Weekly Previews

Week’s top-10 for Sept. 23; meet the best new (and old) shows

1) “Modern Family” (9 p.m. Wednesday, ABC) and “The Good Place” (9 p.m. Thursday, NBC) season-openers. Two of TV’s best comedies begin their final seasons. For “Modern Family,” it’s the 11th, covering a broad swath; Haley, barely a teen when this started, is now arguing with her parents about how to raise her twins. For “Good Place” (shown here) it’s only the fourth, but there have been wild changes. Now an experimental afterlife begins; the opener is inconsistent, but includes some very funny moments. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Sept. 16: Finale overload

1) “America’s Got Talent” finals, 8-10:01 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, NBC. The 10 finalists perform Tuesday and viewers vote; on Wednesday, the show will have its 14th champion. As usual, there are lots of singers – Kodi Lee, Emanne Beasha and Benicio Bryant, plus three groups, the Detroit Youth Choir, the Ndlovu Youth Choir and Voices of Service. They face comedian Ryan Niemiller, violinist Tyler Butler-Figuera and two dance groups, the acrobatic V.Unbeatable (shown here) and the Light Balance Kids. Read more…

Week’s best-bets for Sept. 9: A grand music tour

1) “Country Music,” 8 p.m. Sunday, PBS, rerunning at 10. Here is Ken Burns at his best – the start of an eight-night documentary that has depth, detail, great music and rich waves of humanity. Dayton Duncan wrote superb narration, supplemented by smart talking-head commentary – especially from Marty Stuart, Dolly Parton and the late Merle Haggard. The opener starts with the 1927 recording sessions that discovered Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter family (shown here), then sees the Grand Ole Opry begin. Read more…

Week’s best-bets for Sept. 2: A country triumph

1) “Country Music: Live at the Ryman,” 8-10 p.m. Sunday, PBS. Some of country’s best songs are done superbly. Many are high-octane, with great instrumentalists – Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, an awesome band that includes Vince Gill. But there are also ballads, sung with heartbreaking passion – a Johnny Cash one by his daughter Roseanne, a Hank Williams one by his granddaughter Holly (shown here at left, with Ketch Secor, Larry Gatlin, Kathy Mattea and Riders in the Sky). The night’s (and year’s) highlight has Willie Nelson’s “Crazy,” sung by Rhiannon Giddens in the style of Patsy Cline. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Aug. 26: From rap to bluegrass

1) MTV Music Video Awards, 8 p.m. today (Monday), MTV, BET, CMT, VH1, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Comedy Central, Paramount. Assembling a mega-list of stars; MTV lets its sister networks simulcast the show, then reruns it at 10:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. Taylor Swift (who ties Ariana Grande with 12 nominations) does two songs; Missy Elliott (shown here), who gets the Video Vanguard award, does a medley. Also performing: Lil Nas X, Jonas Brothers, H.E.R., Normani, Lizzo, Bad Bunny, Shawn Mendes with Camila Cabello, more. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Aug. 19: Debuts, finales and Sir Paul

1) “Carpool Karaoke,” 10 p.m. today, CBS. Imagine you’re sitting in a British pub one day and a bloke comes out with a guitar. He seems pretty good and … hey, he’s Paul McCartney! That was one of the highlights of this special, which debuted a year ago. James Corden (shown here with McCartney in real and statue form), the Englishman who hosts CBS’ late-late show, also visited McCartney’s childhood home and some places mentioned in “Penny Lane.” The result is up for five Emmys, including best variety special; overall, Corden has seven nominations. Read more…

Week’s best-bets for Aug.12: Sherlock ends, terror begins

1) “Elementary” series finale, 10 p.m. Thursday, CBS. For seven years and 155 episodes, Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) and Dr. Watson (Lucy Liu) have solved modern murders, mostly in New York. At times, the show has slid into a drab monotone; still, it’s had intelligent people cracking complex cases. Tonight (shown here)t, they wrap up their battle with tech billionaire Odin Reichenbach and get word about Jamie Moriarty, who has been Sherlock’s nemesis and (under the name Irene Adler) his lover. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for Aug. 5; re-visiting “Woodstock”

1) “American Experience,” 9-11 p.m. Tuesday, PBS. To the outside world, Woodstock (shown here) was a mess – too much mud and chaos, too little food and water. But the people who were there tell a different story – a mega-crowd absorbing good vibes and great music. Just shy of the 50th anniversary (Aug. 15-18), this compelling film views Woodstock from the start … including the scramble for a new site, five weeks before the event. The stage barely got finished, the fence never was finished, but the party went on. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for July 29: It’s finale time (plus music)

1) “CMA Fest,” 8-11 p.m. Sunday, ABC. It’s a night of starpower –Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and such. Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini host and do two songs apiece. One of hers is with the Chainsmokers, in a night with lots of duets. Brothers Osborne and Brooks & Dunn do two songs, one adding Ashley McBryde. It’s Tim McGraw with Luke Combs, Maren Morris with Brandi Carlisle, even Carrie Underwood with Joan Jett, plus Keith Urban wih Billy Ray Cyrus and Lil Nas X. Read more…

Week’s top-10 for July 22: End is near for Jane and Hannah

1) “Jane the Virgin,” 9 p.m. Wednesday, CW. This terrific episode ends with Jane’s mom asking: “How do we say goodbye?” Good question; after five seasons and 98 episodes, we’ll hate to see the show end. It started well (including a Golden Globe for Gina Rodriguez and a best-comedy-series nomination), stalled a little, and then is soaring at the end. Indeed, this episode manages to settle most of the plot points, one of them (at Jane’s dad’s party, shown here) spectacularly. We’re not sure what will be left for next week’s two-part finale. Read more…