jealousy in
the shy guy next door.

“UnReal,” 10
p.m., Lifetime. As Quinn and Coleman seek power, both want support
from Rachel ... whose relationship with Jeremy is causing trouble.
Also, the bachelor has an overnight date.

“Mistresses,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. Things are rocky for all three women. Karen bristles
at being seen as a sex expert ... April quits her job after Michael
kisses her ... and Joss, still feeling the emotional aftershocks of
last season's events, has trouble working as the publicist for her
lover, Harry.

TV column for Sunday, July 3


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Masterpiece: Endeavour,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local
listings). Beyond “whodunnit” turf, we're into “whatdunnit?”
People have been clawed and killed. Are wild animals loose in 1967
Oxford? Is a cult using steel claws? In the usual style, Morse pokes
slowly through endless possibilities – then suddenly concocts a
hugely complicated (but correct) assumption.

That's a frequent flaw
in these mysteries, but stick around: Once he figures it out, there's
a tense action scene that gives a sleepy story some final life. And
let's give PBS credit; in a holiday weekend overloaded with reruns,
most stations have new, scripted dramas from 8-11:30 p.m. today.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Game shows, 8-11 p.m., ABC.

It's an admirable
notion – taking old game shows, adding some new touches (from
flashy lights to double entendres) and sparking our summer Sundys.

“Celebrity Family
Feud” (8 p.m.) has a great concept and a sharp host (Steve Harvey);
this time, he has football stars, including Super Bowl MVP Von
Miller. “$10,000 Pyramid” (9) requires great quickness; this
week, it has Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, Mario Cantone and Robin
Roberts. And “Match Game” (10)? Last week, it stretched for
laughs, but had poor game structure, with wildly uneven questions.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Roadies,” 10 p.m., Showtime.

This quiet night –
with no HBO series to worry about – offers the perfect time to
discover one of the best shows in a long time. The brilliant opener
reruns at 8 p.m., with an excellent, new hour at 10.

The road crew for a
fictional band is floundering since the arrival of a money man (the
terrific Rafe Spall) and the firing of the tour manager. Now Bill
(Luke Wilson) is reluctantly in charge. Don't expect big plot moves;
scattered about is great dialog, strong music (this time Reignwolf),
humor (especially when asking for the bandleader by his fake hotel
name) and a delightful set of mismatched characters.

Other choices
include:

Olympic trials, 7
and 8 p.m., NBC. Trials continue for track-and-field and swimming.
After today, they'll be confined to the NBC Sports Network until
Friday.

“Dancing on the
Edge,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). For Louis, leader of a
jazz band in 1933 London, there are encouraging signs – a lush gig,
an influental fan (Jacqueline Bisset), a promising romance (Janet
Montgomery) and two great singers. Then this hour (the second of six)
ends with a jolt.

“Legends &
Lies,” 8 p.m., Fox News. Geoge Washington struggles to build an
army using untested soldiers and limited supplies. This hour views
his first victory ... and a plot by his guard to kill him.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. In a rerun, Jake and Amy convince the
captain to let them work a case together ... then find that their
relationship gets in the way.

“The Killing
Games,” 9 and 11:02 p.m., Discovery. After all these years, it
seems, great white sharks still develop new predatory skills. This
film sees them leave the water to snatch seals on the shore. It's the
last new hour of “Shark Week,” sandwiched around a 10 p.m. “Naked
and Afraid” preview.

“Last Man on
Earth,” 9:30, Fox. This rerun is from the stretch when the tiny
remaining population included two guys named Phil. One (Will Forte)
is now dubbed Tandy; the other (Boris Kodjoe) is handsome and often
flawless ... until now, when he causes trouble for the group.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. This is the rerun that was scheduled for last week, then
delayed. A fertility-lab technician has been killed and her secret
life leaves an abundance of suspects.