TV column for Saturday, July 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

Lyn-Manuel Miranda
keeps triumphing – Broadway's most-praised musical, great “Moana”
songs, even the finest award-acceptance speeches. It shouldn't
surprised us that he triumphed as “SNL” host.

And the timing was a
bonus: This came one day after the release of Donald Trump's infamous
Billy Bush tape; “SNL” rippled with Trump humor, from the opening
to “Weekend Update” to Kellyanne Conway forever racing to explain
what Trump really meant. Still, there was time for Miranda to be a
musical guy, from his opening bit to a timely twist on the “Wells
Fargo” song from “Music Man.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Doubt,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Until now, Sadie had
kept secret her affair with Billy, the doctor she's defending for
murder. Now Albert (Dule Hill) finds out and steps in as first chair
at the trial.

That comes at a time
when Isaiah (Elliott Gould) is taking a break from the firm.
Meanwhile, Cam (Laverne Cox) has a kidnapping defendant and Tiffany
(Dream Walker) tries to get over her ex-fiance.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Declassified,” 9 p.m. and midnight ET, CNN.

Monzer al-Kassar
lifestyle was supersized. Dubbed “The Peacock” and “The Prince
of Mirabella,” he had a mansion in Spain, a 12-car garage and a jet
he piloted. Much of the money, officials said, was from illegal arms
deals; this hour traces the decades-long effort to convict him.

That starts a night
(subject to late change) of CNN series. At 10 p.m., two “The
Nineties” hours offer a rich portrait of the Clinton years; then
come “History of Comedy” reruns, from 1-4 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“Kingsman,” 7
p.m., FX. Before the sequel arrives in September, catch this clever
spy tale. It leads a movie night that has the vibrant “Descendants
2” (2017) at 8 on Disney and the delightful “Some Like It Hot”
(1959) -- No. 22 on the American Film Institute's list – at 8 p.m.
ET on Turner Classic Movies.

“The F Word With
Gordon Ramsay,” 8 p.m., Fox. This rerun has Katy Perry, Max
Greenfield and Kal Penn as guests; it's followed by a “Love
Connection” rerun at 9.

“In an Instant,”
9 p.m., ABC. This rerun focuses on a young woman who was a sexual
assault victim in a cult. It includes the search for the cult leader,
who had fled from Minnesota to Brazil.

“Turn,” 9 p.m.,
AMC, rerunning at 10:02. Abe finally gets his day of reckoning with
Simcoe, the evil British soldier who killed hs father.

“Still
Star-Crossed,” 10 p.m., ABC. Returning to Verona, Rosaline tries to
prove Benvolio is innocent. Now, however, there are troubles for both
families: A secret about Lord Motague is revealed; also, Lady
Capulet's relationship with Count Paris reaches a key point.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. In a tentative change, NBC
moves “Dateline” to 8 p.m. and has this rerun at 10. A woman
accuses a charismatic spiritual healer of using hypnosis to
incapacitate and assault her.

“Orphan Black,”
10 p.m., BBC America. Amid the life-and-death crises, there's
supposed to be a respite: “Mrs. S,” the foster mother of Sarah
and Felix, insists that everyone celebrate Felix's art opening. Sarah
is uncertain, convinced that she's hiding something.

TV column for Friday, July 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Dark Matter,” 9 p.m., Syfy.

“It's so primitive
here,” one guy grumbles. It's early in the 21st century,
in a Wisconsin town on the planet Earth; the pace is slow, the ice
cream is good and people keep inexplicably discussing football.

Our crew got here
without detection. (Back then, Android explains, most of the
satellites were used for entertainment and social media.) But three
bicycle-riding kids – kind of “ET” meets “Stranger Things”
-- are figuring them out. The result is a delight, a time-travel tale
done with wit. There are slyly funny moments, as Android tries –
with mixed success – to fit everyone into long-ago archetypes.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“MacGyver,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Last week this show
was bumped by “Big Brother.” That was the last thing we needed on
a night when CBS is a rare refuge for people who want a scripted,
non-fantasy drama.

Now “MacGyver”
returns and reaches back to this rerun of its sixth episode. “The
Ghost,” whose work led to the death of Mac's mentor, has planted a
bomb near the United Nations. There's nothing available to defuse it
except a wrench and a rope; for Mac, that's being overequipped.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Sizzling Summer Camp Special,” 8 p.m., Nickelodeon.

Kids are in the
second half of their summer vacations now, so Nick kindly reruns this
start-of-season special. Two of Santa's elves discuss the time the
Nick stars took over a camp.

That sets up some
comedy sketches, music videos and the discovery of Bighand, a
way-less-famous variation on Bigfoot. The show includes all four
actors in the title roles of “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn,”
plus the “Thundermans” twins and people from “Henry Danger,”
“School of Rock” and more.

Other choices
include:

“Vacation”
(1983), noon and 6:15 p.m., AMC. This classic comedy had lots of fun
moments ... and a bunch of sequels, with mixed qualities and
different kids, but always with Chevy Chase as the well-meaning dad.
“European Vacation” (1985) is at 2, “Christmas Vacation”
(1989) at 4 and “Vegas Vacation (1997) at 8:15 ... then “European”
at 10:15, “Christmas” at 12:15 a.m., “Vegas” at 2:30.

More movies, 7 p.m.,
cable. There are good ones to choose from, including “Ghostbusters”
(2016, at 7:02) on Starz, “Legally Blonde” (2001, repeating at 9)
on Bravo and “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (2002) on
Freeform. And at 8, IFC has a quiet masterpiece, “Fargo” (1996).

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. In a rerun, judges have their second night
of cuts.

“Masters of
Illusion,” 8 p.m., CW. This new round has quick-paced magic from
Billy Kidd, Nathan Burton, Xavier Mortimer, Chris Korn, Leon Etienne
and Jarrett and Raja. It's followed by a rerun at 8:30 and then a 9
p.m. rerun of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.”

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. When McGarrett meets an abused girl, he suspects she may
be a victim of a sex-trafficking ring. Meanwhile, Grover probes a
murder at a sober-living facility.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. It's a busy time for Danny (Donnie Wahlberg). He
searches for a witness to testify against a gang leader. Also, he and
his dad (Tom Selleck) try to identify the mob that beat Lt. Gormley
outside his home. They bring in a detective (Steve Schirripa) who
knows the neighborhood.

“Wynonna Earp,”
10 p.m., Syfy. There's some time-trekking here, but not the fun kind
in tonight's “Dark Matter.” As a mere observer, Wynonna is
transported to see early moments of the curse that has plagued Earps
ever since the long-ago Wyatt. Also, DNA tells Waverly if she's
really an Earp.

TV column for Thursday, July 27


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Night Shift,” 10 p.m., NBC.
This muscular
medical show keeps finding new ways to turn doctors into action
heroes. This season, it did that by having TC return to duty in
Afghanistan; now he's back home, forcing him to deal with the fact
that his friend and colleague, Topher Zia, was killed by a drunk
driver.
Meanwhile, Kenny
joins Drew at a mixed-martial-arts group for veterans – and finds
himself in a life-or-death crisis. Also, Cain (Mark Consuelos) and
Jordan treat hotel-fire victims.
TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Battle of the Network Stars,” 9 p.m., ABC.
This would seen like
a classic mismatch – TV cops vs. TV comedy people. Cops (even
make-believe ones) are in fine shape ... especially Lorenzo Lamas.
He's joined by Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox of “CHiPs,” Kelly Hu
of “CSI: NY” and Jodi Lyn O'Keefe of “Nash Bridges.”
Their competition
doesn't seem imposing. There's tiny Jenna von Oy of “Blossom,”
quirky Willie Garson of “White Collar” and pleasant Dave Foley of
“NewsRadio,” plus Todd Bridges of “Diff'rent Strokes” and
Leigh-Allyn Baker of “Good Luck Charlie.”
TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Married at First Sight” finale, 8-10 p.m.,
Lifetime.
No one said it would
be easy to marry a stranger; our ancestors did it, but they weren't
burdened by options. Now, after six weeks together, these couples
must decide if they're going to stay married.
It's tricky, as we
saw in last week's episode (rerunning at 7). Cody Knapek and Danielle
DeGroot haven't had sex; Knapek seems displeased with this. Anthony
D'Amoco and Ashley Petta were slow to get an apartment; he seems
hesitant to live near her sister. And Nate Duhon and Sheila Downs had
an all-out fight. She proclaimed the marriage “a complete and utter
failure,” then kissed and made up.
Other choices
include:
“Hollywood Game
Night,” 8 p.m., NBC. While boy bands are being formed on ABC,
boy-bander Nick Lachey will be here. So will his wife Vanessa, plus
singers Michael Bolton and Ne-Yo and comedy actors Chris Parnell and
JB Smoove.
“Boy Band,” 8
p.m., ABC. The 13 remaining guys sing songs from hit movies. Then
they re-form into three groups to perform, before two guys are
eliminated.
“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Bert has won the “genius award.” This
embitters Sheldon ... who figures no one can be a genius who is a
geologist ... and who isn't Sheldon.
“Kevin Can Wait,”
8:31, CBS. At Christmastime – yes, this is a rerun -- Kevin helps
Mott's seven kids get ready.
“Hooten & The
Lady,” 9 p.m., CW. In Egypt, Alex and Hooten try to find the
long-lost tomb of Alexander the Great. So, of course, do some bad
guys.
“Zoo,” 10 p.m.,
CBS. Jamie (Kristen Connolly) is under arrest, but still manages to
manipulate Mitch and Logan into helping her hunt the group that's
been sterilizing humans.
“The Mist,” 10
p.m., Spike. Getting to the hospital was no overall solution for
Kevin; now he's an involuntary test subject on what drives the mist.
Also, Nathalie has a violent encounter with Link.

TV column for Wednesday, July 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Snowfall,” 10 p.m., FX.

TV often delivers
helpful life lessons, so here's one: Whenever you throw a body in the
trunk and drive it somewhere for burial, make certain – REALLY
certain – that it is dead.

That issue provides
a wild detour to this sometimes grim story of the spread of cocaine
in 1980s Los Angeles. If “Snowfall” simply ended here, it would
be a great four-part mini-series. It continues, alas, so we'll see
what happens in this plotline and two others. One involves the early
days of the CIA's Contra-and-cocaine scheme; the other has a Latino
threesome that did one murder to cover up another.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Little Big Shots: Forever Young” season-finale, 8 p.m., NBC.

Steve Harvey rules a
big chunk of summer TV. Last week's Nielsen ratings put two of his
shows in the top 10 (“Celebrity Family Feud” and this one) and
another at No. 23 (“Funderdome”).

Now “Forever
Young” finishes its season – but may continue in reruns on
Wednesdays, just as Harvey's “Little Big Shots” has Saturday
reruns. Tonight, Harvey meets a 72-year-old pole dancer and an
81-year-old “dance machine,” plus a trick roper, an “inflatable
theater” performer ... and Chipps Cooney. Seven years ago, at 61,
Cooney gave a hilariously un-magical magic act on “America's Got
Talent.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Wild Alaska Live,” 8 p.m., PBS.

This is the second
of three nights for an epic project. Mixing pre-taped features and
live reports (live-on-tape on the West Coast), it offers a sprawling
view of Alaskan nature.

Chris and Martin
Kratt anchor from Tongass National Forest, at what is 4 p.m. in
Alaska. Tonight, Steve Backshall helicopters to the massive Juneau
Icefield, Liz Bonnin is at Katmai National Park, where bears frolic
during salmon season. The first night was Sunday and the third will
be next Sunday.

Other choices
include:

Novak/Hitchcock
night, 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. First, we see Kim
Novak being interviewed in 2013. Then are great Alfred Hitchcock
films -- “Vertigo” (1958), with Novak, at 8 p.m.; “North by
Northwest” (1959) at 10:30, “Psycho” (1960) at 1 a.m.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. The 15 remaining home chefs start with an odd challenge:
Reach into a mystery box and get a random body-part of a cow; that
must be the starting point for a dish.

“Salvation,” 9
p.m, CBS. Last week, Grace (Jennifer Finnigan) took a daring – and
wildly unlikely – step: She used her government position to grab
the uranium needed for Darius to try a private rocket that might stop
the asteroid from destroying the Earth. Now he has to accelerate his
plan before the Pentagon shuts him down. Also, Liam bumps across his
one-time love Jillian, a science-fiction writer.

“The Carmichael
Show,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC. This interesting show keeps finding
ways to mix comedy with serious subjects – some political and some
personal. This time, both episodes are personal. First, Maxine's
sister has a past connection to Jerrod's brother; then, in a rerun
from last season, Jerrod's mom may be suffering from depression.

“Modern Family,”
9 and 10 p.m., ABC. In the first rerun, Phil considers joining the
club that has been his father-in-law's refuge. In the second, their
sons are overwhelmed planning the school dance.

“This Is Us,” 10
p.m., NBC. Gerald McRaney's superb, Emmy-nominated work here has
consisted of only five episodes. Now two will rerun on consecutive
weeks. Tonight flashes back to when the family took young Kate to the
hospital on Christmas Eve ... and found Dr. K (McRaney) as a patient.
It also sees Kevin with his playwright (and new girlfriend),
celebrating Hanukkah.

And more, cable.
New, scripted shows? It's “Suits” (USA) at 9 p.m., “Queen
Sugar” (Oprah Winfrey Network), “Blood Drive” (Syfy) and
“Cleverman” (Sundance) at 10, the Emmy-nominated “Full Frontal
With Samantha Bee” (TBS) at 10:30. Also, sharks (Discovery and
NatGeo Wild) and movies.

TV column for Tuesday, July 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Bold Type,” 9:01 p.m., Freeform.

For all of its
wildly unlikely plot twists, this remains a charming show. In this
episode, we don't believe for a moment that a young writer, after one
quick political piece, would be on a panel with a Pulitzer
Prize-winner. Or that a job applicant would let a misunderstanding
spiral into a large lie.

For that matter, we
don't believe some of the things worn at a fashion-and-lifestyle
magazine. But the three young women at the core are great characters
– bright, optimistic, caring, talented, yet filled with doubts and
mis-steps. Tonight, again, it's fun watching their journey.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Somewhere Between,” 10 p.m., ABC.

Monday's opener saw
Laura (Paula Patton) wake up on the beach, mourning her daughter's
murder. She stumbled home ... and found the girl there. Now she's
reliving the previous week, trying to change fate.

That won't be easy.
There's a serial killer out there and no one would believe her story.
She turns to a former cop (Devon Sawa) to help her do a quick
investigation.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Jury Speaks” season-finale, 9 p.m., Oxygen.

Boosting its new
image as a true-crime network, Oxygen wraps up an unusual series.
Over four nights, we hear from some of the jurors (about half of
them) that gave not-guilty verdicts in high-profile cases.

The new one involves
Robert Durst, the real-estate heir who at some points spoke of
killing people and, in one case, dumping the dismembered body parts.
That's preceded by O.J. Simpson at 6 p.m., Michael Jackson at 7 and
George Zimmerman at 8. Switching the order, extra reruns have Jackson
at 10 p.m., Durst at 11, Zimmerman at midnight and Simpson at 1 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“America's Got
Talent” and “World of Dance,” 8 and 10 p.m., NBC. Both shows
have the second night of cuts by judges. For “Dance,” these are
the final cuts before next week's finals in each division.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, a chief petty officer has escaped from her captors.
Now the team searches for a motive in the kidnapping ... and for her
husband.

“The Fosters,” 8
p.m., Freeform. Jude works on an underground school newspaper with
Mariana and questions his compatibility with Noah. Also, Callie and
Aaron have their first real date. And last week Lena was startled to
realize she knows one of the new neighbors; now they're coming for
dinner.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. The first rerun is serious; Bow takes action when
her daughter stumbles across inappropriate websites. The second is
lighter, with family trip to Disney World.

“Animal Kingdom,”
9 p.m., TNT. The big church heist has police questioning Amy. Pope –
who likes her and who helped with the heist – tries to divert them.
Also, Baz follows “Smurf,” to see what she's hiding. And Craig
plans an unusual heist of his own.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, a brutal copycat murder on a
street car re-opens an old case for Dr. Wade (CCH Pounder).

“The Shooter,”
10 p.m., USA. Last week's season-opener saw gunmen open fire on a U.S
Marine gathering in Germany. Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe) sees it
as an attack on his old military unit ... and tonight's flashbacks
show why. In this high-octane, moderately interesting hour, Swagger
searches for bad guys in Germany and his former boss is on the run in
Southeast Asia.