TV column for Monday, Aug. 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Midnight, Texas,” 10 p.m., NBC.

Here's a helpful
hint to any eager youths: If you want to rampage and vandalize –
and we know you do – don't try it in a town that has a witch, a
werewolf, a vampire, and more. That happens in the opening scene
tonight; what follows is a sharp and pivotal episode.

At last, we'll learn
who has been kidnapping young women. This is a strong (if creepy)
hour that could easily be the series finale. It's not; four episodes
remain, presumably with more jolts ahead.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Life in Pieces,” 9:30 p.m., CBS.

Last week's rerun
was bumped (in some times zones) by the presidential address. Now we
can settle back and savor a show that tends to have four mismatched
stories, some of them very funny.

Colleen has an
embarrassing ailment, but begs her doctor (Tim, her future
brother-in-law) not to tell; these people aren't good at secrets.
There are more stories, including the return of Cary Elwes as
Sinclair Wilde, Joan's writing teacher; he encourages her to let her
family read a draft of her book.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Diana documentaries, cable.

For the next few
days, TV will continue to overload on films about Lady Diana. That
will peak on Thursday, the 20th anniversary of her death;
tonight is best approached with caution.

TLC takes the lower
road, from 6-9 p.m., offering conspiracy theories and calling it,
“Princess Diana: Tragedy or Treason?” Smithsonian aims higher,
with reruns. At 9 p.m., it views paparazzi, whom Diana sometimes used
skillfully ... even brashly flaunting a “revenge dress.” At 10,
it views the funeral; there are moving moments, including the
procession walk by her sons, her ex-husband and his father.

Other choices
include:

“Bachelor in
Paradise,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Christen Whitney only lasted three
weeks in the recent “The Bachelor”; she made an impression,
however, when she said she's a virgin. Whitney– then 25 and a
wedding videographer in Tulsa – reaches “Paradise” tonight and
has a date card.

“American Ninja
Warrior” (NBC) and “So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox), both
8-10 p.m. Both shows require immense physical talent. “Dance” is
now down to its final eight dancers. “Warrior” has its last
regional round (in Denver), before the finals start next Monday.

“Hooten and the
Lady,” 9 p.m., CW. Searching for a priceless jewel in Cambodia,
Hooten and Alex draw the attention of a ruthless drug gang.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. When Violet has mononucleosis, her mother and grandmother rush
to comfort her. They soon learn that she has bigger worries.

“Preacher,” 9
p.m., AMC. This truly odd hour – even by “Preacher” standards –
spends half its time in Hell, with (among others) Hitler. The other
half finds Jesse's search for God reaching new frustrations.

“To Tell the
Truth,” 10 p.m., ABC. This is the hour that was set for last week,
then delayed. Panelists are Olivia Culpo (a former Miss Universe) and
actor/comedians Craig Robinson, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Gabriel
Iglesias. After new episodes on Sept. 11 and 18, “Truth” will be
shelved until mid-season.

“Loaded,” 10:04
p.m., AMC. For a while there, we really thought AMC could make a
cheery show. After all, “Loaded” started with likable guys making
millions by selling their videogame; what could go wrong? Tonight, in
the season's second-to-last episode, things crumble in overwrought
ways. Well, it's still cheerier than “Hell on Wheels” or “Feed
the Beast.”

TV column for Sunday, Aug. 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Game of Thrones” season-finale, 9-10:25 p.m., HBO.

Each “Thrones”
episode becomes what people talk about for the next week; this one
will be what they talk about for the next year ... or years ... or
however long it takes to make the final, six-episode season.

Last week's episode
(rerunning at 7:50 p.m.) had the White Walkers kill and revive one of
Daenerys' dragons. Now they have one dragon, she has two and the epic
battles continue.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Video Music Awards, 8 p.m., MTV, VH1, BET, CMT, TV Land; also, 11
p.m., MTV and VH1; and 2 a.m., MTV.

The expanded,
three-hour format has lots of music. Kendrick Lamar leads with eight
nominations, followed by Katy Perry and The Weeknd with five apiece;
all three will perform, with Perry hosting.

There's more,
including Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, Lorde, Demi Lovato, Fifth Harmony,
Logic, Khalid, DNCE, Julia Michaels and Thirty Seconds to Mars.
That's a youthful bunch, but Pink (who gets a Video Vanguard award)
will perform; so will Rod Stewart, with a remake of “Do Ya Think
I'm Sexy?”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Football, 1 and 4:30 p.m. ET, Fox; 8 p.m. ET, NBC.

It's time for us to
practice for the regular season, when we can spend Sundays staring at
games.

First, the Bears
(3-13 last season) visit the Titans (9-7). Then it's Bengals (6-9-1)
at Redskins (8-7-1) and Giants (2-14) at Vikings (10-6). That second
game, incidentally, involves teams that played to a tie last season.
There have only been five ties in the past five years, since the
rules were revised ... and there were only nine ties in the 28 year
before that. Maybe this time, someone will win.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Get Shorty,” 10 p.m., Epix.

The first two
episodes were terrific, but this third one is even better. “Shorty”
has reached the “Fargo” level – great characters and offbeat
dialog, creating a rare blend of intelligence and entertainment.

Miles (Chris O'Dowd)
is a crook with a conscience, hoping his wife will take him back if
he goes straight. When his colleague shot a writer, Miles took the
script to a low-ball producer (Ray Romano). Now he wants to turn
dirty money (needing laundering) into a big movie. It's all odd and
fun.

ALSO: Lady Diana
documentaries, cable.

With the 20th
anniversary of Diana's death coming Thursday, new films arrive,
including two on the Smithsonian Channel. At 8 p.m. is a view of her
relationship with the paparazzi – whom she sometimes could
manipulate. At 9, a moving portrait of her funeral includes memories
of pallbearers and more.

Newly added is CNN's
“Diana: Chasing a Fairytale,” from 9-11 p.m. ET, CNN says it
includes people who haven't done previous documentaries, including
the coroner, a first-responder and several friends.

Other choices
include:

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. One round has people who got their start in
teen shows – Jennie Garth (“Beverly Hills 90210”) and Kyle
Massey (“That's So Raven,” “Cory in the House”). The other
has country-music stars Lee Brice and Jerrod Niemann.

“The Simpsons,”
8 and 9 p.m., Fox. The first rerun has the family getting rid of
things that don't bring joy – including the family pig and the
saxophone. The second has Homer as a chess whiz.

“Masterpiece:
Endeavour,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS. We start with a pop song filmed on
an Oxford lawn; it's musically jaunty, visually gorgeous ... and
unrelated to the story. Like last week's opener, this obsesses on
1960s flavor – a Beatles-era rock band, a TV-purity advocate -- but
lacks a story worth following.

“$100,000
Pyramid,” 10 p.m., ABC. One round has actors Ice T and Peri Gilpin;
the other has racer Kyle Busch and TV newswoman Lara Spencer.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a gold-heist case links Hetty
with Vietnam colleagues.

TV column for Saturday, Aug. 26


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

On the night after
the inauguration, this “SNL” strained for fun. It opened with
Vladimir Putin -- “We will take good care of the United States;
it's the most expensive thing we've ever bought” -- and closed,
with an interesting change-of-pace: The ballad “To Sir, With Love”
is sung to Barack Obama's photo.

In between, the
emphasis is on silliness, including an oddly funny bit with host
Aziz Ansari as a robot at a kids' arcade. Kate McKinnon has a
vibrant song-and-dance number as Kellyanne Conway and a hilarious
fake ad, joining Bobby Moynihan in a mismatched legal duo. Big Sean
is the music guest.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT SEE:
“In an Instant,” 10 p.m., ABC.

For Kenny Pasten --
an Army veteran, then 29 -- this was supposed to be a one-day mission
in 2015. Joined by his service dog RexiTron and his friend Tiffany
Finney, 21, he would plant an American flag on the 11,000-foot summit
of San Bernardino National Forest. Then a blizzard hit.

Trapped in two feet
of snow, they dug a hole and used the flag for cover. Later, he was
able to climb high enough to get cell-phone reception. It's a
dramatic story – complete with a happy ending, when someone else
found the flag and finished the mission – retold, in shortened
form, in this rerun.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Halt and Catch Fire,” 9 p.m., AMC, rerunning at
10:04.

“I know it doesn't
feel like it,” Joe says to Gordon, “but this is the start of
something.” Certainly, it doesn't feel that way. Their Internet
company has been squashed by the giants. Their ex-partner Cameron is
divorcing and her videogame is on hold; Gordon's ex-wife Donna is big
in financing.

But stick around:
After a slow start, “Halt” has become a surprisingly good series,
starting its fourth and final season. There are fresh surprises in
business and deep moments involving great characters.

Other choices
include:

“Rocky” (1976),
1:30 p.m., AMC. Sylvester Stallone fills our screen today. His
“Rocky” films continue at 4 p.m. (1979), 6:30 (1982) and –
after “Halt” -- 11:08 p.m. (1985) and 1:08 am. (1990). His
“Rambo” films are on IFC at 8 (1985) and 10:15 (1988) p.m. ET,
preceded by the movie that created the character, “First Blood”
(1982) at 6 p.m. ET.
Pro football, 8 p.m. ET, CBS. On Friday, CBS
introduced its top duo, with Tony Romo paired with Jim Nantz.
Tonight, it has Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts working a pre-season game
between what are now the two Los Angeles teams. Last season, the
Chargers (then in San Diego) were 5-11; the Rams were 4-12.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. This reruns the Aug. 14 episode, which
had the top 30 people from the Cleveland regionals. They're competing
for spots in the finals, which start Sept. 4.

“America's
Funniest Home Videos,” 8 p.m., ABC. Animals get some attention in
this rerun, including funny goats and a bulldog that eats
nacho-cheese-flavored chips.

“$100,000
Pyramid,” 9 p.m., ABC. Tentatively scheduled is a rerun that has
doctors competing with comedy actors. Mehmet Oz faces Retta; Ken
Jeong (the doctor-turned-actor) faces Dave Foley.

“Elian,” 10 p.m.
ET, CNN (barring breaking news), rerunning at 2 a.m. Here's another
chance to see this balanced and involving story about the passions in
two countries, when Elian Gonzalez, then almost 6, was rescued off he
Florida coast. The film offers empathy for his relatives in Miami,
his father in Cuba ... and Elian, now 23 and an engineer in Cuba.

ALSO, more sports:
The college football season basically begins next weekend, but there
are a few early-starters. Today, the CBS Sports Network has Oregon
State at Colorado State at 2:30 p.m. ET, then South Florida at San
Jose State at 7:30; ESPN has Portland State at Brigham Young at 3
p.m., Stanford at Rice at 10. The big boxing match (Floyd Mayweather
and Conor McGregor) is 9 p.m. ET on Showtime pay-per-view, but its
undercard bouts start at 7 on Fox, with a preview at 6.

TV column for Friday, Aug. 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Football, 8 p.m. ET, CBS.

Tony Romo entered
the pros in obscurity. Undrafted, he spent three Dallas Cowboys
seasons without getting a play from scrimmage. Then he seized the
spotlight.

He was the starting
quarterback for a decade, once having the league's best quarterback
rating. He reached four Pro Bowls and set 17 team records ... on a
team known for quarterbacks. He also dated Jessica Simpson and
married a former Miss Missouri USA. Now, at 37, he's retired; this is
his debut as CBS' lead analyst, with Jim Nantz; it's a pre-season
game, with the Chiefs at the Seahawks.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
Reckoning night, Syfy.

This is changeover
time for Syfy, with two season-finales: “Dark Matter” (which is
still unsure if there will be another season) wraps at 9 p.m.;
“Wynonna Earp” (already renewed) is at 10.

Leading into them,
at 8, is the not-quite-finale of “Killjoys,” another show with an
uncertain fate. Once light and bright, it now has a story that's
smart, but tangled – especially now that Dutch deals with her
look-alike adversary, Aneela. Next week's season-finale brings
warfare; first – in what's called “reckoning night” -- people
scheme and prepare. This hour's final moments simply left us
perplexed.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: 1980s movies, cable.

Forget about the
other 1980s stuff -- Wall Street and hair bands and such. The decade
gave us plenty of movies that mixed intelligence with youthful vigor.

Today, AMC has a
string of good ones -- “Crocodile Dundee” (1986) at 1:30 p.m.,
“Goonies” (1985) at 3:20, Francis Coppola's richly emotional “The
Outsiders” (1983) at 6, the delightful “Ghostbusters” (1984) at
8 and its sequel (1989) at 10:30. And if you want more emotion (plus
music and romance), switch to “Dirty Dancing” (1987), at 8:25
p.m. on Freeform.

Other choices
include:

Comedies, any time,
streaming. Chuck Lorre has been the master of mainstream comedy,
producing “Big Bang Theory” and “Mom” for CBS. But now he has
“Disjointed” on Netflix, with Kathy Bates running a legalized pot
shopi n California. That arrives at the same time that “The Tick”
debuts on Amazon ... where you really should catch the recent
“Comrade Detective,” a clever film that pretends to be a 1980s
Romanian cop show, newly dubbed into English.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of Tuesday's show, with a
dozen acts performing; results were announced the next night. There's
one more round next week; over a three-week period, the field will
have been trimmed to 21.

“MasterChef,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. Reality reruns collide. We can switch between NBC's
performers and Fox's home chefs, working with live crawfish and then
with a basic chicken-and-potatoes meal.

“Great
Performances at the Met,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). When
“La Traviata” debuted in 1853, Giuseppe Verdi wrote to a friend
that it was a failure. “Was the fault mine or the singers'? Time
will tell.” Time, it seems, has decided this is one of the greatest
operas, when the right soprano is cast. Here is Sonya Yoncheva, whose
performance in this production has drawn raves.

“Whitney: Can I Be
Me?” (2017), 9 p.m., Showtime. After a brief run in theaters,
here's the Whitney Houston documentary. And from 7-9 p.m., Reelz
reruns “Whitney & Bobby: Addicted to Love.”

“Dark Matter,” 9
p.m., Syfy. The season-finale – and, possibly, series-finale of
this well-made show sees the crew uniting Ferrous Corps' enemies, in
an effort to end the corporate war.

“Wynonna Earp,”
10 p.m., Syfy. This season-finale finds Wynonna – who is Wyatt's
great-great-grandaughter – in trouble again. She's desperate to
defeat The Widows before her fate is sealed.

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Elian,” 10 p.m. to midnight ET (later than originally scheduled), CNN (barring breaking news), rerunning from 2-4 a.m.

This story seemed
designed to stir rage and pain. Elian Gonzalez, almost 6, was in a
boatload of people fleeing Cuba. His mother and her boyfriend
drowned; he was rescued, stirring emotions. His relatives in Miami
wanted him to stay; his father, in Cuba, demanded his return ... and
won in court.

This even-handed
documentary -- rescheduled for an hour later than had been planned -- captures people on all sides. Gonzalez – now 23, with a
college degree, an engineering job and a girlfriend – is critical
of many Americans, but not the young woman (the daughter of his great-uncle) who took care of him in Miami. Her quiet agony is clear, as she describes a time of love and
loss.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Boy Band” finale, 8 p.m., ABC.

The idea sounded
promising, but stumbled in the ratings. “We were feeling there
might have been a larger audience interested in putting together the
next boy band,” said Channing Dungey, the ABC programming chief.
But “it didn't connect with audience in quite the way we had
hoped.”

Tonight, the
five-guy group will be announced and will perform its first single,
“Eyes Closed.” There are eight finalists: Brady Tutton is 15;
Jaden Gray, Sergio Calderon and Marcus Pendleton are 16; Mikey
Jimenez is 17; Michael Conor is 18; and Chance Perez and Drew Ramos
are 19.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Mist” season-finale, 10 p.m., Spike.

As the deadly mist
fills the town, all of the survivors are now inside the mall. Several
died trying to get there, but last week Kevin and Connor arrived;
they're the dads who are pivotal here.

Kevin's daughter
Alex was drugged and raped at a party; her friend Adrian said the
rapist was Jay, the quarterback whose dad (Connor) is the police
chief. Now we know that Adrian is the real rapist; also, he killed
his own dad and almost killed Kevin. There are other liars, including
Gus, the mall manager. He killed Shelley, blamed Alex ... and locked
her up with her mom, Jay and more. Trouble builds.

TONIGHT'S CHANGE:
“Project Runway,” all night, Lifetime.

In a late switch,
Lifetime has apparently ditched its “Date Night Live” and
expanded “Runway.” At 7 and 8 p.m. are reruns of the preview
(introducing the contestants) and last week's season-opener, an
amiable one that let the designers create red-carpet looks.

That leads to the
new episode, from 9-10:30 p.m. This time, the designers split into
teams and dive into discards, lookig for material to recycle.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. As their maternity and paternity leave ends,
Bernadette and Howard have trouble leaving their baby in day care.
This rerun also has a plot similar to one on “Kevin Can Wait”:
The unattractive Bert introduces his girlfriend, played by the
gorgeous April Bowby.

“Kevin Can Wait,”
8:31, CBS. Chris Weidman, a former ultimate-fighting champion, plays
the ultra-fit cop who stepped in after the much-less-fit Kevin
retired.

“Weekend Update,”
9 p.m., NBC. The first two episodes have had great writing and top
guest bits from Bill Hader, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and Tina Fey.
We can expect more fun tonight.

“First in Human”
finale, 9-11:02 p.m., Discovery. This documentary has followed four
cases involving innovative treatment at the government's research
hospital. Tonight brings the final assessments.

“The Night Shift,”
10 p.m., NBC. A SWAT team raid leaves the emergency room filled with
patients ... and with a potential killer. Also, we learn about the
past that Cain (Mark Consuelos) has been hiding.

“Zoo,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. Things sometimes get really weird – even by the loose
parameters of an animals-gone -wild tale. Recently, we learned that
the villainous Mr. Duncan is actually Mitch (Billy Burke), one of our
heroes; Abigail implanted something evil. Now he attacks the team's
plane and flees.