TV column for Saturday, June 28



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

In her first two turns as “SNL” host, Melissa McCarthy got Emmy
nominations. And this third time, with Imagine Dragons as music guest? There’s
nothing special for her, but a great moment for Seth Meyers.


As he ended his brilliant run as head writer and “Weekend
Update” anchor, Meyers was converged on by alumni Amy Poehler, Bill Hader (in
his Stefon character) and Andy Samberg. There were big laughs.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs,” 8-10
p.m., Lifetime.


In his church, Warren Jeffs was listed as “president and
prophet, seer and revelator”; in the FBI, he was listed as one of the 10 most
wanted. He faced sexual charges in Utah and Arizona, then was convicted in
Texas of (at age 55) having sex with girls who were 15 and 12.


Jeffs has been profiled in documentaries (including “The Man
with 80 Wives”), but here’s a scripted version. Tony Goldwyn – who plays the
president in “Scandal” – stars and (in the tradition of his grandfather, father
and brother) is also one of the producers.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Blacklist,” 10 p.m., NBC.


After floundering for years, NBC finally came up with a
successful scripted show. In its first season, “Blacklist” received a Golden
Globe nomination (for James Spader) and strong ratings.


Now the reruns are on summertime Saturdays, including this
one, filled with twists and scams. Jennifer Ehle – a Tony-winner like her mom,
Rosemary Harris – plays an ex-lover of Red (Spader), who wants him to join her
scam. Soon, two cunning souls are outsmarting each other. Some of this defies
belief, but along the way we get hints about the troubled past and present of
Liz (Megan Boone), Red’s FBI handler.


Other choices include:


“Penny Dreadful,” 5 p.m to midnight, Showtime. Here’s a
fresh look at the beautifully filmed start of this series, with Josh Hartnett
as an American showman (pretending to be a hot-shot cowboy), lured by Eva Green
and Timothy Dalton into a creepy London underworld. This sets up Sunday’s
season-finale.


 “Bet On Your Baby,” 8
p.m., ABC. Can a grandmother guess which of the four toys a baby will choose?
Can a 3-year-old follow his dad through an obstacle course in 60 seconds? Such
challenges offer $5,000 prizes and a shot at a $50,000 college fund.


“Hawaii Five-0,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here’s a rerun of the October
episode that temporarily brought back Terry O’Quinn. Catherine’s surveillance
job turns deadly and Adam considers a sacrifice to save Kono.


“When Sparks Fly,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark. Meghan Markle (who
plays Rachel in “Suits”) stars in the story of a big-city reporter who returns
home to do a story about a small-town 4
th of July.


“Power,” 9 p.m., Starz. After meeting and flirting with his
old high school love Angela, Ghost finally admits he’s married and has kids. He
doesn’t admit, of course, that he’s a drug kingpin. She may find out; as an
assistant district attorney, she’s monitoring a meeting of drug bosses.


“Almost Royal,” 10 and 10:30 p.m., BBC America. Last week,
this show – with fictional British royalty meeting real Americans – had a hilarious
opener and an OK second episode. Tonight, that opener reruns at 10:30, after a
new episode that takes the fake royals to Texas, to meet cowboys.


TV column for Friday, June 27



TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Girl Meets World” debut, 9:45 p.m.,
Disney Channel.

Two decades ago, families watched comedies – pleasantly
adequate ones, mostly – together, Fridays on ABC. Now – in an era of separate TV’s
and cable-kid-comedies – Disney tries an interesting variation.


“Boy Meets World” spent seven so-so seasons on Fridays, with
Ben Savage as Cory, Danielle Fishel as brainy Topanga and William Daniels as
their teacher and principal. Now the same producers, writers and stars are
back, with Daniels, 87, as guest star. Cory and Topanga married during “Boy”; now
she’s a lawyer and he’s a teacher, with a daughter (in his history class) and
son. A sampling seems promising.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “Rake” return, 9 p.m., Fox.


After forgetting it for almost three months, Fox offers the
final episode of this once-promising series.


Keegan (Greg Kinnear) must scramble, when a man (Brian
Baumgartner of “The Office”) and his mom each confess to the same murder. Also,
as usual, Keegan’s life is a shambles. He knows the guy whom Mikki is dating;
also, he’s shadowed by an annoying kid from the win-a-day-with-a-lawyer
auction.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “La Boheme,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).


Back in 1981, Franco Zeffirelli staged a lavish “La Boheme,”
using all three of the Metropolitan Opera’s rotating stages. Now that staging
has been re-created … but with some extra backstage drama.


When the scheduled star had the flu, the Met turned that
morning to Kristine Opolais. She had sung the role in Berlin, Vienna and her native
Latvia and will do it next year at the Met; now, however, she was stepping in
the night after doing “Madama Butterfly.” She seems (to these untrained ears)
perfect; she and Vittorio Grigolo inhabit a story (with English subtitles)
that’s gorgeous and heartbreaking.


Other choices include:


“The Normal Heart” (2014), 7:15 p.m., HBO. Here’s another
chance to see this passionately written and beautifully acted story of agony
and inaction, in the early years of the AIDS crisis.


“MasterChef,” 8 p.m., Fox. In a change, Fox reruns Monday’s
hour. First, teams prepare seafood meals for a beachfront wedding; then members
of the losing team make traditional steak-and-fries meals.


“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Danny (Scott
Caan) trying to re-unite his parents, played by Melanie Griffith and Tom
Berenger. (Caan’s real-life dad, James, had a different role two seasons ago.)
Meanwhile, the team tackles a case in which a girl was taken from her home and her
father was shot.


“Cold Justice,” 9 p.m., TNT. The season’s second episode of
this solid, non-fiction show finds the women probing the murder of a promising
fashion designer in Waller County, Texas.


“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. As they probe a bombing, Danny
and his police partner (Donnie Wahlberg and Maria Ramirez) face community
resistance. Also in this rerun, Frank (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner,
faces his own community troubles, after someone slugs an intense cop.


“Crossbones,” 10:01 p.m., NBC. Coyle isn’t sure who is more
dangerous – the pirate he’s spying on (played by John Malkovich) or the English
officer who sent him (Julian Sands).


TV column for Thursday, June 26



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “NY Med” season-opener, 10 p.m., ABC.

In a TV world of low-budget reality, this diligent series
stands out. Every two years, it takes us inside a hospital, for a deep look at
the medical crises and the human details.


Now we’re in a Manhattan hospital with prestigious doctors
(including Mehmet Oz) and a Newark one with gunshot victims. Tonight, a stage
actor, suddenly stricken, hovers near death. A passionate nurse is instantly
fired for a photo and sardonic comment in social media. And a 28-year-old
doctor finds humor in her residency duty of helping older men who have penile
implants.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Defiance,” 8 p.m., Syfy.


In the season’s second episode, the makeover takes shape.
Nolan has found Irisa (the alien he’s raised since childhood), unaware of the
evil force inside her; now they’re back in Defiance.


He used to be the sort-of-sheriff there, when it had a good
mayor (played by Julie Benz) and good intentions. Now the Earth Republic is in
charge and she’s the assistant to a slickly scheming mayor. The show’s best
addition is Jessica “Berlin” Rai, a soldier with a sharp ability to pierce
Nolan’s cowboy façade. Tonight, amid a bomb and threats, the characters
sharpen.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Sixties,” 9 p.m., CNN.


Two days after PBS’ powerful “Freedom Summer,” CNN tries a
bigger task – a decade of civil rights struggles, packed into two crowded
hours. We get a roller-coaster of triumphs and tragedies.


For a time, the movement slowed; then came a confrontation in
Selma, Ala.: Police had dogs, clubs and fire hoses; marchers had public
opinion. A profound change was coming (slowly) to the U.S.


Other choices include:


“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here’s a rerun of a
terrific Valentine-time episode. Two couples go to wine country, while another
rushes Raj’s dog to the veterinarian’s office.


“Blazing Saddles” (1974), 8-10 p.m., AMC. Mel Brooks’ classic
– giving wondrous twists to cowboy cliches – tops a good night for cable
movies. “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006, 7:30 p.m., AMC) is a sleek, smart
comedy-drama; “The Bourne Supremacy” (2004, 8 p.m., USA) is a high-octane adventure.


“Rookie Blue,” 9 p.m., ABC. On a citywide project to seize
items bought with money obtained illegally, Andy (Missy Peragrym) gets a confession
that seems too easy. She tries to get to the bottom of it.


“Rectify,” 9 p.m., Sundance. The season’s second hour finds a
comatose Daniel drifting into fantasies about his prison life, before his
murder sentence was vacated. Some people don’t want his attackers found, but a
cop persists. Despite the slow, subtle pace, this excellent hour has some big
moments.


“Undateable,” 9:01 and 9:30 p.m., NBC. Now that CBS has
inserted “Big Brother” at 9 p.m., NBC can hope for a bigger chunk of comedy
fans. In tonight’s first episode, Danny manages to foul up his own life; in the
second, he tries to be a peacemaker when Justin’s father (Tom Cavanagh) visits.


“Last Comic Standing,” 10 p.m., NBC. The show has its top 10
comedians and starts giving them challenges. The first involves sketch comedy,
with Cheryl Hines (“Suburgatory”) as mentor.


TV column for Wednesday, June 25



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Big Brother” opener, 8 p.m., CBS.

Imagine spending the summer in a gorgeous home designed to
look like a treehouse. One room has a 20-foot tree sculpture, another has
almost 1,000 bird houses and a bed shaped like a nest. Now imagine you’re with
15 other people, young (mostly) and attractive (presumably) … with cameras
everywhere.


That’s the 16th-season plan, with shows also at
9:01 p.m. Thursdays and 8:01 p.m. Sundays. Tonight, Julie Chen offers changes
in Head of Household rules and introduces housemates – 12 in their 20s, three
in their 30s, one 42. They include the elements of an odd party – a DJ, a
barista, a cop and a minister.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).


Two remarkable survivors combine for a delightful hour. One
is David Attenborough, still working 
skillfully at 88; the other is the frog species, still around after more
than 250 million years.


Attenborough began collecting frogs as a boy and filming them
as a young TV guy. Occasionally digging into his archives, he can show us the
biggest frog and the smallest, the ones that virtually walks on water or burrow
in the mud. He shows ones that are deadly or ones that went extinct (in the
wild, at least). He has toads that survive the desert and frogs that survive freezing;
it’s a fascinating hour.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Taxi Brooklyn” debut, 10:01 p.m.,
NBC.


In a way, “Taxi” (2004) was a boon to TV talk. It squelched
Jimmy Fallon’s acting career and slowed Queen Latifah’s, giving them more time to
start talk shows.


Still, the original French film (1998) was a success and the
concept – a cop working with an odd-but-talented cabbie – was clever, so NBC
tries again. This time, the casting is poor; Chyler Leigh (“Grey’s Anatomy”) is
unconvincing as the cop and Jacky Ido – accustomed to French-language films --
is so-so with dialog. Still, there’s a fairly good story and some zesty chase
scenes through New York.


Other choices include:


“So You Think You Can Dance,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. The survivors
of auditions in five cities have their callbacks in Pasadena. Next week, we’ll
see the top 20 each perform in their own styles.


“Young & Hungry” debut, 8 p.m., ABC Family. Once known as
Miley Cyrus’s co-star and Haley Osment’s sister, Emily Osment shows a subtle comedy
touch, in a fairly good tale of an aspiring chef. The phrase “ABC Family” does
seem shaky after she drunkenly sleeps with her perspective employer on the
first night; still, Osment makes that seem young and innocent. Rex Lee (“Entourage”)
adds broader laughs.


“Mystery Girls” debut, 8:30, ABC Family. It sounded like fun
to have two “90210” stars (Tori Spelling and Jenny Garth) play former TV stars,
starting a detective agency. Alas, the pilot film had horrid overacting by
Spelling; the network scheduled it, then made a late switch. It shows a
different episode in which Spelling is almost OK, but Miguel Pinzon (as Nick)
is well beyond awful. And the network’s “family” name takes another beating,
with an episode that’s mostly about a sex tape.


“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. A rerun of the season-opener
has plans for a kid-free week.


“Million Dollar Listing: Miami” debut, 9 p.m., Bravo. We
meet three upscale sales people, including one brushing up on his Russian,
hoping to sell a $6-million penthouse.


“Motive,” 10 p.m., ABC. A blood-soaked crime scene creates
pressure to find a missing bartender.  


   


TV column for Tuesday, June 24



By MIKE HUGHES


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “American Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).


Fifty years ago this summer, about 1,000 idealists
confronted segregation in Mississippi. They were undermanned and overwhelmed;
they sparked crucial changes in America.


Filmmaker Stanley Nelson – whose splendid “Freedom Riders”
(2011) reran last week – shows the same touch here. He interviews people who
grew up in Mississippi and those who arrived for a summer of registering voters
and running “freedom schools.” News clips do the rest; the result is
compelling.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “The Night Shift” (NBC) or
“Perception” (TNT), both 10 p.m.


Scott Wolf has become the go-to boyfriend for dramas. On
both shows tonight, his relationship with the 
female lead expands. In “Perception,” he’s a federal lawyer who is the
ex-husband – and new fiancé – of a key cop; in “Night Shift,” he’s a surgeon
dating the doctor who heads the shift.


The “Perception” story – with a prosecutor who dies mid-testimony
– is OK; the “Night Shift” one is quite good. Previous episodes have been chaotic,
in this story (a giant storm hits San Antonio), the chaos makes sense. June Also,
the show’s absurd administrator character finally turns human.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Tyrant” debut, 10 p.m., FX.


In Pasadena, Barry is a pediatrician who’s married to
another professional; they have two kids and a comfortable life. In his
homeland, he’s known as Bassam, son of the tyrannical ruler and younger brother
of the crazed heir to power. A trip home means confronting boyhood.


Molding cable’s latest anti-hero, “Tyrant” sometimes hits
overkill. The final minutes in this opener give Barry surprising depth, while
making him hard to care about. The opener also takes evil-Arab stereotypes to
an extreme … yet crafts characters and a situation worth following.


Other choices include:


“The March,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Leading
into “Freedom Summer,” here’s a rerun of last year’s film, looking back at the
1963 March on Washington.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a truck full of stolen
Marine gear includes faulty bulletproof vests.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds the team
linking with an undercover drug agent.


“Rizzoli & Isles,” 9 p.m., TNT. The so-so season-opener
(rerunning at 8 p.m.) ended with the off-camera death (in a car accident) of Rizzoli’s
colleague Frost. Now she deals with that (and tries to keep her pregnancy
secret), while tackling an interesting case, involving an amnesiac with a gun.


“Motor City Masters” debut, 10 p.m., TruTV. Yes, this show
copies the form used by competition shows for designers, tattoo artists,
make-up people and more. Still, it visits an interesting world (car styling),
populated by people worth knowing. The opener asks them to craft a quick
transformation.


“Covert Affairs,” 10:01 p.m., USA. Last season, Annie faked
her death and gunned down a villain. Now she tries to come in from the cold and
resume normal CIA life. It’s a so-so episode, but does introduces a fresh
force, an independent contractor, nor bound by the agency’s rules.