TV column for Sunday, April 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Howards End” finale, 8 p.m., Starz (rerunning at 9:30 and 11:10
p.m. and 1:09 a.m.) and/or “Masterpiece: Unforgotten” opener,
9-10:30 p.m., PBS.

These well-made
British mini-series are total opposites. “Howards End” is sort of
what we'd expect from “Masterpiece” -- a 1910 novel, elegantly
filmed. Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen are perfect as mismatched
souls. If you missed the first three parts, catch them, starting at
5:02 p.m.

And “Unforgotten”
is what we don't expect – a gritty murder story, visually homely,
with difficult accents, but worth the effort. This three-parter, like
the previous one, starts with the discovery of a long-ago body. It
takes half the opener to learn the identity; by then, we've met
interesting suspects.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox.

Grandpa learns an
important lesson: Never make a deathbed confession, unless you're
sure about dying. That's in episode No. 636 ... which puts “Simpsons”
first among all scripted, primetime series.

“Gunsmoke” had
635, “Lassie” had 588 (in many versions); skipping anthologies,
it's “Peyton Place” 514) and “Law & Order” (456). This is
the 29th “Simpsons” season, topping 20 for “Gunsmoke”
and “Law & Order,” 17 for “Lassie,” 15 for “ER,” 14
for “Dallas,” “Knots Landing” and “Bonanza.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: All night, Hallmark.

We can forget about
murders and such and get to the basics – pretty people with basic
problems in pretty places. At 5 p.m., a rerun of Saturday's “The
Beach House” has few surprises and isn't particularly well-acted,
but has the lush look and feel we expect from “Hall of Fame”
movies.

That's followed at 7
by “My Favorite Wedding” (2017), with Maggie Lawson as a young
doctor, trying to be a good maid of honor. At 9 is the season-opener
of the pleasant “The Good Witch.” Sam (James Denton) searches for
a legendary ring to give Cassie (Catherie Bell) as their engagement
ring.

Other choices
include:

“Cinderella”
(2015), 5:45 p.m., TNT. Back-to-back are two fun fairy tales; the
first is live-action and the second -- “Shrek” (2001), at 8 p.m.
-- is animated. Other strong choices: The “Fiddler on the Roof”
(1971) musical, 4:45 p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies, and “Jurassic
Park” (1993), 7:10 p.m. on Syfy.

“American Idol,”
8-10:01 p.m., ABC. The top 10 singers perform Disney tunes; then
viewers vote.

“Instinct,” 8
p.m., CBS. Is someone killing hospital patients who don't have
life-threatening diseases? To find out, Dylan and Julian go
undercover.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. It's time for the bachelor/bachelorette
parties, with mixed results. For Jake, Charles plans an elaborate
scavenger hunt; for Amy, things go awry when people realize she once
slept with one of the guys in the wedding band.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m,, CBS. Here's an unusual recovery mission --
heading into a forest to find pieces of a failed rocket launch,
possibly including a top-secret device.

“Timeless,” 10
p.m., NBC. One of the first female lawyers in the U.S., Grace
Humiston was also an investigator dubbed “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.”
Now Lucy and her team travel back to 1919, to help her prove the
innocence of suffragette Alice Paul, who has been framed for murder.

“Deception,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. Wrapping up a two-parter, the FBI tries to stop the
mystery woman from pulling off one of history's biggest jewel heists.
This will bee the first time, ABC says, that it shows how magician
Cameron Black achieved his illusion.

TV column for Saturday, April 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Beach House,” 9 p.m., Hallmark and Hallmark Movies and
Mysteries.

A young woman,
bright and beautiful, leaves the big-city to visit a place from her
past. She brings a secret; her mother has a bigger one. So far, all
of this is familiar turf for novels and TV shows.

But this isn't your
ordinary tale; it's “Hallmark Hall of Fame.” Each year, Hallmark
makes countless interchangeable films, but only a couple “Hall”
ones; they continue a 67-year, 81-Emmy tradition. “Beach House”
is too predictable and only adequately acted, but it blends lush
visuals and strong emotions. Amid tears and turtles, blue skies and a
fierce storm, the movie finds its place.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“White House Correspondents Dinner,” all night, cable.

In past years, this
has some great comedy moments – often from the president himself.
Donald Trump plans to again skip it (sending Sarah Huckabee Sanders),
but his name is likely to come up.

Each year has a pro
performer, with clear trends: In the past 23 years, 20 have been men;
17 have been linked to TV latenight. This time, it's Michelle Wolf, a
former writer for Seth Meyers and for “The Daily Show.” The tough
part is guessing when to look for her: CNN plans on covering the
dinner from 7 p.m. to midnight ET; MSNBC plans 9-11 p.m., which could
be a good guess for when the fun starts.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Forrest Gump” (1994), 5:35 p.m., Freeform.

A night of
entertaining movies starts with this Tom Hanks gem. There are some
fun comedies – Will Ferrell's “Talladaga Nights,” 6:30 p.m.,
CMT; and “Wedding Crashers” (2006), 7:30 p.m., Bravo.

Prefer an adventure?
At 7:30 p.m., VH1 has “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2011), wrapping up
a strong perplexed-spy trilogy. At 8, FX has “Guardians of the
Galaxy” (2014).

Other choices
include:

Sports, all day.
There are some double-headers today – hockey on NBC (Boston-Tampa
Bay at 3 p.m. ET, San Jose-Las Vegas at 8) and basketball on TNT
(Milwaukee-Boston at 8 p.m., New Orleans-Golden State at 10:30).
Also, Fox goes from Supercross at 5:30 p.m. to boxing at 8:30.

“American Idol,”
8-10:01 p.m., ABC. This rerun of Monday's episode gives us the show's
top 10.

“Ransom,” 8
p.m., CBS.Things get precarious: The kidnap victim used to be a guard
at Guantanamo; Eric's best chance to save him may involve working
with a former detainee who's with the kidnappers.

“Trading Spaces,”
8 p.m., TLC, rerunning at 10:07. One family, with do-it-yourself
skills, tries to help neighbors who have been struggling with their
toddler's cancer.

“Nate &
Jeremiah: By Design,” 9:05 p.m., TLC. Nate Berkus and Jeremiah
Brent design a house for a family of little people.

“Howards End,”
9:29 p.m., Starz. This excellent four-parter has its finale at 8 p.m.
Sunday; here's a chance to catch the second-to-last episode. Also,
all three episodes so far will air from 5-8 p.m. Sunday.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Will Ferrell hosts a rerun, with music from
Chris Stapleton.

TV column for Friday, April 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Live From Lincoln Center” and “International Jazz Day from
Cuba,” 9 and 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Here's a night of
top musicians, first Broadway and then beyond. It starts with an
intimate concert by Leslie Odom, Jr., the “Hamilton” Tony-winner;
then it assembles jazz greats in Havana.

There's the first
link between two generations of acclaimed singer/instrumentalists,
Esperanza Spalding, 33, and Bobby Carcasses, 89. There's singer Kurt
Elling with Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana ... violinist Regina
Carter with Korean singer Youn Sun Nah ... many people with Herbie
Hancock for his “4 AM” ... and more than 50 people linking for
John Lennon's “Imagine.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Last week, this show
stepped aside for a Meghan Markle special. Not to worry: “Blue
Bloods” is semi-eternal; it recently was renewed for its ninth
season on CBS, the most consistent of the networks.

Tonight, Frank (the
police commissioner) tries to subtly convince his son Jamie (a street
cop) to take the sergeant's test. His older son Danny (a police
detective) needs help from incarcerated enemy Victor Lugo, to catch
an escapee. And Frank's daughter Jamie (a prosecutor) plans a date
with her ex-husband, causing friction with her investigator, Anthony.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Pro football draft (7 p.m. ET, Fox and cable) and “All or
Nothing: The Dallas Cowboys,” any time, Amazon Prime.

The second and third
rounds of the NFL draft are on Fox and the NFL Network. ESPN has the
first hour, then hands it off to ESPN2. Meanwhile, the Prime series
reminds us how important this is.

It starts with the
2016 draft, when the Cowboys grabbed Ezekiel Elliott and dreamed of
trading up for Paxton Lynch. They “settled” for Dak Prescott (the
135th man chosen) and started a powerhouse. This series
jumps to a year later, with Elliott facing a a league suspension and
the Cowboy future cloudy.

Other choices
include:

More streaming, any
time. The big arrival came Wednesday: Hulu's “The Handmaid's Tale”
-- winner of eight Emmys, including best drama series – launched
its second season. Today, brings the debut of a movie -- Netflix's
“The Week Of” has Adam Sandler trying a low-budget wedding,
ignoring the wealth of the groom's dad (Chris Rock). There are also
documentaries: Netflix eyes Robert Kennedy's presidential run; Hulu
views the history of the Barbie doll and feminism.

“The Avengers”
(2012), 5 p.m., FX. Marvel guys dominate the night; at 8 p.m., FX
adds “Thor” (2011) and TNT has “Ant-Man” (2015). For a
non-Marvel film at 8, try the delightful “Lego Movie” (2014) on
Nickelodeon or Jeff Bridges terrific, Oscar-winning work in “Crazy
Heart” (2009) on HBO.

“Blindspot,” 8
p.m., NBC. To keep Crawford from getting a weapon, the team links
with an oddball conspiracy theorist. Also, Roman has trouble
maintaining a romance while doing secret missions.

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Shades of Roswell: Mac and Riley are supposed to examine a
mysterious object that landed in the Nevada desert. Then they're
attacked by masked men.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. To save his kidnapped granddaughter, Duke is supposed to
steal evidence from a police locker. Also, Jerry goes undercover at a
mental health facility.

“Life Sentence,”
9 p.m., CW. This likable show now moves to a spot behind the
unlikable “Dynasty.” Tonight, Stella and Wes – who married as
near-strangers – promise to always tell each other the truth; that
soon becomes difficult for him. Also, she gets her brother a job at
the coffee shop, then has doubts.

“Howards End,”
10 p.m., Starz. On the eve of the finale of this excellent
four-parter, here's another chance to catch the third part, with a
major change in relationships.

TV column for Thursday, April 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Quantico” season-opener, 10 p.m., ABC.

This hour starts the
way a Hallmark movie might end: Alex (Priyanka Chopra) has fled her
old spy world; now she has a sunny ife in Italy's wine country, with
a nice guy and his sweet daughter.

Naturally, her old
life intervenes. Jumping ahead three years, this opener brings back
many of the old characters -- Alex, Ryan, Shelby, Owen, Harry and
Mike – but scrambles their relationships and adds Marlee Matlin.
Mixing action and intelligence, it's off to a strong start.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY
II: “Life in Pieces,” 9:30 p.m., CBS.

With its usual
format – four separate pieces in a half-hour – this show tends to
be erratic. Its special episodes, however, are better. This one is
promising, with a night of flashbacks. We see John (James Brolin), a
jet pilot, on his final flight before retirement; we also get past
glimpses of his three kids.

There's Greg, buying
his dream house with his wife Jen. And Matt, waiting for a blind date
– but sidetracked after seeing Colleen. And Heather, introducing
Tim to her strange family.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Mega-movies, cable.

The two mighty
comic-book giants collide. At 7 p.m., it's Marvel with “The
Avengers” (2012) on FX; at 8, it's DC Comics and “Wonder Woman”
(2017) on HBO.

And if you want
more? At 10:17 p.m., shortly after “Avengers” ends, Starz has
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003). Despite
having too many sorta-endings – about seven of them – it provides
a strong finish to a great trilogy.

Other choices
include:

NFL draft preview, 7
p.m. ET, ESPN. This cable channel used to have the draft all to
itself, but now it needs a head start. When the actual draft begins
at 8 p.m. ET, it will be on Fox, ESPN, ESPN2 and the NFL Network.
This is just the first round; the second and third start at 7 p.m.
Friday and the final rounds (4 through 7) start at noon Saturday on
ABC and ESPN.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. As allegations concerning Jackson's late grandfather
grow, a crisis management team arrives .

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In the old days, a typical comedy plot had
someone trying to raise $300 for rent. Now Sheldon wants $300
million, for a science project; he'll even try Las Vegas.

“Siren,” 8 p.m.,
Freeform. Slowly unfolding, this series now emphasizes another part
of the mermaid myth – the ability to mesmerize with a siren song.
“Siren” might have worked better as a short-form mini-series, but
it continues to hold our attention with its slow, solid approach.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Billy Gardell (“Mike & Molly”) has been
playing the family's good-natured neighbor. Now there's trouble, when
his dog terrorizes Sheldon.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. So far, Bonnie and her daughter have survived because
she's an apartment manager. Now that's endangered when she battles
the new owner, played by Patti Lupone.

“A.P. Bio,” 9:30
p.m., NBC. We finally get extensive looks at two factors that are
usually only talked about – the City of Toledo and Jack's nemesis
Miles. Both are nicer than Jack realizes.

“Chicago Fire,”
10 p.m., NBC. After a rescue, Boden and Severide get a surprise.
Also, Bria – the girl who was found and helped previously –
returns to Dawson's life, mid-crisis.

TV column for Wednesday, April 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Empire,” 8 p.m., Fox.

At times, “Empire”
is just a splashy soap opera; singers, young and attractive, are
surrounded by sex, sizzle and uptempo music. At other times, however,
great actors collide.

One “Empire”
star (Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard) battles Forest Whitaker (an
Oscar-winner) for control of the record label. Another (Oscar-nominee
Taraji Henson), in flashbacks, battles her mom (Alfre Woodard, who
has four Emmys). These are great scenes in a strong episode.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Code Black” season-opener, 10 p.m., CBS.

This is a semi-new
notion -- an action-adventure hospital show. “Night Shift” did
that by having combat veterans as its doctors and patients; “Code
Black” added Dr. Ethan Willis (Rob Lowe), an Army colonel, last
season; now Willis does field work with a skeptical EMT (Moon
Bloodgood).

The problem here is
... well, the rest of the show. Several parts – overwrought laymen,
a camera-wielding doctor – are mostly absurd. Still, this hour's
final 10 minutes are first-rate.

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

Usually a solid and
sober hour, “Nova” switches tone for this six-week series. It has
quick glimpses, flashy graphics and amiable hosts. These three
people, young and diverse, seem like amiable infomercial hosts, but
are actually a mathematician, a neuroscientist and a computer
scientist.

Some of tonight's
experts also seem young and hip. One guy admits it's odd that he's
seen spiders have sex thousands of times; it's quite dramatic, he
says, because each suitor could end up as “mate or meal.” People
probe animals' ability to learn humans' language; they also study
animals' own communication.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Americans,” 10 p.m., FX.

In this final
season, the gap between Elizabeth and Philip has widened drastically.
Embedded in 1980s American suburbia, they're Russian spies. But she's
become fiercely intense; he's dropping out.

That gap grows in
this hour's final minutes. His move surprises us; hers doesn't –
similar things have happened often recently – but this one still
hits with jolting power. It's a strong hour.

Other choices
include:

“The Blacklist,”
8 p.m., NBC. Intent on learning Red's secrets, Liz goes to an
unexpected source.

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. Last week, the school musical ended violently; now Archie
leads the effort to see what happened. At 9, “The Originals” has
Klaus returning to New Orleans, stirring dark magic.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Claire is planning a 10th-anniversary
party for her dad and Gloria. Phil wants to include a magic trick
with Gloria.

“Suits”
season-finale, 9-11:05 p.m., USA, rerunning at 12:04 a.m. Here's our
first chance to see Meghan Markle's wedding. It's the fictional one,
of course. Rachel (Markle's likable “Suits” character) marries
Mike and leaves the show; the real-life wedding with Prince Harry is
still a month away. This finale is encased in office politics. The
first hour is OK; the second, a pilot for a spin-off, is dreary.

“Designated
Survivor,” 10 p.m., ABC. Probing the president's fitness for
office, a lawyer (Michael J. Fox) starts interviewing the staffers.

“Archer”
season-opener, 10 p.m., FXX, rerunning at 10:30. This animated comedy
thrives on chaos. There's lots of it in this funny episode, including
a screeching bride, island royalty and a faulty plane.

“Brockmire”
season-opener, 10 p.m., IFC. After sinking to the bottom of the
minors, this former Major League baseball announcer is on his way
back up. He's in New Orleans, just a step from the Majors; he also
has a high-rated podcast; naturally, he'll find a way to foul things
up. It's an erratic start, ranging from a brilliant (albeit very
adult) opening rant to some sophomoric plot twists.