TV column for Monday, May 7


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY: “Running Wild With Bear Grylls” season-opener, 10:01 p.m., NBC.
In the first three seasons, this well-made series has seen Grylls take celebrities far from their comfort zones. Now a new season has dancer Derek Hough and tennis star Roger Federer, plus actors Keri Russell, Don Cheadle, Lena Headey, Scott Eastwood, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Uzo Aduba.
That starts with Gordon-Levitt, the former “3rd Rock” kid, in Kenya. His fear of heights is tested when he climbs and rappels. He also milks a camel and he battles a crocodile for a water buffalo's carcass.
TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Dancing With the Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.
Last week brought the ouster of two popular athletes – Jamie Anderson, a snowboarder with an Olympic gold medal, and Johnny Damon, who won World Series with the Red Sox and Yankees.
That leaves eight athletes, ranging from the 5-foot-2 Tonya Harding to the 7-foot-2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Tonight each has two dances, the second one a team event. Judges' scores will be combined with viewers' votes from last week; then two athletes will be sent home.
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Keeping Faith,” any time, www.acorn.tv.
Eve Myles was terrific in the “Torchwood” series, but now comes something bigger, broader and more intriguing. She plays Faith Howells, on a maternity break from the small-town law office she runs with her husband. She likes to drink with friends, hug her kids, live a busy and semi-chaotic life.
Then ... well, we won't spoil any surprises. By the end of the first hour of this eight-hour mini-series, Myles is encased in confusion, chaos and fear ... an ideal playground for a gifted actress.
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE II: “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
Two years ago, a protest spiraled. Two Oregon ranchers had been arrested for starting fires on federal lands; protestors gathered ... then took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which Theodore Roosevelt had established in 1908 as a sanctuary for birds and waterfowl.
Nudged by social media, others came. “You've got cowboys with guns, holding a bird sanctuary (and talking) about American tyranny,” one man recalls. It was high drama ... but one with no easy ending. Filmmaker David Byars followed the 41-day event and its aftermath, skillfully capturing both sides.
Other choices include:
“Kevin Can Wait” season-finale, 8 p.m., CBS. Kevin re-unites with is old band ... and Vanessa (Leah Remini) realizes that a long-ago encounter with that band changed her life.
“Lucifer,” 8 p.m., Fox. There are troubles for Lucifer – he may be pursuing the wrong suspect; also, a phone call changes everything  – and for his age-resistant mom, Charlotte. She risks her safety.
“Time Capsule,” 8 and 11 p.m., Smithsonian. For Americans, 1968 began in horror (the Tet offensive) and ended in triumph (the Apollo 8 circling the moon). In between were waves of tragedy. This strong hour takes us through them, including first-hand accounts by a soldier who was pinned down in Vietnam and Apollo commander Jim Lovell, who felt his odds of returning barely topped 50-50.
“The Resident,” 9 p.m., Fox. Still trying to find evidence to incriminate Dr. Hunter, Nicolette now has a bigger problem, when her sister is rushed to the emergency room. And a patient who has helped ex-cons now has a mysterious ailment; doctors look for answers among the people she's helped.
“The Big Bang Theory,” 9:30 p.m., CBS. Three days before “Big Bang” has the wedding of Sheldon and Amy, this rerun shows them trying to use science to determine their best man and maid of honor.
“Elementary,” 10 p.m., CBS. A reality show contestant has been killed. As it happens, another contestant is a war criminal who may be a skilled killer.    
“Crossings,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. Jude (Steve Zahn) has reason to feel overwhelmed: He's a small-town sheriff whose turf was reached by refugees from the future. As he seeks help from a former colleague, he has to confront his past. Also, there's a setback in the plan to re-unite Reece with her daughter.

TV column for Sunday, May 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Call the Midwife” season-finale, 8 p.m., PBS.

It's been a tough
year for fans: Trixie left for alcohol rehab; Barbara, young and
vibrant, contracted a fast-moving ailment and died. (One actress was
taking maternity leave; the other was departing.)

Now we see waves of
pain, especially from Barbara's widower, a popular clergyman. Other
problems are small (bad back, bad TV set) and large (a global
tragedy). The crises range from a teen's pregnancy to an old man's
dementia, but “Midwife” finds ways to end the season with good
feelings.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Last Man on Earth” season-finale, 9:30 p.m., Fox.

Over the next few
weeks, we'll have a cascade of finales. Some will be good, some bad;
this one, alas, is closer to a shrug.

Seven survivors of a
global outbreak have bonded ... and even have a pregnancy, the first
hint that humans might persist. Now they're ready to leave their
mansion and find a new home. Tonight brings detours and it's easy to
forget this is a comedy; then again, no one said the apocalypse has
to be funny.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece: Unforgotten,” 9 p.m, PBS.

The first three-week
“Unforgotten” tale was intriguing, with one disappointment: The
four suspects were each interesting, but their stories didn't
entwine. This time, that's no problem.

We've learned that
the victim – whose body was found after 25 years – was a foul
person. We've met the suspects – a teacher, a lawyer, a pediatric
nurse, even the widow, noe a police detective. By next week's finale,
they'll link in a story that copies from mystery classics, but is
compelling on its own.

Other choices
include:

“American Idol,”
8-10:01 p.m., ABC. We're down to the final seven singers now,
reportedly doing Prince songs. Then viewers vote; next Sunday – a
week from the finale – we'll only have five.

“Sweetbitter”
and “Vida” debuts, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Starz. “Sweetbitter” is
based on the novel Stephanie Damler wrote after years of waitressing
in upscale New York. “V ida” has two Mexican-American sisters –
opposites in most ways – forced by circumstance to return to their
old neighborhood.

“Brooklyn
Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox. Rosa is in the middle of a lethal
crisis, while the others are forced to stay back. Jake frantically
tries to find a way to help.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. When a Marine is killed by a nerve gas, the
team works with the FBI. Also, we learn something important about
Deeks: He'd like to quit this job and open a bar.

“Madam Secretary,”
10 p.m., CBS. As she deals with a refugee crisis, Elizabeth has to be
caautious: A writer is shadowing her, hoping to have a tell-all book.

“Timeless,” 10
p.m., NBC. A week from the two-hour season-finale, the time-travel
team heads to the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. They soon
find they're not there to protect the president.

“I'm Dying Up
Here” season-opener, 10 p.m., Showtime. When this started last
year, comedy careers were wobbling; not any more. Ron – who's
living in a closet (literally) – has a TV sitoom. Cassie has a TV
special and, maybe, an agent; Goldie has a $2 million offer for her
club. Can anything go wrong? Definitely; alongside some sharp
one-liners, “Dying” offers the ominous feeling that life is
crumbling.

TV column for Saturday, May 5


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

A decade ago, Donald
Glover was an NBC prodigy -- writing for “30 Rock” at 23,
co-starring in “Community” at 25. Now, at 34, he's hit his prime.

Glover has won Emmys
as star and director of “Atlanta” ... and been nominated as
writer and producer. He's also won a Grammy as a rapper dubbed
Childish Gambino. And on May 25, he plays Lando Calrissian in the Han
Solo prequel. First, he doubles tonight as the “SNL” host and the
music guest.

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

Life is complicated
enough when Eric (Luke Roberts) is negotiating a standard hostage
situation. Now that gets tangled up with international terrorism.

Working on the
release of an arms dealer's son, he uncovers a much bigger plot. As
Zara (Nazneen Contractor) rushes to prevent the attack, she must work
with an abusive former colleague.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, 8 p.m., HBO.

Some of the greats
in rock history converged on Cleveland last month. Here are
highlights, including lots of music, reunions and comments –
sometimes emotional, sometimes just whimsical.

Bon Jovi was
inducted – Howard Stern proclaimed that “another sign of the
zombie apocalypse" – and performed with Richie Zambora for the first
time in five years. The Cars reunited for the first time in seven
years. Others inducted were the Moody Blues, Dire Straits and two
posthumous choices – Nina Simone (her passionate music sung by
Andra Day and Lauryn Hill) and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Other choices
include:

Kentucky Derby, NBC.
The actual race is expected to start shortly after 6:46 p.m. ET ...
and to be done two minutes later. So, naturally, NBC is starting its
coverage at 2:30.

More sports. The pro
playoffs collide. Basketball? It's Boston at Philadelphia at 5 p.m.
ET on ESPN, then Toronto at Cleveland at 8:30 on ABC. Hockey? NBC
has Pittsburgh at Washington at 7:15 p.m. ET; then the NBC Sports
Network has Winnipeg at Nashville at 9:30.

“Trainwreck”
(2015), 6 p.m., FX. There are plenty of light movies, starting with
Amy Schumer's clever comedy. At 7 p.m., Hallmark reruns last week's
appealing “Beach House” and CMT has Burt Reynolds' goofy “Smokey
and the Bandit” (1977), with its sequel (1980) at 9:30.

“MasterChef
Junior,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. With 12 young chefs remaining, there's
a speed test involving eggs benedict. Also in this rerun, the kids
can create anything that includes chocolate.

“Race” (2016), 8
p.m., BET. Here's a solid re-telling of one of the great true-life
sports stories: Jesse Owens, a sharecropper's son from Alabama, moved
to Cleveland with his family, starred at Ohio State ... then crushed
Adolph Hitler's plan to make the Olympics an “Aryan supremacy”
showcase.

“Trading Spaces,”
8-9:06 p.m., TLC. Hildy Santo Tomas, a former designer on the show,
returns for this “battle of the basements,” with Clinton Kelly.

“Nate &
Jeremiah By Design,” 9:06 p.m., TLC. After six years of renovation
failures by other designers, a woman turns to Nate Berkus and
Jeremian Brent.

“The Carbonaro
Effect,” 10 p.m. to midnight, TruTV. When in doubt, catch some of
these reruns. Michael Carbonaro mixes magic skills and personal
charm, while creating hidden-camera surprises.

TV column for Friday, May 4


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Live From Lincoln Center,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Stephanie J. Block
has spent decades on the edge of fame. Rejected by Disneyland, she
persisted ... and starred in its “Beauty and the Beast.” She
starred in the developing “Wicked” ... but lost the role when it
went to Broadway. She's had two Tony nominations, but didn't win;
she's famous, but not really.

But now this is her
week. On Tuesday, she had great scenes in NBC's “Rise,” as the
mother of a teen who's unsure of his sexuality; tonight, she gets the
spotlight. Block – who can turn songs into epic moments of comedy
and/or drama – performs in an intimate setting.

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

On (almost) every
Friday, CBS offers three solid cop shows. All are renewed for next
season, but “MacGyver” is wrapping up early, to make room for a
celebrity edition of “Undercover Boss.”

Tonight, Mac tells
Matty he's quitting the Phoenix Foundation; then he gets a shocking
surprise. Also, we meet Oversight (Tate Donovan), who has a history
with Matty.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Lots of shows, Netflix.

Each Friday, Netflix
seems to have a new batch of shows. And this one is bigger than
usual.

Movies? “Manhunt”
is from action master John Woo; “Anon” stars Clive Owen and
Amanda Seyfried. Series? “Dear White People” focuses on black
students at an Ivy League school; “The Rain” has young people in
a post-apocalpytic world. Non-fiction? David Letterman interviews
Tina Fey ... Carol Burnett has kids solving grown-ups' problems ...
And “End Game” sees end-of-life approaches in two hospitals.

Other choices
include:

“The Princess
Bride” (1987), 7 and 9 p.m., BBC America. Rob Reiner's comic fairy
tale remains a delight. Other good movie choices include “The Blind
Side” (2009), at 7:45 pm. on Freeform, and two films at 8 – “Baby
Mama” (2008) on VH1 and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015)
on TBS.

“MasterChef
Junior,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. First, the young chefs start a pop-up
restaurant, treating 30 alumni from the show. Then they're told to
prepare dishes inspired by their grandmothers.

“Blindspot,” 8
p.m., NBC. Bill Nye plays a science guy, appropriately; he helps his
daughter, Patterson, in the lab. Meanwhile, Jane and Weller are
hunting a dangerous criminal, after getting jolting news about
Avery's father.

“Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. Henry faces trouble in two eras. Nowadays, Roni
and Lucy try to wake him and stop Gothel; in a flashback, young Henry
ponders what path to take.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Junior's friend witnessed a Mob murder. Now she's on the
run, while Junior tries to untangle the case.

“America Divided”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Epix. Gretchen Carlson was at the front of a
massive shift, when she accused her Fox News employers of sexual
misconduct. Eventually, the channel dropped its founder (Roger Ailes)
and its star (Bill O'Reilly). Now Carlson views “Washington's War
on Women.”

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Frank collides with a company that refuses to unlock a
terrorist's phone. Meanwhile, his son Danny and daughter Erin ponder
a shaky tip about murder plans.

TV column for Thursday, May 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

On “Young
Sheldon,” we get the rich contrast between brothers: Sheldon savors
books and science; Georgie prefers football and TV. Now we finally
meet the grown-up Georgie.

Sheldon's wedding
will be next week, in the season-finale, but his mother has a rule:
She won't be there unless he invites Georgie. So Sheldon returns to
Texas (bringing Leonard) to mend a family feud. Georgie is played by
Jerry O'Connell, an athletic sort who played a football star in
“Jerry Maguire.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Comedy season-finales, 8, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

It's a mixed batch,
as usual, for these uneven comedies. First is “Superstore,” with
the corporate CEO arriving for a town hall. Some sequences, including
the final one, are hilarious; others are just juvenile.

Then “A.P. Bio”
has Jack ready to return to college comfort; it has some good
moments, but not many. And at 9:30 (after a good “Will & Grace”
rerun), “Champions” has Michael preparing for his first date.

TONIGHT's
ALTERNATIVE: All night, Turner Classic Movies.

Ever since TCM began
in 1993, Robert Osborne -- an elegant and warm-hearted man who loved
movies and movie people. -- was its host. He died last year; now
here's an 86th-birthday tribute.

At 8 p.m. ET
(rerunning at 4:30 a.m.) is a 2014 “Private Screenings,” with
Osborne telling Alec Baldwin about a life that ranged from small-town
movie buff to failed actor and then columnist. At 11:30 p.m. is a
2015 Osborne tribute. Also: Classic films -- “Dodsworth” (1936)
at 9:30 p.m., “Laura” (1944) at 12:30 a.m -- plus Osborne's chats
with Liza Minnelli and Ernest Borgnine at 2:15 and 3:15.

Other choices
include:

“Spectre”
(2015), 5-8 p.m.., FX. Some viewers can make it a James Bond
triple-feature, new (“Spectre”) and old: Switching to Epix,
they'll find the so-so “Man With a Golden Gun” (1974) at 8 p.m.
and the excellent “Never Say Never Again” (1983) at 10:15.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Worried because he hasn't heard from his mother, Alex
drives to Iowa with Jo. Also, Meredith's presentation draws in
interest and Jackson struggles to restore the reputation of his
family's foundation.

“Gotham,” 8
p.m., Fox. There's trouble all over Gotham – chaos at the police
department, a futile chase for Gordon and a friend of Bruce turning
paranoid and destructive.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Previously, Sheldon nudged his grandmother (Annie
Potts) toward a college prof (Wallace Shawn). Now he's keeping track
of their relationship.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Christy didn't know her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor
(Yvette Nicole Brown) would be this demanding: Now Christy is
actually expected to be nice to her mother.

“Quantico,” 10
p.m., ABC. Last week, Alex hesitantly returned to the spy world –
in a new, self-contained unit led by Owen. It its first mission, Ryan
must infiltrate a white supremacist group.

“Atlanta,” 10
p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:16 and 11:49. Earn recalls his
middle-school days. That's part of a busy stretch for Donald Glover;
he hosts “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, has the “Atlanta”
season-finale next Thursday ... and plays Lando Calrissian in the new
Han Solo movie, May 25.