TV column for Friday, July 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Killjoys,” 8 p.m., Syfy.

Two weeks before the
silliness of its “Sharknado Week,” this channel shows us that
science-fiction can sometimes do it all. “Killjoys” has warmth
and “wow,” plus neat little pockets of humor.

Much of that comes
from the return of John, after his personal detour. While he was
gone, his brother D'avin – usually the macho-foolhardy one – had
to be responsible. Also, John's duties went to a “replacement nerd”
(perfectly played by Kelly McCormack), leading to some great scenes.
Alongside that is the story of a planet of blind people; smart and
spooky, it's top sci-fi.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Salvation,” 9 p.m., CBS.

Here's a late (very
late) switch by CBS. It dumps the “Hawai Five-0” episode and
replaces it with a rerun of Wednesday's “Salvation” opener.

Such moves are a
disservice to viewers, who expect the networks – especially CBS –
to be dependable. Still, we won't grumble too much because ... well,
it's a good episode, worth rerunning. It has a likable young student
finding that the planet is in danger..

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Departed” (2007) and “Goodfellas” (1990), 5
p.m. and 8:30 p.m., AMC.

It's a Martin
Scorsese double-feature, a showcase for a director who mixes artistry
with entertainment. “Goodfellas” reflects one of his specialties
– the hard-edged Mob film. It won an Oscar for Joe Pesci and five
more nominations, including best picture and best director.

That was Scorsese's
third director nomination without winning. There would be two more,
before “Departed.” A complex crime story (adapted from a Hong
Kong film) with a dream cast (led by Jack Nicholson and Leonardo
DiCaprio), it won for best picture, editing, script and, of course,
director.

Other choices
include:

“Masters of
Illusion,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., and “Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” 9
p.m., CW. Here's a two-hour block of quick-paced magic. That includes
reruns of last Friday's “Illusion” opener and Thursday's “Fool
Us” opener. They're preceded at 8 p.m. by a new “Illusion,”
with eight acts.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. This reruns Tuesday's episode, which is
was the sixth and final burst of auditions. Next week, judges start
making cuts.

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Amy Acker guests as Jack's former CIA partner ... and his
former girlfriend. In this rerun, she's missing; the team races to
Venezuela to find and rescue her.

“The Great British
Baking Show,” 9 p.m., PBS. The seven remaining contestants face
three challenges that involve inspiration from nature. Some stations
will follow this with a rerun of Willie Nelson receiving the Gershwin
Prize; stars – including Nelson – perform his music.

“Dark Matter,” 9
p.m., Syfy. Get ready for some complex – and intriguing – mind
games. Any details would ruin the story, so just stick with it. It's
a great hour ... or a great 55 minutes, with a couple of so-so scenes
tacked on at the end.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. The murder victim is a man who killed a mother and son
years earlier, while driving drunk. The case – with Robert Sean
Leonard (“House”) as the murder suspect – leaves Danny with
mixed emotions. Also in this rerun, Erin wants Anthony to incriminate
his old friend.

“Playing House,”
11 and 11:30 p.m., USA. In the first episode (a pretty good one),
Maggie has an important first-date and Emma plans a “Game of
Thrones” party for a 13-year-old. In the second (merely OK), they
head out on a double-date ... promptly finding lots of detours

TV column for Thursday, July 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Love Connection,” 9 p.m., Fox.

After lots of easy
matches – bright-eyed young people, looking for love or lust --
here's a challenge: Ramona Singer is 60, famous (“Real Housewives
of New York”) and coming off the angry end of a 23-year marriage.
She's also, her friend Andy Cohen says, “one of the most
controlling people I know.”

Now Cohen – the
show's terrific host – hears reports from three guys she dated.
One, 42, disparages her as too old and “looking like someone's
aunt”; the others are clearly smitten. The result – following an
odd half-hour that includes a magician, a “stalker” and a
flaming-hula-hoop dancer – is great fun.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Hooten & The Lady” debut, 9 p.m., CW.

Hollywood has taught
us the basics: English people are bright, classy and sometimes quite
helpless; Americans are rude, crude and quite capable. Now this
British production throws them together.

Lady Alex
Lindo-Parker works for a museum, seeking great artifacts; Ulysses
Hooten works for himself, seeking money and alcohol. They collide in
the Amazon rainforest, where she's seeking Percy Fawcett's long-lost
camp. The Anglo-American stereotypes are harmless fun; the native
stereotypes are not. Many other things here are blunt and inept ...
yet through it all, “Hooten” is kind of a hoot.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: All night, NBC.

To boost its most
important summer night (from a commercial perspective), NBC has a
transplanted “America's Got Talent.” It's at 8 p.m., with
highlights from the six nights of auditions.

That's followed at 9
by “The Wall,” the high-tech game show, and at 10 by “The Night
Shift.” In Syria, TC joins a daring rescue mission; back in San
Antonio, Drew is overwhelmed as a parent with long work hours. Also,
Jordan and Cain (Mark Consuelos) help a wounded veteran accept his
diagnosis.

Other choices
include:

“Penn &
Teller: Fool Us” season-opener, 8 p.m., CMT. This offers bright
summer entertainment, as magicians try to offer tricks that even Penn
and Teller can't figure out. Alyson Hannigan hosts.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. This very funny rerun starts with a “Fun
With Flags,” then has a crisis: Amy moved in with Sheldon when her
apartment was under repair; she hasn't told him it's ready.

“Life in Pieces,”
8:31, CBS. This rerun has two strong guest roles: Angela Kinsey (“The
Office”) is a judgmental animal advocate; Molly Shannon (“Saturday
Night Live”) is a private chef Greg and Jen hire for Valentine's
Day.

“Battle of the
Network Stars,” 9 p.m., ABC. Are fake lawyers better athletes than
fake politicians? This has actors from White House shows (Marlee
Matlin, Joshua Malina, Mary McCormack, LaMonica Garrett, Cornelius
Smith Jr.) and law shows (Catherine Bell, Corbin Bernsen, Elisabeth
Rohm, Matt McGorry, Romi Dias).

“Nashville,” 9
p.m., CMT, rerunning at 10:01; also, 10 p.m., Nickelodeon. Injuries
from the plane crash plague Juliette. Also, Scarlett and Gunnar shoot
a national commercial; Deacon has a benefit concert.

“Zoo,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. Jamie and Clementine try a risky surgery to save Mitch.
Meanwhile, Abraham and Dariel are tempted to make a deal with Reiden
Global.

“The Mist,” 10
p.m., Spike. Desperate to find his family, Kevin reaches a gas
station. In the mall, people have split up – why do they do that in
horror stories? – and his daughter confronts The Mist.

TV column for Wednesday, July 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Salvation” debut, 9 p.m., CBS.

With steady
competence, CBS has shown a smart approach to summers. Alongside the
reality-type flash (“Big Brother,” “Candy Crush”), it has
inserted a few richly crafted science-fiction shows -- “Under the
Dome,” “Extant,” “Zoo,” “BrainDead” and now another
good one.

An amiable grad
student, zipping through life on his bicycle, discovers a
world-changing (literally) secret. Soon, he links with a tech mogul
(Santiago Cabrera of “Heroes”) and a White House insider
(Jennifer Finnigan of “Tyrant”), trying to save mankind. The
opener is smart and involving.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Odd Mom Out” season-opener, 10 p.m., Bravo.

For the first two
seasons, Jill and Andy were outsiders – almost-normal people, in a
New York neighborhood of wealth and excess. But now a Ponzi scheme
has seen others crash down.

Her sister (Abby
Elliott) faces life without household help ... his mom (Joanna
Cassidy) has moved in with them ... neighbors must learn how to use
ovens and irons and such. A sub-plot (Hazel is becoming a teen-ager)
is so-so, but the main story has some moments of sharp satire.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: ESPY Awards, 8-11 p.m., ABC.

Peyton Manning has
already shown a dry sense of humor on “Saturday Night Live” and
in commercials. Now he's the host – a job usually reserved for
comedians or actors.

Manning has won nine
ESPYs, but never (despite three nominations) best male athlete. This
year, the nominees are Kris Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Sidney Crosby
and Michael Phelps; the women are Simone Biles, Serena Williams,
Katie Ledecky and Candace Parker. There will be music by Gallant and
celebrity presenters include Bryan Cranston, Dove Cameron and
four-time host Samuel L. Jackson.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Suits” season-opener, 9 p.m., USA.

For six seasons,
this has been a mixed blessing, with smart dialog uttered by
unlikable and un-varied characters. It has drawn moderate attention
... until now.

The difference is
that Meghan Markle is now dating Prince Harry; suddenly, romance
readers may be watching a show about corporate lawyers. Markle plays
Rachel Zane, who at times tonight seems to be the only sane and
balanced soul in the law office. Her fiance, Mike Ross, is returning
to the firm, which his former mentor, Harvey Spector, plans to
control. Others scheme and shout, in an un-royal manner

Other choices
include:

“Queen Sugar,” 7
p.m. to 2 a.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. First, are reruns of the
previous three episodes, as Charly tries to manage her family's farm
while facing battles over her divorce from a basketball star. The new
episode (at 10, rerunning at 1 a.m.), has her therapist find
childhood issues.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. This episode is entitled “Silenced By the Lambs.”
First, the home-chefs prepare racks of lamb. Then some must try to
match Gordon Ramsay's lamb chop dish.

“Little Big Shots:
Forever Young,” 8 p.m., NBC. Steve Harvey meets one woman who's a
blues guitarist at 78, another who's a bodybuilder at 81. They are
young 'uns compared to two sisters, 98 and 103, who have become big
on the Internet.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9 and 9:30, NBC. Bobby's ex-wife has been drinking a lot
lately; in the first episode, the family plans an intervention. In
the second, Maxine and Jerrod had rushed out to buy an after-the-fact
birth-control pill; instead, a storm forces them into his parents'
basement.

“This Is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. This reruns a pivotal moment: Randall's fondness for his
adoptive mother is blurred when he learns that she'd always known
(and kept secret) the identity of his biologic father.

“Snowfall,” 10
p.m., FX. Last week's opener introduced a young man spreading cocaine
to the black community in 1980s Los Angeles; tonight, he learns how
difficult that can be. Also in this tough and well-made hour: A
federal agent's undercover scheme advances; and there are fierce
aftershocks to a burglary that went bad, leading to murder.

TV column for Tuesday, July 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Baseball All-Star game, 8 p.m. ET, Fox.

Baseball's best
players collide in Miami's almost-new (opened in 2012) Marlins Park.
That means there are no rain worries; the room is detractable. It
also means the National League bats last.

The American League
has won four straight and 16 of 19. Still, the past can't count for
much in a game of newcomers. Six AL starters are in their first
All-Star game, topped by Aaron Judge, who leads the majors in home
runs and is fifth in batting average and seventh in RBI. His 30
homers have already broken Joe DiMaggio's record for a Yankee rookie;
Mark McGwire's all-time rookie record is 49.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “America's Got Talent” and “World of Dance,” 8 and 10
p.m., NBC.

After being bumped
last week by a 4th-of-July special, these two
ratings-leaders are back.

For “Talent,”
it's the sixth and final night of auditions; for “Dance,” it's
the third and final night of “duels,” with judges choosing
between two acts. Next week, a new round of cuts begins.

TONIGHTS
ALTERNATIVE: “Adam Ruins Everything” season-opener, 10 p.m.,
TruTV, reruns at 11.

Adam Conover has
created something unique. His show disputes common beliefs – even
inserting experts and footnotes – but makes it all feel like a
comedy. And tonight, he approaches childbirth.

The biological clock
shuts down at 35? That's based on flawed data from long ago, Conover
says; a woman of 37 who's trying to be pregnant has an 82-percent
chance of succeeding in a year. He disputes other beliefs, from
arguments against baby formula to notions that each mom will bond
instantly with the baby. And he does it with such offbeat wit that we
barely notice the footnotes.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Story of China” conclusion, 8 and 9 p.m.,
PBS.

History might
celebrate the Ming Dynasty, with its splendid artifacts, and condemn
the barbarians who overthrew it. But Michael Wood takes an opposite
view: The Ming had become cold and corrupt; the new leaders had
stability (one emperor ruled for 61 years) and an inclusive approach.

It would be China's
last dynasty, ultimately tormented by the outside world. This series
– richly illustrated by views of current China – closes with Wood
blaming his own British countrymen. Eager to trade opium for tea,
they crippled China at first through trade and then through military
attack.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun of the season's second episode, the newcomers are
settling in – for now; that's Jennifer Esposito (who is leaving the
show after one season) and Wilmer Valderrama. The story involves a
bomb plot targeting a reunion of the FBI's Quantico people.

“The Middle,” 8
and 10:30 p.m., ABC. A night of comedy reruns is bookended by this
clever show. In the first episode, Mike uses the high school coach as
a ringer to boost his softball team; in the second, Axl runs into his
old girlfriends at a dance.

“The Fosters”
season-opener, 8 p.m., Freeform. While Marian leads the protests
against Anchor Beach Charter's privatization, her twin Jesus –
struggling with his traumatic brain injury -- lashes out. Also, their
adoptive sister Callie is missing; Stef, a cop, desperately searches
for her.

“The Bold Type,”
9-11 p.m., Freeform. Based loosely on the life of a former
Cosmopolitan editor, this traces three young women early in their
magazine career. Katie Stevens – who entered the 2010 “American
Idol” when she was 17 and finished eighth – is one of the stars,
playing Jane.

“The Animal
Kingdom,” 9 p.m., TNT. It's double-trouble for Baz. He clashes with
Pope after the mega-church heist; also, he faces a secret that was
kept hidden by Catherine.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. Desperate to trap Garcia, Pride has
Sebastian go undercover and asks Patton to use his old gambling
skills.

TV column for Monday, July 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

Rachel Lindsay has
trimmed from 31 guys to six; now she picks a final four and visit
their home towns. Lindsay, 32, is a Dallas lawyer and has another
Dallas person (Adam, 27, a real-estate agent) to consider. She could
choose a chiropractor (Bryan, 37, of Miami) or get physical, with
personal trainers -- Erick, 29, of Los Angeles and Peter, 31, of
Madison, Wis. Others are Matt, 32, a sales rep in Connecticut, and
Dean, 26, a start-up recruiter in Venice, Cal.

TONIGHT'S
SHOULD-TRY: “Will” debut, 9 and 10:01 p.m., TNT; reruns 11:09
p.m. and 12:17 a.m.

Before he turned 21,
history tells us, William Shakespeare was married, had three kids and
was a glovemaker in his dad's small-town business. Somehow, he
vaulted to theater fame in London.

The in-between part
is unclear, so writers can make stuff up; “Will” takes that to an
extreme. Some of its moments – involving theater or a possible
romance – are pretty good; others are not. A religious-suppression
sub-plot throws in torture needlessly; a bar confrontation is absurd.
Yes, a real-life man named Greene considered Shakespeare a rube;
here, that turns into a sort of drunken rap duel.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “POV,” 10-11:30 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

After winning awards
in nine festivals – including Sundance, where it won for best
documentary and the audience voted it the best in world cinema --
“Last Men in Aleppo” reaches TV .

This follows the
“White Hats,” Syrians who rush into bombed buildings to save
strangers. It's tough to watch, with some gore and much despair ...
including a final gut-kick. But it's also an uplifting view of
humanity. We see the warm reunion of a boy and the man who pulled him
from the ruins; we watch another man hugging his girls as they see a
video of him saving a baby. These are warm, decent people.

Other choices
include:

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. The qualifying round moves to Cleveland.
That's followed by a new episode of the “Spartan” team event.

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8. This is the second half of the New York auditions.
Next week starts the “academy” round of callbacks.

“Home Run Derby,”
8 p.m. ET, ESPN. On the eve of the All-Star game, baseball's top
sluggers go for the fences.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Bonnie doesn't deal well with setbacks. In a funny rerun, she's
unbearable after Adam breaks up with her; Christy begs him to take
her back.

“Preacher,” 9
p.m., AMC, rerunning at 10:03. Last week, Tulip's secret past finally
caught up with her; she was abducted ... but who did it? We'll find
out at the end of this odd-and-intriguing hour, but first come
detours – to Hell (really) and to the return of the “fake God”
character.

“Life in Pieces,”
9:30, CBS. This rerun of an election-time episode sees Greg
committing a double sin: He fails to vote (because the lines are too
long) and then lies about it.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. One problem, in this rerun, involves a man teetering at
the edge of a giant sinkhole. Another, more serious, one is that the
sinkhole could destroy Los Angeles' water supply.