TV column for Friday, Oct. 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” 9 p.m. , CW.

Rebecca has been
questioning her life choices, but now comes the ultimate question:
Does she really want to be a lawyer?

There's even a zesty
song that informs: “The job is so inherently crappy/That's why you
never see a lawyer who's happy” ... followed by a very funny legal
disclaimer. Later, there's one of the best songs ever done by
animated pretzels. After a so-so opener two weeks ago, clever “Crazy”
is back.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Midnight, Texas” season-opener, 9 p.m., NBC.

This began as an
off-season distraction – 10 strange hours, in the summer of 2017.
Manfred arrive in a shabby little town, stuffed with supernatural
souls; he ended up saving it by swallowing six demons.

Now, 13 months after
that season finale, “Midnight” has been promoted to the regular
season, arriving just in time for Halloween. The town has a
mysterious new spa and Manfred has after-effects from his demon
overdose. The result is messy, but it's also big and cinematic, with
a good cast. Parisa Fitz-Henley, who shined last spring in a film
about Meghan Markle, is appealing as Fiji the witch.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Baseball, 8:09 p.m., Fox, with preview at 7:30.

After two games in
Boston, the World Series moves to Los Angeles. That means there might
be lots of rich folks in the stand ... to match the rich ones on the
field.

The Red Sox have
baseball's biggest payroll – which sort of matches their record, as
baseball's winningest team. The Dodgers have the third-biggest pay
(after the Giants), but had to scramble.

The Dodgers tied the
Rockies (15th biggest pay, of 30 teams) in the regular
season, then won the one-shot game to decide the division title. They
had to scramble before edging the Milwaukee Brewers (26th
biggest pay, only half of the Dodgers') to get to tonight's collision
of the best and the richest.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: More witches and zombies and such.

As Halloween nears,
TV hits monster-overload, At 9 p.m., “Midnight, Texas” competes
with Syfy's “Z Nation”; Warren and George see if Lt. Dane is part
of the effort to help people escape from vigilantes. At 10, Syfy has
“Van Helsing”;' Scab and Ivory return home to find the Sisterhood
in ruins.

Added to this
crowded and creepy night? Today, Neflix introduces its new version of
“Sabrina”; she's still a teenage witch, but no longer sunny about
it. And at 11 p.m., Syfy introduces its latest “Channel Zero”
miniseries. The six-night tale – newlyweds discover a basement door
– concludes on Halloween.

Other choices
include:

“It's the Great
Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” 8 p.m., ABC. Last week, ABC ran a
shortened version of this 1966 classic, leaving room for “Toy Story
of Terror.” Now here's the full-length version; rounding out the
hour, “You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown” runs in shortened form.

“Blindspot,” 8
p.m., NBC. One of the fun elements is the converted crook who changed
his name to Rich Dotcom. A consultant to the FBI, he prefers to elude
any danger; now, alas, the team is in danger and he and Patterson
take charge.

“MacGyer,” 8
p.m., CBS. The holidays become a help and a hindrance. In Mexico, Mac
and Jack must rescue their boss while weaving through Day of the Dead
celebrations; back home, Bozer and Riley use Halloween as a
distraction, while gathering information on a man suspected of
treason.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Jerry (Jorge Garcia) says he witnessed a murder at a
camp when he was a boy. Now he and friends revisit that camp – on
Halloween, no less – looking for evidence.

“Shakespeare
Uncovered,” 9 and 10 p.m., PBS. These view “The Winter's Tale”
and “Richard III.”

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Danny is good at cop stuff (tonight, he probes the
murder of a fertility doctor), but as a widower he needs help with
parenting. He asks his brother's police partner (Vanessa Ray) to
intervene in a dispute involving his sons.

TV column for Thursday, Oct. 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Superstore,” 8 p.m., NBC.

As the Halloween
costume contest nears, Cheyenne -- looking splendid in her hula
outfit -- will get the guys' votes. Amy – who desperately wants to
win -- tries to discourage her with talk of women's-empowerment and
Hawaiian ethnic issues.

Soon, every costume
is disputed ... including Amy's as Mario, the videogame hero. This
becomes the funniest political-correctness episode since a “Murphy
Brown” one, 25 years and two weeks ago.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Good Place,” 8:30 p.m., NBC.

This clever show
settles into its newest format ... which, of course, could change yet
again. The four people are back on Earth, knowing they have another
chance to earn points and get a better afterlife.

Michael is there to
help; so is Janet, who still knows everything – yes, EVERYTHING –
but no longer has her magic powers. Tonight, Chidi attempts a
break-up ... which is really Eleanor's area of expertise. Also, we
finally meet “Donkey Doug,” whom Jason talks about; they make a
daft (and funny) duo.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Legacies” debut, 9 p.m., CW.

The broadcast
networks had 21 new shows this fall; here's the final one ... and a
pretty good one.

The Salvatore School
for the Young and Gifted has young witches, werewolves and vampires
... and has Hope, 17, who is all three. Like many teens, Hope has
family troubles; her dad is listed as “The Great Evil” in a
book. (“He wasn't very popular,” she explains.) Newly orphaned,
she's at the school Alaric started for his mismatched twins. The
opener explains this, then delivers a big closing twist.

Other choices
include:

“The Woman in
White” (1948), 6 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. Last Sunday, PBS
launched a lush mini-series, based on an 1859 novel. Now we can see
the whole tale in 109 black-and-white minutes. It's followed at 8 by
“High Anxiety” (1977), Mel Brooks' Hitchcock take-off. And it's
preceded by light ghost tales – Cary Grant's “Topper” (1937) at
2:30 and Rex Harrison's “Blithe Spirit” (1945) at 4:15.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. What sort of weird, odd, bizarre character
will Howard be on Halloween? He dresses as Sheldon ... who is not
amused.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Jason Alexander returns as the drama teacher ... who
now links with Sheldon'a mom to plan the church's Halloween
fundraiser.

“Station 19,” 9
p.m., ABC. Captain Sullivan (Boris Kodjoe) draws groans when he
assigns each person to learn a specialty skill. Later, he, Andy and
Maya face a fire in a derelict building.

“Will &
Grace,” 9 p.m., NBC. Reading old letters to each other from long
ago, Will and Grace come across something jolting. Meanwhile, Jack
tries to convince Karen she'll love again.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. This terrific series thrives on serious moments. Now
Marjorie's husband has died; her Alcoholics Anonymous friends join
her for a trip to memorialize him.

“SWAT,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. What do you do if robbers are holding hostages on a cruise ship?
You secretly board the ship (that's the hard part), disguise as
workers and try to overpower them. That story yields some strong
action scenes; a second story – Street is back in basic training –
is so-so.

TV column for Wednesday, Oct. 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“SEAL Team,” 9 p.m., CBS.

Last week's episode
hit Jason (David Boreanaz) – and viewers -- with a jolt: Battered
by military missions, he was moving to a separate apartment; then his
wife died in a traffic accident. He decided to skip the latest rescue
mission and stay home with his kids.

Now we leap between
opposite worlds: One story (continuing next week) has violence in
Mumbai; the other has agony at home. With subtly perfect work by
Boreanaz, this hits a peak in the final minutes.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“A Million Little Things,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Secrets have
unfolded now, but we're about to learn the impact. What happens to
Eddie, now that his wife knows of his affair with the now-widowed
Delilah? What about Gary, who learned Maggie has been hiding the fact
that she faces cancer?

We get some answers,
alongside the varied moments of parenting – a teen's suspension ...
a boy's tree costume ... and a new pregnancy test. It's an emotional
hour, softened by humor and warmth.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Comedies, 8-10 p.m., ABC.

The whole night
isn't about death and drama. A week from Halloween, four shows focus
on the holiday ... peaking, perhaps, when “Modern Family” (9
p.m.) gets huge news, in the midst of an epic event.

On “The Goldbergs”
(8 p.m.), Robert Englund plays his “Nightmare on Elm Street”
character ... inside Beverly's dream. On “American Housewife”
(8:30), Taylor wants to go to one party and Oliver and Cooper prepare
for another, where they'll play “seven minutes in Heaven” with
their dates. And on “Single Parents” (9:31), Angie hasn't told
her boss she has to leave work to finish her son's costume.

Other choices
include:

Movies, all day,
Showtime. Here's a joy ride through three movies that were very
well-made AND very popular. It's “Jerry Maguire” (1996) at 3:15
p.m., “Rain Man” (1988) at 5:45 and “Titanic” (1997) at 8.
All three were nominated for best-picture Oscars; “Rain Man” and
“Titanic” both won.

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. How dark has this show become? Tonight, Archie Andrews –
the sunniest guy in comic-book history -- HAs brutal, no-rules prison
fights. Back at home, the only good news is the opening of Veronica's
“speakeasy,” with great music from Josie. The rest is well-done,
but dreary.

“Nature,” 8
p.m., PBS. Over three Wednesdays, we'll see all sorts of cats.
Household ones come later, but this starts with the extremes – the
fastest animal (a cheetah), the loneliest (a snow leopard, looking
for a mate) and the northern-most (a Canada lynx). Also, a leopard
tries to raise her cub in a drought.

“American Hero Dog
Awards,” 8-10 p.m., Hallmark. While cats have their miniseries,
dogs get awards. There are honors for police, military and rescue
dogs, plus guide, service and therapy ones.

“All American,”
9 p.m., CW. For two-thirds of this hour, “All American” is (as
usual), well-made but overwrought. Then the final portion ripples
with emotional depth, making it worth catching.

“Chicago Fire,”
9 p.m., NBC. As a journalist follows him, Casey tries to trace a
trailer-park fire.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. Ruzek's father (Jack Coleman) is working for a
suspected drug dealer.

TV column for Tuesday, Oct. 23


 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Kids Are Alright,” 8:31 p.m., ABC.

Like many young
kids, Timmy needs to win a poetry contest, so he can buy a new face
for his ventriloquist dummy and .... OK, Timmy isn't really like most
kids. But he desperately needs the prize money -- so much that he
enters a stolen poem, then frets about the person he stole it from.

That's a good start,
but what makes this stand out is its surprise finish. With great
portraits of Timmy's parents (Mary McCormack and Michael Cudlitz),
this emerges as the season's best new comedy.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Great American Read” finale, 8 p.m., PBS.

Tonight, we'll get
answers to two gnawing questions: What is Americans favorite novel?
And does Meredith Vieira have a second outfit?

Through six amiable
hours this fall, Vieira (always in that white outfit) has guided us
through the 100 favorites from a poll. PBS announced the top-10 in
ongoing voting, in no particular order -- “Charlotte's Web,”
“Little Women,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” “Jane Eyre,”
“Pride and Prejudice,” “Gone With the Wind” and the Harry
Potter, Narnia, Outlander and Lord of the Rings series.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Conners,” 8 p.m., ABC.

Last week's opener
was way better than we'd expected. We still miss Rosanne Barr, but
the show she created remains sharp, smart, funny and sometimes even
warm.

This second episode
doesn't match that one, but it's well above average. At a teacher
conference, Darlene (Sarah Gilbert) meets David (Johnny Galecki),
whom she's never quite divorced ... and his wispy new girlfriend
Blue. The humor is uneven, but there are some great moments. Gilbert
has become the heart of the reboot; when she's with Galecki, we see
two strong comedy talents.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: World Series, 8:09 p.m. ET, Fox, with pre-game at 7:30.

After going 86 years
without a World Series title, the Red Sox have been piling them up.
They won in 2004, 2007 and 2013 ... and could win again, a century
after the 1918 win, just before the drought.

To get this far, the
Red Sox had 108 wins in the regular (162-game) season – five more
than anyone else and 17 more than the Dodgers. That's why the first
two games, today and Wednesday, are in Boston; on Friday, the
best-of-seven series moves to Los Angeles.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Charlie Robinson plays a Marine serving a life sentence for
murder. That could change, with the discovery of a 50-year-old
recording left by the victim.

“This Is Us,” 9
p.m., NBC. Last week, we saw pieces of Jack's time in Vietnam; now
Kevin, Jack's son, meets someone from his past. Also, Randall starts
a new journey and Toby – who flushed his anti-depressants to
increase Kate's pregnancy chances – begins to crumble.

“Native America,”
9 p.m., PBS. There's a mellow mood to the start of this four-hour
documentary series. With a low-key approach, it ranges from the
Amazon jungle – where giant cities once stood – to the solitary
beauty of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, which once held 15 major
complexes. It would be 1,000 years before North America had bigger
buildings than the ones that were in Chaco.

“Black-ish,” 9
p.m., ABC. Dre ponders when it's OK to call the police about
neighbors ... and whether it's ever OK to report on black neighbors.
It's a fairly good story, marred by a so-so secondary one.

“The Rookie,” 10
p.m., ABC. After the terrific opener, the show settles into its
routine ... which is still quite good. All three rookie cops face
tricky times: John has hazardous moments at the wheel ... Jackson is
thrust into danger ... and Lucy is temporarily with a danger-adverse
training officer.

“Loudermilk,” 10
p.m., AT&T/DirecTV. Loudermilk is doubly bummed – at himself
for taking a drink and at Claire for being an ultra-messy roommate.
There are some broad laughs (including an opening flashback), plus
some surprisingly sweet moments, in a good episode.

TV column for Monday, Oct. 22


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Dancing With the Stars,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

It's been a tough
year for the women. Ousted were a comedian (Nikki Glaser), an actress
(Nancy McKeon), a singer (Tinashe), a visually impaired skiier
(Danelle Umstead) ... and no men.

Now the survivors –
six men, three women – dance to songs from Disney movies. Jordan
Fisher, the 2016 winner, will sing two of the songs, joined by people
from “Dancing With the Stars: Juniors,” which he hosts. Also,
Matteo Bocelli, 21, will do a song with his dad, classical star
Andrea Bocelli.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “A Chef's Life: The Final Harvest,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Back in 2005, Vivien
Howard and her husband took a giant step: They had been chefs in New
York, but now her parents offered to buy them a restaurant in
Kinston, NC (population 22,000), near their farm.

Six years later was
another leap: With newborn twins, they started “A Chef's Life,” a
PBS show about downhome food and people. Now they have three
restaurants, a book, several awards and this charming series finale,
with lots of flashbacks and then a feast. Howard even cooks with paw
paw which, an 85-year-old gardener explains, is “like kissing a
mule: It's pretty good, after the first one.”

TONIGHT'S ODDITY:
“Legends of Tomorrow,” 9 p.m., CW.

Should a series
change its focus and format mid-run? Sure, if it does it cleverly,
like “The Good Place”; but not if it does it in this clumsy
fashion. What started as a slick time-travel tale has now skidded.

During the first
season, CW chief Mark Pedowitz said, producers decided “what worked
was embracing the fun about itself, its silliness, the willingness to
poke jokes.” Tonight, “Legends” is just goofy ... and not in a
good way. It's gone from sci-fi to supernatural, adding Constantine
(Matt Ryan), the demon-hunter who used to have his own show. Tonight,
alas, we even get a killer unicorn.

Other choices
include:

“Young, Gifted &
Classical: The Making of a Maestro,” any time, www.acorn.tv.
At the royal wedding this spring, viewers saw the stunning skill of
teen cellist Sheku Kenneth-Mason, the first black winner of BBC's
Young Musician of the Year. This film, made two years earlier, offers
a vivid portrait. Each Saturday, he made the 200-mile train trip to
study in London -- then returned to a Nottingham home that includes
seven siblings, four pianos, three cellos, a violin and a joyous mix
of chaos and classical.

“The Voice,”
8-10 p.m., NBC. The duet duels begin their second week; they'll
conclude Tuesday.

“The
Neighborhood,” 8 p.m., CBS. There are scattered bis of sharp humor,
as Dave has a neighborhood party. There's also some excess
buffoonery, plus a serious confrontation that mostly doesn't work.

“Magnum P.I.,” 9
p.m., CBS. TC asks Magnum to help a murder suspect who's the father
of one of the kids on his football team. Cyndi Lauper guests as a
lawyer with shaky ethics.

“9-1-1,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. Alongside some serious personal issues, the team races to
emergencies at a toddler pageant, a bodybuilding competition and even
an eating contest.

“Manifest,” 10
p.m., NBC. It's not easy to have someone disappear for five years ...
then return without having aged. Tonight, we see assorted dismay –
much of it badly overdone – plus two big plot pushes: Officials try
to catch the man who stowed away from Jamaica, aided by a stewardess;
and on a romp with his son, Ben (Josh Dallas) stars to realize the
boy has a link to the other-worldly side of this.

“The Rookie,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. “The Good Doctor” steps aside, for a rerun of
this excellent pilot.