TV column for Saturday, Oct. 17

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

June of 2014, people feared Tracy Morgan's career was over. A semi,
with a sleep-deprived driver, had struck his limo; a friend was
killed and Morgan – with a history of diabetes, kidney disease and
alcoholism -- was in a two-week coma, with the danger of brain

Morgan, 46, recovered and last month made a brief-but-funny
appearance as a presenter at the Emmys. Now he hosts the show he was
part of for nine years; Demi Lovato is the music guest.

MIGHT-TRY: “Grandfathered” and “The Grinder,” 8 and 8:30
p.m., Fox.

are two shows that have everything – clever concepts, smart
casting, crisp scirpts – except an audience. Ratings on Tuesdays
have been weak; now Fox reruns the pilot films.

John Stamos is a slick restaurateur and casual bachelor who suddenly
learns he has a son (Josh Peck) ... and a granddaughter. Then Rob
Lowe plays an actor who portrayed a lawyer on TV; when the show is
cancelled, he figures he can help his brother and dad (Fred Savage
and William Devane) at their real-life law office. Both are sharp
stories with few big laughs, but lots of little ones.

ALTERNATIVE: “Hot Jam” (CMT) or “Amy Schumer: Live at the
Apollo” (HBO), both 10 p.m.

a foggy day, you really could confuse Carrie Underwood with Schumer.
They're about the same age (32 and 34 respectively); they're both
blondes with pleasantly broad faces.

difference comes when they open their mouths. Underwood sings of love
and (at times) Jesus; Schumer talks about sex and body parts. Now
Schumer gets an uncensored hour on HBO; Underwood gets a special that
includes a concert and backstage preparations.

choices include:

Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” (2001), 7 a.m., ABC Family. A
marathon begins, with five of the films in order; others are at 10:30
a.m. and 2:30, 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. That omits the fourth film (“Goblet
of Fire”) and the two-part finale. They are Sunday, at 11:45 a.m.
and 5:15 and 9 p.m.

all day. It's college-football time, including two primetime games on
broadcast networks. At 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC has Southern California (3-2
and reeling from the sudden firing of its coach) at Notre Dame (5-1
and ranked No. 14); at 8, ABC has Penn State (5-1) at top-ranked Ohio
State (6-0). By comparison, the baseball playoffs are exiled to
cable, on TBS and Fox Sports1.

8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a thief's body is found in a Marine's home.
Investigators find the calling card of Delilah, a terrorist group the
Defense Department has been tracking.

Black,” 9 p.m., CBS. Most episodes find this Los Angeles emergency
room in a state of high-code crisis. In this rerun, the crisis state
has persisted for 36 hours, leaving people exhausted. Now they face a
distraught woman (Gail O'Grady) whose sons were in a devastating

9 p.m., Fox. This rerun finds a troubled young genius accused of
murder. The only person who seems to feel he's ionnocent is
Rosewood – who has growing health problems and a new nemesis.

Talk,” 9 p.m. Starz, repeating at 10 and 11:05. A week from the
season finale, this excellent comedy sees Walter Blunt (Patrick
Stewart) celebrate the anniversary of what he considers an epic event
– the end of the Falklands war.

Last Kingdom,” 10 p.m., BBC America. On the lam with Brida, Uhtred
insists he's innocent. That follows a “Doctor Who” (9 p.m.) which
somehow deals with Vikings and warriors from outer space.

TV column for Friday, Oct. 16

MUST-SEE: “Live From Lincon Center,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local

Boat” reach Broadway back in 1927, with several good songs, one
great one (“Old Man River”) and huge ambition: It would entwine
the lives of black and white characters ... and would include the
painful portrait of Julie, who was breaking Southern laws while
“passing” as white.

show ran two-plus years, returned to Broadway six more times and had
three movies. Now we get a concert version, stuffed with stars.
Vanessa Williams is Julie and Norm Lewis is Joe, thundering “Old
Man River.” Jane Alexander, Fred Willard and Laura Worsham also

MIGHT-SEE: “Truth Be Told” debut, 8:30 p.m., NBC.

(Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is a professor, married to a doctor; he's a
smart guy, floundering with the modern etiquette of race issues. He's
white, his neighbors (Tone Bell and Bresha Webb) are black, his wife
(Vanessa Lachey) is Latina, other neighbors are Jewish and life is

is potential here, as shown in a clever opening scene. Alas, that
potential is wasted on a witless plot about whether the babysitter is
a porn star. Let's hope for a better story next week.

ALTERNATIVE: “Gold Rush” season-opener, 9-11 p.m., Discovery.

the sixth season begins, two Yukon prospectors, Todd Hoffman and Tony
Beets, have big plans. That won't be easy, though; Beets orders
Parker Schnabel to leave, after key crew people depart.

has become Discovery's ratings-leader ... and even has its own talk
show. “Gold Rush: The Dirt” is at 8 p.m., with Matt Rogers –
former “American Idol” finalist and former football player –

choices include:

7:30 p.m. ET, Fox. Here's the start of the best-of-seven series to
determine the American League team in the World Series. Most of the
other games will be on cable's Fox Sports1.

8 p.m., NBC. After its hourlong debut last week, this show settles
into its unique routine – a half-hour comedy, done live each week.

8 p.m., CW. Last week's season-opener saw Catherine de' Medici
(played by the superb Megan Follows) get her due. The former queen of
France (until her husband's death), she had schemed against her son
the king ... who captured her. Now she's imprisoned and Mary faces
tough choices.

Ex-Girlfriend,” 9 p.m. CW. If you missed this show's wonderfully
offbeat debut Monday, catch it now. Rachel Bloom is brilliant as a
writer, lyricist – yes, there are big music numbers -- and star.
She plays an intense New York lawyer who moves cross-country to be
near her long-ago boytfriend.

Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS. We kind of thought Adam's troubles ended last
season, after he killed his brother, went on the lam with Kono and
(when the danger passed) married her. Alas, tonight he's kidnapped by
the Yakuza, the crime family he once led and tried to reform.

Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS. Two familiar Dans provide complications for
the Reagan family. Dan Lauria plays the fire commissioner, battling
Frank (Tom Selleck), the police commissioner. Dan Hedaya is an
informant who endangers a case worked by Frank's daugher Erin
(Bridget Moynahan).

Knick” season-opener, 10 p.m., Cinemax. The second season starts
with the hospital preparing to abandon its lower-income patients and
move to an upscale neighborhood, in early-20th-century New
York. Thackery has left, with some people trying to get him back;
Edwards – once ignored because he's black – pushes to get the
permanent job as chief of surgery.

TV column for Thursday, Oct. 15

MUST-SEE: “The Blacklist,” 9 p.m., NBC.

first two episodes have taken Liz and Red on a fierce whirlwind.
Chased by her old FBI colleagues, she ended up in the Russian
embassy, claiming to be a spy ... then headed toward a plane ride to
Moscow. Except that Solomon planned to kill her en route.

Red hatched an elaborate escape plan. Now they're on the run in the
Midwest; the FBI is still chasing them ... while coming across what
could be the core of a global food crisis.

MIGHT-SEE: Movies, cable.

a night dominated by sports (football and baseball), cable counters
with strong movies. Kids have “Cars” on Starz (which even
rhymes); the 2006 film is at 7 p.m. General audiences have Tom Hanks
in “Cast Away” (2000, 8 p.m, AMC), on the eve of his “Bridge of
Spies” opening.

also have two Oscar-winners, the scary “Silence of the Lambs”
(1991, 8 and 10:30 p.m. ET, BBC America and the tough documentary
“Harlan County, U.S.A.” (1976, 9:30 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies), plus a terrific Oscar-nominee, “American Sniper” (2014,
8:30 p.m., HBO).

ALTERNATIVE: “Nathan For You” season-opener, 10 p.m., Comedy

on its best days, this odd show – sort of reality and (sometimes)
hidden camera – is slow to entertain us. Nathan Fielder brings a
quiet, Canadian humor as he helps small businesses in odd ways.

isn't one of the best days. Fielder's scheme – briefly price your
TV's at $1, to squelch a match-any-price offer at Best Buy – has
huge flaws. There are some good moments, however ... especially when
he probes how his people would do in a courtroom.

choices include:

overload, all night. CBS has football (7:30 p.m. ET preview, 8:30
kick-off), with undefeated Atlanta at 1-4 New Orleans. And TBS has
the fifth and final games (if neccessary) of baseball's National
League division series in St. Louis (4:30 p.m. ET) and Los Angeles (8
p.m. ET).

Anatomy,” 8 p.m., ABC. This is bad form for hostesses: The sisters
forget they're giving a dinner party for everyone. Meanwhile, Arizona
finds she's getting romance advice from a 90-year-old.

8 p.m., Fox. It's the first day back to their old jobs for Booth –
who finds his old office now occupied by Aubrey – and for Brennan.
She has the kind of case she savors (complex and gruesome), but
there's other trouble: Arastoo (who held her job briefly) and Cam are
no longer together.

Hollow,” 9 p.m., Fox. We were kind of wary when a beauty named
Pandora arrived, bearing a box. Inside is an artifact, capable of
turning an ordinary person into a terrifying figure from the past.

9 p.m., ABC. Olivia is usually soothing other people's media storms.
As she faces one of her own, Huck and Quinn recruit a familiar figure
to help.

Runway,” 9-10:30 p.m., Lifetime. Here's something the classic
designers never worried about: Contestants must use 3-D printing
technology to make avant garde designs.

to Get Away with Murder,” 10 p.m., ABC. Wes finds new information
about Rebecca's disappearance, Asher gets a surprising confession ...
and there's a new case, with a murdered teen.

TV column for Wednesday, Oct. 14

MUST-SEE: “Empire,” 9 p.m., Fox.

shows match “Empire” for dizzying extremes of good and bad. This
hour starts and ends superbly, mixing music with high-octane scenes.
And in between ... well, sometimes it's sheer nonsense.

prosecutor character is absurd. Her scenes with Cookie go too far in
splintering a powerful character. And one plot element – ignoring
all the realities of federal rules – seems to think a record
company can buy all the radio stations and instantly shut out its
competition. Much of this is ludicrous ... but the good parts –
especially at the start and end – let us forget the nonsense

MIGHT-SEE: “Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

three decades, Dereck and Beverly Joubert have ceated slendid African
documentaries. This one, however, is far more pensive – and morose?
-- than most. They call it “Soul of the Elephant.”

gets heavy at times, but there are beautiful pictures and soulful
moments. We see a herd change course to visit an elephant's remains
... and a mother panic when her son strays in lion territory. Adds
Dereck, in one of his reveries: “There is something hypnotic about
being in the path of a charging elephant – so much danger, but also
beautiful and peaceful.”

ALTERNATIVE: “Baring It All: Inside New York's Fashion Week,” 9
p.m., ABC Family.

cable channels keep changing identities, like spies on the lam. The
Christian Broadcasting Nework became the Family Channel, Fox Family
and ABC Family; in January, it will become Freeform, continuing to
seek “becomers,” ages 14-34. This documentary may fit them

visits Fashion Week with a model and a designer, plus writer
Katherine Schwarzenegger and singer Caroline Vreeland, descendants of
a much-feared terminator and a more-feared fashion editor.

ALTERNATIVE II: “Kingdom,” 9 p.m., DirecTV.

for the Kulina clan is tough and loud. Alvey runs a
mixed-martial-arts gym, where his fighters include his sons (the
seething Jay and quiet Nate), plus champion Ryan. Alvey lives with
his pregnant girlfriend, who focuses on the business; his sons live
with his estranged wife, a recovering drug addict.

are passionate people, even when they're just talking. Then there are
the fights – a brutal one first, a pivotal one later; they help
jolt a drama that's always strong and sometimes overwrought.

choices include:

Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC. Norm Macdonald is back as the flaky brother
of Mike – who's willing to join one of his schemes. Also, Sue hates
her roommate so much that she's sleeping in her car.

& Hungry” season-finale, 8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC Family. In the
romantic-comedy tradition, Gabi and Josh aree the only ones who don't
realize they belong together. Complicating things is Josh's handsome
and carefree brother, arriving just as Gabi prepares to cater the
wedding of Elliot and Alan. A bit less broad and forced than usual,
this is a pretty good episode.

Family,” 9 p.m., ABC. Phil obsesses on helping hatch duck eggs, but
no one (except little Lily) is interested. Meanwhile, Manny has a
crush and Cam gets too attached to his frat-guy renters.

9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Now we can worry about warfare
that needs no guns or bombs. Here's a disturbing look at possible
cyber attacks on power plants, pipelines and more.

Brain,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Over the next six
weeks, this will mix science and special effectsm to see what's known
about the brain.

Black,” 10 p.m., CBS. Doctors face tragedy during a 36-hour shift.

Horror Story,” 10 p.m., FX, rerunning at 11:40 p.m. and 1:20 a.m.
Last week's opener was stuffed with nasty (and well-crafted) scenes,
but was slow to develop a story. Gradually, we met a decent cop who
has checked into the hotel, unaware his missing son is there.
Tonight, he learns about the original owner; also, the new owner
plans big changes.

TV column for Tuesday, Oct. 13

MUST-SEE: “The Muppets,” 8 p.m., ABC.

probably wondered what the Muppets do after each show. Tonight, we
follow them to a bar, where they let let loose on karaoke. It's a
treat to see Beaker do the Cher parts ... and, especially, to see Sam
the Eagle (the show's censor) offer an earnest “Wind Beneath My

a fun episode, sparked by Miss Piggy's attempt to join the pary ...
and by Fozzie's troubles with a tee-shirt gun. “It really feels
good,” he says, “to do something nice for someone you shot in the

MIGHT-SEE: “The Grinder,” 8:30 p.m., Fox.

isn't easy to take all your life-lessons from a bad TV show. Tonight,
the extended family is watching the show Dean (Rob Lowe) starred in;
that sets off a complicated debate about truth and useful lies.

that spirals into truth issues everywhere – from the family law
office to a boyhood squabble, decades ago. There aren't a lot of big
laughs, but there is a solid and entertaining half-hour.

ALTERNATIVE: “Secrets of the Dead” season-opener, 9 p.m., PBS
(check local listings).

more than 3,000 years, the “Trojan horse” has remained a symbol
for clever warfare, bad gifts and hidden agendas. But could this
story – soldiers hidden inside a wooden “horse” -- be true?

fitrst, this interesting hour says, people even doubted that Troy
existed. But researchers found remnants of a small city in the 1870s
and much more in the 1990s; they saw signs of a fortified place that
had been overrun. From there, a military engineer ponders whether
such a scheme would work.

choices include:

Time Ever,” 8 p.m., NBC. After staying at 10 p.m. for four weeks
(two more than planned), this live show moves to a tougher spot; “The
Voice” (now trimmed to a 9 p.m. hour) is no longer its lead-in.
Tonight, Jack Black is the guest announcer, the B-52s sing in the
song challenge, Neil Patrick Harris tries to trick the “Today”
team and the dancing-acrobatic “Queen of the Night” closes the

Tyler Moore: A Celebration,” 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
Here's a profile of the former dancer whose show (and production
company) spurred a golden age of TV comedy.

8 p.m., CBS. The NCIS director (Rocky Carroll) returns to field duty,
helping Gibbs investigte a murder connected to a long-ago case.

New Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. A Navy pilot was using a black-market
drone to individually gather military surveillance.

season-opener, 9 p.m., WGN, rerunning at 10:10 and midnight. Like the
atom-bomb project itself, this hour is big, tangled, hard to follow,
but worth the trouble. It protagonist, Frank Winter, has vanished and
his wife rejects official explanations. Joining the cast are William
Petersen as the colonel in charge and Mamie Gummer as a WAC, plus
Neve Campbell and Griifin Dunne.

Fire” season-opener, 10 p.m., NBC. Blamed for the steep turnover in
his squad, Severide is demoted. Meanshile, Casey continues his
perilous undercover work and a neighborhood protest.

My Brother's Bomber,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings). Here is
the boomarang effect of revenge: Libyans led the bombing of American
soldiers in a German disco ... The U.S. responded by almost killing
Muammar Gaddafi and his family ... Libya responded by bombing a plane
over Scotland, killing hundreds of Americans. Wrapping up a
three-parter, Ken Dornstein traces those events, produces key
testimony from a former Libyan official and points to another key