TV column for Sunday, March 11

“American Idol” return, 8-10 p.m., ABC.

An eon or two ago,
“Idol” grabbed attention by insulting young singers. That's hard
to believe now; after skipping a year and switching networks, the
show is going for lots of feel-good moments.

This opener goes six
minutes before the first audition; after 20-plus minutes of show
time, we've only heard two singers. The emphasis is on getting us to
know – and like – them. Sure, some people are quickly bumped; one
is easy to dislike, another seems suspiciously like a put-on. But
mostly, we see people who have talent, individuality and, in several
cases, original songs. It's a strong start.

“Deception” debut, 10 p.m., ABC.

Our hero has been a
master liar, making big money by conning the public. Now that skill
is needed by law-enforcement, to catch bigger crooks and meaner

We could be
describing “The Mentalist,” which was a CBS hit. But this version
involves a magician whose career has been built on a lie. The result
is reasonably entertaining.

ALTERNATIVE: “Timeless” season-opener, 10 p.m., NBC.

The first season had
a terrific star (Abigail Spencer as Lucy), a catchy concept (chasing
someone through time) ... and a flaw: When the hero's goal is to
change nothing, the drama choices are sparse.

Now that's partly
been fixed; Lucy has bigger concerns. An evil organization wants to
bend history and own the world; her mother – enmeshed in the evil –
has kidnapped her and taken her to a World War I battlefield. In a
fairly good hour, her friends try to repair their machine and rescue

Other choices

Basketball, all day.
Most college conferences have already finished their tournaments, but
a few conclude today ... shortly before the NCAA reveals its
tournament pairings (6-8 p.m. ET on TBS). It will be the Ivy League
at noon ET (ESPN2), Atlantic 10 and SEC at 1 p.m. (CBS and ESPN),
Sunbelt at 2 p.m. (ESPN2) and American Athletic at 3:30 p.m. (CBS).

“American Ninja
Warrior: USA vs. The World,” 7-10 p.m., NBC. The obstacle course is
tackled by teams from North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

“O.J. Simpson: The
Last Confession,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. In 2006, there were big plans for
“If I Did It,” with Simpson discussing – hypothetically, he
said – murders. After a backlash. the book and a Fox special were
dumped. Now this is built around Simpson's taped interview with
publisher Judith Regan.

“Pillow Talk”
(1959) and “Lover Come Back” (1961), 8 and 10 p.m., Turner
Classic Movies. Doris Day and Rock Hudson made plenty of bad movies,
but these two films are slick, smart and fun.

“The Arrangement”
season-opener, 9 p.m., E. In the first season, Megan (a talented
unknown) auditioned for a role opposite a movie star. She was soon
offered a contract by a Scientology-type group, to marry him. Now she
prepares for a mega-wedding and the movie that could change her life.

Secretary,” 10 p.m., CBS. While facing big things in her personal
life – her husband's abrupt career decision, her college roommate's
suicide attempt – Elizabeth has a complication at work: Acting on
the advice of his psychic, the president of Sri Lanka is resisting a
trade agreement.

“The Royals”
season-opener, 10 p.m., E. It's good to be king ... especially after
spending two years on a deserted island. Robert gains popularity on
tour ... unaware that his younger brother Liam and bodyguard Jasper
have information that could destroy him.