TV column for Sunday, Aug. 21


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Olympics closing ceremony, 8-10:30 p.m., NBC.

Like the opening
ceremony, this is expected to be small in budget, but big in color,
sound and spectacle.

The ceremony will
celebrate Brazil's pre-history, including a rich heritage of wall and
cave-paintings. It will have music, including singer-songwriter
Lenine, winner of two Latin Grammys. And Pele – the soccer
superstar who missed the opening ceremony for health reasons – is
expected to be there. Also, stick around at 10:30 p.m., for a short
sampling of the upcoming “Voice” season.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Inspector Lewis” finale, 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

A 29-year tradition
concludes with a story that is – like its central character --
quiet and competent.. Kevin Whately has been playing Rob Lewis, off
and on, since 1987. This was Sgt. Lewis in “Inspector Morse”
tales, then an inspector. Widowed, he's now dating Dr. Laura Hobson,
the forensics leader.

Some of the
Morse/Lewis stories have been slow and plodding, but not this one. It
starts briskly with a bombing in academia, then adds affairs and
schemes, plus personal stories for both Lewis and his colleague
(Laurence Fox). “Inspector Lewis” concludes with quiet class.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Chesapeake Shores,” 9 p.m., Hallmark.

The “Chesapeake
Shores” movie was a good one, in the standard Hallmark way –
pretty people and places, pleasantly predictable stories. But for the
series, “Shores” added writer-producer John Tinker.

Here is a throwback
to TV's prime, when Tinker's dad (Grant) ran NBC and his brother
(Mark) ran “St. Elsewhere.” John won an Emmy on that show, wrote
for “Chicago Hope” and others, co-created and produced “Judging
Amy” ... and then almost vanished. He brings intelligence to a
solid family drama.

Other choices
include:

“Fear the Walking
Dead,” 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., AMC. After pausing for three months, this
starts showing the final six episodes of its second season. At 9 p.m.
(rerunning at 12:30 a.m.), Nick's dark past is revealed after he
enters a dangerous landscape. Before that, however, you can catch up
on everythig that's happened so far, starting at 7 a.m. with the
first signs of zombies in Los Angeles.

Olympics, daytime.
On the final day, most things will be live. Men's basketball has its
bronze game at 10:30 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network and gold at 2:15
p.m. on NBC; men's volleyball is 8 a.m. ET on USA for bronze, 12:15
p.m. on NBC for gold. NBC also has the rhythmic gymnastics group
finals at 11 a.m. ET; NBC Sports Network has men's boxing and
wrestling finals at 12:30.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. It's athletes against comics. Kristi Yamaguchi,
the Olympic-medalist figure-skater, and her husband, former hockey
pro Bret Hedican, face Tommy Davidson and family. Then basketball's
Jalen Rose and friends face Dave Foley and family.

“$10,000 Pyramid,”
9 p.m., ABC. One round has Yvette Nicole Brown and Fred Willard;
another has Joy Behar and John Michael Higgins.

“J.L. Family
Ranch,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. The good news
is that Hallmark diverted from its usual path; the bad is that it did
it poorly. Jon Voight plays an ex-sheriff, clinging to ranchland
sought by his enemy (James Caan); Teri Polo and Melanie Griffith
co-star. “J.L.” tries the slow verbal patterms of the prairie;
soon, however, it fades into a drab tangle of bureaucracy.

“BrainDead,” 10
p.m., CBS. There's animostiy between senators Wheatus (whose brain
was invaded by the alien bugs) and Healy (whose sister Laurel is
battling the bugs). Now Wheatus probes Healy history ... straining
the relationship between his staffer and Laurel.

“The Voice,”
10:30 p.m., NBC. The new “Voice” season won't start until Sept.
19, but NBC can't resist using this Olympics springboard. Here is a
half-hour look at auditions; we'll see Blake Shelton and Adam Levine
with their new colleagues, Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys.

TV column for Saturday, Aug. 20


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Olympics, 8 p.m. to midnight, NBC.

There's still a
cascade of gold medals to be won, mostly in prime time. For men, that
includes 1500 meter, 5000 meter, javelin and platform diving; for
women its high jump and 800-meter. And for both, there are the
4-by-400-meter relays.

There's more in the
daytime, which we'll list separately, and then latenight on NBC, from
12:30-5 a.m.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Rush Hour” finale, 8 p.m., CBS.

The “Rush Hour”
movies seemed like they would continue forever. There were four of
them, stretched over nine years, with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker
making a fortune.

The TV series,
however, seemed to vanish in an instant. Eight episodes were shown on
Thursdays, failing in a strong timeslot; five more were exiled to
Saturdays. Still, we're promised that there will be a strong finish.
Lee (Jon Foo) has tried to extricate his sister from the crime life.
Now he and Carter (Justin Hires) have a chance, going undercover at a
meeting of rival crime lords.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
Animated movies, all day, cable.

While their parents
obsess on the Olympics. kids can have fun. Starz has “The Good
Dinosaur” (2015) at 7:15 p.m., Disney has “Alvin & The
Chipmunks 2” (2009) at 8 and others have marathons.

On Freeform, it's
“Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” (2009) at 12:30 p.m., the
original “Jungle Book” (1967) at 2:45, “Up” (2009) at 4:45,
“Tangled” (2010) at 7, “Monsters University” (2013) at 9:15
and “Brave” (2012) at 11:45. FXX has “Smurfs 2” (2013) at 2
p.m., “Puss in Boots” (2011) at 4, “Turbo” (2013) at 6 and
then the clever “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” (2014) at 8 and 10
p.m.

Other choices
include:

More Olympics,
daytime. On the last full day, things start early. Live coverage
begins at 6 a.m. ET on Golf (with the final women's round), 9 a.m. on
USA (rhythmic gymnastics qualifying) and noon on MSNBC (women's
volleyball bronze) and NBC Sports Network (men's soccer bronze). Even
NBC (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) will sometimes be live. That includes the
gold-medal games in women's basketball at 2:30 p.m. ET and men's
water polo, at 4:45 p.m. ET.

“Mean Girls”
(2004), 6:35 p.m., Comedy Central. There are some movies for
grown-ups, starting with this fun Tina Fey film. At 8 p.m., FX has
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013), MTV has “Napoleon Dynamite”
(2004) and VH1 has “Sixteen Candles” (1983).

“Hotel Hell,” 8
and 9 p.m., Fox. Here's a rerun of a two-parter that's fun to watch,
in a perverse way. The setting – in historic Harper's Ferry, W. Va.
-- is gorgeous; the manager is bizarre. A retired teacher, she even
keeps her clothes in a locked cabinet in a guest room. A
mega-makeover is coming.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., ABC. Desperate to connect with her daughters,
Vanessa gets a tattoo. Also in this rerunn, Ryan – not an
outdoorsman like his fiancee's dad – needs a lesson in camping.

“Dr. Ken,” 8:31
p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Ken is ready to take full credit for giving a
sex talk to his son. Actually, it was his timid protege, Dr. Julie
Dodds, who gave the talk.

“In an Instant,”
9 p.m., ABC. Ashley Ware was 23, a nurse and a runner-up for Miss
North Dakota USA, when she was abducted in Fargo, N.D. Using her
nursing skills, she faked an asthma attack, fled, later wrestled the
man while putting pressure under his nose. That was eight years ago;
Ware – who married, moved to New York and continued nursing –
tells the story, along with re-enactments.

“Fargo” (1996),
10 p.m., Viceland. This network (formerly H2) again wraps its
Saturday with “Fargo,” a gem. That follows all seven episodes of
“Vice Does America,” from 6:30-10 p.m.: The travelers range from
hog-calling in Iowa to a creationist museum in Texas and an African
village in South Carolina.

TV column for Friday, Aug. 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Superstore,”10:30 p.m., NBC.

In the midst of its
mega-rated Olympic coverage, NBC pauses to show off a micro-rated
comedy. It's a special episode of the likable (if erratic)
“Superstore,” set in a time prior to last spring's season-finale.

The store plans an
Olympic-themed sale... something that triggers Glenn's frenzied
patriotism and Dina's plans for an epic closing ceremony. There's a
fictional gold medalist (played by Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night
Live”), plus several real ones – figure-skater Tara Lipinski,
speed-skater Apolo Anton Ohno and gymnast McKayla Maroney. And along
the way, Mateo reveals an important secret.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Olympics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8-10:30 p.m., 11:35 p.m. to 3 a.m.,
NBC.

With
two-and-a-fraction days left, Usain Bolt has a shot at yet another
gold medal, this time with his Jamaican team in the four-by-100-meter
relay. That's in prime time, where NBC (mixing live and tape) also
has the men's hammer, the women's pole vault and 5,000-meter and
more.

The cable channels
start live coverage early – 6:30 a.m. ET on Golf, 7 a.m. on the NBC
Sports Network and 9 a.m. on USA. CNBC starts at 5 p.m. ET, wth the
men's basketball semi-finals at 6.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Movies, cable.

The bad news is that
cable is playing it safe, with movies it shows often. The good?
They're shown so much because they're popular, mainstream and
well-made, maybe worth seeing again.

That starts with the
first and third “Austin Powers” movies, at 6 p.m. (1997) and 8
p.m. (2002) ET on IFC; AMC has “The Breakfast Club” (1985) at
6:30 and 8:30. And at 8, there;s “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013)
on FX, “The Help” (2011) on CMT, “You've Got Mail” (1998) on
Pop and more.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,”
8-10 p.m., Fox. In the first part of this rerun, the losers of a
previous challenge now have 90-minutes to create a three-layer
birthday cake. Then everyone is hauled to a vegetable field for the
next challenge – 75 minutes for teams to prepare a meal for 100
hungry farmers.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a fire broke out near a
top-secret government container and key information was stolen. To
learn what happened, Sam and Callen go undercover as firefighters.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Shades of Iron Man: This rerun says the government has
developed a suit that is high-tech and indestructible. It's been
stolen and the team races to find it.

“Great
Performances at the Met,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). A
decade ago, Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”) directed an
acclaimed “Madama Butterfly.” He died two years later, but is
still listed as the producer of this version. Directed and
choreographed by his widow Carolyn Choa and starring Kristine
Opolais, it drew raves when it opened at the Met in March.

“Killjoys,” 9
p.m., Syfy. Dutch, D'avin and Alvis head to an old research facility
on Arkyn. Meanwhile, Johnny and Pawter are trying to rally support in
the impending battle for Westerly.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This rerun puts the spotlight on Erin, an assistant
district attorney. After a case ends with a hung jury, she takes it
over; working with the department's detective (Steve Schirripa of
“The Sopranos”), she searches for the witness who disappeared.

“Dark Matter,”
10 p.m., Syfy. Don't you hate it when your vehicle's tech devices
blink out, flinging you into an alternate reality? That happens to
the Raza tonight.

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Olympics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight, 12:35 to 4:30 a.m.,
NBC.

With only three-plus
days left, there are still plenty of medals to hand out. In prime
time, NBC goes live with the gold-medal finals of men's beach
volleyball. Mixing live and tape, it has the men's 200-meter, shotput
and decathlon; women have finals in javelin, 400-meter hurdles and
platform diving.

There's much more on
cable. Live coverage starts at 8 a.m. on NBC Sports Network, 9 on
Golf, 10 on USA, 2 p.m. on MSNBC and 5 p.m. on CNBC.

TONIGHT'S MUST SEE
OR RECORD: “The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore” finale, 11:30
p.m., Comedy Central.

The decision to
cancel Wilmore was sudden and startling. Yes, ratings were low ...
especially after Jon Stewart left the lead-in “Daily Show.”
Still, satirical shows thrive during an election year; Wilmore had
moments of brilliance ... and seemed likely to have many more.

After getting the
news Monday that his show is ending, Wilmore put together an episode
that was sweet-spirited in approach, yet fierce in its satire. We can
expect more of that tonight.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” 10 p.m., FX;
rerunning at 11.

Romance has been a
wild roller-coaster for Flash. He showed Gigi the land he bought in
New Jersey, proposed to her ... and was abruptly rejected. In last
week's episode (rerunning at 10:30), he and Ava announced they're a
couple; Johnny fumed, Gigi did some apartment-remodeling with a
chainsaw.

Now everyone is
supposed to set this aside: It's time for “Feast” -- the
potato-famine musical that Campbell Scott co-opted from Rehab. Scott
(playing a perverse version of himself) even insists that all his
people fast before the show. It's a busy and funny episode, for a
show that's been at its best lately.

Other choices
include:

-- “60 Days In,”
10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 9-11:03 p.m., A&E. The first season was a
ratings success, watching volunteers go undercover at the county jail
in Jeffersonville, Ind. You can sample that in the afternoon, then
catch the new season tonight, with a “pre-show” at 8:45 p.m. and
then a new crop of volunteers.

-- “No Country for
Old Men” (2007), 5:15 and 8 p.m. ET, IFC. A strong movie night is
led by this Oscar-winner. At 8 p.m., kids can choose between two
animated films, “Brave” (2012) on Disney and “Ice Age”
(2002) on Nickelodeon. Grown-ups have Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan in
the subtly crafted “Brooklyn” (2015), at 9 p.m. on HBO.

-- “American
Experience,” 8-11 p.m., PBS. The two-week rerun string of
presidential portraits concludes with this richly detailed look at
George H.W. Bush.

-- “The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. For years, Sheldon has raved about his
grandmother. In this terrific rerun, we finally meet her. As played
by June Squibb, 86, an Oscar-nominee for “Nebraska,” she's a
sweet-face lady who's only sweet when Sheldon is there. Also, this is
the episode in which Raj meets Claire at the comic-book store; for
the first time, he's not sure about his relationship with Emily.

-- “Life in
Pieces,” 8:31 p.m., CBS. Consider this a variation on all those
cowboy movies about who gets water rights: When property lines are
redrawn, John (James Brolin) and his neighbor (J.B. Smoove) disagree
on who gets to use the hot tub.

-- “My Last Days,”
9 p.m., CW. After Wednesday's superb opener, here's the mid-section
of a three-day portrait of people facing life-shortening ailments.
Kate Lazo, 25, has a severe form of stomach cancer. Isabel Bueso was
told her ailment (called MPS VI) would bring her death before 20; at
21, she's busy researching MPS and creating awareness events.

-- “Queen of the
South,” 10 p.m., USA. Teresa scrambles to save a witness. Also, her
mentor Camila tries to reassire people that she's shed her troubles
and is back in the drug-dealing business.

 

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“My Last Days” opener, 9 p.m., CW.

Claire Wineland is
19 and bubbly, a sweet-face teen who seems luminous on her podcast.
Darth Vader – yes, that's now his legal name – is none of those
things. After surviving a brutal childhood decades ago, he became a
tough and imposing force, plowing through “mudder” survival
tests.

Exact opposites ,
they have one thing in common: Both learned they'll die early. Justin
Baldoni (a “Jane the Virgin” co-star) has beautifully crafted
this first of consecutive three nights of documentaries about people
facing death. Claire (with cystic fibrosis) and Darth (leukemia) are
worth knowing.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The A Word” season-finale, 10 p.m., Sundance.

After a fairly slow
start, “A Word” ends its seaon superbly. Even if you've skipped
the first five episodes, you'll be engrossed with this one. All you
need to know is this:

Paul and Alison are
struggling in small-town England. His widowed father owns the local
brewery, where Paul's brother (who's had job and marital troubles)
works. Now Paul is opening his pub today. His teen daughter will be
there; so will Joe, the 5-year-old whom Paul and Alison have never
publicly acknowledged is autistic. Then a crisis stirs emotions,
transforms lives and grips viewers.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Olympics, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight, 12:35
to 4:30 a.m., NBC; also, cable.

Much of NBC's
coverage is tape-delayed, but the network plans to go live with the
women's beach-volleyball gold-medal match. That's the event Kerri
Walsh Jennings of the U.S, has won (with her previous partner) in
three straight Olympics, during a 112-match winning streak.

There's more in
prime time, including men's decathlon and women's finals in 200-meter
run, 100-meter hurdles and long jump. On cable, live coverage starts
at 6:30 a.m. on Golf, 8 a.m. on NBC Sports Network, 9 a.m. on USA and
11 a.m. on MSNBC.

Other choices
include:

“Trainwreck”
(2015), 7:55 p.m., HBO. Amy Schumer's comedy – sometimes raunchy,
often clever -- leads a good movie night. For kids, there are
animated movies -- “Monsters vs. Aliens” (2009) at 7 p.m. on AMC,
“Ratatouille”(2007) at 8:30 on Freeform. And for any age, “We
Bought a Zoo” (2011) -- an amiable trifle based on a true story –
is 8 p.m. on FXX.

“The Real
O'Neals,” 8-10 p.m., ABC. In four straight reruns, these amiable
people try to adjust to sudden changes, after Kenny came out as gay
and his parents separated. The trickiest part comes at 9 p.m., when
they hope to keep all of this secret from the visiting grandmother
(Frances Conroy).

“MasterChef,” 8
and 9 p.m., Fox. Retreating to reruns during the Olympics, this
ranges from a mystery-box challege to splitting into teams to help 30
teens celebrate sweet-16 birthdays.

“American
Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS. Here's the second half of a rerun,
profiling Ronald Reagan.

“American Gothic,”
10 p.m., CBS. Garrett is finally forced to reflect on the 14 years he
spent in solitude. The result reveals family secrets.

“Tyrant,” 10
p.m., FX. This started as a tale of a good American, overwhelmed by
evil when he visits his native land. But now it has flipped: Consumed
by rage over the murder of his daughter, Bassam (Barry when he's back
in the U.S.) overstepped tragically. An upcoming election has brought
tough posturing on all sides. Until then, Bassam remains president,
plunging into deeper trouble.

“Mr, Robot,”
10:01 p.m., USA. By now, Elliot (Rami Malek) knows that Mr. Robot
(Christian Slater) is just in his imagination, a figment taking the
image of his late father. He's quit trying to resist him, however,
and simply tries to get along. Meanwhile, Joanna faces an ultimatum.