TV column for Wednesday, June 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Celebrity Wife Swap,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Three years ago, a
fascinating documetary (“The Queen of Versailles”) introduced
Jackie Siegel. She and her husband have eight kids, 30 household
workers and a sprawling Florida estate; when his business slowed, he
suspended construction of a bigger place, patterned after the Palace
of Versailles.

Now she briefly sees
an opposite world, switching with the wife of actor Jeremy London
(“Party of Five, “7th Heaven”). On a ranch near
Oklahoma City, she helps with the chores.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Melissa & Joey” return, 8 p.m., ABC Family.

While most comedies
slide into reruns – including tonight's dandy ABC ones – ABC
Family has two summertime mini-seasons. This one is goofy, but fun;
“Baby Daddy” is merely goofy.

Here, Melissa
(Melissa Joan Hart) reacts fiercely to two things – her
pregnancy-test results and her nephew's determination to join the
Navy. Joe (Joseph Lawrence) attacks the latter situation, giving an
at-home boot-camp experience, designed to change his mind. It's
terribly silly, yet kind of fun .

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Hockey, 8 p.m. ET, NBC.

The timing is
perfect: Two sports finally reach their finals, just as the summer TV
season begins. Now networks need some non-reruns; NBC adds hockey
tonight and ABC adds basketball on Thursday.

For hockey, Chicago
is looking for its third championship in six seasons; Tampa Bay
hasn't been to the finals since winning its first title, in 2004. The
games today and Saturday are on NBC, with the next two on the NBC
Sports Network; the final three, if needed, return to NBC.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. The season's first team challege is a big-scale one –
burgers and fish-and-chips for thousands of people at an amusement
park. Members of the losing team then face a cinnamon-roll challenge,
to see who gets eliminated.

“The Middle,” 8
p.m., ABC. A block of four ABC reruns starts with Frankie giving the
family's dining-room table to Axl. Also, Sue's not happy about her
gift from Darrin.

“The Goldbergs,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. Adam's wild explanation for his broken arm soon has
aftershocks.

“Baby Daddy”
return, 8:30 p.m., ABC Family. Before taking a three-month break,
this show had Riley break up with one brother, tell another (quite
clumsily) that she loved him and then fled. Now she's back home,
while the guys face crises involving the neighboring apartment.
Unlike “Melissa & Joey,” this show is loudly uneven, turning
key characters into fools for the sake of a laugh.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Phil is still fuming about his neighbors (Steve Zahn and
Andrea Anders). He considers this war ... and enlists the help of his
dad (Fred Willard) and his dad's friends.

“Ripper Street,”
10 p.m., BBC America. Set in a tough London neighborhood late in the
late 1800s, this show borrows a plot that's been used recently by
several other shows: Someone becomes the prime murder suspect, after
waking up next to a body. In this case, an aristocratic woman is the
suspect.

“Unreal,” 10:02
p.m., Lifetime. In a quick rerun of Monday's debut, we see the inner
workings of a “Bachelor”-type show, with a fierce boss (Constance
Zimmer) and a smart producer (Shiri Appleby) who returns after
imploding on-camera. It has its moments, but often gives us no one to
root for.

TV column or Tuesday, June 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Royal Pains” season-opener (10:01 p.m., USA) and more.

As the summer season
starts, broadcast networks need reality – “Bachelorette” and
“Briefcase” and “Big Brother” and such – to keep our
attention. Fortunately, cable adds fresh, scripted shows.

There's an entire
night of them on ABC Family (see below), plus this long-lasting one
on USA. In “Pains,” Hank (Mark Feuerstein) is a doctor amid the
beauty of the Hamptons. The settings (and people) are pretty, with
quick little medical stories and bigger personal ones. As this
seventh season starts, Hank has joined the board of a hospital that
has an ethically iffy owner (Campbell Scott).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“iZombie,” 9 p.m., CW.

When we first met
Liv, she seemed solemn and stressed. That can happen when you're an
overworked medical resident who inadvertently became a zombie.

Then she started
adding personalities, after munching victims' brains in order to
solve his or her murder. Tonight, she chomps a cheerleader; suddenly,
Liv has pep, popularity and people skills. It's a fairly good
episode, leaving much to be settled next week, when “iZombie”
wraps a good first season.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: All night, ABC Family.

At 8 p.m. is the
season-opener of “Pretty Little Liars,” which keeps taking odd
twists. Now the four teens are trapped by a malevolent force named
Charles.

And from 9-11 p.m.
is “Stitchers,” with a plot that suggests “iZombie.” Like
that show, it has a young woman who can read the memories of dead
people, to solve murders.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Secrets and Wives” debut, 10 p.m., Bravo.

We meet six
lookalike, soundalike Long Island women. Only one doesn't dye her
hair blonde; only one (a different one) says she has real breasts.
Two work with their husbands; only one works on her own.

Some marriages have
prospered (Gail Greenberg's husband is a rich plastic surgeon); many
haven't. Andi Black has had three divorces, starting with the lead
singer of Jay and the Americans ... Susan Doneson's husband was
sentenced to two years for securities fraud ... Liza Sandler's
marriage to a money manager ended with her affair with CNBC host
Donny Deutsch. These women are cable-ready.

Other choices
include:

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a fairly funny rerun, Eddie's dad uses a
block party to promote his restaurant. That's followed by a
“Black-ish” rerun, with Dre's street-credibility questened.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Tony Gonzalez – a sportscaster and former football star –
guests in this rerun, as an NCIS special agent. The case involves
someone killed on his way to meet with the president.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, the team has a 22-hour
deadline to rescue the kidnapped wife of a chief warrant officer who
was working in counterintelligence.

“Hell's Kitchen,”
9 p.m., Fox. A week from the finale, the final four chefs try the
show's first vegetarian challenge. Then they're visited by family and
friends.

“Younger,” 10
p.m., TV Land. As a kid, Lauren (Molly Bernard) never had a bat
mitzvah; now she decides to throw herself an all-out “hot mitzvah.”
Also, Liza (Sutton Foster) has a new career option and Kelsey (Hilary
Duff) faces the aftershocks of her affair.

“What History
Forgot,” 10 p.m., American Heroes Channel. Over six Tuesdays, Joe
Moniaci, a history teacher, will offer obscure bits of the past.
Tonight, we learn of the bawdy bar song that led to the National
Anthem. There's more, including an attack that almost destroyed the
Statue of Liberty.

TV column for Monday, June 1


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

One of TV's best
competition shows is back, with key changes. Each year, this offers
gifted dancers covering the full range – from hip-hop to ballet,
from jazz to tap to ballroom and beyond.

Nigel Lythgoe is in
charge, as usual, now with Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo joining him
as judges. A bigger change is having two brilliant (but opposite)
talents – each a former “Dance” runner-up -- as

coaches: Travis Wall
is studio-trained and contemporary; “tWitch” Boss is
street-trained and hip-hop. They'll guide opposite teams, in a
studio-vs.-street season.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “American Genius” debut, 9 and 10 p.m., National Geographic.

When minds are sharp
and stakes are big, explosive things can happen. Tonight's second
film gets fairly monotone, as the Wright Brothers blindly sue anyone
who flies; the first hour, however, is a dilly.

With computer
empires at stake, people take brash action. Bill Gates steals from
Steve Jobs who steals from Xerox. Gates claims he has an operating
system ... then buys one cheap. Jobs soars, flops, is fired from the
company he started, then leads its comeback. This is a great story,
told with re-enactments and sharp commentary, especially from Jobs'
colleague (Steve Wozniak) and biographer (Walter Isaacson).

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

Strange things are
happening.. Kids, advised by disembodied voices, cause tragedy; a man
wanders, unaware of who he is. Then there's the plane-eating
monolith, in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

By the end of this
opener, we're hooked ... and worried. Like “Wayward Pines”
(Thursdays on Fox), this is a great summer series – if it really
has a plan for tying this all together. If not ... well, from “Twin
Peaks” to “The Killing,” we're used to great starts and weak
finishes.

Other choices
include:

“Mornings with
Maria Bartiromo” debut, 6-9 a.m., Fox Business Network. One of the
stars of the business-reporting world, Bartiromo moves up three hours
from her “Morning Bell” show.

“Harry” debut,
any time, www.acorn.tv. Oscar
Kightley brings a fresh, distinctive voice to TV drama. A Samoan
native who has lived in New Zealand since he was 4, he wrote this
sharp, six-part mini-series and stars as a cop, recovering from
personal tragedy and trying to stop a skittish young gunman.

“The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. This hour includes snakes,
spiders, sumo wrestlers (really) ... and a guy who simply refuses to
leave. Ah, romance.

“Mike &
Molly,” 8:30, CBS. In this rerun, Molly has trouble finishing her
book. She keeps piling up drafts and annoying her family.

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Despite praise and awards, this show has never drawn
decent ratings. It will have a second season, though, so here's a
chance to catch up, starting with this charming opener.

“Devious Maids”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Lifetime. The second season ended with the
wedding of Spencer (Grant Show) and Rosie (Dania Ramirez). Except you
kind of knew it couldn't be that easy. Viewers learned that Rosie's
first husband is alive in Mexico. Also, Ty fired shots at the wedding
and hit someone, possibly the bride. Now we learn who's shot and
what's up.

“UnReal” debut,
10 p.m., Lifetime. Rachel (Shiri Appleby) is almost ideal for her job
at a “Bachelor”-style show. She's smart and manipulative, but
(alas) may have a conscience. That caused her to implode while
cameras were rolling; now, after rehab, her cunning boss (Consance
Zimmer) rehired her. Here is a hugely cynical hour, with occasional
comedy, dark drama and – at times – no one to root for.

TV column for Sunday, May 31


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” return, 10 p.m., CBS.

Back in 2000, CBS
was wheezing from old age; then two shows -- “CSI” and “Survivor”
-- changed everything. Sleekly edited, they brought a sense of
urgency to a tired network.

Now “Survivor”
and CBS are doing well, but “CSI” is leaving after 15 years,
tying it with “ER” as the fifth-longest-running primetime drama
in U.S. history. It gets a final movie in September, before Ted
Danson slides over to “CSI: Cyber.” First, we can catch its
return for summer rerun. Tonight, the spread of a deadly pathogen
causes Sara and Greg (Jorja Fox and Eric Szmana) to be quarantined.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Black-ish,” 10:30 p.m., ABC.

A fairly good first
season ended with this clever detour. Pops (Laurence Fishburne) spins
a story about his kin. Soon, we see a speakeasy, with roles for the
regulars, plus Alicia Keys, Sean Combs and more.

It's a fun episode,
wrapping up a rare Sunday of comedy reruns. “The Middle” (9 p.m.)
has Dick and Jerry Van Dyke as brothers (which they are) who are
feuding (they're not). “The Goldbergs” (9:30) has a scramble to
get Barry a date; “Modern Family” (10) has Haley's 21st
birthday party.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Halt and Catch Fire” season-opener, 10 p.m., AMC.

Things start with an
offbeat flashback, one likely to confuse us: It's 1985 and Joe is
still an intense compter pioneer; Cameron, his lover, just wants to
have fun.

Then we jump to '87,
where this season really begins. The company (Cardiff) was sold and
those two split. Joe wandered off; Cameron and Donna stayed to start
a videogame company (Mutiny) filled with chaotic energy. Now Gordon
(Donna's husband) and Joe wait to collect their share of the sale.
The Mutiny scenes flash with fun and frustration; other scenes are
pretty good, giving “Halt” a sharp start.

Other choices
include:

“Critics Choice
Television Awards” red-carpet (7 p.m. ET) and ceremony (8-10 p.m.
ET), A&E. Last year, Allison Janney was the only double winner
(for “Mom” and “Masters of Sex”) ... then did the same at the
Emmys. Now she's a presenter. Others include Johnny Galecki, Anna
Faris, Scott Bakula and more – with Charlize Theron giving a Genius
Award to “Family Guy” creator Scott MacFarlane.

“The Secret Life
of Marilyn Monroe” conclusion, 8-10 p.m., Lifetime. In the opener,
Marilyn (Kelli Garner) began telling her story to a therapist. Now
she's describing a peak – a soaring career and a love for baseball
great Joe Dimaggio. But her mother (Susan Sarandon) is shaky, her
foster mother is dying and her own perspective is warped. “Secret
Life” is a steep, downward slope, yet remains interesting.

“Texas Rising,”
8 and 10 p.m., History. Here are reruns of the first chapters,
showing the start of the Texas revolution. They'll also air at 5 and
7 p.m. Monday, leading into the third part at 9.

“A.D.,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. Last week brought good news -- the persecuting Saul of Tarsus
transformed into the future Saint Paul – and bad: The old emperor
is dead; his far-worse son Caligula takes over. Tonight, Caligula
demands his statue be in the temple; that cannot go well.

“Golan the
Insatiable” debut, 9:30 p.m., Fox. Like many kids, Dylan is goth
and grim, with dark make-up and darker outlook. That's not easy in
Minnesota, where most people – except a few mean kids – are
relentlessly nice. Then Dylan inadvertantly summons a dark spirit,
with the power to wreak havoc. Expanding on an “Animation
Domination” series, this is a clever cartoon for grownups.

“American
Odyssey,” 10 p.m., NBC. Odelle and her young friend confront
bandits; back in New York, her daughter is being spied on ... Bob
warns Harrison ... and Peter finds the elusive Yusef."

"The Greg Gutfeld Show" debut, 10 p.m., Fox News Channel. Here's an interesting detour in the cable-news world -- a humor-oriented hour. Gutfeld has monologs, parodies and conversations.

 “Veep,” 10:30
p.m., HBO. Even while ill, the president desperately pushes for her
key bill.

TV column for Saturday, May 30


(Please note that some stations will be replacing network shows with the Children's
Miracle Network telethon)

 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Grey's Anatomy” (8 p.m.) and “In an Instant” (9-11 p.m.),
ABC.

First is the famous
– infamous? -- episode that had “Grey's” fans buzzing or
growling. Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) responds to an
accident, leading to big events; the result is polarizing.

Then ABC has brought
back a well-made series that mixes re-enactments and first-person
accounts. Tonight's story involves a near-death experience in a silo.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe,” 8-10 p.m., Lifetime;
concludes Sunday.

Monroe's life had an
epic quality, with dizzying highs – superstardom, big-name husbands
and lovers – and lows. This mini-series barely skims the highs,
giving us few glimpses of the Marilyn people loved.

It does, however,
vividly view the lows. We see her mom (superbly played by Susan
Sarandon) as unable to grasp reality or parenthood. We see her
guardian (Emily Watson) as cold and stern. And we see Monroe (Kelli
Garner) as delusional, convinced that John Kennedy will leave his
wife for her.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962), 8 p.m. ET, Turner
Classic Movies.

Blending childhood
innocence and Southern rage, this has become one of Hollywood's most
esteemed films. In 1998, the American Film Institute listed it as the
34th-best American movie ever; nine years later, it upped
that to No. 25. There were Oscars for Gregory Peck and for Horton
Foote's script.

Remarkably, Harper
Lee never published another novel; she wrote and abandoned one, which
is now set to reach stores in July. Also, star Mary Badham stopped
acting four years later, at 14. For others – Robert Duvall (in his
film debut), Brock Peters, Peck – this was a peak in long movie
careers.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 8
p.m., HBO.

The starpower is
impressive. Ringo Starr (previously inducted with the Beatles) is
added individually, with Bill Withers, Green Day, Joan Jett and the
Paul Butterfield Blues Band, plus, posthumously, Lou Reed, Stevie Ray
Vaughn and the Royales. Beyond that are the night's performers.

There's Paul
McCartney with Starr, Dave Grohl and Miley Cyrus with Jett, Stevie
Wonder and John Legend singing to Withers. There's a big finish with
all of them, plus Beck, Zak Brown and more.

Other choices
include:

“Outlander,” 2
p.m. to 12:15 a.m., Starz. A seven-hour rerun marathon leads to the 9
p.m. season-finale (rerunning at 10:05 and 11:10), as friends try to
rescue Jamie and restore his shattered body and psyche.

“American Ninja
Warrior” and “The Island,” 8 and 10 p.m., NBC. The macho Monday
line-up gets a quick rerun. In the “Ninja” season-opener, people
tackle an obstacle course; in the “Island” debut, guys begin a
28-day ordeal, given no help with food or survival.

“Person of
Interest,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun catches team members at a tough
point. To avoid detection by Samaritan, they take new identities and
try to ignore the numbers from the machine.

“When Calls the
Heart,” 8 p.m., Hallmark. In their frontier town, Elizabeth gets
upsetting news from back home and Abigail tries to adjust to the fact
that Bill implied (incorrectly) that his wife is dead.

“Elementary,” 9
p.m., CBS. Sherlock hates the notion of anyone – or any thing –
being smarter than he is. In this rerun, he's suppsed to probe the
theft of artificial-intelligence software; instead, he seems to
obsess on proving it doesn't work.

“Animation
Domination,” 11 p.m. to midnight, Fox. On Sunday, Fox will debut a
clever half-hour series, “Golan the Insatiable.” Before that, you
can see the 15-minute films that came first. Here are four of them,
with Dylan – goth, grim and 9 years old – accidentally calling up
a fierce spirit.