TV column for Tuesday, Oct. 27

World Series, 8:07 p.m. ET, Fox, with preview at 7:30.

The baseball classic
begins with the Kansas City Royals (in their second straight Series)
hosting the New York Mets, who haven't been there in 15 years.

The Royals had a
95-67 record during the season, the best in the American League; the
Mets were 90-72, gaining strength late, when young pitchers blossomed
and outfielder Yeonis Cespedes arrived.

II: “Secrets of the Dead” season-opener, 9 p.m., PBS (check local

We kind of hope the
1897 “Dracula” novel was sheer whimsy, born of Bram Stoker's odd
imagination. But researchers – including Stoker's great-grandnephew
– say it was based on ancient beliefs.

Archaeologists find
corpses that were beheaded, had their legs twisted or were covered
with rocks – all to keep them from rising anew. Most of that was in
Medieval days, when disease seemed supernatural – but some
incidents were more recent. One was in New England, around 1900; and,
in a fascinating segment, a man proudly tells of maiming a “vampire”
corpse in a Romanian village in 2004.

ALTERNATIVE: “Wicked City” debut, 10 p.m. ABC.

Over the next 10
weeks, a serial killer (Ed Westwick of “Gossip Girl”) will be
pursued by an honest cop (Jeremy Sisto of everything) in 1982 Los

This is a tough show
to like, partly because of the awful dialog between Sisto and his
colleague and partly because the targets are emotionally vulnerable
young women. But just as we're ready to hate it, “Wicked” offers
a fascinating supporting character (Erika Christensen) and visually
powerful moments.

ALTERNATIVE II: “Manhattan,” 9 p.m., WGN, rerunning at 10 p.m.
and midnight.

Like the world's
toughest physics test, this is demanding and difficult ... and
(maybe) worth it. Part of the problem involves leaping between 1939
(Frank's brilliant wife is in a mental institution and he's trying to
push an atomic-bomb project) and '45 (he's imprisoned, she's heavily
guarded in Los Alamos).

And part of the
problem is simply a thick story. Tonight has great moments for
newcomers Mamie Gummer (as a WAC recruit with her own agenda) and
Neve Campbell (as wife of project head Robert Oppenheimer). There's
also a fun romantic twist, plus rage by a physicist left off the
test-group roster.

Other choices

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. A petty officer was killed by a serial killer or a copycat.
Also, McGee and Delilah need compromises before moving in together.

“The Muppets,” 8
p.m., ABC. Good deeds don't come naturally to Miss Piggy. While
volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, her feud with Reese
Witherspoon escalates.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8:30, ABC. Eddie's dad makes another stab at assimilating in
suburban Florida. This time, in an OK episode, he wants his
neighborhood to have the best Halloween decorations.

“Face Off”
season-finale, 9 p.m., Syfy. Two aspiring Hollywood make-up people –
Ben Ploughman, 34, and Evan Hedges, 29 – face Nora Hewitt, 25, a
former bartender fresh from film-makeup school. Afterward, last
week's episode and this one rerun at 10 and 11 p.m.

“Dusk Till Dawn”
season-finale, 9 p.m., El Rey. Here's the second straight episode
with Robert Rodriguez (El Rey founder) directing and Demi Lovato
playing the tough girlfriend of Carlos Madrigal (played by Wilmer
Valderrama, Lovato's boyfriend). Now Carlos tries to steal Malvado's

“Limitless,” 10
p.m., CBS. After starring in the movie version, Bradley Cooper is
producing this series and had a small role in the pilot film, as the
original character (now a senator). He returns tonight, trying to
persuade Brian to betray his FBI handler.

“Frontline,” 10
p.m., PBS (check local listings). As swarms of refugees leave Syria,
Martin Smith looks at what life is like for the people who remain in
government-held areas.

TV column for Monday, Oct. 26

“Supergirl” debut, 8:31 p.m., CBS.

TV's best night just
got better. Monday already has the superb “Fargo,” the
wonderfully original “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Jane the
Virgin” and (for the last time tonight) “Big Bang Theory.” But
now it adds an action-adventure show that gets everything right.

Forget about the
brooding, reluctant heroes. Kara – like Hiro in “Heroes” --
savors her chance to so big things. She's a joyous hero, neatly
played by Melissa Benoist and aided by a domineering boss (Calista
Flockhart), an adoptive sister (Chyler Leigh) and a sharper version
of James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks).

“Gotham,” 8 p.m., Fox.

This is the extreme
in mismatched siblings -- dueling shows, both based on DC comics, yet
total opposites. “Supergirl” is sunny; “Gotham” is as dark as
anything this side of “American Horror Story.”

We saw that last
week, when Penguin chopped off an underling's hand, to make an
undercover scheme more believable. Tonight has one fatal strangling,
two near-fatal stranglings, four immolations, one woman in handcuffs
and many women in chains. Also, the hero cop beats up a suspect. The
visuals and music continue to be superb, but the savage sadism makes
this a tough hour to watch.

ALTERNATIVE: “Fargo,” 10 p.m., FX.

Like “Gotham,”
this has moments of sudden, stark violence. Unlike it, that's against
the backdrop of warm characters, quirky humor and a sweet, small-town

Rye Gerhardt killed
three people in a Minnesota diner, then was accidentally hit by Peggy
Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst). She drove home and made dinner, with Rye
still on the car's hood; her mild-mannered husband had to fight and
kill Rye. Now everyone searches for Rye (who's been chopped up) and
city mobsters try to take over the Gerhardts. It's an odd hour and,
as always, a brilliant one.

Other choices

“The Voice,”
8-10 p.m., NBC. The “knock-out round” begins. Coaches must decide
between two singers, after each chooses and performs a song. The
winner moves on; the loser can be “stolen.”

“Dancing With the
Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week, three stars – Bindi Irwin,
Andy Grammer and Tamar Braxton – had perfect scores; the
far-from-perfect Paula Deen was sent home. Now the eight surviving
stars will be split into two freestyle teams, as part of a
Halloween-themed night.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Here's one more Monday episode, before TV's
best comedy returns next week to its Thursday spot. Tonight, a
shortage forces Sheldon and Leonard to buy helium in the black
market, for an experiment. Also, Amy's friends introduce her to
Internet dating.

“Jane the Virgin,”
9 p.m., CW. Just as she's adjusting to stay-at-home motherhood, Jane
is accepted into the graduate program. That follows a “Crazy
Ex-Girlfriend” (8 p.m.) in which Rebecca heads into turf that's
totally foreign to her – throwing a party.

“Roanoke: Search
for the Lost Colony,” 9-11 p.m., History. Settling this country was
a deadly task, it seems. Next month, PBS' “Secrets of the Dead”
views Jamestown's dark winter of 1609; first, History views the North
Carolina island colony that mysteriously disappeared around 1590.

“Scorpion,” 9:31
p.m., CBS. Expanded to 89 minutes, this episode sees things go
tragically wrong with a computer-controlled “smart” building. A
virus in Walter's computer turns it into a fiery death trap.

“Blindspot,” 10
p.m., NBC. An app lets criminals track government vehicles. Now the
team must work with the app's surprising creator.


TV column for Sunday, Oct. 25

“The Simpsons,” 8 p.m., Fox.

For 25 years, this
show has delighted us with its annual “Treehouse of Horror.”
These are tall tales at Halloween time, so they're free to be wild,
weird and (sometimes) hilarious.

Tonight starts with
a dandy song, written by John Kricfalusi (the “Ren and Stimpy”
creator), with old Hanna-Barbera characters. The first full segment
(Sideshow Bob kills Bart ... frequently) is heavy-handed and gory,
but the next two make up for it. First is a sly variation on
Godzilla, going from black-and-white to Hollywood colorful; then the
kids use radiated powers for good and (mostly) evil.

II: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox.

Fresh from
“Simpsons,” here's some more fast and funny comedy. Jake and the
captain had two previous face-offs, to see who can pull off the
perfect heist; each won one, so here's the championship.

Both sides concoct
clever schemes, but there are also some sharp outside factors.
There's even some humor about who uses the words “who” and “whom”
correctly, a rare moment of grammar-based wit.

ALTERNATIVE: “Indian Summers,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local

Alongside all of its
strong points – lush visuals, vivid characters, a strong sense of
colonial culture-clash in 1932 India – this show has been slow to
get its story rolling. Now it speeds up.

Ralph Whelan, the
viceroy's aide, is marrying his mistress Madeleine; their engagement
party becomes a pivotal point for local politics. Meanwhile, Ralph's
sister Alice faces social blackmail; Madeleine's brother Eugene
reveals a secret about their circumstances. And the mysterious woman
in the woods has promised her son, Adam, that he'll see his father.
That brings fierce aftershocks in the weeks ahead.

Other choices

Jesse Stone movies,
9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. The nine Stone
films have been quiet gems, with a brooding beauty to the stories,
director Robert Harmon's visuals and Tom Selleck's understated
performances. Here are seven of them, concluding from 9-11 p.m. with
“Lost in Paradise”; one of the best Stone films, it debuted last
Sunday on the Hallmark Channel.

“The Walking
Dead,” 6:30 to 10:02 p.m., AMC. On the final Sunday before
Halloween, it's time to catch up on creepiness. The season's first
two episodes air at 6:30 and 8 p.m., with the third at 9. After it's
pondered in “Talking Dead” (10:02 p.m.), the new episode reruns
at 11:01 p.m. and 1:01 a.m.

Halloween lite,
cable. Families can try “Monsters University” (2013), 7-9:45 p.m.
on ABC Family, “Hotel Transylvania” (2012), 8-10 p.m. on FXX or
“Toy Story of Terror,” 9-9:30 p.m. on Disney. Also, grown-ups
seeking feel-good drama can try “Good Witch Halloween,” from 9-11
p.m. on Hallmark.

Football, 8:30 p.m.
ET, NBC, with preview at 7. Who would have guessed that the Carolina
would be at the top now, one of only two NFC teams (with Green Bay)
to rbe undefeated. Now Cam Newton's Panthers host the Eagles, who
dominated the Giants last week to even their record at 3-3.

“The Good Wife,”
9 p.m., CBS. Alicia battles with a bail judge, when helping a client
fight a shoplifting charge. Also, Diane must argue against her own
beliefs about physician-assisted suicide.

“Brain Surgery
Live,” 9-11 p.m. ET, National Geographic. For a decade, Greg
Grindley has struggled with early-onset Parkinson's disease. Now –
at 49 and retired from the Navy – he's scheduled to have
deep-brain-simulation surgery, performed live (plus pre-taped
features) while he's awake.

“Quantico,” 10
p.m., ABC. The recruits have their first chance to leave the campus
and tackle an undercover mission. And flashing forward, Alex (accused
of murder) goes public with her side.

TV column for Saturday, Oct. 24

“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

This 41st
season started strong, with three ratings-grabbing hosts -- Miley
Cyrus, Amy Schumer and (performing solidly, 16 months after nearly
dying in a crash) Tracy Morgan. Now it pauses for two weeks of
reruns, before Donald Trump hosts Nov. 7.

Tonight is the
opener, which was uneven, but had good moments. That was led by three
Cyrus songs (two serious, one a comic tribute to summer newsmakers)
and a clever sketch with Hillary Clinton.

II: “Belief” finale, 8 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network.

Beautifully filmed
and richly detailed, this seven-day documentary has viewed religions
worldwide. Tonight, it visits a monk near Mount Everest, an atheist
climber in Utah and a military wife and mom in Colorado, facing a
cancer diagnosis.

Then it closes with
opposite images – masses of people at India's festival of colors
and an astronaut's view of a distant Earth. Afterward, the whole
series will rerun from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.

ALTERNATIVE: “Da Vinci's Demons” season-opener, 8 p.m., Starz.

In its first two
seasons, “Demons” had stunning visuals, powerful passions and an
extreme concept. Its version of Leonardo Da Vinci can do anything –
fight, love, invent, maybe even paint – masterfully.

Now the final season
sees some of that boomarang. His military inventions are being used
by opposing forces, ready to destroy Naples. Other plots continue,
including the schemes of the real Pope, who was replaced by a fake
one. It should be a great year.

Other choices

“Good Witch”
movies, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Hallmark. Back in 2008, we met Cassie
(Catherine Bell), a sweet-spirited beauty with mild magical powers.
Hallmark repeats that film at 11, skips the next two and reruns the
rest. That leads to the new “Good Witch Halloween”; as the town
prepares its Harvest Festival (and Cassie turns her bed-and-breakfast
into a fun haunted house), an ominous visitor arrives.

Football, 7:30 p.m.
ET, Fox, and beyond. It's been a tough season for Southern
California, losing its coach and half of its six games; now it hosts
Utah, undefeated and ranked No. 3. Also, top-ranked Ohio State visits
Rutgers (3-3) at 8 p.m. on ABC, with much more in the afternoon and
on cable.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. This reruns a variation on “Die Hard”:
Callen works undercover, when the building is taken over by
terrorists. Now he's a hostage, in a a place wired with explosives.

University” (2013), 8:30-11 p.m., ABC Family. With Halloween a week
away, kids can catch this animated comedy. Or they can get some
high-octane scares from Steven Spielberg's terrific “Jurassic Park”
(1993), from 8-10:45 p.m. on TNT.

“Criminal Minds,”
9 p.m., CBS. This rerun involves a suspect who may have witnessed
abuse as a child, Also, Kate (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and her husband
(Greg Gunberg) worry about her niece, who is meeting a guy she only
knows online.

“Blunt Talk”
season-finale, 9 p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10 and 11:55. This first
season – a good one – reruns from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Then it
concludes with Walter Blunt (Patrick Stewart) visiting an unusual
consultant and booking a controversial guest for his talk show.

Remorse” season-finale, 9:30 p.m., Starz, rerunning at 10:30 p.m.
and 12:30 a.m.. Here's another chance to see a full season in one
gulp. Previous second-season episodes rerun from 3:30 to 7 p.m.; then
the 9:30 finale finds a new crisis hitting the family.

TV column for Friday, Oct. 23

“Great Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

The “Billy Elliot”
movie (2000), with a boy savoring ballet in a macho mining town, was
a gem. It was turned into a Tony-winning musical, which reaches TV
here and is first-rate ... with drawbacks.

Elton John and Lee
Hall provided resounding songs, making great use of the striking
miners for a booming male chorus. Hall's book is surprisingly dark,
however, and director Stephen Daldry reduces those miners to
cartoonish oafs, before reversing that after intermission. The
dancing is splendid, but quite sparse until the extra finale – a
sensational number mashing 25 gifted actors who have been Billy.

“Last Man Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC.

Jay Leno is back to
what he seems to savor – buying cars, fixing cars, talking about
cars. His “Jay Leno's Garage” is on CNBC, with new eisodes at 10
p.m. Wednesdays and reruns often ... including overnight tonight at 4
a.m.; and now he plays a car buff here.

Mike (Tim Allen) is
delighted to get a 1967 Impala as a present. Then the previous owner
(Leno) keeps dropping by with spare parts and unrequested advice.

ALTERNATIVE: “Belief,” 8 p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network.

This richly crafted
series is near its finish now. On the sixth of seven nights, we see
people go to extremes, mentally and physically. In Morocco, a teen
works toward reciiting all 80,000 words of the Qur'an; in France and
Spain, a 65-year-old hopes to re-connect with Catholicism in a
500-mile walk.

Another story views
too teens – a Jewish cellist and a Muslim flutist – brought
together by an Israeli orchestra. And in China, a young monk masters
kung fu, but has trouble with the spiritual levels.

Other choices

II” (1981), 7:30 p.m., AMC. We're back to that same Halloween
night, with the killer still loose and Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) in
danger. John Carpenter didn't direct the sequel, but he co-produced
it, created a first-rate music score and co-wrote it, providing a
terrific finish to a long night.

8 p.m., Fox. This reruns an hour with conflicting extremes. Visually,
“Gothan” is as striking as ever. Still, the main story -- a
hostage situation at a charity fundraiser – is prolonged and

“Truth Be Told,”
8:30 p.m., NBC. Desperate for quick attention, comedies often
overload early episodes with sex talk, sometimes clever and often
not. Last week's opener had a dim-witted debate over whether the
babysitter was a porn star. Now the guys ponder lying to their wives
about going to the Adult Films Awards; also, a wife fumes when women
send nude photos to her husband.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. Will Yun Lee (“The Wolverine”) plays the ex-boyfriend
of Ken's wife. Now the guy is a hot and successful doctor ... and Ken
is supposed to speak at a tribute for him.

“Rosewood,” 9
p.m., Fox. Remember the bad old cop shows, where the boss kept
getting in the way and then some idiot made an unforced confession?
That happens (clumsily) in this awful rerun.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. We can probably expect this one to be high-octane. The
team is racing in a “tough mudder” competition. It's also
interrogating stunt bikers, searching for the killer who escaped by
jumping his motorcycle across rooftops.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Danny joins the hunt for escaped convicts, after
learning that one of them is someone he helped wrongfully convict.