TV column for Friday, Oct. 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Romanoffs,” any time, Amazon Prime (www.amazon.com/video)

Generations ago, TV
offered anthologies; great writers, unfettered by the notion of a
series, had the freedom to surprise, stun or just amuse. Now Matthew
Weiner (“Mad Men”) has crafted a variation.

These films have
nothing in common, except that a character may be descended from the
Russian royal family. In the first, Marthe Keller has a stunning
Paris apartment, an empty life and a nephew with a greedy girlfriend.
In the second, Corey Stoll ignores his sweet wife and lusts after a
jury colleague. These are clever stories with surprising endings.
There are six more, including a great one next Friday.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Blindspot” season-opener, 8 p.m., NBC.

The season starts
spectacularly: Jane has a one-on-four, rooftop fight with martial
artists. Like a Bruce Lee movie, this is impressive and exciting ...
even if it's thoroughly unbelievable.

Then we move to the
main story: Stripped of her memory, “Jane Doe” worked for the
FBI, even marrying sturdy agent Kurt. But now she remembers that
she's part of Sandstorm, a guerilla group; in fact, she may be its
lone survivor. In a strong hour, she hallucinates talking to her late
brother.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Raven's Home” (8 p.m., Disney) and “Crazy
Ex-Girlfriend” (9 p.m., CW) season-openers.

“Crazy” soars
when its music numbers mix witty lyrics and clever filming; it sags
when sinking too deeply into the mind of the overthinking,
self-destructive Rebecca. Surprisingly, this opener has only one
so-so music number; instead, its has lots of Rebecca, perplexing her
friends ... and viewers.

As it happens,
there's more music – eight songs – stuffed into a Disney
half-hour: Raven envisions her son, Booker, starring in the school
musical. But that's the story of a boy who loves basketball and
hip-hop – two things that Tess, the streetwise neighbor girl,
excels at. Booker's sister urges her to audition.

Other choices
include:

“Dynasty”
season-opener. 8 p.m., CW. The mega-company is ready to celebrate its
100th anniversary, amid family feuds and corporate
schemes. Fallon, often the troublemaker, tries to hold things
together.

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. It's back to college for Mac and three of his young
colleagues. They're undercover, on a campus where a deep-cover
operative is recruiting students for terrorism.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., Fox. Ed and Mike fret about the possibility of a
corporate takeover at Outdoor Man. Jay Leno returns to his role as
Joe, one of their employees.

“The Cool Kids,”
8:30 p.m., Fox. Hank (David Alan Grier) and Charlie (Martin Mull)
need to revive their sex lives. They bungle, they fume ... and their
friends (Leslie Jordan, Vicki Lawrence) try to help with some online
deception. The result is loose and goofy ... but goofiness is
something “Cool Kids” does well. Just as a gag seems to be
wearing thin, the show manages a fresh twist.

“Speechless,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. Maya came to London to beg money from her estranged
dad (John Cleese). Now that he's so happy to see her, she doesn't
have the heart to mention it. The Cleese scenes are great; the
sub-plots are mostly so-so.

“Shakespeare
Uncovered,” 9 and 10 p.m., PBS. This has become a cliche – man
and woman bicker, battle, and fall in love. Helen Hunt – who won an
Oscar for such a role, in “As Good As It Gets” -- takes us back
to where it started, with “Much Ado About Nothing,” 419 years
ago. It's a richly detailed hour, followed by F. Murray Abraham
looking at “The Merchant of Venice.”

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. A heat wave brings a crime overload ... including a
stolen cop car.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. A woman shot her husband while she was drunk; Danny's
instincts tell him there's more to the story. Also, Anthony ignores
Erin's order to drop an assault case.