TV column for Thursday, March 15

Basketball, everywhere.

For the next three
weeks, the NCAA tournament will seize our time and attention. Today
and Friday, it fills up CBS – no soaps, comedies (including “Big
Bang”) or cop shows – plus three cable networks.

CBS has a
doubleheader at 12:15 and 2:45 p.m. ET, pauses for news, then goes at
7:10 and 9:40. There are also four games apiece on TruTV (starting at
12:40 p.m.), TNT (1:30) and TBS (2). If you go by the seeding,
you're best chances for a close game are at 12:15 on CBS
(Oklahoma-Rhode Island), 4:30 on TBS (Seton Hall-North Carolina
State) and 9:30 on TNT (Alabama-Virginia Tech).

“Will & Grace,” 9 p.m., NBC.

Sure, there are
times when this show strains too hard. (Last week's episode, with
Jack as the world's worst TV corpse, was juvenile.) But then there
are ones like this, when all the forces align.

There's a sharp,
topical story; reversing the original controversy, a baker refuses to
make a cake for a Trump event. There's a funny guest star (Vanessa
Bayer), smart dialog that's perfectly delivered ... and even a greats
sight gag. That's verbal/visual combination is something you get when
James Burrows directs Debra Messing; it's as if Murphy Brown and Lucy
inhabit the same comic body.

ALTERNATIVE: “Scandal,” 9 p.m., ABC.

With only five
episodes left in its final season, “Scandal” views the latest
scheme of Vice-President Cyrus Beene. His plane landed successfully
and he's proclaiming himself a hero.

President Mellie
Grant strains to learn who was behind the highjacking. Meanwhile,
Olivia tries to bridge the gap with the Gladiators by offering her
theory on what Beene is really planning.

Other choices

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Meredith had been optimistic about getting the polymer
she needs for her research; the patent, after all, was held by Marie
Cerone, a long-ago friend of her mother. But now she's learned those
two had a falling-out; she tries to learn more about their history.

“Superstore,” 8
p.m., NBC. The employees are offered amnesty for anything they want
to confess. We'll assume they have endless possibilities.

“Butterfield 8”
(1960), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. Elizabeth Taylor tackled
plenty of deeply intelligent scripts, but she won an Oscar for this
glossy, soap-style tale. She won another Oscar (for the powerhouse
“Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”) and drew three other
nominations – two for films (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and
“Suddenly Last Summer”) that will air at 6 and 8 p.m. ET Friday.

“Showtime at the
Apollo,” 9 p.m., Fox. Give this show, hosted by Steve Harvey, a
try. The first two hours have been filled with fun novelty acts and
some stunningly good singers.

9:30, NBC. In last week's disappointing opener, a gym owner suddenly
learned he has a 15-year-old son ... who's moving in with him while
studying musical theater. There's potential there, disrupted tonight
by the fact that both father and son are tough to care about.

“How To Get Away
With Murder,” 10 p.m., ABC. A death leads to a shocking arrest, ABC
says. Now Annalise and her young colleagues deal with the aftermath.

“Atlanta,” 10
p.m., FX. In a very funny opener, a distraught mom reads the words to
a Paper Boi rap. Naturally, it soon goes gold, leading to a catch:
Earn finds Atlanta is tough on a guy with money.