TV column for Wednesday, May 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Modern Family” season-finale, 9 p.m., ABC.

ABC's entire
Wednesday line-up – a good one -- ends its season. The night
generally starts and ends well (with “The Goldbergs” and
“Designated Survivor”); in-between are two OK comedies and one
terrific one. That's “Modern Family,” winner of five Emmys for
best comedy series.

Tonight, it has
large-scale set-ups: Phil sneaks off to “Hero-Con,” dressed as
his favorite character ... and then commits the ultimate fan faux
pas. Gloria throws an epic-scale dinosaur party for young Joe ...
only to have her nemesis – Dr. Donna Duncan (Jane Krakowski) –
throw a bigger party next door.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Empire,” 8 p.m., Fox.

When “Empire”
focuses on music or family, it's terrific; when it turns to business
schemes, it gets tangled up. Tonight is business, occasionally dull
and often defying credibility.

Eddie (Forest
Whitaker) is scheming to take control of the record label and sell it
to a tech guy; Lucious and Cookie have a counter-scheme – a
high-tech rent party – that looks way too easy here. There are
plenty of complications; the music, however, is good.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Riverdale” season-finale, 8 p.m., CW.

Last week brought
fierce jolts: Hiram Lodge (Veronica's dad) had manipulated a gang war
to tear the South Side apart. To prevent it, Jughead surrendered
himself to be beaten by the enemy. As the hour ended, his dad was
carrying his maybe-lifeless body.

Is Jug dead? We find
out tonight. We also learn who's elected student-body president and
mayor; and we see Betty battered by guilt about her family's
homicidal past. Much of this hits soap-opera extremes, including one
bizarrely random kiss. Still, “Riverdale” has characters we can't
stop rooting for.

Other choices
include:

“Thee Blacklist”
season-finale, 8 p.m., NBC. One key question has lingered: Whose
bones are in that duffel bag? Red and Liz have been scrambling to
find out; today, NBC promises, viewers will know.

“The Goldbergs”
season-finale, 8 p.m., ABC. Rejected by Lainey for the prom, Barry
plans a mega-prank. And when Erica announces her college plans, her
furious dad makes her pay for rent and food.

“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. A week from the season-finale, relationships are still tangled.
Jahil (Benjamin Bratt) explores his pas love for Carlotta (Queen
Latifah) ... Simone and Angel consider fleeing, after getting a
discouraging letter about immigration ... And Alex ditches Noah at an
important event.

“Nova Wonders,”
9 p.m., PBS. Two of our favorite things – computers and brains –
are compared in this fascinating hour. Some computers master one
skill – from chess to driving to voice recognition – beautifully;
brains master many things, with a fraction of the energy. The hour
also profiles Rana el Kaliouby, an Egyptian-born computer whiz who
doubles as a likable co-host for ths show.

“Designated
Survivor” season-finale, 10 p.m., ABC. The president has enough
trouble dealing with the hacker and the Congressional investigation.
Then a natural disaster threatens the lives of two staffers.

“Inside the Royal
Wedding,” 10 p.m., NBC. Other networks have already had their
specials, often focusing on the bride. Now Savannah Guthrie and Hoda
Kotb focus on the wedding. They talk to people who will be there ...
who worked other mega-events ... or who are experts in fashion and
such.

“SEAL Team,” 10
p.m., CBS. Jason (David Boreanaz) hides the severity of his
concussion, so he can lead a final mission to avenge Echo Team's
deaths.