TV column for Thursday, June 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Amazing Race” finale, 10 p.m., CBS.

For 16 seasons and
29 editions, this has been a TV powerhouse. Ten times (including one
string of seven in a row) the Emmys have called it TV's best reality
competition. Now it's down to one edition per season, instead of two;
after tonight, it will again wait until mid-season to return.

First, it finds its
million-dollar duo. The three surviving ones – for the first time,
linking strangers – have covered nine countries, 17 cities and
36,000 miles. They are Tara Carr, 38, and Joey Covino, 46; Brooke
Camhi, 36, and Scott Flanary, 34; and London Kaye and Logan Bauer,
both 27.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Basketball, 9 p.m. ET, ABC, with previews at 8 ad 8:30.

It's June now, so we
really should be finishing the winter sports. Hockey is two games
into its finals; now basketball jumps in. It happens to have a
classic re-match.

For the first time,
the finals have had the same teams for three straight years. Stephen
Curry's Golden State Warriors won in 2015, LeBron James' Cleveland
Cavaliers did in 2016; now they collide again. The Warriors dominated
the regular season with a 67-15 record and have won all 12 play-off
games, one shy of the record; the Cavs were 51-31 in the regular
season, then soared (12-1) in the playoffs.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Nashville,” 9 p.m., CMT, reruns at 10:03; also, 11
p.m., Nickelodeon.

Fresh from a
three-month break, “Nashville” now faces its challenge –
keeping viewers after losing its heart and soul, Rayna. Connie
Britton had wanted to leave, so producers obliged by killing Rayna in
a car crash. After two episodes of aftershocks, the show took a long
break; now it continues all summer.

We jump ahead a few
months, with the widowed Deacon getting by. He tries to help his
disinterested step-daughter Daphne pass a history test; his daughter
Maddie is a rising star who gets some unsolicited song advice from
Juliette – once a young country phenom, now struggling with gospel.

Other choices
include:

“The Devil Wears
Prada” (2006), 6:10 p.m., Freeform. Here's the start of a good
movie night. At 8 p.m., HBO repeats Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff
in “The Wizard of Lies” (2017) and AMC has “Young Guns”
(1988),with its sequel (1990) at 10:30. Also, BBC America has the
delightful “Princess Bride” (1987) at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

“Chicago Fire,”
8 p.m., NBC. A rerun finds the firefighters trying to reinvigorate
business at Molly's, the old bar they now own. Otis' plan is to give
it a 100th-anniversary celebration.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. TV's best comedy is into its rerun season
now. Tonight, Sheldon is so distracting that the guys nudge him away
with a ticket to a historic railway. Also, Raj and Stuart are taking
care of Bernadette and Howard's baby.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In this rerun, Bonnie finds that Adam has been smoking pot to
get ready for sex.

“Love Connection,”
9 p.m., Fox. Last week's opener was fun, with two singles each going
out on three dates, then choosing one. Here's the second episode,
following the second “Beat Shazam” at 8.

“Married at First
Sight,” 9-10:17 p.m., Lifetime. In previous episodes (rerunning at
7:07 and 8 p.m.), each set of former strangers moved in together and
met their in-laws. Tonight, two weeks after the marriage, we learn
about intimacy, emotional and otherwise. Cody Knapek praises Danielle
DeGroot, but admits: “Not having sex is starting to be an issue
with me.”

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, a suspect in a
rape and murder case insists he has secrets that he can spill about
the investigators.

TV column for Wednesday, May 31


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Carmichael Show” season-opener, 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

Topical comedy has
soared in latenight ... while remaining invisible in primetime. Now
“Carmichael” -- often-topical, usually funny – starts its third
mini-season.

Jerrod Carmichael is
a skilled writer and a just-adequate actor, getting a huge boost from
the superb Loretta Devine and David Alan Grier as his parents. The
first episode (on rape) is quite good ... the second (on supporting
the troops) is OK ... and both scatter in brief bits of Trump
commentary.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “MasterChef” season-opener, 8 p.m., Fox.

We quickly meet
Shawn, a food-loving pastor who says his “top two influences are
God and Gordon.” Lord help him; he's talking about Gordon Ramsay,
the guy with a godawful temper and vocabulary.

Now Shawn tries to
out-cook another pastor. Ir's a fun start to the latest show in
Ramsay's Fox empire. (At 9, he debuts “The F Word”; we're hoping
the word is “food,” since the show is done live.) First, he has
this amiable collection of non-pros, including a dentist, a model, a
waiter and a wedding singer.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Nova,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Three years ago, a
state-appointed emergency manager decided to save money by using the
local river as the water source for Flint, Mich. Quickly, people
complained about how the water looked and smelled; soon, they talked
about illness. After 18 months, the source was switched back.

Now “Nova”
deftly mixes human touches and scientific details. It ignores the
broad political questions, but richly explains the technical details.
We learn what went wrong ... and why it will take years to fix.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Kingdom” season-opener, 8 and 11 p.m., DirecTV
and AT&T.

In the opening
moments, we see the extremes of Alvey's life. He passed out on the
beach, alongside his coach-of-the-year trophy and his liquor bottle.
This guy is a great mixed-martial-arts coach; like most of the people
in “Kingdom,” he also has a shabby life, heavy on alcohol and
rage.

He's superbly played
by Frank Grillo, with big things coming up for him. Scheduled first,
however, are key matches for Nate (Alvey's son) and Ryan (Alvey's
protege, a champion). And Jay, Nate's older brother, is trying the
precarious switch from fighter to dad and real-estate salesman. It's
a solid opener.

Other choices
include:

“Little Big
Shots,” 8 p.m., NBC. Already a ratings hit on Sundays, this slides
to Wednesdays. Tonight, Steve Harvey meets an 8-year-old newscaster,
a 7-year-old stand-up comedian and more.

“Legends of
Tomorrow,” 9 p.m., CW. The first season had too many superpowers
and too little humanity. Here's a rerun of the second-season opener
that shifted direction. Gone are Hawkgirl, Hawkman and Captain Cold;
arriving is a historian (Nick Zano) with no special powers. He soon
joins the team on a jaunty tale about a bomb, two Einsteins and world
crisis.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Manny has his family do a read-through of
his new play.

“This Is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of the pilot film that impressed and
perplexed us. Yes, it was richly constructed and deeply moving, but
we weren't sure it could it go anywhere from there. It could; with
great characters and rich emotion, “This Is Us” became the
season's happiest surprise.

“Still
Star-Crossed,” 10 p.m., ABC. This reruns a pilot film that's far
from the “This Is Us” level. It's a worthy idea -- retelling the
Romeo-and-Juliet story and seeing what happens next. But this shaky
blend of stiff dialog and hyper visuals leaves us no one to care
about, beyond those doomed young lovers.

“Fargo,” 10
p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:04 and 12:08. Gloria, the small-town cop
facing big obstacles, tries to work around the system.

TV column for Tuesday, May 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“World of Dance” debut, 10 p.m., NBC.

This will be a
two-dance-show summer -- NBC on Tuesdays, Fox's “So You Think You
Can Dance” (starting June 12) on Mondays. But you'll have no
trouble telling them apart.

The Fox show is
peacefully paced; this one is sheer spectacle. Lights flash, the
crowd roars, the judges cheer. Certainly, these are dancers worth
cheering for ... and panelists who know the subject. Derek Hough,
Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo are judges; Jenna Dewan Tatum is the host.
It's an hour filled with pretty faces, great moves and unrelenting,
unyielding, terribly excessive commotion.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“America's Got Talent” season-opener, 8-10 p.m., NBC.

It's the 12the
season of the annual summertime ratings champion, with things staying
mostly the same.

There's a new host –
Nick Cannon left, Tyra Banks arrives – but the judges remain. Simon
Cowell – who produces the show and is quite wealthy – is there,
alongside Howie Mandell, Heidi Klum and Mel B. As auditions start,
each judge has one “golden buzzer” to send an act straight to the
live shows.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Animal Kingdom” season-opener, 9 p.m., TNT,
rerunning at 10.

The season starts
with the sort of heist viewers savor – five guys, two all-terrain
vehicles, a pick-up truck and a daring attempt to grab a safe in
broad daylight. It's quick and slick, but sets up a new crisis.

So far, “Smurf”
(Ellen Barkin) has commanded every heist for her four sons (one
adopted) and her grandson. But some of her plans have failed; the
guys want to take control. Will they? And if they do, can five wildly
different guys agree on anything? You'll see, in a strong start to
the season.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “American Epic,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Blues buffs knew a
little about Mississippi John Hurt. A dazzling guitarist and a
passionate singer-songwriter, he recorded a few tracks in 1928, then
disappeared. He was dead, presumably.

But then a fan
listened to his “Avalon Blues” and searched for Avalon, Miss.,
which many maps ignored. He went there in '63 and found Hurt, who
was glad to perform ... if he could get a guitar. Already 70, he
would spend his final three years as a star. It's a great story,
wrapping up an hour that starts blandly and ends beautifully.

Other choices
include:

“Downward Dog,”
8 p.m., ABC. In a six-comedy night, ABC has two non-reruns – the
so-so “Imaginary Mary” at 9:30 and this clever show (which has
the thoughts of Martin the dog) at 8. In a fairly good episode,
Martin sees where Nan goes all day; he transforms her work life for
bad and good.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. To probe a murder, the team works with a group of elderly
crimesolvers ... including Tony DiNozzo's dad, played by Robert
Wagner, 87. That's rerun, but there's a new “Real NCIS”
documentary at 10 p.m., viewing a past case.

“Lethal Weapon,”
8 p.m., Fox. Moving into its summer slot, the show reruns an episode
with Riggs and Murtaugh suspecting an abuse of power in the sheriff's
department.

“Prison Break”
finale, 9 p.m., Fox. Fierce and bracing, but wildly improbable, this
season has taken us from a Yemen prison back to the U.S., where the
mastermind “Poseiden” has captured Sara (his wife, Michael's
ex-wife) and Mike (the son of Sara and Michael). Last week, he
tricked the guys to a remote spot where ... well, someone shot
someone. Tonight, we learn who's dead and what happens next.

“Genius,” 9
p.m., National Geographic, rerunning at 10. In previous episodes
(rerunning from 6-9 p.m.), we saw Albert Einstein's career soar and
his marriage to Mileva crumble. Now they move to his new job in
Berlin ... the home of Elsa, his cousin and his future wife. She
insists he divorce.

“Chopped,” 10
p.m., Food Network. Can ugly ingredients become beautiful food?
That's the challenge here, part of a “Chopped” marathon (2 p.m.
to 4 a.m.) that also launches a juniors tournament at 8 p.m.

“The Americans”
season-finale, 10 p.m., FX. With a life in the balance, Philip and
Elizabeth race. And Stan – their neighbor who doesn't know they're
Russian spies – is unsure of his own future at the FBI.

AND: This happens to
be a big day for Netflix viewers, including a new season of “House
of Cards.” Also today, Netflix has a Sarah Silverman stand-up
special and the animated “F is for Family.”

 

TV column for Monday, May 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Lucifer” season-finale, 9 p.m., Fox.

Don't you hate it
when you have to keep covering up for the odd things your mother does
– such as killing people? That's what Lucifer does now: His
gorgeous mom (Tricia Helfer) inadvertently burned someone to death;
she does that sort of thing. He must keep it from his colleagues in
the police.

First he has to find
her; she's disappeared with his brother. Maze searches for them,
wrapping up what has been a surprisingly good season, mixing wit and
drama.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Still Star-Crossed” debut, 10:01 p.m., ABC.

In old Verona, two
sweet kids are marrying. Romeo and Juliet are wildly in love; what
could go wrong?

A lot; their
families make war, not love. Yes, this first hour is Shakespeare's
classic story, souped up with fierce fights and dynamic visuals; but
from there, the series will ask what will happen after Romeo and
Juliet are gone. Shonda Rhimes' shows – especially “Scandal” --
often seem Shakespearean with their wild plots. Now she goes that
route directly, with an uneasy blend of stiff dialog and zesty
filming.

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

On Memorial Day,
here's a quietly compelling portrait of a good man in a complicated
life. Alex Sutton joined the Army at 17; he had three Iraq tours,
wounds, medals and (after 13 years) an honorable discharge for
post-traumatic stress. He has other memories of things that may or
may not be real.

After shattering his
first marriage, he met and married Jessica, a college grad with a
business major. Now they try to run a 43-acre farm in North Carolina,
while raising their two babies. It's a story that swirls between
hope, despair and the healing (maybe) power of love, agriculture and
medication.

Other choices
include:

“Hockey,” 8 p.m.
ET, NBC. The Stanley Cup finals begin, three days before the
basketball finals start. Sometime this summer, the winter seasons
will finally end.

“The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week, Rachel Lindsay met 31
guys and sent eight of them home. Now the others settle into the
mansion and find adventues. Ten have a day of basketball with Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar, eight face a “husband-material obstacle course”
judged by Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis ... and Peter (a
business-owner from Madison, Wis.) gets the first one-on-one date.

“Gotham”
season-finale, 8 p.m., Fox. Last week ended with Gotham City wobbling
... again. The bad guys are ready to release the Alice virus; Jim
Gordon races to stop it and Lee Thompkins has her own plan. Also,
Bruce Wayne is back home, but Alfred notices that the Shaman has
changed him.

“Supergirl,” 8
p.m., CW. Here's a rerun of the season-opener, which amiably moved
the show over from CBS. Kara's cousin Super,am (Tyler Hoechlin)
visits; also, a new pod crashes to Earth.

“Whose Line Is It
Anyway” return, 9 and 9:30 p.m., CW. This fun improv show is back,
with new episodes at 9 (tonight, Tony Hawk guests) and reruns at 9:30
(tonight with Lea Thompson).

“Superior Donuts,”
9 p.m., CBS. The comedies settle into their summer reruns. This is
the second “Donuts” episode; Franco comes up with some popular
new flavors and Arthur tries to match them.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. Hackers are causing more trouble in this rerun. Now they
control a nuclear submarine and are aiming a missile toward the U.S.

TV column for Sunday, May 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“National Memorial Day Concert, 8-9:30 p.m., PBS, rerunning at 10
(check local listings).

Each year, on the
eve of Memorial Day, PBS delivers a passionate blend of music and
readings. This year has voices that have ranged from country (Scotty
McCreery) to classical (Renee Fleming, Ronan Tynen, Russell Watson)
and rock (John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting), from Broadway
(Christopher Jackson of “Hamilton”) to Disney classics (Vanessa
Williams, Auli'i Cravalho of “Moana”).

Joe Mantegna and
Laurence Fishburne host. Mary McCormiack tells of a Gold Star mother
from the Vietnam era; Robert Patrick portrays the last survivor, age
101, of the Doolittle Raiders.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Fast cars, all day.

First, NBC filled
Saturday with speeding street cars, via the “Furious 6” movie.
Now the other networks try to top that.

At noon ET (with a
preview at 11 a.m.), ABC has the Indianapolis 500. And at 6 p.m. ET,
Fox has NASCAR, from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. In between, drive
your truck somewhere.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Pay-cable shows, 9-11 p.m..

Most channels
retreat into reruns this weekend, but the pay-extra channels remain
busy. That's led by Showtime, which repeats last week's “Twin
Peaks” at 7 p.m., then has a new round from 9-11 p.m.

Meanwhile, Starz has
a new “White Princess” at 8 p.m. – there's a pretender to the
throne – and “American Gods” at 9, with Shadow trying to work
things out with his unfaithful (and dead) wife. HBO has “The
Leftovers” (9), “Silicon Valley” (10) and then “Veep”
(10:30), with Selena writing her memoirs while waiting for her
portrait ceremony.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Memorial Day weekend shows.

The American Heroes
Channel continues its “Salute to Sacrifice” weekend. At 8 p.m. is
an “Air Aces” portrait of “Gabby” Gabreski, who was intent on
avenging the damage to his parents' Polish homeland. At 9, “Surviving
D-Day” traces such offbeat touches as floating tanks and exploding
“paratroopers.”

Also, Turner Classic
Movies continues its war weekend. Alfred Hitchcock's “Saboteur”
(1942) is at 4:15 p.m. ET, with John Huston's “Across the Pacific”
(1942) at 6:15. At 8 is “Twelve O'Clock High” (1949); Dean Jagger
won a supporting Oscar, with nominations for Gregory Peck and best
picture.

Other choices
include:

“The Godfather”
(1972) and “The Godfather, Part II” (1974), 1 and 5 p.m., AMC,
repeating at 9:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Here are chances to see the best
movie-and-sequel combo in Hollywood history.

“American Ninja
Warriors,” 8-11 p.m., NBC. The season is still two weeks away, but
NBC reruns some specials. At 8 is a celebrity hour, with Drek Hough,
Stephen Amell and other fit types; at 9 is an all-star match, with
each of the three hosts choosing a three-person team.

“The
Bachelorette,” 9-11 p.m., ABC. Here's a quick rerun of Monday's
opener. Rachel Lindsay, a Dallas lawyer, meets the 31 guys, including
two doctors, two lawyers, a wrestler, a model and a would-be drummer.
She trims the field to 23.

“Madam Secretary,”
9 p.m., CBS. Elizabeth pushes the president to change his policies on
foreign aid and climate change ... at a time when that could endanger
his re-election. It's a rerun, directed by Morgan Freeman, who is one
of the show's producers and also plays the chief justice.

“The Good Witch,”
9 p.m., Hallmark. Teens want their birthdays to be special, so it
helps if they have a mom who's a benevolent witch. Cassie gives Grace
a birthday wish book.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. A street gang kidnaps Sherlock and demands he find out who
killed one of their men. Soon, this rerun has him searching for a
priceless artifact.