TV column for Tuesday, May 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Roseanne,” 8 p.m., ABC.

Many of us doubted
this notion of reviving a show that has been gone for 20 years. ABC
only took eight episodes, tossed into the last gasps of the season.
Then, instantly, “Roseanne” soared.

This episode shows
why. An almost-perfect half-hour (except for some oafish moments for
Jackie), it leaps nimbly from broad comedy to sharp one-liners and
some moments of solid drama. Most shows have no feeling for
blue-collar, modest-income life; in this episode, all those details –
health benefits, co-pays, waitress jobs – are crucial. They lead to
some revealing moments ... and to some big laughs.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “New Girl” series finale, 9 and 9:30 p.m., Fox.

A terrific series
ends just the way it should – often weirdly funny, occasionally
just weird.

The first half-hour
starts with the world's worst wedding toast and ends with one of the
world's worst baby names. In between are a wedding curse and a mom
(Jamie Lee Curtis) who assures Jess: “You'll get it right next
time.” The second episode has lots of strange things about moving
out of the loft. It has sharp lines -- “You know who else liked
balconies? Hitler” -- a flashforward and a truly odd twist.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Rise” season-finale, 9:01 p.m., NBC.

Everything has
pointed to this moment: In a hard-scrabble town, a high school opens
the gritty musical, “Spring Awakening.” Along the way, we've seen
deep personal troubles for the actors and their families. The
directors had a big fight; the principal demanded sharp cuts in the
play.

At times, this has
seemed wildly unlikely. Still, there's a subtle brilliance to the
dialog, the directing and the acting. This finale leaves us with
mixed emotions, but with respect for a great craftsmanship.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Attending a memorial service for a friend lost at sea, Gibbs has
key questions: Was there foul play? And is the guy really dead?

“The Voice,” 8
p.m., NBC. On Monday, the final eight contestants sang and viewers
voted. Tonight, the top three will advance to next week's finale and
the bottom two will be ousted. Then the three who are in-between will
compete for the remaining spot in the final four.

“Cinderella,” 8
p.m., TNT. Kenneth Branagh, not usually a fairy-tale guy, directed
this gorgeous film. There are other good 8 p.m. movies -- “The
Bourne Ultimatum” (2007) on AMC, “Crazy Stupid Love” (2011) on
CMT – but HBO's “Snatched” is only so-so, despite Amy Schumer
and Goldie Hawn.

“The Middle,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. A week from the finale of a terrific, nine-year
series, Frankie is desperate to keep everyone together. She tries to
convince Axl not to take a job in Denver.

“Black-ish”
season-finale, 9 p.m., ABC. This show startled viewers by having the
parents separate. Tonight, Dre has a sleek dream-house in the canyon,
but Bow things it's a bad place for the kids to visit.

“NCIS: New
Orleans” season-finale, 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. Like many TV heroes,
Pride (Scott Bakula) bends the rules; unlike most, he faces a grand
jury indictment for abuse of power. Now he assembles a team that
includes a hacker (Tom Arnold), a lawyer, a journalist and a retired
Green Beret.

“Chicago Med”
season-finale, 10 p.m., NBC. Well, at least no one can be accused of
overacting. An absurd number of huge events are packed into this
hour, many of them involving people the doctors already know. The
characters seem not just stoic, but almost unaware. While
experiencing a cascade of tragedy and triumph, pretty people reveal
little urge to emote.