TV column for Sunday, April 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Academy of Country Music awards, 8-11 p.m., CBS.

Generations of
country stars will perform. That includes current co-hosts Dierks
Bentley (who will rock with Cole Swindell) and Luke Bryan. It also
includes Reba McEntire, who hosted 14 times; she'll link with
contemporary-Christian star Lauren Daigle for “Back to God.”

There's much more,
solo (Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Maren Morris, more), groups
(Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, etc.) and collaborations. It's Tim
McGraw and Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett
and Maren Morris, even Florida Georgia Line and the Backstreet Boys.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Masterpiece: Home Fires” season-opener, 9 p.m., PBS.

It's 1940 now and
the gloom is growing. Allied forces were crushed at Dunkirk, barely
escaping; a German invasion seems imminent. Life presses down on this
British village, including the Campbells.

He's a doctor,
suffering from cancer; she's a pharmacist. One daughter is already a
war widow, the other is being ostracized for her affair with a
married pilot. In this richly layered hour, events pile up quickly.
There's a marriage, a car crash, tragic news about local soldiers.
Good people grasp for strands of joy.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Black Sails” finale, 9 p.m., Starz; rerunning at
11:15.

For four seasons,
this show has tried to do it all. A pirate epic with sweeping action
and gifted actors, it fits into real history and works as a prequel
to Robert Louis Stevenson's “Treasure Island.”

Now – right after
“Missing” (8 p.m.) concludes its story -- “Black Sails” has
its series finale. Captain Flint makes a last push to defeat England.
Jack Rackham, the calculating pirate, confronts Woodes Rogers, the
Bahamas governor who's been determined to break the pirates' hold on
Nassau. And John Silver – that will be “Long John” some day –
seals his fate.

Other choices
include:

Baseball, 1 p.m. ET,
ESPN. It's Opening Day, a festive time for fans. Most teams start
Monday, but this tripleheader comes first. It's Yankees-Rays at 1,
Giants-Diamondbacks at 4 and Cubs-Cardinals at 8:30.

Figure-skating, 2:30
p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network. The world championships have concluded
in Helsinki and it's time for fun. Here's an exhibition with the
winners.

“Call the Midwife”
season-opener, 8 p.m., PBS. Filled with good intentions and
good-hearted souls, this convent still faces tough odds. It's now
1962, in an impoverished section of London; the idealistic nuns and
nurses have a stern new boss and old crises. Tonight, a young mother
faces a brutal husband; like many of the “Midwife” stories, this
is well-done, but painful to watch.

“Making History,”
8:30 p.m., Fox. Of all the good uses for a time machine, this is one
of the weakest: Go back to 1919 Chicago, claim you're Al Capone's
pals and bet against the Black Sox. The result is moderately funny,
setting up next week's crisis.

“The Walking
Dead,” 9-10:25 p.m., AMC. Here's the extended season-finale, with
high stakes and, one assumes, a high body count. If you need to get
in the mood, you can start with reruns. The first half of this split
season starts at 3:40 a.m.; the second half starts at 1:20 p.m.

“Shades of Blue,”
10 p.m., NBC, In the early minutes, Harlee (Jennifer Lopez) finds a
moral high ground. Alas, she can't stay there; past deeds and enemies
force her and Wozniak to go to extremes. Some of them strain
believability, in a good (but overwrought) episode..

“Wolf Hall”
(PBS) or “Billions” (Showtime), 10 p.m. Choose your century and
watch Damian Lewis collide with another gifted actor. The
slow-but-compelling “Wolf Hall” (starting its second run) is 16th
century, with Lewis as King Henry VIII and Mark Rylance as
Thomas Cromwell. The intense “Billions” is nowadays, with Lewis
as a scheming money man and Paul Giamatti as a prosecutor.

TV column for Saturday, April 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Basketball, 6 p.m. ET, CBS.

The long, loud
college basketball tournament is down to its final four, with some
surprises.

Fans expected North
Carolina and Gonzaga -- both seeded No. 1 in their quadrants – to
be here; they didn't expect Oregon (No. 3) or South Carolina (No. 7).
But now South Carolina faces Gonzaga at 6:09 p.m. ET, with Oregon
and North Carolina at about 8:49. The winners collide Monday.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Imaginary Mary,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.

If you missed the
show's debut, here's a quick rerun. It's has one offbeat gimmick, but
surrounds that with interesting characters and clever dialog.

In the TV tradition,
Alice (Jenna Elfman) is good at just about everything except
relationships. Now she's fallen for a great guy who has three kids.
This triggers lots of worries ... and brings back the imaginary
friend she hasn't seen since childhood. That's the gimmick part – a
clever piece of puppetry and special effects – but it's just a
bonus in a smart, fun show that now goes to Tuesdays.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Skating, all day, NBC and cable.

For many
figure-skating fans, the big draw is 8-10 p.m. on NBC, with the
women's finals of the world championships, from Helsinki. Be careful
to avoid spoilers, though; this is a delayed tape from Friday.

Other events are on
the NBC Sports Network. They include the finals for men and for dance
(12:30 and 2:30 p.m. ET today), plus an exhibition by the winners (2
p.m. ET Sunday).

Other choices
include:

“The Walking
Dead,” 6 p.m., AMC. Leading into Sunday's season-finale, AMC has
multiple marathons. The first half of this season reruns until 3:40
a.m. ... then re-reruns until 1:20 p.m. Sunday. That's when the
second half reruns, taking us to the 9 p.m. finale.

“The Goldbergs,”
8 p.m., ABC. This nostalgic comedy captures a seminal moment in the
1980s – a family's first answering machine. Murray and his dad
(George Segal) start leaving crazy messages.

“Bones,” 8 p.m.,
Fox. If you missed the series finale Tuesday, you can catch it here.
It begins after a bomb left the lab in shambles, with questions about
Angela's baby, Brennan's memory and more. The result is a moderately
good hour, wrapping up the show's 12th and final season.

“APB,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. In a rerun, Brandt goes undercover to find people selling
armor-piercing bullets.

“The Catch,” 9
p.m., ABC. Here's a rerun of the season-opener, which is slick and
sexy and kind of hard to like. The lead characters -- Alice (Mirielle
Enos) and Ben (Peter Krause) -- are cool and distant; partly making
up for that are Alice's employees and the arrival of her floundering
brother (T.J. Knight).

“The Axe Files,”
9 p.m. ET, CNN. Back in 2008, these men were on opposite sides: John
McCain was running for president; David Axelrod was running the
campaign of his opponent, Barack Obama. Now McCain discusses his
career and current issues in this hour, the first cablecast of
Axelrod's podcast.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Here's a rerun of one of the show's
most-watched episode in years, with Alec Baldwin hosting and Ed
Sheeran as music guest.

TV column for Friday, March 31


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Grimm” series finale, 8 p.m., NBC.

Some shows end with
a sigh and a shrug, but not this one. Right up to its final minutes,
the fate of mankind is teetering precariously. The hour has alternate
worlds, a magical mirror and much mayhem.

Last week, Nick was
protected by a little stick that's coveted by a nasty guy with a big
stick; now he's staring at the lifeless bodies of Hank and Wu. Nick
has many more battles ahead, all of them intense and one of them
(with his cousin Trubel) quite absurd. Then is the sort of big finish
that viewers covet.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“MacGyver,” 8 p.m., and more, CBS.

After a two-week
basketball break, the dependable CBS cop shows are back and new.
That start with this one, which is down to the final three episodes
of its first, successful season.

The guest star is
Aly Michalka, who's big on the CW. (She starred in its “Hellcats”
series and plays Liv's friend on “iZombie.”) Here, she's Mac's
friend, a scientist who faked her own death when someone was trying
to kill her and to suppress her research.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Great Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

Like other great
conductors, Gustavo Dudamel can skillfully handle the work of dead
Europeans. But in this zestful night (taped in the Hollywood Bowl last
August), he revisits his South American roots.

Dudamel, 36, grew up
in Venezuela. This concert focuses on Argentine tango music, adding
dancers (Tango Buenos Aires) and guitar and bandoneon soloists. There
are interviews with the composers, including Lalo Schifrin, 84, a
six-time Oscar nominee best-known for the “Mission Impossible”
theme.

Other choices
include:

Figure-skating, 1
and 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network. These are the world championships,
from Helsinki, and you can catch the women in two ways – live at 1
p.m. today on cable or (try to avoid spoilers) tape-delayed at 8 p.m.
Saturday on NBC. Also today, the cable channel has the dance short
program at 8 p.m. ET. The finals for men and for dance will be 12:30
and 2:30 p.m. Saturday on cable.

“Murder, She
Baked: Just Desserts” (2017), 7-9 p.m., Hallmark. This
pleasant-enough film starts a night of light movies. Others include
“Mean Girls” (2004, 7 p.m., Bravo), “Ghostbusters” (2016,
7:01, Starz) and “The Help” (2011, 8 p.m., TNT). On the serious
side, Netflix debuts the teen drama “13 Reasons Why” and “Five
Came Back,” a documentary mini-series about Hollywood in World War
II.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Job-shadowing her dad, Mandy soon stirs
trouble. Also, her sisters take their mom to a kickboxing class.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. In real life, Ken Jeong was a doctor who became a co-star
of the “Community” series. Now that's mirrored here, with the
real “Community” creator (Dan Harmon) and co-star (Alison Brie)
playing themselves.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. William Forsythe is back, in one of his tough-guy roles,
is back. He's private-eye Harry Brown, working the case of a
kidnapped woman whose husband may have a secret.

“Sleepy Hollow,”
9:01 p.m., Fox. It's a grim night for fantasy fans – the end of
“Grimm” and then the season-finale (and, probably, series-finale)
of “Sleepy Hollow.” That comes just as Malcolm Dreyfuss -- the
businessman who sold his soul to the devil – nears the White House;
Ichabod tries to stop him.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Isaiah Washington, 53, guests as Police Chief Taylor
Daniels, who refuses to retire when he hits the mandatory age limit.
Also, an ex-cop goes missing, a day after she announced she would
make amends to someone she helped wrongly convict, years ago.

TV column for Thursday, March 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

After being bumped
by basketball for two weeks, TV's best comedy night is back, with new
episodes.

When we last saw
“Big Bang,” Raj had decided he doesn't need his parents's help.
That was a fine idea, except now he has no apartment and little
money; he's in Sheldon's old room, in the apartment Leonard and Penny
had (briefly) to themselves. Also, Sheldon suddenly has an interest
in Amy's work.

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

Despite great comedy
lead-ins, CBS keeps sputtering at 10 p.m. Thursdays. There was “Rush
Hour,” then “Pure Genius,” then “Training Day” ... which
will be exiled to Saturdays, starting April 8. Now the network tries
“Race”; the spot it usually gets (8 p.m. Fridays) will soon go to
“Undercover Boss.”

For the first time,
“Race” links strangers as duos. There are physical types –
three cops, three soldiers, a firefighter, a butcher, a snowboarder,
an athletic trainer and a rock-climbing instructor. Others include a
lawyer, an auctioneer, two Realtors, a drum major, a recruiting
manager and a Wall Street banker.

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

In the comics, the
Archies teens seemed carefree and almost parent-free. Here, however,
their parents' woes fall heavily on them. They finally learn that
Jughead (whose dad is in the Southside Serpent gang) has been
homeless, living in the drive-in theater until it closed.

Now Fred (Archie's
dad) has the contract to tear down the drive-in and build a project
secretly backed by Veronica's parents. Then Fred loses his crew,
putting his livelihood in jeopardy; Archie and friends try to help,
but one of them is attacked; their new plan puts them on Serpent
turf.

Other choices
include:

Movies, all night,
cable. The “Training Day” series has lost its Thursday spot, but
there's the original movie (2001), with Denzel Washington's
Oscar-winning work. That's 5:15 p.m. ET on IFC, followed by “Full
Metal Jacket” (1987) at 8. On the lighter side, try “Wedding
Crashers” (2005) at 8 p.m. on E, or Tom Hanks' buoyant “That
Thing You Do” (1996) at 9:04 p.m. on Starz.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Last week, Maggie's mom returned, having not told her
daughter about her breast cancer. Now her health worsens; also,
Richard adjusts to Bailey's betrayal.

“The Great
Indoors,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. These millennials really don't want to be
confined to cubicles. Now Brooke has some installed, after Jack says
people keep distracting him.

“Scandal,” 9
p.m., ABC. Here's another view of events leading up to election
night, this time from Abby's perspective. We see a hunger for power
and a secret she's been keeping.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Rich and pampered, Jill isn't a strong prospect for
parenting. Now, however, she's a foster mother; Christy tries to
help.

“Life in Pieces,”
9:31 p.m., CBS. Sleep is an issue everywhere. John's new
motion-sensor light keeps eveveryone awake ... Jen has a sex dream
about someone other than her husband Greg ... Tim obsesses on his
daughter's sleepover ... and Matt and Colleen are sleepwalking after
taking a strong sleep aid.

“The Catch,” 10
p.m., ABC. Alice and Ben both eye each other suspiciously. And in
working to protect their nemesis Margot, they have uncovered one of
her biggest secrets.

TV column for Wednesday, March 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Imaginary Mary” pilot, 8:30 p.m., ABC.

Alice is bright and
beautiful, tall and confident, running her own business. As played by
Jenna Elfman, she's enviable ... except, in the TV tradition, she's a
total klutz about romance.

Now she meets a
great guy who has three kids. That triggers the return of the
imaginary friend from her childhood – a nifty combination of
puppetry, special effects, voice work (Rachel Dratch) and bad advice.
The result is smart and quirky, a neat counterpoint to ABC's other
clever comedies.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Secrets of the Dead,” 10 p.m., PBS.

Baiae was once the
centerpoint of lust and power. Nero had a bayside villa there; so did
Caesar, Cicero, Mark Anthony and more. This was a place for sex,
alcohol ... and murder. Then it crumbled.

In the
fourth-century AD, seismic activity caused more than half the city to
sink into the sea. Now this fascinating hour offers many views. It
visits the surviving part of Baiae and dives to see the rest, much of
it well-preserved underwater. And it re-visits the city's rich and
nasty history.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Shots Fired,” 8 p.m., Fox.

By the end of this
second hour, “Shots” has weaved a richly layered case, leaving
doubts on all sides. When a black cop killed an unarmed, white youth,
the governor assigned a lawyer and an investigator, both black. The
cop seems like a decent sort, despite a joking reference to “killing
crackers.”

But we have to
wonder who leaked that comment. Other rifts grow – between
preachers ... between the lawyer and his football-star brother ...
between the investigator and her daughter's father. “Shots” has
too many in-your-face moments; real conversations are rare. Still,
it's a beautifully detailed drama.

Other choices
include:

“Nature,” 8
p.m., PBS. Here are gorgeous glimpses of the Yosemite national park,
from all sides. We see the trees (some nearly 300 feet high) ... the
animals (including mountain goats, re-introduced) ... and the people,
there for hang-gliding or cliff-climbing or scientific research.
There's much to study, as the California drought creates peril –
which the giant sequoias seem immune to.

“Empire,” 9
p.m., Fox. Cookie, we're told, feels a bit guilty about her encounter
with Lucious. (You think? She merely took a baseball bat to every bit
of glass in the record label's upscale office.) Others share her rage
at Lucious for installing Anika as the artistic director. Now his
mother and his son Tariq take aim at Anika. Another son, Jamal, works
with Tory (Rumer Willis) in the studio.

“The 100,” 9
p.m., CW. There's a setback for Clarke (the group's leader) and her
mom (the doctor). Meanwhile, Jaha finds a lead to the mysterious
Second Dawn.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m,, ABC. An offbeat episode views five-minute bursts. Haley and
Rainer have that time to evaluate their relationship, before his
birthday cake arrives. Mitch and Cam have five minutes to catch a
plane ... Manny has five minutes to find parking space – with his
parents' “help” -- and get to the movie ... and Phil and Claire
get a five-minute, surprise introduction to Alex's boyfriend.

“Black-ish,”
9:31 p.m., ABC. Rainbow (Golden Globe-winner Tracee Ellis Ross) stirs
up trouble. She criticizes the rap star Dre is representing; she also
wants the family to eat less fast food.

“Designated
Survivor,” 10 p.m., ABC. Emily settles into her new role as chief
of staff, while Hannah makes fresh discoveries about the bombing. But
President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) can't obsess on these close-up
problems. A crisis in an African country forces him to turn to an
unlikely source.

“Legion,” 10
p.m., FX, repeating at 11:30. Over the first seven weeks, viewers
have seen David flash through forms of what may or may not be
reality. Now here's the expanded season-finale.