TV column for Wednesday, July 29

“America's Got Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC.

In Hollywood, time
is relative; so is math. Last week, “So You Think You Can Dance”
had a 10th-anniversary special; now “Talent” has one
... even though it's a year younger. Tonight's party merely
celebrates the fact that the show (nine years and five weeks old) is
in its 10th season.

Singers won five of
the first six seasons (starting with 12-year-old Bianca Ryan), but
haven't won since. The people expected to perform tonight include
ventriloquist Terry Fator (the second-season winner and now a Las
Vegas star) and magician Mat Franco, who won last year and is
starting a Vegas show.

II: “The Carbonaro Effect” season-opener, 10 p.m., Tru TV.

Speaking of magic,
few people do it with the low-key charm of Michael Carbonaro. With
hidden cameras, he pretends to be a store clerk while casually doing
bizarre things. He's so good at straight-faced improvisation that
many people think the impossible has really happened.

This new episode
follows a rerun marathon that starts at 7 p.m. There are more reruns
tonight, from 11:01 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.; then a fresh marathon Saturday
will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 7-10 p.m. and more.

ALTERNATIVE: “Celebrity Wife Swap” return, 10 p.m., ABC.

The 19 editions of
“The Bachelor” have produced two marriages. Now those wives will
briefly switch.

Sean Lowe chose
Catherine Giudici in the 2013 edition and they married the next year.
For Jason Mesnick, it was more complicated: On the 2009 show, he
proposed to Melissa Rycroft ... then changed his mind before it
aired; in the follow-up hour, he broke up with her and proposed to
Molly Malaney. Now they're married, with a 2-year-old daughter and
his son from a previous marriage.

Other choices

Impossible: Ghost Protocol” (2011, FX) or “Terminator 2” (1991,
IFC), both 8 p.m. Cable kindly offers action films that have sequels
this summer. (The new “Terminator” is already in theaters;
“Mission” gets there Friday.) “Terminator 2,” in particular,
is terrific.

“Melissa &
Joey,” 8 p.m., ABC Family. A week before the series finale, Melissa
(Melissa Joan Hart) preaches healthy-living in her Senate campaign.
Then someone films her chomping a Piggy Burger.

“Baby Daddy,”
8:30 p.m., ABC Family. Next week's season-finale is supposed to have
Bonnie's wedding; tonight, however, the complications pile up. As
best man and maid of honor, Danny and Riley are expected to concoct
big parties; also, Tucker has a secret and a magician has handcuffs.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. It's spring-break time in this rerun, with Claire
cleaning while her kids and husband play. Jay and Gloria vow to give
up their vices – cigars and Spanish-language soap operas.

“Nova,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Here's a minute-by-minute account of the
nuclear-plant meltdown after a 2011 Japanese earthquake, with
first-person accounts by the workers who stayed. That's followed at
10 by the second half of “Uranium,” wrapping up PBS' two-night
nuclear focus.

“Last Comic
Standing,” 10 p.m., NBC. Last week's two-hour opener had great
comedians, a clever host (Anthony Jeselnik) and bland comments from
the judges. Now “Comic” settles into a one-hour spot.

“America's Best
Dance Crew: Road to the VMAs,” 11 p.m., MTV. Originally called
“Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew,” this
dance-team competition was cancelled three years ago. Now it's back
for a six-week run, leading to the Video Music Awards.

TV column for Tuesday, July 28

“The Bomb,” 8-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Nestled between two
70th anniversaries – the first atomic-bomb detonation
(July 16) and the destruction of Hiroshima (Aug. 6) – PBS launches
a two-night look at the atomic age.

This compelling
documentary starts with two mismatched forces – a pragmatic general
and an idealistic scientist – rushing to beat Hitler. It follows
fierce twists – spies, scares, civil-defense drills, tests gone
horribly bad – and overload. The U.S. and Russia had a combined
60,000 nuclear bombs ... then faced off over Cuba. It was, historian
Richard Rhodes says, “a much closer call than most people

“America's Got Talent,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC.

This is a busy week
for “Talent”: Tonight, it comes close to completing its 36-act
field, for live performances at Radio City Music Hall; on Wednesday,
it pauses for a 10th-year celebration.

Tonight, Marlon
Wayans is the guest judge; he holds the “golden buzzer” that can
send one act directly to the next round. Others will be chosen by the
panel ... which completes the field next week.

ALTERNATIVE: “Face Off” season-opener, 9 p.m.. Syfy; rerunning at

Emmy voters still
haven't discovered it, but “Face Off” is a gem. The winner of a
Critics Choice Award (best reality series), it has aspiring
movie-makeup people crafting elaborate creatures.

The show has a smart
host who knows the subject. McKenzie Westmore is an actress whose dad
Michael (the show's mentor) is a make-up master, with an Oscar
(“Mask”) and nine Emmys. Tonight, the 16 contestants face an odd
challenge: Mold two people into a single creature.

Other choices

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, a murder victim has been living under an identity
that was created 20 years ago for Gibbs' undercover work.

Mardi Gras tales, 8
p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies; 10 p.m., CBS. TCM starts the night
with “Always For Pleasure” (1978), a documentary about New
Orleans during Mardi Gras. It follows with films about Cajun and
Creole food and culture, at 9:15, 10:15 and 11 p.m. ET. And at 10,
CBS' “NCIS: New Orleans” reruns an episode that has the team
proving a murder in the midst of Mardi Gras parades.

8:30 p.m., ABC. In a Valentine's Day episode – yes, it's a rerun –
Dre is determined to end the trend of quarreling with his wife on the

“Zoo,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In Alabama, a chemist has evidence of a drug company's
involvement in the global animal problem. And in Rio de Janeiro, the
team confronts a ruthless drug lord.

“Uranium: Twisting
the Dragon's Tail,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). This
two-part documentary, which concludes Wednesday, eyes uranium's
potential in everything from medicine to mass-destruction. Derek
Muller, a physicist, visits mine shafts, a desert and an abandoned

“Tyrant,” 10
p.m., FX. This well-made drama keeps getting grimmer. Now there's
fresh tragedy at the palace and a crisis among two sets of rebels.
Trying a daring rescue, Barry – a Pasadena pediatrician whom people
think was killed by his brother, the dictator – confronts someone
from his past.

“Hollywood Game
Night,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. This round has lots of people familiar to
reality or talk-show viewers – Rosie O'Donnell, Nate Berkus, Kevin
O'Leary and Rocco Dispirito. Joining them are Weird Al Yankovic and
actress Constance Zimmer.

TV column for Monday, July 27

“The Bachelorette” finale, 8 p.m., ABC, with follow-up at 10:01.

Nick Viall, 34, and
Shawn Booth, 30, have a lot in common, you know. Each does
computer-software sales ... each seems in love with Kaitlyn Bristowe,
30 ... and each seems to hate the other guy.

Viall wasn't even
one of the original contestants, but had an E-mail relationship with
Bristowe. He was added to the show late, then had sex with her early;
Booth did not approve. Now she makes her choice.

“Running Wild With Bear Grylls,” 10:01 p.m., NBC,

The Snowdonia
Mountains in Wales are jagged and imposing. British commandos train
their, Grylls says; so did soldiers preparing for the D-Day invasion.

And now they're
tackled by Kate Winslet, who's out of her usual turf. At 39, she has
an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Golden Globe; she also has three children,
one named Bear. Now Winslet and another Bear soar in a “paramotor”
(sort of a backpack helicopter), then descend scary peaks.

ALTERNATIVE: “Scorpion,” 9 p.m., CBS; “Chasing Shadows,” any

One character type –
a genius who lacks social skills or inclination – ripples through
TV. There's Sheldon and Sherlock and Brennan and more ... including
Walter on “Scorpion”; tonight, in a rerun of the season-finale,
he's in a car that is teetering on the edge of a cliff.

Now the British --
who did this first, with Sherlock Holmes – have an over-focused cop
working in Missing Persons. There are two two-part “Shadows”
mysteries, with one part reaching Acorn (a subscription streaming
service) each Monday. This first story is terrific; the second one is
fairly good.

Other choices

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. Last week, this show launched a
“Twitter save” -- viewers had five minutes to save two of the
bottom-six dancers – and had its first ousters. Darion Flores and
Lily Frias (specializing in ballet and “waacking”) were sent
home; 18 dancers remain.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10:01 p.m., NBC. The top 30 contestants from the
Houston try-outs return to compete for spots in the Las Vegas finals.

“2 Broke Girls,”
8 p.m., CBS. As a night of CBS reruns starts, Max and Caroline have
two reasons to despair,: Sophie's wedding reception was interrupted
by a hostage situation; also, an arrested guy was shown on TV,
wearing one of the T-shirst for their cupcake business.

“Mike &
Molly,” 8:30 p.m., CBS. Mike's feelings are hurt, when Molly
doesn't want him at a party that the book-publisher is throwing for
her and for Peggy.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9:59 p.m., CBS. Nell (Renee Felice Smith) gets the focus
here. She needs her drone expertise to avert a disaster in Long

“POV,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). For 60 years, five Chilean women have had
a monthly gathering to eat, laugh, sip tea and discuss the world.
They are prosperous, well-coiffed and in their 80s, but they fit no
convenient stereotypes. Over a five-year stretch, one of their
granddaughters filmed (beautifully) their tea time. The
conversations, with English sub-titles, cover life, death, sex,
fidelity and more. “There has been too much evolution in our
lives,” one woman says; they've faced it well.

“The Daily Show,”
11 p.m., Comedy Central. One of TV's great runs starts its
second-to-last week. Jon Stewart has anchored brilliantly, leading
one stretch of 10 straight Emmys for best variety show. Now his
anchor run (Mondays through Thursdays) will conclude on Aug. 6.

TV column for Sunday, July 26

“The Last Man on Earth” return, 9:30 p.m., Fox.

After a successful
spring try-out, this comedy was boosted by three Emmy nominations,
two for Will Forte (as actor and writer) and one for directing. Now
its reruns return, in what will be its slot this fall.

Phil (Forte) married
the annoying Carol (Kristen Schaal) when they thought they were the
last people on Earth. Now there's another guy (Mel Rodriguez), who
has more respect and a beautiful companion (January Jones). Phil's
solution is ... well, to find a cow and later steal it. It makes
sense to him.

II: “Destination Wild: Clever Monkeys,” 10 p.m. ET., NatGeo Wild,
rerunning at 1 a.m.

It was back in 1954
that David Attenborough began making nature shows. Now, at 89, he
provides the witty narration for this charming film, which combines
footage from around the world.

We see monkeys
working in groups small (a mother gets two guys to help raise her
twins) and large (80 baboons form a massive society). We see them
link for attacks, for defense and for sympathy. They use leaves for
medicine, rocks for nutcrackers, cunning to steal from nearby

ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece: Poldark,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local

The two Ross
Poldarks again collide briefly. There's Aidan Turner, who plays him
potently. And there's Robin Ellis, who had the same role 40 years
ago; now he's the magistrate who sentenced Ross' friend to a year in
a disease-ridden jail, for poaching.

The result dominates
the start and end of this strong hour. In between, a ball lets
Demelza glow while Ross plays cards – confronting the magistrate
and the shark who won most of his cousin's money.

Other choices

“Welcome to
Sweden,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., NBC. This show shines when focusing on
culture clashes; tonight, both episodes do that. First, Bruce (Greg
Poehler) reluctantly goes skiing, which is clearly his wife's turf.
Then his parents (Patrick Duffey and Illeana Douglas) arrive to
“help” plan the wedding.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC. One episode has the families of former
sitcom hunks – Mario Lopez and Joey Lawrence. The other has
golden-era stars, Ed Asner and Vicki Lawrence.

“I Am Cait”
debut, 8 p.m., E, rerunning at 10 p.m. and midnight. From an Olympic
gold medal to pop-culture stardom as a Kardashian stepfather, Caitlyn
(formerly Bruce) Jenner keeps drawing attention. Now a new reality
show follows Jenner, 65, who has been transitioning to female.

“Madam Secretary,”
9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, Elizabeth scrambles to find the secret
bank account of the former secretary of state ... then learns that
one of her staff people already has access to it.

“The Crimson
Field” finale, 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Accused of
aiding the enemy, Joan could face life in prison. Also, Kitty (the
terrific Oona Chaplin) doesn't know who to trust.

“The Strain,” 10
p.m., FX. Can normalcy exist in a New York that's overrun? In this
well-crafted hour, officials declare that Long Island is zombie-free;
then, of course, there's a daring kidnap incursion. Meanwhile, our
heroes persist: Ephraim has trouble with his son, Dutch searches
desperately for her friend ... and Nora finally learns just how old
the ancient Abraham is.

TV column for Saturday, July 25

“Save My Life, Boston Trauma,” 10 p.m., ABC.

After a strong
opener Sunday, this ABC News series moves into its regular night with
an even better hour. Quick-paced, yet deeply human, it gets us
involved with medical people and, especially, patients.

It opens with
chilling motorcycle-crash footage. Soon, we meet a teen who fell
25-feet during a church sleepover (from now on, she vows, “I'm just
going to go to church for praying and stuff”), a family that was
blindsided by another car at a red light and a woman who allegedly
spat at her rescuers. “It's another night in Boston,” an
ambulance guy says calmly. “At least, she's a Bruins fan.”

II: “Hell on Wheels,” 9 p.m., rerunning at 10.

The episode starts
with some sensational footage, the kind that will make you vow never
to crash down a steep, snowy mountain. That's a flash-forward, so be
patient; “Hell” returns to it later in the hour.

Trying to rush the
railroad along, Cullen switches things: The Mormons take over
show-shoveling, amid wretched cold; the Chinese workers push an
engine up the mountain. Then comes the crisis, involving his only
Chinese translator; it's a perilous and dramatic hour.

ALTERNATIVE: “Aquarius,” 9 p.m., NBC.

For a time, the
summer overload was dizzying – 13 scripted hours (nine on broadcast
networks) every Thursday. In a last-minute move last week, this show
and “Hannibal” were bumped to Saturdays.

There's an up side:
Formerly the worst Thursday show, “Aquarius” is almost adequate
by Saturday standards. Tonight, two clumsy storylines – Hodiak's
drink was spiked by a hallucinogen, a fellow cop has hidden his
Latino roots – play alongside the ongoing stories about Charlie
Manson and about a young undercover cop. The undercover story is
fairly well-done, the others aren't.

Other choices

“Tut,” 6 p.m. to
midnight, Spike. Here's the entire mini-series in one gulp. It's
large and lavish; it's also a tad silly, somehow transforming Tut
into a warrior king.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. Julie Chen (“Big Brother,” “The Talk”)
plays an. ambassador in this rerun. After she escapes an attack in
Tunisia, Sam and Callen head on a dangerous mission.

“Cedar Cove,” 8
p.m., Hallmark. In last week's season-owner, Olivia hesitantly
resumed her romance with Jack, who'd lied about his alcohol relapse.
She does, however, rebuff his idea of moving in with her. Also last
week, Olivia's best friend (Grace the librarian) added unpaid duties
as a city administrator; now her daughter Maryellen returns with

“Scorpion,” 9
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Scott Mescudi (also known as Kid Cudi) plays a
musician who created a controversial algorithm that makes hit songs.
Cliff “Method Man” Smith also guests.

“Boston EMS”
debut, 9 p.m., ABC. A companion piece to “Save My Life,” this
focuses on the first-responders. They're also in the 10 p.m. show,
but that one is more hospital-based.

“Hannibal,” 10
p.m., NBC. Here's the other show banished to Saturdays; now it jumps
ahead: Hannibal Lecter is in prison and a new villain (dubbed “The
Tooth Fairy”) looms. Jack asks Will for help.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) hosts this
rerun, with the Zac Brown Band as music guest.