TV column for Thursday, Nov. 26




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Music specials,
9-11 p.m., ABC, 8-10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

ABC offers two concerts filmed this
summer. First is Beyonce, in Las Vegas. Then is Paul McCartney in New
York's Shea Stadium; it will include clips of his appearance with the
Beatles there 44 years ago, plus McCartney doing Beatles, Wings and
solo songs.

Tonight's bonus is the first PBS hour,
stuffed with superb and accessible music.

At the core are tenor Andrea Bocelli
and producer-pianist David Foster. Bocelli juggles solos and
excellent duets with Natalie Cole, Reba McEntire, Mary J. Blige (via
closed circuit) and an impressive Welsh soprano, Katherine Jenkins.
There's also a fun piece with the Muppets, in a dandy hour.

TODAY'S MUST-SEE: Thanksgiving parade,
9 a.m. to noon, NBC and CBS.

NBC will have its “Today” crew
there; CBS has Maggie Rodriguez and Dave Price, with Jamie Kennedy
working the crowd.

They'll show 13 floats and 14 giant
balloons, plus Santa, bands and singers, including Bocelli, Katharine
McPhee, Billy Currington, Carly Simon and Keke Palmer. CBS also has
McEntire.

Other choices today include:

– “The Godfather” (1972, 7:30
a.m.) and “The Godfather, Part II” (1974, 11:30 a.m.), AMC. Two
great movies – each an Oscar-winner for best picture – air
back-to-back. Then, after the lesser “The Godfather, Part III”
(1990, 4 p.m.), they repeat at 8 p.m. and midnight.

– “First 48,” 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.,
A&E. Here's a marathon of a series that views real-life
crimesolving.

– “The Closer,” 10 a.m. to 6
p.m., TNT. One of TV's best crime shows – with Kyra Sedgwick
excellent as the sweet-talking chief detective – has a marathon.

– “The National Dog Show,” noon,
NBC. This Philadelphia event has become an audience favorite,
compacting a large-scale dog show into two hours.

– “SpongeBob SquarePants,” noon,
Nickelodeon. Here's a rerun of the 10th-anniversary special, a fun
one that has lots of live action – with Robin Williams, Will
Ferrell, Pink and more – along with the animation. Also, the
“SpongeBob” movie (2004) airs at 3 p.m.

– “Happy Feet” (2006), 2:15 p.m.,
Disney Channel. This delight launches a string of animated movies,
with “Chicken Little” (2005) at 4 p.m., “Meet the Robinsons”
(2007) at 5:25 and “Cars” (2006) at 7.

– “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,”
8 p.m., ABC. Here's a gentle and fairly entertaining 1973 cartoon.
Rounding out the hour is the Mayflower portion of “This is America,
Charlie Brown.”

– “Night at the Museum” (2006),
8-10 p.m., Fox. This popular comedy has Ben Stiller working security
at a museum where the figures come to life. That allows lots of room
for laughs among the supporting cast, including Robin Williams, Owen
Wilson, Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney.

– “Survivor,” 8 p.m., CBS. With
nine people left (five of them from the former Galu tribe), the show
pauses to review what's happened. It says it will have footage that
hasn't been shown before.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
9 p.m., CBS. Here's a rerun of the episode that showed Ray Langston's
first, difficult day as a member of the team.

– “Sting: A Winter's Night,” 9
p.m., PBS (check local listings). In a gorgeous cathedral in northern
England, Sting sings old and new songs of winter. The songs are
pretty, but also quite drab and morose.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
This reruns the hour in which Patrick Jane was stunned to learn his
unit was no longer assigned to find “Red John,” who killed Jane's
wife.

 

TV column for Wednesday, Nov. 25




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Dancing With the
Stars” finale, 9-11 p.m., ABC.

The votes are in and we'll have a new
champion tonight – eventually.

Three singers – Donny Osmond, Mya and
Kelly Osbourne – are left. There will be lots of dazzle and dance
numbers first; then the winner will be announced.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Frontline: The
Card Game,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

As the mortgage-business crashed,
reporter Lowell Bergman says, another specter was nearby: Many people
added mortgages to escape outrageous debt from a virtually
unregulated credit-card business.

Bergman gets a rare interview with
Shailesh Mehta, who altered the industry. His company (Providian)
gave free credit cards to people likely to miss payments, then hit
them with fees and higher rates.

Providian profited amost $1 billion a
year, Mehta said, and other companies followed.

Congress hesitated as the financial
industry flooded members of one committee with $30 million in
campaign contributions during the most-recent elections. A reform
bill was passed, but it included nothing on debit cards or rate
limits – and didn't go into effect for eight months. In the
interim, Bergman shows in this fascinating report, lenders have
ratcheted up their terms harshly.

Other choices include:

– “So You Think You Can Dance,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. This is a key time for the 12 young dancers. The ones
who survive this week will be included in the next tour of the top 10
finalists.

– “V,” 8 p.m., ABC. After a
terrific start, this show now has a quick cliffhanger; it doesn't
plans to return with the rest of its season until March. Tonight,
Erica comes across a biological threat that may have been planned by
the Visitors. She also has bigger problems: Last week she found her
son near having sex with the lovely Lisa – who, viewers learned, is
the daughter of Anna, the Visitor leader.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. A slain
Marine was a member of a think tank; now a 12-year-old genius may be
the next target. Ray Mabus, the U.S. secretary of the Navy, appears
briefly as himself.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Here's a crossover: Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette), the forensic
scientists for “NCIS,” heads to Los Angeles, where a murder case
mirrors a serial-killer pattern.

– “Melrose Place,” 9 p.m., CW.
Here's and odd move: A week after Heather Locklear's strong arrival
in the show, “Melrose” slips back into a rerun. This is the
second episode, with the show's only sweet characters (Jonah and
Riley) having an inexplicable fight.

– “The Good Wife,” 10 p.m., CBS.
Alicia (Julianna Margulies) faces political trouble everywhere. She's
representing the firm's senior vice-president. Also, she suspects her
husband may really be guilty of corruption; now his mistress is being
interviewed by Chelsea Handler.

– “The Jay Leno Show,” 10 p.m.,
NBC. The in-studio guests are Charles Barkley and the person ousted
from tonight's “The Biggest Loser.”

– “Sons of Anarchy,” 10 p.m., FX.
Clay and Jax struggle to keep their fractured group together while
preparing for revenge against Zobelle (Adam Arkin) – who may find
trouble tonight, when his white-supremacist assistant (Henry Rollins)
learns about his schemes. Meanwhile, Tara – suspended at the
hospital – finds some job security.

TV column for Tuesday, Nov. 24






TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Dancing With the
Stars” finale, 9-11 p.m., ABC.

Tonight, one of three people – Donny
Osmond, Mya or Kelly Osbourne – will become the champion. First,
Whitney Houston will sing “Million Dollar Bill” and “I Wanna
Dance With Somebody”' also, there will be some face-offs.

Two of this season's contestants –
Chuck Liddell and Mark Decascos – have martial arts backgrounds;
they'll have a dance-off. So will two former top pro-football
receivers, Michael Irvin and (from a previous “Dancing” season)
Jerry Rice.

Also showing up are Adam Carolla,
Jeffrey Ross (roasting Ashley Hamilton) and the Muppets.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The Good
Wife,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Kevin Conway's passionate performance
sparks this episode, which tells two strong stories.

One has Alicia defending the firm's
senior partner (Conway). Brilliant and eccentric, he wants to do all
the talking and thinking.

The other starts with a sleazy
interview that Amber (the hooker hired by Alicia's husband) gave on
Chelsea Handler's cable show. That leads to an ending that is as
sudden and surprising as the moment, in the opener, when Alicia
suddenly slapped him.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE:“Frontline: The
Card Game,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

This incisive look at the credid-card
industry starts with Shailesh Mehta. His company (Providian) gave
free credit cards to people likely to miss payments, then hit them
with fees and higher rates.

Providian profited amost $1 billion a
year, Mehta said, and other companies followed.

Congress hesitated as the industry gave
members of one committee $30 million for the recent elections. A
reform bill was passed, but this report looks at what it failed to
do.

Other choices include:

– “So You Think You Can Dance,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. This is a key time for the 12 young dancers. The ones
who survive this week will be included in the next tour of the top 10
finalists.

– “V,” 8 p.m., ABC. After a
terrific start, this show has a quick cliffhanger; it doesn't plans
to return with the rest of its season until March. Tonight, Erica
comes across a biological threat that may have been planned by the
Visitors. She also has bigger problems: Last week she found her son
ready for sex with the lovely Lisa – who, viewers learned, is the
daughter of Anna, the Visitor leader.

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. A slain
Marine was a member of a think tank; now a 12-year-old genius may be
the next target. Ray Mabus, the U.S. secretary of the Navy, appears
briefly as himself.

– “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Here's a crossover: Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette), the forensic
scientist for “NCIS,” heads to Los Angeles, where a murder case
mirrors a serial-killer pattern.

– “Melrose Place,” 9 p.m., CW. A
week after Heather Locklear's strong arrival, “Melrose” oddly
airs a rerun. Its only sweet characters (Jonah and Riley) have an
inexplicable fight.

– “Sons of Anarchy,” 10 p.m., FX.
Setting up the season-finale, here's a fierce and pivotal episode.
Preparing for a showdown with Zobelle (Adam Arkin) and his
white-supremacist aide (Henry Rollins), the bikers put their own
families in lockdown. Meanwhile, Tara – the doctor suspended from
her hospital – takes action. Much of this is nasty and violent, but
there's a strength to the emotional power.

 

TV column for Monday, Nov. 23




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-9:30 p.m., ABC.

Here's the showdown. Last week, model
Joanna Krupa was dumped, leaving three singers – Donny Osmond, Mya
and Kelly Osbourne – for the finals.

Tonight, they dance, judges score and
viewers give their votes. On Tuesday, we'll get a champion.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Surviving the
Holidays With Lewis Black,” 8-10 p. m., History Channel.

Meandering and scatter-shot, this
special gets better and better as it goes along.

Comedians herald the end-of-year
holidays, from Thanksgiving (“when the pilgrems got together with
the Native Americans and gambling was invented”) to Hanukkah (“when
the Jews get together and decide which movies are going to be made”).

Craig Ferguson recalls that once, fresh
from rehab, he got a bottle of wine for Christmas. “Rehab is much
more expensive the second time around, I'll tell you.”

Some grumble about watching the Lions
play football each Thanksgiving. (“People from Detroit don't even
want to watch the Lions,” insists Kathleen Madigan.) And someone
suggests the game be historically authentic: “Shouldn't it be the
Patriots beating the Redskins and taking their stadium?”

Other choices include:

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. Chris Elliott guests as Lily's estranged father.

– “Heroes,” 8 p.m., NBC. It's
Thanksgiving Day for the Petrellis, possibly the most dysfunctional
family in TV history. Also, Samuel continues to hold Hiro captive.

– “Trauma,” 9 p.m., NBC. Nancy is
reluctant to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Then an airliner
crash leaves bigger issues.

– “American Experience,” 9 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). The excellent, five-week “The '30s”
series concludes with this look at the race horse Seabiscuit.

– “The Lost JFK Tapes: The
Assassination,” 9-11 p.m., National Geographic. Forget the
overstated title. This simply weaves a variety of audio and video
recordings, mostly from news reports. It starts with the innocence of
the time – much discussion of Jacqueline Kennedy wearing pink –
and turns serious. Some of the stronger moments center around Jack
Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald (whose name some TV reporters keep
botching).

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 9:30
p.m., CBS. Katee Sackhoff, who was so good in “Battlestar
Galactica,” plays herself, giving Wolowitz advice. Also, Sheldon
seeks revenge after being humiliated on radio.

– “Find My Family” debut, 9:30
p.m., ABC. Next Monday, this will be an hour-long show tracing
parents or children for two families. This opener is a half-hour in
which a likable couple in Brookfield, Wis., seeks the daughter given
up for adoption after a pregnancy at 16. This is from the “Extreme
Makeover” producers, which means a feel-good approach and a lot of
repetition. Adding some authenticity to the emotions: The hosts, Tim
Green and Lisa Joyner, have both been adoptees.

– “Castle,” 10 p.m., ABC.
Arriving to identify a murder victim are his wife and his fiancee.
Things get complicated.

– “The Jay Leno Show,” 10 p.m.,
NBC. Here are two people you don't always think of together –
Arnold Schwarzenegger is the guest, with music from Lady Gaga.

TV column for Sunday, Nov. 22




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: American Music
Awards, 8-11 p.m., ABC.

The show plans to start big, with a
medley from Janet Jackson. Her late brother Michael has five
nominations, topped by teen phenom Taylor Swift with six.

Those two compete for entertainer of
the year, facing Eminem, Lady Gaga and Kings of Leon. Michael
Jackson's other nods are spread over two categories (pop/rock and
R&B), Swift's over three (pop/rock, country, adult contemporary).

Two performers are coming back from
crises – Whitney Houston (singing “I Didn't Know My Own
Strength”) and Rihanna. Also scheduled to perform are “American
Idol” people – Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry,
Adam Lambert – plus Jay-Z, Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Shakira, Keith
Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Alicia Keys.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Curb Your
Enthusiasm,” 9-9:41 p.m., HBO.

Last week brought the first table read
for a “Seinfeld” reunion episode. The four stars were there, plus
Estelle Harris (who plays George's mom), Wayne Knight (Newman) and
Steve Hytner (Kenny Bania).

Now this season finale has rehearsals
begin amid medical problems. Also, Larry has trouble: He planned this
scheme in order to be back with his ex-wife; so far they don't have
any time together.

ALSO TONIGHT:

– “The Wizard of Oz” (1939, 5:45
p.m.) and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (8 p.m.), both TBS.
Here are two great shows – a movie musical and a classic cartoon –
for all ages.

– “The Simpsons,” 7:30 and 8 p.m.
(barring football overruns), Fox. First is a rerun of the OK
season-opener, with Homer starring in the Comic Book Guy's movie.
Then is a new episode in which Bart learns he's only the
second-greatest prankster in school history; the champ is voiced by
Jonah Hill.

– “The Departed” (2006, FX) or
“Crash” (2004, Independent Film Channel), both 8 p.m. Choose
between two great films, each a winner of the Academy Award for best
picture.

– “Did the Mob Kill JFK?,” 8
p.m., and “JFK: The Ruby Connection,” 9 p.m., Discovery. The
first documentary says it has a former FBI informant who describes
the Mob's role in the assassination of John Kennedy, 46 years ago
today; it also says an attempt had been planned for earlier that
month in Chicago. The second film studies Jack Ruby and is skeptical
of the idea that he knew Lee Harvey Oswald before shooting him.

– “Masterpiece Contemporary:
Collision” conclusion, 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
Last week started with a police detective probing a freeway crash
that left at least two people dead. His own world had shattered
previously, when a drunken driver killed his wife and paralyzed their
daughter; now he's working with the policewoman he'd had an affair
with. They find that most of the victims had huge secrets; if you can
forgive that extreme coincidence, you'll find this to be a powerful
drama.

– “Cold Case,” 9 p.m. (barring a
football overrun), CBS. In a late change, CBS has swapped time slots,
putting “Cold Case” at 9 p.m. and “Three Rivers” at 10. This
episode re-opens a 1983 case investigated by Stillman (John Finn);
two Chinese-American teens were killed.

– “Three Rivers,” 10 p.m.
(barring a football overrun), CBS. Here's the other half of that
time-slot-swap. When his wife's liver fails, a rich man turns to the
black market.

– “Storm Chasers,” 10 p.m.,
Discovery. Reed Timmer tries a new approach – a remote-controlled
plane to drop data-probes into a tornado. Most of his efforts,
however, aren't by remote; he finds himself in the middle of an
erratic EF2 tornado.