TV column for Friday, Jan. 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Landmarks Live,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Leaping around the
music universe, this new series puts popular performers in logical
settings. The opener had Alicia Keys in New York; summer will have
six concerts, starting with Andrea Bocelli in Italy. And tonight,
it's Brad Paisley with an outdoor concert in his native West
Virginia.

Paisley is your
all-purpose country star. He can be funny one moment -- “Alcohol,”
“Celebrity,” “Online,” “The Fishin' Song” -- and deeply
emotional the next, from “Whiskey Lullaby” to “Welcolme to the
Future.” He's had three Grammys, 14 Country Music Association
awards and a lot to sing about.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” 9 p.m., CW.

What happens if two
colleagues suddenly have a long kiss in a stalled elevator? Rebecca
takes the Rebecca-ish route – she moves up her wedding date with
Josh and throws herself into frantic activity. Her boss takes a
different approach – obsessing on a “cleansing” drink that
mostly has him pass gas.

This creates lots of
room for sight gags, some of them rather childish. But as Rebecca
swirls about – simultaneously the bride, maid-of-honor, wedding
planner and more – we do get some funny chaos.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Z: The Beginning of Everything” debut, any time,
Amazon.

Zelda Sayre had just
turned 18, a judge's daughter in Montgomery, Ala. She drank, danced,
smoked, flirted, savored attention; still, she also savored words and
books and ideas. F. Scott Fitzgerald was 21, a Princeton drop-out
from Minnesota; an Army lieutenant, he vowed to be a great writer.

Their romance and
marriage would both nourish his career and sabotage it. We know that
the story will end with alcoholism, drugs and schizophrenia. Still,
the early phase – played by David Hoflin and a chaming Christina
Ricci – is great fun to watch.

Other choices
include:

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. A night of reruns begins with the U.S. embassy in Latvia
being overrun; fortunately, Mac has a chisel and a matchbook. Also,
his friend (Justin Hires) finally knows his secrets.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Mike (Tim Allen) wishes his two sons-in-law
knew how to fix things; his solution is to pit them against each
other. Meanwhile, his youngest daughter is unsettled when her
boyfriend says he loves her.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Ken's diagnosis could keep a high school basketball star
from playing in the big game. Meanwhile, Pat shows Ken's wife his
secret coffeemaker.

“Sleepy Hollow,”
9 p.m., Fox. There's a monster (not an elected one) in Washington,
D.C.

“Emerald City,”
9 p.m., NBC. Last week, Dorothy risked everything to save a little
girl. The kid and Lucas got free, but Dortohy's been captured by the
vengeful West. That sets up this hour, which pushes TV's obsession
with torture ... but leads to a key meeting at the end of the hour.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. In last year's Valentine's Day episode, a double murder
(linked to marital infidelity) leads people to recall their past
valentine misadventures;

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This year's season-opener found Danny in deep trouble:
A lawyer (Michael Implerioli) had new evidence against him in the
shooting of a serial killer.

TV column for Thursday, Jan. 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“How to Get Away With Murder” return, 10 p.m., ABC.

When we first met
Annalise, she ruled the classroom and the courtroom with fierce
confidence. It was precision, Emmy-winning work for Viola Davis.

And now,
two-and-a-half seasons later? In jail, awaiting charges for arson and
murder, she's shattered; Davis is perfect again. Alongside that are
sunny flashbacks, plus the start of the case. This should take up the
season's final six episodes, so settle in for a long, bitter and
well-acted ride.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Scandal” season-opener, 9 p.m., ABC.

Life has been tough
for this show's intense fans. After an eight-month break, due to
Kerry Washington's pregnancy, “Scandal” was set for last week ...
then delayed again, with no logical explanation. That second delay
makes sense when you see this episode -- which is a fairly good one,
in its own odd way.

It starts on
election night, with the results still wobbling. From there, the plot
twists keep growing to an operatic (well, soap-operatic) extreme.
This is a big, brash hour, including some plot twists that are
borderline absurd ... but that's sort of what fans have been
semi-patiently waiting for.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Riverdale” debut, 9 p.m., CW.

The Archie Andrews
in old comics was a sweet chap at the soda shop. The one in the
“Archies” cartoon had an intellect that never surpassed the
lyrics to “Sugar Sugar.” Neither would recognize this Archie.

He's an immensely
handsome guy who has a secret lover ... and a secret about a murder
... and a tiff with Jughead ... and now a triangle. He's loved by the
girl next door (Betty) and the new girl in town (Veronica), a beauty
whose family was once rich and is now disgraced. Some scenes –
Archie and the secret lover, anyone and the mean girl – are
wretched; the rest offer Archie 2.0, strongly told.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Grey's Anatomy” return, 8 p.m., ABC.

Here is a bold move:
Returning from a two-month break, the show has an episode that
doesn't include the hospital or (except for narration) its top star.
Instead, it sends Jo, Arizona and a reluctant Bailey to a prison
hospital, where a teen will soon face a complicated childbirth.

For viewers and for
the characters, this is a wrenching hour. There's depth to each
person, especially the teen, played with agonizing complexity by
relative newcomer Anna Jacoby-Heron.

Other choices
include:

“The New Edition
Story,” 5-11 p.m., BET. If you missed the first two chapters –
with Boston teens forming a pop group – catch them at 5 and 7. The
finale (9 p.m., rerunning at 11) starts with soaring success for the
group and for ex-member Bobby Brown. Then come the complications.

“Superstore,” 8
and 8:30 p.m., NBC. Next week, this will resume its new episodes. For
now, one rerun focuses on drug-testing, another on dog-adoption day
and both include the adventures of Cheyenne, the teen mom. In one,
she keeps talking about the baby; in the other, she fights with the
dad.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a terrific rerun, a flood in Amy's
apartment gives her the chance she's wanted – to move in with
Sheldon, her boyfriend and (once-a-year) lover.

Mom,” 8:31
p.m., CBS. Christy tries to be the AA sponsor of a hunky newcomer
(Joe Manganiello), but is way too atracted to him. That part is
fairly funny, but some of the best moments come when her mom attends
an upscale charity gala with Jill. 

“My Kitchen
Rules,” 9 p.m., Fox. So far, four of the five duos have cooked for
this mobile dinner party. Now Andrew Dice Clay and his wife Valerie
have their turn; then the two duos with the lowest scores have a
sudden-elimination cook-off.

 

“Mary Tyler Moore:
Love Is All Around You,” 9-10 p.m., CBS. In a late switch, CBS is
inserting this special about Moore, who died Tuesday at 80. The first
“golden age of comedy,” as it was later called, was propelled by
the shows she starred in (“Dick Van Duke Show” and “Mary
Tyler Moore Show”) and the company she co-owned (MTM).

“The Blacklist,”
10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun of the season's second episode, Red needs
help from Tom and the task force, to trace someone who may know where
Alexander Kirk is.

TV column for Wednesday, Jan. 25


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

Even in this
high-tech, communication-soaked world, Raimy (Peyton List) has a
unique situation: She can talk by ham radio to a father (Riley Smith)
who died 30 years ago. She's a young cop; he was a cop, wrongly
believed to be crooked. Crossing the time barrier, they can change
lives for good or bad.

Based on a 2000
movie, this is a well-made show that never quite caught on. Now it's
wrapping up its first season (“The 100” returns next week), which
will probably be its only one. We hate to see it go, but CW promises
key developments: Raimy makes a stunning discovery and truths are
revealed.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “The Magicians” season-opener, 9 p.m., Syfy, rerunning at
11:40.

The first season got
a bit grim. Obsessed with Fillory, the fictional world in his boyhood
books, Quentin was often bitter at a college for magicians; Julia,
his childhood friend, was more bitter about not getting in. She made
a deal with the Beast ... while Quentin and classmates were almost
killed.

Now Julia is still
dealing with the Beast, but the others find a welcome change-of-pace.
They're inside Fillory, where Eliot will be king and the others will
be royalty. It's gorgeous, with surprising bursts of humor. “We all
may look whimsical,” one woman says ... but this is an ominous sort
of whimsy.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Alzheimer's: Every Minute Counts,” 10 p.m., PBS.

The numbers offered
here are jolting: Right now, five million Americans have Alzheimer's
disease; by 2050, that number is expected to reach 14 million ...
with the expense topping the Defense budget.

Nationally, 80 drug
studies continue, but funding is far below other ailments. Locally,
aid to victims varies state-by-state. In Florida, we see a man
overwhelmed by the cost ($4,000 to $6,000 a month) at a home for his
mother; in New Hampshire – trying to exist without most taxes –
there's been a 20-year moratorium on nursing-home construction. No
quick solution seems apparent.

Other choices
include:

“The New Edition
Story,” 7 and 9 p.m., BET. Monday's buoyant opener (rerunning at 7
p.m.) saw five optimistic teens start a pop group in Boston. They had
hits, but no money; they fired one manager, switched labels, remained
broke. Tonight, the second album prospers, but tensions rise. Ralph
Tresvant soars as the lead singer; Bobby Brown gets increasingly
eccentric, leading to Thursday's finale.

“Hunted,” 8-10
p.m., CBS. In its Sunday debut, this reality show set up its
high-tech high-and-seek: Nine duos try to disappear, sought by
detectives and a command center. Now the show settles into its
regular slot; one duo goes off the grid and another concocts a way to
communicate with loved ones.

“Lethal Weapon,”
8 p.m., Fox. Someone has been attacking people who all belong to the
same church. Meanwhile, Riggs spirals downward on the first
anniversary of his wife's death.

“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. Merely getting into the Atlanta music festival wasn't enough, it
seems.Tonight, the three young women see how strong the competition
is; they rush to revamp their style. Meanwhile, Simone finds music
tapes made by her late mother; Carlotta (Queen Latifah) wants to
avoid them.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Jay's club remains his one refuge; in this rerun, Phil
may join it.

“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. For Dr. Mario Savetti, it's a long day. After a double
shift, he follows Col. Willis (Rob Lowe) to a construction site,
where brothers are trapped on a crane, 300 feet high.

“Man Seeking
Woman,” 10:30 p.m., FXX. Who thought life would be easier when Josh
finally had a girlfriend? Tonight, she fumes because he gets along
with her parents. That follows “It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
(10 p.m.), in which the gang's Wolf Cola faces a publicity nightmare.

TV column for Tuesday, Jan. 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Experience,” 8-10 p.m., PBS.

Back in the1940s and
'50s, this terrific film reminds us, we looked for quick solutions.
The atom bomb ended World War II; DDT conquered malaria and typhus.
Soon, Americans obsessed on pesticides; they sprayed them on crops,
kids, schools and pools, with little testing of the long-range
effects.

The lone voice of
caution came from Rachel Carson. After decades of day jobs to support
her family, she had finally become a popular author. Her “Silent
Spring” mined obscure science reports about the dangers. Tonight's
film doubles as great biography and a portrait of a nation changing
its priorities.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “This Is Us,” 9 p.m., NBC.

Last week was huge
for this well-crafted show: It jumped to No. 5 in the Nielsen
ratings, won a People's Choice Award (favorite new drama) and was
renewed for two seasons.

And tonight? All we
know is that series creator Dan Fogelman says it's “a big episode”;
also, Chrissy Metz, as Kate, has a powerhouse scene. She's “going
through this kind of thearapeutic exercise class. (Metz is) wonderful
in the episode,” Fogelman said. There's also a key romantic
decision by Kevin and trouble at work for Randall. In flashbacks,
their parents try a separate 10th birthday party for each
kid.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The New Edition Story,” 9-11 p.m., BET.

This zesty story
starts with a chaotic night in 1997: Bobby Brown was opening for the
group (New Edition) that had fired him. He went on and on, until
others tried to tug him away; a fight followed.

It was a bizarre
moment ... especially when you consider the start. Tonight, launching
a three-day mini-series, we see youthful idealism and musical joy.
In a tough Boston neightborhood, kids barely into their teens won a
talent contest and signed with Maurice Starr. They had hit records, a
successful tour ... and virtually no money. It was the start of a
journey that wouild mix personal chaos and buoyant music.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Outsiders” season-opener, 9 p.m., WGN America,
rerunning at 10 and 11.

In the first season,
battle lines hardened. The mountain is owned by the coal company, but
has been occupied for generations by the Farrells, who have their own
rules. “Big Foster” (David Morse) took charge after killing his
mother. Now he's believed to be dead and his maybe-widow may take
over.

Things start with a
fierce battle – mostly imagined, it turns out – followed by
crises for “Lil Foster” (Ryan Hurst) and others. It's a strong
start, with high stakes and high-octane characters.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a change-of-pace, this focuses on Jimmy Palmer, who is
Ducky's assistant medical examiner. After a hit-and-run probe, he
ends up on a ledge with a stranger who may jump.

“New Girl,” 8
p.m., Fox. Aly (Nasim Pedrad) is back and Winston – her boyfriend
and former police partner -- throws a surprise party. Also, Jess and
Party learn something about themselves during a hike.

“The Mick,” 8:30
p.m., Fox. Barely removed from being a low-life drifter, Mick pursues
a rich businessman. He quickly learns she's not the prize he'd
expected.

“Bones,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. Aubrey faces a moral dilemma, when he learns his dad is back.
Also, Booth and Brennan investigate the murder of someone from their
past.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. Here's a new crisis for Pride (Scott
Bakula): He's on a deep-sea oil rig that's on the verge of exploding.

“Frontline,” 10
p.m., PBS. This wraps up a three-week, six-hour series. Last week
viewed the political gridlock that gripped most of the Obama years;
tonight analyzes how Donald Trump managed to win.

TV column for Monday, Jan. 23


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Quantico” return, 10:01 p.m., ABC.

After struggling in
a tough Sunday slot, “Quantico” finally gets a break – a comfy
place behind “The Bachelor” on Mondays. This episode that seems
perfect for the switch.

It's long on
exposition; Alex (Priyanka Chopra) is in custody, with interrogation
that semi-explains a way-too-tangled plot. It's also slick and sexy;.
These CIA recruits hear their trainer (Blair Underwood) give a crisp
message about the productive use of seduction. Then they're sent to a
wedding party to seduce specific people. The result is sleek, sensual
and, ultimately, even more tangled than usual.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Big Bang Theory,” 9:30, CBS.

Next week, CBS gives
a proper send-off to “The Odd Couple,” airing its last two
episodes back-to-back. That leaves a hole tonight ... which, barring
a late change, will be filled by this terrific rerun.

Leonard and Penny
are ready for their second wedding, this time for family and friends.
We meet her angst-ridden mother (Katey Sagal) and drug-dealing
brother (Jack McBrayer). We'd already met his dad (Judd Hirsch) ...
who promptly spent the night with Sheldon's mom (Laurie Metcalf) –
to the disapproval of his ex-wife (Christine Baranski). Those guest
stars total six Emmys and immense talent.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

Back in 1964, the
story drew international furor: Kitty Genovese was beaten and killed,
while 38 New Yorkers watched and failed to intervene, or even to call
police. Bill Genovese, her brother, was so dismayed that he proved
his own valor by going to Vietnam, where he lost both legs.

But then came doubts
about the story. Bill began an 11-year search, finding fresh
information about his sister, the killer and the neighbors; he also
found that the New York Times, known for its accuracy, was simply
wrong. This documentary is clumsy and poorly crafted, but has a
compelling story to tell.

Other choices
include:

“Celebrity
Apprentice,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Last week, the men-vs.-women concept
vanished: The women lost for the fourth time in five contests, with
Kyle Richards ousted; the teams were reshuffled, with Jon Lovitz
booted. Tonight, the teams work on a health-food brand and a Harry
Potter attraction.

“The Bachelor,”
8-10 p.m., ABC. After sending two of the women home, Nick Viall takes
the others to his home town of Waukesha, Wis. One has a romantic date
... and most are put to work on a farm.

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Jane finds it hard to resist meddling in other people's
relationships ... especially anything involving her mother.

“The Story of
God,” 9 p.m., National Geographic. In last week's season-opener
(rerunning at 8 p.m.), this richly crafted series viewed people who
are considered “the chosen one.” Tonight, Morgan Freeman finds
varying ideas about Heaven and Hell.

“Timeless,” 10
p.m., NBC. Villains from two eras combine, when Flynn rides with
Jesse James. To catch them, the team links with a famous sheriff.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. A man is teetering at the edge of an enormous sinkhole ...
which, alas, could destroy Los Angeles' water supply.

“Summer House,”
10 p.m., Bravo. In last week's series opener, lots of great-looking
people partied and had sex. Of course, that's mostly what happened in
the previous season-opener of “Vanderpump Rules” (9 p.m. Mondays,
Bravo). There may be a trend here.