TV column for Sunday, June 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Game of Thrones” season-finale, 9 p.m., HBO (rerunning at 11:31)
and/or “Lord of the Rings” films, TNT.

Hollywood once
seemed to have only two modes – small-and-skillful movies or
large-and-loud-and-lame ones. Then a new generation of filmmakers
created smart epics; two examples arrive tonight.

If you have HBO,
you're probably planning on “Thrones”; Stannis' army is on the
march and Daenerys – fresh from her first dragon ride – is
surrounded by strangers. And if you don't have HBO, catch Peter
Jackson's “Rings” trilogy (8 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.) and
his “Hobbit” (2012) at 8 p.m.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Basketball, 8 p.m. ET, ABC.

Things return to the
Golden State home court, where the Warriors – in the finals for the
first time in 40 years – are hungry for a win. After having the
NBA's best regular-season record, Stephen Curry's team breezed
through the play-offs ... until colliding with LeBron James'
Cleveland Cavaliers.

That's preceded by a
Jimmy Kimmel special at 7 p.m. and a preview at 7:31.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Crimson Wing” (2008), 8-10 p.m., NatGeo Wild.

Tanzania's Lake
Natron might seem like a desolate spot; it dries up so quickly that
salt islands remain. Somehow, flamingos decide that's the perfect
place to court, to mate and to hatch their babies.

“Wing” is part
of Disney's splendid nature-film series, which finally has a TV home
with NatGeo. Each of the annual films is beautifully done; this one
is alternately gorgeous (an estimated million soaring birds), creepy
(predators stalk) and funny, with stick-legged creatures walking in
unison.

Other choices
include:

“Love Finds You in
Charm,” 3 p.m., UP. Fueled by Jane Austen romances, a young Amish
woman wonders about the outside world of “Englishers.” Visiting
Charm, Ohio, she meets two fine-looking Englisher specimens (played
by Trevor Donovan of “90210” and Tiffany Dupont of “Greek”).
“Charm” starts slowly and rushes its finish, but the rest is
likable and ... well, charming.

“Crash” (2005)
and “American Beauty” (1999), 6:30 and 9 p.m., Sundance. Here's a
chance to catch two best-picture Oscar-winners, each a portrait of
modern life; “Beauty” repeats at 11:30.

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. Lisa writes a town anthem; also, Homer's new cause is
“wide pride.”

“Southern
Uncovered,” 8 p.m., Ovation. On the next six Sundays, Matt and Ted
Lee will show a hip side to traditional Southern cities. In this fun
view of their home town of Charleston, S.C., they visit a graffiti
artist, a homestyle chicken place and a guy who ages wine underwater
in the harbor. We also see them finally learning (really) to dance
the Charleston in Charleston.

“A.D.,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. After a perilous start, this new Christian religion is making
progress. James strikes a compromise with Caiaphas, the Jewish leader
... Paul gains followers after he resurrects Tabitha ... and the
Ethiopian backer of the Zealot army converts to Christianity.

“CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation,” 10 p.m., CBS. This rerun – the apparent return of
the Gig Harbor killer – was the second with Patricia Arquette as
cyber-expert Avery Ryan. The character soon starred in “CSI: Cyber”
... which returns this fall, with Ted Danson moving there from the
cancelled “CSI.”

“American
Odyssey,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Held captive in North Africa, Odelle is
forced to confront the effects of her recent past. In New York, Peter
reaches a low point, professionally and personally. Meanwhile,
Harrison is vacationing with Ruby, who originally had been scamming
him.

TV column for Saturday, June 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“AFI Life Achievement Award,” 10 p.m., TBS, rerunning at 11:30.

Any award or tribute
show is brightened when Steve Martin arrives as a presenter. Now
comes the ultimate, with Martin as the recipient; he'll speak last,
after lots of funny friends.

The ceremony was
held June 4, leaving the tough job of cutting it in half for this
slot. There were old-timers – Mel Brooks, 88, who hosted, and Carl
Reiner, 90, who directed Martin's early movies – plus Tina Fey, Amy
Poehler, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman and Dan Aykroyd. Martin Short
sang – so did Diane Keaton and Queen Latifah – and did 10 minutes
of Martin-mocking.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “In an Instant,” 9-11 p.m., ABC.

It was the middle of
a rush hour, in August of 2007, when an eight-lane Minneapolis bridge
collapsed over the Mississippi River. Thirteen people were killed and
145 were injured.

Now this rerun
offers the most elaborate of the excellent “Instant”
documentaries. Skillfully mixing first-person accounts, re-enactments
and brief news footage, it tells of crises – a woman trapped in her
car, 63 kids on a bus near a fire -- plus mistakes, heroics and
makeshift solutions.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” debut, 10 p.m.,
BBC America.

For a while, this
fanciful miniseries tells us, England forgot about magic. It was
1806, the Napoleonic Wars dragged on, and the land of Merlin was
magic-less. Then opposites emerged – the reclusive Mr. Norrell and
the charismatic Jonathan Strange. Their competition would stir
excitement and danger.

That story, from
Susanna Clarke's novel, is a seven-week tale in good company: It
follows the splendid “Orphan Black” and is directed by Toby
Haynes, who did “Wallander” and “Sherlock” films for PBS.

Other choices
include:

“The Lord of the
Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), 2:30 p.m., TNT. Sure, this
film has way too many endings; still, it was wrapping up a superb
trilogy from director Peter Jackson ... whose “The Hobbit” (2012)
follows at 7 p.m. The full trilogy runs Sunday, at 8 a.m., 11:45 a.m.
and 3:30 p.m.

Hockey, 8 p.m. ET,
NBC. It's the fifth game of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals,
with Chicago at Tampa Bay. That goes against baseball (varying by
region) at 7 p.m. ET on Fox.

“The Whispers,”
8 p.m., ABC. At first, this seemed like a supernatural tale – an
imaginary friend, telling kids to do lethal things. But this second
episode changed that: Maybe the amnesiac “John Doe” is talking to
the kids, through vents and stuff; maybe there's a reason this all
happens near Washington, D.C. Catch this well-crafted rerun, before
the third episode airs Monday.

“Elementary,” 8
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a nurse whom Watson worked with wants help
finding a missing acquaintance ... leading to another missing person.
Also, Sherlock struggles with sobriety.

“CSI: Crime Scene
Investigation,” 9 p.m., CBS. Heading to a forensics conference in
this rerun, the women – Jorja Fox, Elisabeth Shue and Elisabeth
Harnois – are expecting poolside relaxation. Naturally, there's a
mass shooting that puts them to work.

“Power,” 9 p.m.,
Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11. Last week's season-opener (rerunning
at 7:55 p.m.) brought jolts for James “Ghost” St. Patrick. A
shooting left his nightclub temporarily closed and Holly (his
partner's girlriend) near death. He learned that his mistress is an
assistant district attorney probing drug traffic ... and that Simon
Stern is his new landlord. Now come more jolts, in a fairly good
episode.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. After seeing Martin Freeman star in “The
Hobbit,” we can see him host this rerun. Charli XCX is the music
guest.

TV column for Friday, June 12


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Defiance” season-opener, 8-10 p.m., Syfy.

Things are already
tough in this gritty town. The mine and the economy have collapsed;
with power dwindling, the protective fence has been turned off.
People are mad at Irisa for destroying New York City. (Hey, that
wasn't her fault.) Also, she and her adoptive dad were butried for
seven months.

Now things get
worse: A military siege aims to kill every human in Defiance ...
unless a fierce dad-daughter duo from the near-extinct Omec race does
it first. This is well-crafted but be warned: It's also nasty; many
characters (including series regulars) are killed or brutalized,
often in front of loved ones.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Women's World Cup, 8 p.m. ET, Fox.

On the down side,
this is soccer (which many Americans dislike) and it's FIFA (which
many people worldwide now distrust). The good news is that it's
something Americans thrive at.

In the six previous
Women's World Cups, the U.S. has won twice (1991 and '99), finished
third three times and in 2011 barely lost a final shoot-out with
Japan. Now the round-robin has started. The U.S. beat Australia (3-1)
Monday on cable; it moves to Fox for games today (Sweden) and Tuesday
(Nigeria). Winning either one would basically ensure a spot in the
16-team final tournament.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
“Orange in the New Black” new season, any time, Netflix.

Few shows have
matched the cascade of praise and attention for this women's prison
series. Last season brought a Peabody Award, plus ones from
Television Critics Association (best new series) and the American
Film Institute. It brought lots of nominations ... some for comedy,
some for drama.

And it ended with
drama: The domineering Vee escaped, then was run down (and apparently
killed) by Rosa.Now the new season begins, with a fresh focus on the
tenuous relationship of the upscale Piper (Taylor Schilling) and the
re-confined Alex (Laura Prepon), the lover whose testimony doomed
her.

Other choices
include.

Romance movies, 5:40
p.m. and later, cable. If you're not into soccer or sci-fi or such,
don't fret. This is a splendid movie night, led by the great work of
Keira Knightley and director Joe Wright for “Pride & Prejudice”
(2005), at 5:40 and 8:45 p.m. on Oxygen. There's more, with “Dirty
Dancing” (1987) at 7:30 p.m. on ABC Family and the great fun of
“Princess Bride” (1987) at 8 p.m. on BBC America.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a quick rerun of Tuesday's
auditions.

“The Lord of the
Rings: The Two Towers” (2002), 8 p.m., TNT. This is the mid-section
of a beautifully made trilogy. The third film is at 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, with all three on Sunday.

“The Messengers,”
9 p.m., CW. There's word of disloyalty among the messengers, with one
in danger.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Here's a rerun of Carol Burnett's second appearance as
McGarrett's Aunt Deb. He's working a tough case – brothers
suspected of killing their parents – when she visits the island
with her new fiance (Frankie Valli).

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Frank (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner, faces a
public outcry when a cop's body camera apparently malfunctions during
an altercation. Meanwhile, Frank's son scrambles to protect a witness
and his daughter investigates a rape accusation on a prestigious
campus.

“Dark Matter”
debut, 10 p.m., Syfy. A spaceship's crew awakens with some problems:
Crew members can't remember who they are or what their mission is.

TV column for Thursday, June 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Wayward Pines,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Halfway through its
10-week run, this compelling mini-series finally offers an
explanation for what's been going on. It's an official one; but
people who saw the brilliant “The Village” (also from M. Night
Shyamalan) know that doesn't neccesarily make it true.

After car crashes,
people keep ending up in this odd town, where escape seems
impossible. Ethan (Matt Dillon) tried with his wife and son, even
killing the abusive sheriff; he was promptly made sheriff. Now he
tries a perilous escape, while the others stay home. The truth – or
some version of it – awaits them.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Beauty and the Beast” season-opener, 8 p.m., CW.

After disappearing
for 11 months, “Beauty” finally returns for a 13-week, summer
run. Vincent has finally stopped Murfield, the organization that made
supersoldiers (including him) and killed Catherine's mother. “We're
just getting used to being normal,” Catherine says.

Not too normal. Her
sister (preparing to marry) is one of the few people who know Vincent
is the beast. He wants to propose to Catherine, but she's a cop, busy
probing a murder by a superhuman being.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Women in Prison” debut, 10 p.m., Investigation
Discovery.

On the eve of
Netflix's “Orange is the New Black” season-opener, here's a
non-fiction view. Each week introduces two Indiana inmates, with
snippits of their prison lives and brief comments from others.

There are also
re-enactments of their early lives, with quick surpises tonight. In
South Bend, Alicia Brown was married to a firefighter; she coached
soccer, had a job and helped raise her baby and two stepkids. In
Goshen, Hannah Stone was a teenager, living with her mom and
respectful of her dad, a Methodist minister. Then – we won't spoil
the storytelling -- their lives plunged sharply.

Other choices
include:

Basketball previews,
8 and 8:31 p.m. ET, and game, 9 p.m. ET, ABC. The Cleveland Cavaliers
host the Golden State Warriors, in the fourth game of the
best-of-seven championship series.

“Bones”
season-finale, 8 p.m., Fox. While the team probes a copycat killer,
there are decisions to be made. Will Angela and Hodgins really move
to Paris? Will Brennan and Bones leave their jobs?

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Sheldon and Leanoard fight back, after an
Internet attack against their physics paper. Also in this rerun, the
women confront embarassments from their past.

“iHeart Radio Pool
Party,” 9 p.m., CW. Kelly Clarkson opens the show, which includes
music by Nick Jonas (who hosts), Shaggy (doing his past hit “It
Wasn't Me” and his new “I Need Your Love”) and Chris Brown.
Also, David Guetta, Nicki Minaj and Bebe Rexha combine for “Hey,
Mama.”

“Aquarius,” 9
p.m., NBC. The story that started this – searching for a
16-year-old girl who's been with Charlie Manson – reaches a turning
point tonight. So does a muder probe, but this remains a one-note
show, with characters all seeming to adopt minor variations on the
same weary dismay.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. This rerun has some great moments as Bonnie (Allison
Janney) – thoroughly unsuited for most jobs – seeks one.
Meanwhile, Christy tries to confront her daughter's despondence.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. As Holmes searches for someone who committed murder to get
a rare map, Watson worries about his obsession with the romantic life
of his protege, Kitty. Mamie Gummer, Meryl Streeps daughter, guests
as an heiress.

TV column for Sunday, June 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Skin Wars” season-opener, 9 p.m., Game Show Network.

Slick, sleek and
sexy, this has quickly become one of TV's best competition shows. For
this second season, the 12 contestants range from a Utah preacher's
wife to a guy who savors his Miaimi setting. “It's a tropical
place,” he says. “Why not shed your clothes and get painted?”

Some contestants
grew up in Russia, Brazil and Israel. Some look next-door; others
have dyed their hair purple, violet or red-streaked. What they share
is great artistry at painting directly on bodies. Tonight, one
challenge involves picturing a favorite moment; another focuses on a
chess piece.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Goldbergs,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.

A strong night of
ABC comedy reruns includes this journey into the tricky matter of
accepting your sons' romantic choices. The mom is uneasy about Adam's
feelings for Dana; the dad discovers a deal-breaker about Barry's
girlfriend: Her dad roots for the Dallas Cowboys.

That sets up the
dilemma in a good episode: How much of a sacrifice is a dad expected
to make.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: CMT Music Awards, 8 p.m., CMT (with rerun at 10:32) and
TV Land.

On the rare times
when CMT remembers what its initials stand for (Country Music
Television), it can assemble great starpower. Tonight has music by
Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Jason Aldean, Kenny
Chesney, Jake Owen, Lady Antebellum, Florida Georgia Line and the Zac
Brown Band.

There's more, on a
separate stage for emerging stars. They include Ashley Monroe, Jana
Kramer, Brett Eldridge, A Thousand Horses, Tyler Rhett, Frankie
Ballard, Chris Janson, Kelsea Ballerini and more.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. First, these home chefs must create crab dishes. Then they
make sweet or savory dishes, using corn.

“The Middle,” 8
p.m., ABC. You haven't had a really bad day until your kitchen sink
collapses. That happens to Frankie, who then must do dishes with a
garden hose. Also in this rerun, her daughter can't graduate unless
she masters a difficult dance; her younger son tries to scam his dad.

“Melissa &
Joey,” 8 p.m., ABC Family. Greer Grammer (Kelsey's daughter,
Spencer's half-sister) has some very funny moments as an inept
actress in who's cast in Lennox's short film. Meanwhile, Joey
explodes when he figures out the story behind Melissa's devil tattoo.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. This goes back to its season-opener. Mitchell and
Cameron are back from their honeymoon, Alex is back from a
humanitarian trip and the family dynamic is changing.

“CSI Cyber,” 10
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a bomber is apparently trying to make a
statement about the overreliance on technology.

“Celebrity Wife
Swap,” 10 p.m., ABC. Two people who have known sports stardom –
one directly, one indirectly – briefly swap lives. Kerri Walsh
Jennings is in the beach-volleyball duo (with Misty May-Treanor) that
won 112 straight matches and three Olympic titles. Married to
volleyball-player Casey Jennings, she has three children; now she
swaps with Tami Roman (“Basketball Wives”), who had two children
with Kenny Anderson, her former husband and a former pro basketball
star.

“Ripper Street,”
10 p.m., BBC America. Set in 1890s London, this hour views
then-illegal abortions.