TV column for Friday, May 27


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

The Highwaymen
provided a staggering convergence. “They were the Dream Team of
country music ... the Mount Rushmore,” Toby Keith says here. Each
man brought an epic story, says another country star, Marty Stuart.
“They were four movies, four folk heroes, four great lives being
lived.”

Which is too much
for one hour. Laced with great music, this merely eyes intersection
of those lives. Johnny Cash launched Kris Kristofferson's career;
mellow Willie Nelson and intense Waylon Jennings were opposites ...
but they brought depth, Ray Benson says, at a time “when Nashville
had no soul.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Masters of Illusion” (8 and 8:30 p.m.); “Penn & Teller:
Fool Us” (9), CW.

Last week, CW opened
its summer season a tad early, with two new “Illusion” episodes.
Now – with low viewership during the holiday weekend, it retreats
slightly, with a pair of reruns from last season. It follows with a
rerun hour in which people try to stump the Penn & Teller duo.

At least, CW keeps
finding ways to offer offbeat fun in the summer. The magicians on
these shows are unknown to most of us, but they tend to be talented
and, especially, entertaining.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Simpsons,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., Fox; and beyond.

In a TV business
where comedies dream of having 100 episodes, “Simpsons” will pass
the 600 mark next season. That gives it plenty of reruns to show
everywhere.

So tonight, Fox
reruns two episodes – a Valentine one, with Prof. Fink inventing an
algorithm to have lonely people fall in love, and one with a gifted
folk singer struggling with substance abuse. There's much more:
“Simpsons” shows up today on cable's FXX (6 p.m. to midnight) and
on local stations.

Other choices
include:

“The Matrix”
(1999) and “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003), 6 and 9 p.m., AMC. This
double-feature launches a fantasy Friday. The second “Harry Potter”
film (2002) is at 6:30 on Freeform, with “Ant-Man” (2015) at 7 on
Starz and “The Avengers” (2012) at 8 on FX.

“500 Questions,”
8 p.m., ABC. Here's the second night of this quiz show, with people
trying to answer 500 questions without three straight mistakes. It
continues Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Alice in
Wonderland” (2010), 8 p.m., TNT. On the night when its sequel
reaches theaters, this film reflects the immense talent of director
Tim Burton, composer Danny Elfman and actor Johnny Depp. Still, the
ending – a battle scene, for some reason – doesn't match the
rest.

“Coupled,” 9
p.m., Fox. In a rerun of Tuesday's episode, the second guy makes his
decision ... and we see how the first couple did in the time
together.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a rich recluse is found dead, surrounded by
counterfeit bills.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Two convicts have escaped. Danny is involved in the
search, but he also feels he helped one of them be wrongly convicted.

“The Gershwin
Prize,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Before he was a star,
Willie Nelson had already written one of Nashville's greatest songs,
“Crazy.” Now he gets this annual songwriting award; we'll hear
his music performed by Paul Simon (a previous winner), Rosanne Cash,
Alison Krauss, Neil Young, Raul Melo, Jamey Johnson and more,
including Nelson's son Lukas.

TV column for Thursday, May 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Red Nose Day,” 9 p.m., NBC.

This two-hour burst
of comedy (mostly), music and emotion is designed to raise money for
children's causes worldwide. Screenwriter Richard Curtis (“Love
Actually,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral”) started this and
“Comic Relief” in England and “Idol Gives Back” in the U.S.,
assembling stars.

Craig Ferguson hosts
and is surrounded by other comedy people – Ellen Degeneres, Jack
Black, Sarah Silverman, Tracy Morgan, Seth Rogen, Ron Funches, Adam
DeVine and the Key & Peele duo. Others include Zac Efron, Kristen
Bell, Anna Kendrick, Emma Thompson, Steve Buscemi and Ludacris.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Bones,” 8 p.m., Fox.

For 11 seasons, this
show has delivered what's rare for Fox – an adequate mystery that
wraps up its story each week. Now it also helps avert summer reruns.
There are six new episodes, before “Bones” (in a late switch)
waits until mid-season to begin its final season.

Tonight's show is –
no surrpise here – sort of adequate. A Secret Service agent has
been killed, shortly before a presidential caravan; for a time, Booth
is barred from working the case. That's followed by the usual twists
and turns, plus – in the final minutes – some action, sentiment
and even humor.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “500 Questions” season-opener, 8-10 p.m., ABC.

TV's summer starts
with a quick quiz event – eight hours, on five of the next seven
days. The two-hour opener is followed by one hour Friday and Saturday
and two each on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Concocted by two of
TV's better brains – Mark Burnett (the “Survivor” producer) and
Mike Darnell (head of Fox's reality shows during their boom time) –
this has people trying to answer 500 questions without three straight
mistakes. This season, the second, includes “Jeopardy” champion
Ken Jennings.

Other choices
include:

“Inside Out”
(2015), 7:24 p.m., Starz. This animated delight – witty enough for
kids and grown-ups – leads a strong movie line-up. Another all-ages
gem is “Charlie and the Chocolate Family,” at 8:15 on Freeform.
Also: At 8, HBO repeats its “All the Way,” with Bryan Cranston as
Lydon Johnson; at 9, Starz has Jimmy Fallon as a baseball zealot, in
the amiable “Fever Pitch” (2005).

“Legends of
Tomorrow,” 8 p.m., CW. In the first half of the show's pilot film,
evil Vandal Savage is close to controlling the world in 2166. Rip
Hunter goes back in time to stop him. He assembles a mismatched team
that's fun to watch, complete with a forner movie Superman (Brandon
Routh) and with the “Prison Break” stars (Wentworh Miller and
Dominic Purcell) as Captain Cold and Heat Wave.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Until next fall, the CBS comedies will be
reruns, Fortunately, these are good shows, fun to re-see. Tonight,
Sheldon is sick and everyone else suffers.

“The Odd Couple,”
8:31, CBS. No experts on relationships, Oscar and Felix still try to
help their neighbors, after eavesdropping on their bickering.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn guests in a terrific rerun. She
plays the mom who abandoned Bonnie. Christy – who's been slow to
forgive Bonnie's many sins – suggests forgiveness.

“Modern Family,”
10 p.m., ABC. In a transplanted rerun, Gloria gets a family seminar
at a school auction. This is not greeted with universal enthusiasm.

“Black-ish,”
10:31 p.m., ABC. This rerun finds Dre wondering why no one in his
family has been invited to one of the neighbors' pool parties.

TV column for Wednesday, May 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Wayward Pines” season-opener, 9 p.m., Fox.

“Pines” could
have retired after one intriguing season. Trapped in a controlling
and confining town, newcomer Ethan Burke slowly found the truth: This
was millennia in the future; as the Earth decayed, Dr. Pilcher had
frozen some people and created a town as humans' sole refuge.

Now Burke and
Pilcher are both dead. So is the original sheriff (Terrence Howard),
but in an opening flashback we see how he lured another newcomer
(Jason Patric). “Pines” has lost the compelling mystery of its
first season; still, it remains a strong story of people facing an
overwhelming system.

TONIGHTS MIGHT-SEE:
“Arrow” and “Supernatural” season-finales, 8 and 9 p.m., CW.

This is the final
day of the “sweeps” ratings period and of the official TV season.
Naturally, that brings a flurry of season-finales, including these
two.

First, Oliver links
with a surprising force, to try to rid Damien Darkh and his dark
magic. Then God – accustomed to tough decisions – must decide
what to do about Amara; that impacts Sam and Dean.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Nashville,” 10 p.m., ABC.

For four seasons,
this has had sharply drawn characters, great music, soapy moments and
adequate (but declining) ratings. Now it ends its run, with an hour
that seems likely to tackle key plot points.

After years of
denial, Will may finally be ready for the spotlight as a gay country
singer. Juliette may be set to go public with the fact that Jeff
Fordham's deathcame when he was preventing her suicide. Also, Rayna
scrambles to save her daughter; Scarlett and Gunnar consider ending
their musical duo.

Other choices
tonight include:

“Finding Nemo”
(2003), 8-10 p.m., ABC. Three weeks before the sequel (“Finding
Dory”) arrives, the Disney people repeat this gem, a splendid mix
of humor, emotion and gorgeous animation.

“The Price is
Right,” 8 p.m., CBS. The last of three reality-show specials has
“Amazing Race” duos. That includes two from the just-finished
season (Tyler Oakley and Korey Kuhl, Erin Robinson and Joslyn Davis)
plus winners from this fall (Joey Buttita and Kelsey Gerckens) and
2010 (Nat Strand and Kat Chang). There are five more, including
Harlem Globetrotters Herbert Lang and Nathaniel Lofton.

“Heartbeat,” 8
p.m., NBC. Like “Nashville,” this is a season-finale that's also
a series-finale. As a mysterious illness puts the hospital in
lockdown, Alex tries to save Pierce, Jesse and Ji-Sung.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit” season-finale, 9 p.m., NBC. Brad Garrett, who
played a soft-hearted cop in “Everybody Loves Raymond,” is a
brutal warden here. Tonight (wrapping a two-parter), his people
threaten the lives of the cops and the assistant district attorney.

“Criminal Minds:
Beyond Borders,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. This series – which will
return at mid-year – has one story set in Pamplona, Spain, then
closes its season with one involving a kidnapping in Haiti. Also,
Jack (Gary Sinise) and his wife (Sherry Springfield) prepare to send
their daughter to college.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. Voight's now-reformed son is at the center of the
trouble tonight. He's been critically injured and a widow he was in
constant contact with was killed.

“The Americans,”
10 p.m., FX. A slow, solemn hour ends with a sharp jolt that will
resonate next week. Until that point, this centers on a deeply
depressing story that started by tricking a good-hearted scientist
into thinking he'd had sex with Elizabeth, in one of her alternate
identities.

TV column for Tuesday, May 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Voice” finale, 9-11 p.m., NBC.

So far, two judges
have dominated “The Voice": Blake Shelton has had four winners,
Adam Levine has had three, the people alternating in two chairs have
totalled only two, for Pharrell Williams and Usher.

This time, however, each judge has one person in the final four. Shelton has Adam Wakefield, Williams has  Hannah Huston, Christina Aguilera
has Alison Porter ... and Levine survived when Laith Al-Saadi received the instant save, Their Monday performances will rerun at 8 p.m., leading into the big finish.

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

It's a collision of
reality finales. One will give a young singer a career boost; the
other will ... this one will, well, give someone a disco-ball trophy.

Nyle DeMarco, 27,
fresh from being the final wnner of the CW version of “America's
Next Top Model,” has been a favorite throughout. He faces Ginger
Zee, 35, the “Good Morning America” meteorologist, and Paige
VanZant, 22, a martial artist who survived as three football stars
were ousted.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Night Manager” finale, 10 p.m., AMC.

Over five weeks, two
gifted British actors have collided. Hugh Laurie is Roper, a weapons
dealer with the mask of a philanthropist; Tom Hiddleston – a prime
possibilty as the next James Bond – is Pine (also using other
names), an ex-soldier doing undercover spy work for a rogue British
unit.

Pine has become a
top Roper aide, but now comes a new crisis – a meeting in Egypt,
with people who knew him in his old identity. This John le Carre
story heads toward a big finish.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Hotel Hell” season-opener, 8 p.m., Fox.

On the edge of
Yellowstone Park, Dave Eby built Angler's Lodge by hand. The lodge
and the setting are gorgeous and business thrived, until the death of
their 10-year-old son. “I went to bed for three years,” Dede Eby
says. The business and the family became frayed.

Now Gordon Ramsay
must be a food expert (which he is), a hotel consultant and a
relationship counselor. There are some bitter moments, as he tells
the staff (accurately): “You're just drowning, way over your
heads.” And, of course, there's a happy ending.

Other choices
include:

“The Price is
Right,” 8 p.m.,CBS. This special includes “Big Brother” fans
and nine of the past contestants, including three winners – Ian
Terry (season two), Rachel Reilly (13) and Ian Terry (14).

“The Flash”
season-finale, 8 p.m., CW. After learning Zoom's plan, Barry vows to
stop him.

“Fresh Off the
Boat” season-finale, 8 p.m., ABC. Ken Jeong, the “Dr. Ken”
star, guests as Louis' estranged brother, arriving with big news.

“The Real O'Neals”
season-finale, 8:30, ABC. As prom nears, Kenny has two things to fret
about – the perfect “prom-posal” and whom, exactly, to ask.

“Person of
Interest,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. In a rarity, two ratings leaders
(“NCIS” and “NCIS: New Orleans”) get a week off. The first
“POI” finds Root going undercover, to protect a controversial
radio personality. The second has Finch and Reese trapped in a
hospital that may be ground zero for a virus.

“Containment,” 9
p.m., CW. At this pace, no one will want to go to hospitals. They're
ground-zero for virus outbreaks in this show at 9 and then in “Person
of Interest” at 10. Katie and Jake, who have been inside the
hospital, scramble to find Thomas, after learning that everyone in
his family has died.

“Secrets of the
Dead,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Once a huge metropolis,
Teotihuacan vanished almost 2,000 years ago. Now – in an
interesting hour that Indiana Jones would love – archaeologist
Sergio Chavez searches for tombs under the Pyramid of the Feathered
Serpent.

TV column for Monday, May 23


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Dancing With the Stars” (ABC) or “The Voice” (NBC), 8 p.m.

Both shows will pick
their winners Tuesday, so this is the last chance for viewers to
vote. On ABC, it's one hour and the final three: Nyle DeMarco -- the
deaf model-actor, 27, already an “America's Next Top Model”
champion -- faces martial artist Paige VanZant, 22, and meteorologist
Ginger Zee, 35.

On NBC, it's two
hours and the final four, this time split evenly between all four judges. Blake Shelton has Adam Wakefield. Pharrell Williams has Hannah
Huston, Christina Aguilera has Alison Porter and Adam Levine has Laith Al-Saadi, who received the final save.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Bachelorette,” 9:01-11 p.m., ABC.

JoJo Fletcher's
place in “Bachelor” history is unenviable: She's the only one to
hear “I love you,” yet be rejected. Now she's in charge, with
guys ranging from the charming Jordan Rodgers -- a former college
quarterback, like his superstar brother Aaron – to one who babbles
and goes virtually naked.

Others strain for
attention with what they ride (a motorcycle, a fake unicorn) or wear
(kilts, a Santa suit). Musically, one plays the piano (beautifully),
one plays the guitar (adequately); Wells Adams, a Nashville disc
jockey, tops that with All 4 One, an cappella group, as his personal
soundtrack.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Odd Couple,” 8:59 and 9:29 p.m., CBS.

For most of the
season, CBS ignored this show; now it's gone the other way. After
seven months on the shelf, “Odd Couple” has been airing twice a
week and will get a Monday spot this fall.

That makes sense.
“Odd Couple” gets a tad silly at times, lacking the smarts of a
“Mom” or “Big Bang Theory”; still, it fires out fast-paced
jokes, some of them quite funny. Tonight's first episode has Felix
and Oscar competing heatedly for president of the tenant association;
the second, the season finale, has Oscar reluctantly trying Online
dating ... and ending up with Felix's ex-wife.

Other choices
include:

“Clean Break,”
any time, www.acorn.tv. In a small
Irish town, a car dealer finds his business is failing and his
daughter is out of control. He concocts a revenge scheme, in this
four-part drama.

“The Price is
Right,” 8 p.m., CBS. Over the next three nights, the show will have
primetime specials with contestants and fans of “Surivivor”
(tonight), “Big Brother” and “Amazing Race.” This one has
audience favorite Rupert Boneham and others, including three past
winners – Tina Wesson (Season 2), Rob Mariano (22) and Jeremy
Collins (31).

“Gotham”
season-finale, 8 p.m., Fox. There's a crisis (again): Det. Gordon and
young Bruce Wayne are captive in the research facility under Dr.
Strange's strange asylum. Also, the inmates plan an escape.

“Houdini &
Doyle,” 9 p.m., Fox. Reports are spreading about a high-leaping
beast with demonic eyes. For Conan Doyle, who believes in the
supernatural, this is possible; Harry Houdini has his doubts.

“Whose Line Is It
Anyway?” season-opener, 9 and 9:30 p.m., CW. Each summer, CW
scatters some new shows (low-budget, pleasant-enough) amid the
reruns. This one has brilliant improvisers – Ryan Stiles, Wayne
Brady and Colin Mochrie. They link with Gary Anthony Williams in the
first half-hour and Keegan-Michael Key in the second.

“Person of
Interest,” 9:59 p.m., CBS. Angry about not being told what's
happening, Fusco tackles some missing-persons cases on his own.
Meanwhile, Finch and Reese head to a wedding, to protect two people
the machine identified.

“Blindspot”
season-finale, 10:01 p.m., NBC. While the team struggles to save a
friend, Weller searches for the truth and Jane tries to help Oscar.