TV column for Tuesday, June 24



By MIKE HUGHES


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “American Experience,” 9-11 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).


Fifty years ago this summer, about 1,000 idealists
confronted segregation in Mississippi. They were undermanned and overwhelmed;
they sparked crucial changes in America.


Filmmaker Stanley Nelson – whose splendid “Freedom Riders”
(2011) reran last week – shows the same touch here. He interviews people who
grew up in Mississippi and those who arrived for a summer of registering voters
and running “freedom schools.” News clips do the rest; the result is
compelling.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “The Night Shift” (NBC) or
“Perception” (TNT), both 10 p.m.


Scott Wolf has become the go-to boyfriend for dramas. On
both shows tonight, his relationship with the 
female lead expands. In “Perception,” he’s a federal lawyer who is the
ex-husband – and new fiancé – of a key cop; in “Night Shift,” he’s a surgeon
dating the doctor who heads the shift.


The “Perception” story – with a prosecutor who dies mid-testimony
– is OK; the “Night Shift” one is quite good. Previous episodes have been chaotic,
in this story (a giant storm hits San Antonio), the chaos makes sense. June Also,
the show’s absurd administrator character finally turns human.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Tyrant” debut, 10 p.m., FX.


In Pasadena, Barry is a pediatrician who’s married to
another professional; they have two kids and a comfortable life. In his
homeland, he’s known as Bassam, son of the tyrannical ruler and younger brother
of the crazed heir to power. A trip home means confronting boyhood.


Molding cable’s latest anti-hero, “Tyrant” sometimes hits
overkill. The final minutes in this opener give Barry surprising depth, while
making him hard to care about. The opener also takes evil-Arab stereotypes to
an extreme … yet crafts characters and a situation worth following.


Other choices include:


“The March,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Leading
into “Freedom Summer,” here’s a rerun of last year’s film, looking back at the
1963 March on Washington.


“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a truck full of stolen
Marine gear includes faulty bulletproof vests.


“NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds the team
linking with an undercover drug agent.


“Rizzoli & Isles,” 9 p.m., TNT. The so-so season-opener
(rerunning at 8 p.m.) ended with the off-camera death (in a car accident) of Rizzoli’s
colleague Frost. Now she deals with that (and tries to keep her pregnancy
secret), while tackling an interesting case, involving an amnesiac with a gun.


“Motor City Masters” debut, 10 p.m., TruTV. Yes, this show
copies the form used by competition shows for designers, tattoo artists,
make-up people and more. Still, it visits an interesting world (car styling),
populated by people worth knowing. The opener asks them to craft a quick
transformation.


“Covert Affairs,” 10:01 p.m., USA. Last season, Annie faked
her death and gunned down a villain. Now she tries to come in from the cold and
resume normal CIA life. It’s a so-so episode, but does introduces a fresh
force, an independent contractor, nor bound by the agency’s rules.


TV column for Tuesday, June 24


(Please ignore this one; I accidentally listed the Tuesday column twice.)

TV column for Monday, June 23


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TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “Under the Dome: Inside Chester’s Mill,”
10 p.m., CBS.

For a decade, TV thought it understood summers: Cable had
scripted shows; broadcast networks stuck with reality and reruns. Then CBS
launched Stephen King’s “Under the Dome,” with an ordinary town inexplicably
encased by a giant dome; everything changed.


The opener was seen in 13 million homes, a huge number in
the summer and a top-5 number for almost any week. Ratings held up fairly well
afterward. This summer, the big-four networks will have more than a dozen
non-rerun scripted shows; that includes the “Dome” season-opener next Sunday …
after this special, which includes an update for anyone who missed the first
season.


TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE II: “Murder in the First,” 10 p.m., TNT.


The third episode of the series deepens its characters and its
emotions. We see the quiet rage of one cop (Kathleen Robertson) toward her
ex-husband and others, the soft pain of her newly widowed police partner (Taye
Diggs). And we see the nastiness of their prime suspect, a young tech
billionaire.


None of that, of course, makes him guilty or easy to
convict. Now the case slowly evolves, in the third of 10 chapters of a
beautifully written and acted series.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “The Case Against 8,” 9-11 p.m., HBO.


When Proposition 8 banned gay marriage in California,
opponents considered a court appeal … and found a surprising ally in Ted Olson,
who was George W. Bush’s solicitor general. “Marriage is a conservative value ….
We should want people to come together in marriage,” he says here.


Olson insisted that David Boies – his opponent in the
Bush-Gore recount fight – join him. Then cameras recorded the five-year push.
What emerges is a deep and emotional portrait of one side of a historic case; it
debuts three days before the anniversary of the decision that threw out
Proposition 8.


Other choices include:


“Teen Wolf,” 2 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., MTV. Here’s a marathon,
leading to the season-opener at 10.


“The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. What do you do in
Italy, with its history of romance? Nick gets a gondola ride with Andi Dorfman
in Venice, Cody gets a candle-lit dinner with her in Verona, the city of Romeo
and Juliet. And the other six get lie-detector tests; life isn’t always fair.


“24,” 9 p.m., Fox. Last week ended spectacularly, when the
president accepted a terrorist’s deal – his life for her agreeing to stop the
drone attacks. He was killed by a missile in London’s Wembley Stadium. Will she
keep her promise? Will her colleagues let her? Jack, Kate and Chloe scramble to
prevent war.


“Mistresses,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. After a series of bad dates,
Karen’s spirits are sinking … just as others perk up. Savi finds a guy she
likes; so does her sister Joss … at a high-ticket event she attended for
business reasons. And April introduces her hot boyfriend Daniel to her friends.


“CeeLo Green’s The Good Life,” 10:30 p.m., TBS. With a No. 1
song (“Forget You”) and a top-rated TV show (“The Voice”), CeeLo Green can frolic.
In the opener of this reality show, he throws out the first pitch at a baseball
game and plans a sexy limousine service.


TV column for Sunday, June 22



TONIGHT’S MUST-SEE: “The Last Ship” debut, 9-10:03 p.m.,
TNT.

In the first minutes, we get a hint of what’s ahead: A
disease streaks through an African village; a doctor (Rhonda Mitre) can only
gather a sample and leave. Soon, the doctor is on an American destroyer, in its
Arctic expedition. The sailors are cheery … then learn they may be the last
survivors of a dying world.


“Last Ship” has a classic captain (Eric Dane of “Grey’s
Anatomy”) and a taut style (thanks to Jack Bender, the top “Lost” director).
This opener leaves us hanging, but offers enough to keep us coming us back.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Wipeout” season-opener and “Rising
Star” debut, 7-9 and 9-11 p.m., ABC.


On a night dominated by cable debuts, ABC strikes back with
a rerun-free lie-up. First is the silliness of the “Wipeout” obstacle course;
then comes the latest twist on a singing competition.


The difference here involves social media. If singers are
successful, they can actually see how people are voting for them, on a giant
screen. Viewers can feel like they have an instant impact.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Miracle Landing on the Hudson,” 9-11
p.m., National Geographic.


On a night overloaded with three series debuts and three
season-openers, this channel steals our attention with a beautifully crafted
movie. It took interviews with real survivors of the 2009 crash of Flight 1549,
then had actors (talented unknowns) re-create the interviews and the action
scenes,


This skips the pilot and focuses on the others – the
co-pilot, an air-traffic controller, a veteran stewardess and several
passengers. We meet the man who volunteered to cuddle and shield a baby … the
woman who tried to swim ashore in frigid water … and more. The result is tight
and compelling.


Other choices include:


“Elementary,” 8 p.m., CBS. A drama-rerun night starts with
Sherlock working with an old Scotland Yard colleague. That’s followed by “The
Good Wife” (the episode after Will was killed) and “The Mentalist.”


“Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” 8 p.m. Hallmark. Carol Burnett,
one of TV’s all-time greats, injects some strong moments into an otherwise
so-so episode.


“Masterpiece Mystery,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS (check local
listings). The first half of “The Escape Artist” saw David Tennant as a
brilliant defense attorney, the only person who knows his wife was killed by a
scheming psychopath. Now he grapples for makeshift justice, in a clever and
well-acted finale.


“The Musketeers” debut, 9 p.m., BBC America. Amid the social
chaos of 17
th-century Paris, these three musketeers (members of the
king’s personal guard) are honest and idealistic. They confront D’Artagnan, a
skilled swashbuckler and lover who is obsessed with avenging his father’s death.
The result is an energetic period piece with huge ambition and adequate
execution.


“True Blood,” 9 p.m., HBO, rerunning at 10. The final season
starts where the sixth season ended: Sookie had planned a mixer, to let humans
and vampires bond; instead, rogue vampires attacked. Tonight’s early scenes are
way too chaotic, but then we see the show’s power -- a face-off involving the
sheriff … a painful church scene for Sookie … extremely opposite sex scenes
with Sookie and with her brother.


“Falling Skies” season-opener, 10:03 p.m., TNT. After
battling alien invaders for three seasons, Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) and his sons see
fresh hope … and then disaster. Soon, one Mason is in a jail, one is in combat,
one is in Nazi-style re-education. It’s a strong and engaging start.


TV column for Saturday, June 21



TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE: “Crisis” finale, 8-10 p.m., NBC.

After hesitating and stumbling in mid-crisis, NBC has the
decency to wrap up the show.


It began with the Washington, D.C., hijacking of a bus filled
with the teen children of American power-brokers. Gibson – whose own daughter
was in the bus – was secretly involved. Tonight, Finlay (a federal agent) tries
a heroic move; then a new scheme is aimed directly at Gibson.


TONIGHT’S MIGHT-SEE II: “The Assets,” 9 p.m., ABC.


This eight-hour miniseries is based on the book by Sandy
Grimes, a CIA agent who headed the 10-year search that led to Aldrich Ames’
arrest for treason.


In the opener, Vitaly Yurchenko defected from the KGB and
revealed there was a CIA mole; ironically, he was debriefed by Ames. Now the
CIA and FBI scramble to plug a leak … while Sandy fears there’s a bigger one.
She bonds with Yurchenko and worries about her contact, Gen. Dmitri Polyakov.


TONIGHT’S ALTERNATIVE: “Almost Royal” debut, 10 and 10:30 p.m.,
BBC America.


Georgie and Poppy Carlton grew up with wealth and privilege,
roughly 50
th and 51st in line for the British throne. Fulfilling
their father’s dying wish, they are visiting America.


They are young, pleasant and attractive; they are also
fictional, but the people they meet – from Fabio to cowboys – are real, in what
seems to be mostly unscripted. These two know nothing about baseball, tobacco
or, actually, work. The beginning is drolly hilarious; the rest is mildly fun,
with visits to Los Angeles (including a plastic surgeon) and Boston (with
perplexed members of the Tea Party).


Other choices include:


“Up” (2009) and “Finding Nemo” (2003), 7 and 9:05 p.m., BBC
America. A wondrous double-feature has two gorgeously animated Pixar films.


“Blue Bloods,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun offers one of the few
times that the show’s married couple has had an on-the-job clash. Danny (Donnie
Wahlberg), a police detective, wants to question someone now; Linda (Amy
Carlson), a nurse, bars him until after surgery. Soon, the anger builds.


“Bet on Your Baby,” 8 p.m., ABC. Can a high-energy
4-year-old rescue stuffed animals without tipping over the cardboard blocks?
Can a 3-year-old be coached to make soccer goals? Parents try to guess.


“Orphan Black,” 9 p.m., BBC America. Here’s the
season-finale for this series that has Tatiana Maslany brilliantly portraying street-smart
drifter Sarah and the clones she hadn’t known about. Tonight, one of them (evil
Rachel) forces her to concede, but the others rush to help.


“Power,” 9 p.m., Starz. The second episode (rerunning at 8
p.m.) ended strongly, with Ghost intimidating his competitors. Tonight’s new
hour is disappointing, with clumsy dialog and a grotesque torture.


“The Blacklist,” 10 p.m., NBC. Liz and her husband are
considering an adoption when, in this rerun, that collides with her work:
Several babies have been stolen and Red points to a specific adoption agency.


“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Seth Rogen hosts
this rerun, with music from Ed Sheeran.