TV column for Tuesday, April 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Elton John: I'm Still Standing,” 9-11 p.m., CBS.

For more than four
decades, Elton John has been rolling out hits; he reached No. 1 six
times in the 1970s alone. Now this tribute starts with Miley Cyrus
doing a dynamic “The Bitch is Back”: it ends with John, 71, doing
“Philadelphia Freedom,” “Bennie and the Jets” and “I'm
Still Standing.”

Lady Gaga is there,
of course; she dons an Elton look to do “Your Song.” There's John
Legend, Alessia Cara, Sam Smith, Chris Martin, Ed Sheeran, Shawn
Mendes, Sza, Kesha and more, including country's Little Big Town
(doing “Rocket Man”), Miranda Lambert and Maren Mason.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “New Girl” season-opener, 9:30 p.m., Fox.

As the seventh and
final season begins, we jump ahead three years. That means it's been
a decade since Jess became the daft “new girl” in this loft.
She's no longer new, but she's still daft and delightful.

Now she's with Nick,
whose dad (Rob Reiner) keeps reminding him to propose to her. Nick
wants to, but he faces a bigger decision – whether to tell his best
friend Schmidt that his mustache is awful. This is going on while
Schmidt orchestrates a culturally relevant third-birthday, ranging
from Wonder Woman to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It's a big, busy and--
often – hilarious episode.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Rise,” 9 p.m., NBC.

Here is TV at its
most raw. During a tough hour, three families have painful
confrontations – some quietly, the first one loudlyl. Also, two
romances have key moments.

Unlike “This Is
Us,” which usually has this timeslot, “Rise” feels no
obligation to make us feel good. It does have some wonderfully upbeat
moments, then ends with a knee to the groin – figuratively and
literally. But like “This Is Us,” it has great depth. Characters
we were ready to dismiss – including the football coach and his
once-snooty daughter – now get new layers; that's a sign of quality
drama.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Frontline,” 10 p.m., PBS.

As the health-care
debate began, says Rep. Charles Dent (R-Pa), Donald Trump “was not
particularly engaged in policy details.” When the House passed a
version with no chance in the Senate, he declared victory. He was
“spiking the football at the 50 yard line,” says Rep. Tom Cole
(R, Okla).

Some Republican
became his enemies, including senators Bob Corker, Jeff Flake and
John McCain. But most remained quiet, this strong documentary says.
Trump did get a tax overhaul, causing former campaign chief Corey
Lewandowski to call him “ unequivocally the leader of the
Republican Party.”

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, the team is desperate to convict Gabriel Hicks, the
killer who deceived Gibbs and Fornell. They offer his former cellmate
(French Stewart) a two-day furlough.

“Roseanne,” 8
p.m., ABC. The surrogacy plotline has been a clever way of including
both actresses who have played Becky. Now it reaches a key moment.

“American's Next
Top Model” season-finale (VH1) and “Deadliest Catch”
season-opener (Discovery), both 8 p.m. Here are two eternal shows.
“Catch” starts its 14th season with a studio show,
followed by a 9 p.m. episode; “Model” -- which has sometimes been
twice a year – ends its 24th edition.

“LA to Vegas,” 9
p.m., Fox. After floundering in training, the team faces a real
emergency.

“Black-ish,” 9
p.m., ABC. Daveed Diggs, a Tony-winner for “Hamilton,” is back as
Bow's brother.

“For the People,”
10 p.m., ABC. The focus shifts to the judge, perfectly played by
Vondie Curtis-Hall. Despite the power of the bench, he's helpless
against mandatory sentencing laws. When you catch “For the People,”
you're sure of brilliant dialog, sharply delivered; you're not sure
you'll like how it ends.

TV column for Monday, April 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“iZombie,” 9 p.m., CW.

Once light and
bright (albeit gory), “iZombie” began a slow transition – and
then, last week, a big one. One rebel was caught slipping people into
the walled city – reuniting families and “zombifying” the ill.
When she was executed, Liv vowed to take over her mission.

Tonight's episode
starts as cheery as ever: Rachel Bloom – the CW's brightest light,
via “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” -- is doing a zombie version of “Rent.”
Then Liv munches her brain and becomes very theatrical ... while also
trying to lead a rebel alliance.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“American Idol,” 8-10 p.m., ABC.

Here's a fresh twist
– two nights of duets with celebrities. Tonight's celebrities –
some working with two contestants – are Andy Grammer, Pat Monahan,
Aloe Blacc, Luis Fonsi, Bishop Briggs and Allen Stone ... plus
Sugarland, which sort of makes it a trio, not a duet.

They work with a
dozen singers. Next Monday – after more solos on Sunday – the
other 12 contestants will sing with Lea Michelle, Bebe Rexha, Colbie
Caillat and more.

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

Last week's opener –
which is scheduled to rerun Saturday – was compelling. Near a small
fishing town, 47 people washed ashore, perplexing locals. Where did
they come from?

It turns out, they
came from the future – a dreary one, as we see tonight in a
flashforward. At least one of them, Reece, seems dangerous. Tonight,
the sheriff – played with warm humanity by Steve Dahl – tries to
help; that isn't easy, with mysterious feds searching for Reece.

Other choices
include:

“The Voice,”
8-10:01 p.m., NBC. As “Idol” begins its duets, “Voice” starts
its live episodes. For three straight nights, singers will perform,
followed by viewer voting.

“Legends of
Tomorrow” season-finale, 8 p.m., CW. A week before “Supergirl”
returns to this spot, we get a convergence of other DC Comics
characters. That includes Constantine, Jonah Hex, Damien Darkh and
the regulars, who are scrambling to defeat Mallus.

'”Waco: The
Longest Siege,” 8 p.m., Smithsonian. April 19 will mark the 25th
anniversary of the longest siege in U.S. History – a 51-day
standoff near Waco, Texas. This documentary focuses on people who
were there at the time, including survivors, a negotiator, a
newspaper editor and more.

“Superior Donuts,”
9 p.m., CBS. In real life, the Cubs have their home opener at 2:20
p.m. ET today. And in this fictional world, Arthur (Judd Hirsch) is
trying to set a record by catching his 43rd straight
opener. But this time he doesn'a nave a ticket and must scramble.

“Living
Biblically,” 9:30 p.m., CBS. As Chip persists with trying to follow
every rule in the Bible, he finds himself arguing religion with his
mother-in-law (JoBeth Williams).

“Independent
Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Whipping around the
world, this interesting film catches a variety of show-shiners. One
was a lawyer, one an accountant, another a dominatrix. One is old,
the last shiner in Sarajevo; another is young, finding a new career
after a fierce traffic accident. In Bolivia, shiners hide their faces
and are considered lowly; in New York, one has zest and a bullhorn.

“One Strange
Rock,” 10 p.m., National Geographic. The first two episodes of this
splendid series rerun at 8 and 9 p.m.; then a new hour at 10
(rerunning at midnight) views our relationship with the sun.

“Good Girls,”
10:01 p.m., NBC. For these suburban women, the cime business is
booming. Then they're reminded how violent the gang-boss can be ...
and how vengeful Annie's boss can be.

TV column for Sunday, April 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Masterpiece: Unforgotten,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS.

Does everyone in
England have a dark secret? It seems so in this three-Sunday
mini-series. We meet four people who have only one thing in common:
Each is listed in the notebook of a young man who was killed 39 years
ago, with his body just discovered now.

Are any of these
people the killer? A relentless police detective and her assistant
try to find out, dredging up all their secrets. The result is
visually drab, but beautifully acted by Tom Courtenay and Gemma Jones
(as a trouled couple) and others. It starts poorly and gradually
becomes compelling.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY
II: “Howards End” opener, 8 p.m., Starz.

OK, “Unforgotten”
isn't really what we might expect from “Masterpiece” -- a
sumptious and stylish visit to classy Englishfolk. For that, there's
this four-week cable mini-series.

E.M. Forster's 1910
novel had a free-spirited woman meeting an older (and richer) man.
The 1992 movie, with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins, was beloved.
Now the story is told with Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen, extra
time and a lush look. Julia Ormond and Tracey Ullman co-star.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Instinct,: 8 p.m., CBS.

Sunday television
isn't all Englishmen. CBS has a night of solid American dramas –
albeit starting with a British actor. That's Alan Cumming, the
“Instinct” star.

He plays Dylan
Reinhart, formerly a CIA guy and now a college professor, an author
and a guy who keeps woking with police detective Lizzie Needham.
Tonight, their investigation of a chemical attack is taken over by
the FBI. They're reassigned to a murder case ... then feel the two
cases might be related.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Aerial America” and “Aerial Cities,” all
day, Smithsonian Channel.

The “Aerial
America” series swept above vast landscapes, one hour per state.
You can catch its reruns, from 6 a.m. (Kansas) to 7 p.m. (Nevada).

At 8 p.m. is the
start of a new, six-week focus on cities. Coming up are Chicago,
Seattle, Miami, San Francisco, and Los Angeles; first is Las Vegas
and its surroundings. We see the Red Rock wilderness, where climbers
show up at dawn; we also see the massive Hoover Dam, which supports a
two-million-person county in the desert. That reruns at 11 p.m. and 3
a.m., surrounded by “Aerial Africa” reruns.

Other choices
include:

“American Idol,”
8-10 p.m., ABC. It's time for the top-24 to perform. There are solos
tonight, then duets with celebrities on Monday.

“Killing Eve,” 8
p.m., BBC America. Here's another British drama – but with an
American star. That's Sandra Oh (“Grey's Anatomy”), who plays a
desk-bound security officer for Britain's MI5. In a powerful start,
she obsesses on a sleek and gifted killer, played by Jodie Comer.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. A string of arsons is linked to Amy's
favorite crossword author. Also, Gina help Holt with his
commissioner-candidate speech ... and everyone argues over a new car.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. A notorious weapons dealer has returned to
the U.S.; now Callen and Sam link with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms. Also, Eric goes undercover at a bank.

“Madam Secretary,”
10 p.m., CBS. Elizabeth's plan for an Iran arms deal is in trouble,
after a senator says Iran financed a deadly bombing. Also, her
husband ponders a new National War College job.

“Billions,” 10
p.m., Showtime. One guy thinks he might be able to survive, pared
down to a mere $30 million; Axe – panicking because he may be down
to $300 million – is doubtful. Yes, it's hard to care about them
... even though this is accompanied by brilliant dialog. The hour
ripples with references to baseball, football and stock-market
technology. If we can follow a fraction of it, it's richly rewarding.

TV column for Saturday, April 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Chadwick Boseman has
been playing some powerful figures, both real (Jackie Robinson, James
Brown, Thurgood Marshall) and fictional (Black Panther). The next
step is to host “SNL.”

That's tonight,
after a stretch of reruns on three Saturdays, during the basketball
tournament and then on the eve of Easter. This is the first “SNL”
for Boseman ... and for his music guest, Cardi B.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Ransom” season-opener, 8 p.m., CBS.

There rwas a time
when Saturdays were considered real nights for TV networks. In the
1970s, CBS had its best shows – from Archie Bunker and “MASH”
to Carol Burnett – that night. Not any more.

Now CBS is doing us
a favor by filling the void with this Canadian transplant. Eric
Beaumont (based on a real-life negotiator) has been solving hostage
crises worldwide. As the second season begins, his own daughter has
been kidnapped; to save her, he's supposed to do some ethically
questionable tasks.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Paterno,,” 8 p.m., HBO.

In his HBO films, Al
Pacino has mastered the extremes – renowned people whose lives
crashed. Phil Spector and Jack Kevorkian ended up in prison; Roy Cohn
descended into dementia.

Now Pacino takes on
Joe Paterno, a football coach so beloved that he had a statue at Penn
State. Then came reports of an assistant's sex-abuse, and of
inaction by Paterno and others. The statue came down; Paterno's job
(and, soon, his life) ended. It's a powerful story, with one of
Hollywood's great actors.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Trading Spaces” opener, 8-10:10 p.m., TLC.

When “Spaces”
debuted in 2000, it wiped away all the niceties of design shows. The
redesigns were done quickly, cheaply ... and with no input from the
homeowners. Many went well, some crashed, most were interesting. The
show created four spin-offs, two books and lots of commotion.

It was canceled
after eight seasons – but now returns a decade later. That's with
the original host (Paige Davis), carpenters (Ty Pennington, Carter
Oosterhouse) and designers (Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder, Hildi
Santo-Tomas, Doug Wilson, Frank Bielec and Laurie Smith), plus some
promising newcomers.

Other choices
include:

Epic movies, all
day, cable. Occasionally – but not often – a big-budget, action
film also has a gifted director and a strong story. Here are prime
examples: The “Lord of the Rings” trilogy (2001-3) airs at 1:59,
4:45 and 8 p.m. on Starz; “Jurassic Park” (1993) is 8 p.m. on
Syfy.

Basketball, preview
at 8 p.m., ET, game at 8:30, ABC. The college season has ended now,
but the pros haven't even started their playoff marathon. Tonight,
Houston hosts Oklahoma City.

“Will &
Grace,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, Jack's career as a Lyft driver
doesn't start well; he runs over his odd neighbor (Molly Shannon).
Karen goes to bail him out ... and soon needs bail herself.

“Superstore,”
8:30 p.m., NBC. The store offers amnesty if employees have anything
to confess. They do, of course; in a rerun, Garrett and Cheyenne
ponder how to take advantage.

“NCIS,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun has Torres' partner suddenly disappear during a
stakeout. The probe points to a long-ago murder. Also, Ducky's friend
(Susan Blakely) offers him a new opportunity.

“Nate &
Jeremiah by Design” season-opener, 10:10 p.m., TLC. After the
commotion of “Trading Spaces,” here's a design show in which the
homeowners do have a say. In the opener, they couldn't afford their
dream home, but they want Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent to create a
dream kitchen.

TV column for Friday, April 6


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Jane the Virgin,” 9 p.m., CW.

In this
four-generation show, it's easy to overlook Jane's grandmother Alba.
Her lines are in Spanish (with sub-titles); her life is often set
aside while she's being a caretaker for others.

Tonight, there's
still a lot to take care of, with her daughter recovering (wearily)
from a masectomy. Still, Alba is supposed to study for her
citizenship exam, while reconsidering a past romance. That happens
during a mild-but-pleasant hour, with Jane's life relatively at
peace. She's with Rafael now ... and on a double-date with his
ex-wife, who's newly bisexual and dating her gorgeous lawyer.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Here's another
multi-generation story, the sort that “Blue Bloods” is known for.
A woman convinces Danny to re-examine a murder case ... upsetting his
sister Erin, who decided not to prosecute the case because of a lack
of evidence. That comes at a time when Erin is facing her ex-husband
in court.

Meanwhile, Jamie's
police partner has been shot on duty. And Frank (Tom Selleck) – the
police commissioner and the father of Danny, Erin and Eddie – faces
an angry cops, after the mayor (Lorraine Bracco) fails to defend them
at a press conference.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Overload, any time, Netflix.

This is one of those
Fridays when Netflix floods us wih choices. One scripted series --
“Troy: Fall of a City,” with ancient Greeks at war – is new;
another -- “Money Heist,” in Spanish, with English sub-titles –
is starting its second season.

There's also an
animated series (“The Boss Baby: Back in Business”), a
non-fiction series (“Fastest Car,” with home-made vehicles) and a
movie (“Amateur,” with a teen basketball star being heavily
recruited). And there's David Letterman, interviewing Jay-Z.

Other choices
include:

“The Outsiders”
(1983), 7-9 p.m., AMC. Francis Coppola's teen gem starts a strong
movie night. That includes pals Matt Damon (“The Martian,” 2015,
8 p.m., FX) and Ben Affleck (“The Town,” 2010, 8 p.m., IFC).
“Casino” (1995) is 8 p.m. on VH; “Wayne's World” (1992) is 9
p.m. on Comedy Central.

“Dynasty,” 8
p.m., CW. We sort of knew there would be trouble now that Alexis
(Nicollette Sheridan) has arrived. Tonight, she and her daughter
Fallon fight for the love of her son Steven.

“Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. Henry has a promising job prospect in New York,
but it would be tough to leave Hyperion Heights ... especially after
new information in the “Candy Killer” case. And in a flashback,
we see Hook help him prove himself to Ella.

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Amy Smart is back as Dawn, who's now working for the CIA.
Her supervisor's death is suspicious and the trail leads to a dirty
CIA agent and a counterfeiting ring.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Frankie Faison plays a hit man whom McGarrett's father
failed to arrest. Now he's ready to confess and to show where he
buried the bodies

“Agents of
SHIELD,” 9:01 p.m., ABC. The team tries to find and save Coulson,
who has to team with some surprising allies.

“One Strange
Rock,” 10 p.m. ET, NatGeo Wild, rerunning at 1 a.m. If you haven't
caught this terrific show Mondays on the National Geographic Channel,
you can try reruns on its sister channel. Tonight, it looks at
storms, including the cosmic ones that created and then reshaped
Earth.