TVcolumn for Wednesday, Feb. 21

“The Amazing Race” finale, 9-11 p.m. Wednesday, CBS.

There are some silly
reality shows now, filling empty hours against the Olympics. That
includes spin-offs of “Big Brother” (8 p.m. today) and “The
Bachelor” (concluding Thursday).

“Amazing Race,”
however, is legitimate – winner of 10 Emmys for best reality
competition show. Now its final four duos dash toward a
million-dollar prize. Two are dating – Cody Nickson and Jessica
Graf from “Big Brother,” Henry Zhang and Evan Lynyak, Yale
debaters. The others are friends who compete -- “X-Game” skiers
Kristi Leskinen and Jen Hudak, IndyCar drivers Alexander Rossi and
Conor Daly.

Winter Olympics, 3-5 p.m. ET, 8-11 p.m., then 11:35, NBC.

On a day without
figure-skating – the women conclude Thursday – NBC has lots of
skiing. That includes Alpine in primetime and latenight,
cross-country in the afternoon and freestyle in prime. Also, there's
speed skating in the afternoon and bobsleds at night.

Meanwhile, cable has
lots of hockey, including games at 7:10 a.m. ET on USA and the NBC
Sports Network ... which also has games at 5 p.m. and the women's
gold-medal game at 10:45 p.m. Also on the NBC Sports Network –
bobsled at 9:30 a.m., speed skating and cross-country at 10:45 a.m.

ALTERNATIVE: “Waco,” 10 p.m., Paramount Network (formerly Spike).

We're a week from
the finale of this solidly crafted mini-series about the 1993
shoot-outs at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas.

Federal officials
tried one attack, with disastrous results – four federal agents and
six Davidians killed, many more wounded. Now the federal negotiator
(Michael Shannon) scrambles for a compromise with Davidian leader
David Koresh, well-played by Taylor Kitsch.

Other choices

“The Expendables
2” (2012), 5:45 p.m., TNT. The guys who used to dominate our movies
– Stallone, Van Damme, Lundgren, Willis, Schwarzengegger – link.
Then “Expendables 3” is at 8 p.m., facing “Kingsman” (2015)
on FX, “Jurassic World” (2015) on FXX and “Lincoln” (2012) on

“The Resident”
and “9-1-1,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. This network has scrambled during
the Olympics, making late changes. It had scheduled a terrific
“X-Files” tonight, but switched to these reruns: First, Conrad
gives the wrong family a death notification; then is the fairly good
“9-1-1” pilot film.

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. This reruns an hour that was stuffed with overheated plot
twists. With Veronica's parents scheming to redevelop the South Side,
the corrupt mayor has closed Southside High, forcing Jughead and his
gang members to the North. Yes, Juggy's in a gang; it's an odd

“The Three Faces
of Eve” (1957), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This launches a
night of Oscar-winners for best actress. We can admire Joanne
Woodward at 8, Judy Holliday (in “Born Yesterday,” 1950) at 9:45
and Katharine Hepburn (in “Lion in Winter,” 1968) at 11:45.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, the family gathers at the hospital, after
Phil is rushed there with intense stomach pain.

“The Magicians,”
9 p.m., Syfy. At firt, Margo was the party kid; she gossiped and
chased guys ... as did her best friend Eliot. Things change – a lot
– over two-and-a-half seasons. Now they're queen and king of
Filory. She once reached a truce with the Fairy Queen, but now takes
a bold stand against her.

“Match Game,” 10
p.m., ABC. Among three big networks – ABC, Fox and the CW – this
is the only non-rerun. Alec Baldwin works with outspoken panelists –
RuPaul, Leah Remini, Niecy Nash, Horatio Sanz, Tim Meadows and Amy

TV column for Tuesday, Feb. 20

“We'll Meet Again,” 8 p.m., PBS.

Life has changed
enormously in a half-century, for Americans in general and these
women in particular. They grew up comfortably – one a California
blonde, the other a mixed-race city kid. Then each spent a summer in
the rural South, facing threats and hatred during voter-registration

Each was inspired by
a young black person – a charismatic man who survived a fierce
beating, a “real Amazon wonder woman” who guarded her home with a
rifle. Their attempts for reunions offer rich reminders of how much
these lives – and our nation – have changed.

II: Winter Olympics, 3-5 p.m., 8-11:30 p.m. and 12:05 a.m. ET, NBC.

Ratings tend to be
huge for women's figure-skating, even in years like this, when no
American is among the front-runners. Still, two skated well in the
team event: Bradie Tennell, just turned 20, is the national champion;
Mirai Nagasu, 24, is only the third woman to land a triple axel at
the Olympics.

Now their short
program will be in prime time tonight on NBC and/or the NBC Sports
Network; the finals will be Thursday. Also in NBC's prime are Alpine
skiing and bobsleds. Daytime has Nordic combined skiing and the
biathlon; latenight has freestyle skiing and short-track speed

ALTERNATIVE: “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,” 10:01 p.m., ABC.

Let's credit this
show for trying. While most of the world watches the Olympics,
regular shows duck into reruns; “Kevin,” however, has a new hour
... and a reunion.

“Reaper” was an
amiably odd show about soul-hunters Sam and “Sock”; now the same
producers run this show, about a guy (Jason Ritter) who learns he's
one of God's chosen ones. Tonight, Kevin must fix his friendship with
his old friend; he asks Kristin (his high school girlfriend) to help
with a grand gesture. Then – hiding out – they find Sam and Sock,
still played by Bret Harrison and Tyler Labine.

Other choices

More Olympics,
cable. This is a big day for hockey. The USA Network has games at 7
a.m. ET and latenight at 2:30 a.m.; the NBC Sports Network has ones
at 7:10 a.m., 5 p.m. and then 2:40 a.m. The latter also has lots of
Nordic combined (9:30 a.m. and noon), plus short-track skating (12:45

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Reeves sees his friend being kidnapped. Then the
team learns that the prime suspect disappeared two days earlier with
confidential military information.

“Cool Runnings”
(1993), 8-10 p.m., AMC. Here's the ideal winter-Olympics movie, an
amiable fiction based on the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team. The film
pretends the team did well that year; it didn't ... but in 1994, it
finished in a solid 14th place, ahead of the U.S. and

More movies, cable.
At 8 p.m., there are two clever films – Tina Fey's “Mean Girls”
(2004) on E and Bruce Willis as a trying-to-retire spy in “Red”
(2010) on TNT. At 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies has “A Thousand
Clowns,” with Herb Gardner adapting his brilliant Broadway comedy.

9-11 p.m., PBS. On three hours over two Tuesdays, this examines the
religious and political disputes dividing Iran and Saudi Arabia,
spreading to trouble throughout the Middle East.

“Black Lightning”
(CW) or “LA to Vegas” (Fox), both 9 p.m. Yes, there are a lot of
reruns, but some are quite good. Try the solid “Lightning” pilot
of a darkly funny “Vegas,” with an in-flight corpse.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. The FBI director, searching for a Russian
operative, disappears after his Navy escort is killed. Now the team
tries to find him. Also in this rerun, Tammy (Vanessa Ferlito) links
with a former sleeper agent who's known the operative since

TV column for Monday, Feb. 19

“Independent Lens: Tell Them We Are Rising.” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS.

As the Civil War
ended, a revolution began. There had been three black-oriented
colleges in the North, but now new ones filled the south. Their grads
-- from Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois to Thurgood Marshall,
Martin Luther King Jr., Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey -- would change
the world.

This film touches
briefly on current schools, but spends more time on a history of
activism. At first, students attacked the colleges themselves, which
had white presidents and stern rules; then they turned to the
segregated society. Black students had sit-ins, marches and more;
it's a big story, fairly well told.

Winter Olympics, 3-5 p.m. and 8-11:30 p.m., and 12:05 a.m. ET, NBC;
plus cable.

The final week of
the Olympics begin, with lots of action on ice. It's figure-skating
(the ice dancing finals) tonight on NBC and on NBC Sports Network –
which also has hockey at 7:10 a.m. ET, then at 3:30, 5:30 and 10:10
p.m. and 2:40 a.m.

There's more. The
NBC Sports Network has ski jumping at 9:30 a.m., bobsled and speed
skating at 11, curling (U.S. and Canada) at 12:30 p.m. and Alpine
skiing at night. NBC has ski jumping and speed skating from 3-5 p.m.,
bobsled in primetime, freestyle skiing in prime time and late night.

ALTERNATIVE: “The Bachelor,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

This tends to be an
interesting week, visiting the home towns of the final four. Arie
Luyendyk, Jr., ranges from Los Angeles (where Kendall Long plans a
date involving her passion for taxidermy) to Weiner, Ark. (population
760), where Tia Booth takes him to a dirt-track race.

He also meets two
imposing authorities – in Virginia Beach, Lauren Burnham's dad, a
military man; and in Prior Lake, Minn., Becca Kufrin's uncle, who
became a father figure after her dad's death.

Other choices

“The Empire
Strikes Back” (1997), 6:15 p.m., TNT. It's good movie night for any
Olympic-skippers. Also worthy: “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993), 8
p.m., Pop; “LEGO Movie” (2014), 8:30, Nickelodeon.

“Legends of
Tomorrow,” 8 p.m., CW. A time loop can be frustrating, especially
when it keeps ending with your ship exploding. That's what Zari Tomaz
finds when she's trapped in a loop.

“American Rescue
Dog Show,” 8-10:30 p.m., Hallmark. A week after the purebreds had
their big show, here's one for dogs rescued from animal shelters.
Rebecca Romijn and Rich Eisen host, with categories that honor the
best fetcher, kisser, “wiggle butt,” “couch potato” and more.

“The Resident,”
9 p.m., Fox. In this rerun, Nic (Emily VanCamp) presses ahead to
learn about Dr. Hunter's missing medical records. Also, Conrad's Army
buddy, a fellow surgeon, visits.

“The Alienist,”
9 p.m., TNT. Reaching the mid-point in a 10-week, period drama, the
team learns more about the killer. Also, there's an intimate moment
between John Moore (Luke Evans), the newspaper illustrator, and Sara
Howard (Dakota Fanning), the secretary to police commissioner Teddy

“Young Sheldon,”
9:30 p.m., CBS. Here's a rerun of the pilot – quiet, but charming –
that took us back to when Sheldon Cooper was a 9-year-old high school
student. It follows a fairly good “Big Bang Theory” rerun, in
which Leonard manages to smudge the entire physics field in a radio

“The Good Doctor,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. In this rerun, Shaun – the autistic-and-brilliant
surgeon – has a young patient who's also autistic.

TV column for Sunday, Feb. 18

Winter Olympics, 3-6 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. to midnight, 12:35 a.m., NBC.

After a one-day
break, figure-skating is back. Now it's ice dancing – which
Americans ignored until U.S. medals in 2010 and 2014; this time, the
siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani are strong prospects. That's in the
primetime block; NBC also has biathlon this afternoon ... bobsled
tonight ... speedskating and free-style skiing in both times ... and
snowboarding latenight. There's more, on cable.

“Masterpiece: Victoria,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Powerful matters –
political, personal, medical -- loom. At home, the queen's daughter
has a fierce illness and her prospects are iffy; in Parliament,
Prince Albert backs a proposal to quit propping up English farmers
(and food prices) with tariffs. Both crises put the queen and her
husband at odds.

Then there are
romances. One involves Albert's brother, looking for love, not
political convenience; the other involves Drummond, a gifted young
politician, clinging to the poorly kept secret that he's gay.
Tonight's powerhouse events lead to a brilliant little scene from
Diana Rigg, 79, as the Duchess.

ALTERNATIVE: “When Calls the Heart” season-opener, 9 p.m.,

Others rertreat into
reruns during the Olympics, but Hallmark goes the opposite way, with
the season-opener of one of its key series. This is set in the
frontier days of a small Canadian mining town.

Tonight, Henry faces
a strict judge. Abigail (Lori Loughlin) and Bill (Jack Wagner) travel
to the city – she to plead for him, he to testify against him. Back
in the village, Lee is acting sheriff, facing doubts. And Elizabeth
(series star Erin Krakow) waits for Jack and gets a surprise visit
from her sister.

Other choices

More Olympics,
cable. There's hockey at 7 a.m. ET on USA and 7:10 on the NBC Sports
Network. The latter network has more hockey at 5 and 10 p.m., with
other high-octane events filling most of the day.

“The Hunchback of
Notre Dame” (1996), 2 p.m., Freeform. Families can skip the
Olympics and stick with animation. This is followed by “Despicable
Me” (2010) at 4:05 p.m. and the clever “The Incredibles” (2004)
at 6:10. Also, Disney has “Monsters University” (2013) at 8.

“Captain America”
films and more, 5 p.m., cable. Here are the first two Cap movies, in
reverse order. The second (“Winter Soldier,” 2014) is 5 p.m. on
FX; the first (“The First Avenger,” 2011) is 8:50 p.m. on
Freeform. For more action, FX has “Guardians of the Galaxy”
(2014) at 8 and 10:30 p.m.

“Scandalous,” 8
p.m. ET, Fox News. This is the fifth chapter of the documentary
series, focusing on the probe of President Bill Clinton. It's 1998
now and Clinton – who denied having sex with intern Monica Lewinsky
– admits to a grand jury that there was an “improper physical

NBA All-Star Game,
8:20 p.m. ET ESPN, with pre-game at 7. In a new format, the two top
vote-getters (LeBron James and Steph Curry, of course) chose their

“SWAT,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Here's a rerun of the pilot, an above-average hour that mixed
boom-bang acion with some fairly serious moments involving cops and

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 10 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Deeks is asked to help when his
former colleague, now a Los Angeles police lieutenant, goes rogue.

TV column for Saturday, Feb. 17

Indiana Jones marathon, 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., Paramount Network.

Last month, the
Spike network switched to the name of its parent company. That
invokes dazzling Hollywood history ... and leaves a problem: Many
Paramount movies are tied up in previous deals.

Fortunately, there
are exceptions. The network has been showing “Forrest Gump”
lately; now it offers these splendid classics from Steven Spielberg.
That starts with two flawed-but-entertaining Indy films, “Crystal
Skull” (2008) at 2 p.m. and “Temple of Doom” (1984) at 5. Then
come two great ones -- “Last Crusade” (1989) at 8 p.m. and the
original, rousing “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) at 11.

Winter Olympics, NBC and cable.

The second weekend
has a crowded schedule – none of it, for now, involving figure
skating. The men figure-skaters concluded Friday, ice dancers start
Sunday and; today, the attention moves outdoors.

NBC goes from 3-6
p.m. ET (freestyle skiing, biathlon, cross-country), 8-11 p.m.
(Alpine skiing, ski jumping, skeleton, short-track speed skating) and
11:35 (Alpine and freestyle skiing). The NBC Sports Network starts
fast, with U.S.-Russia hockey at 7:10 a.m. ET. It also has hockey at
3:30 and 10:10 p.m. and more, including freestyle skiing at 9:30
a.m., short-track at 12:30 p.m. and ski jumping at 2:30.

ALTERNATIVE: “Planet Earth: Blue Planet II,” 9-10:30 p.m., BBC

We're starting to
think that all of life should be shown in fast-motion ... preferably
with a Hans Zimmer music score. That combination creates some awesome
moments tonight.

There's the fierce
menace of the Garibaldi fish and the octopus ... and a reminder that
almost everyone has a mightier predator to worry about: The octopus
covers itself with sea shells, to hide from a shark. There are the
nasty-looking sand crabs ... suddenly menaced by a prowling stingray.
And there's a cheerful sight: Sea otters, once endangered, are
thriving; we even see some lounging en masse.

Other choices

“Planet Earth:
Blue Planet,” noon, BBC America. Here's a fresh chance to see the
first edition of this series, filled with stunning ocean views. It
reruns twice (concluding at 6 a.m. Sunday) and pauses for the new
“Planet Earth II,” from 9-10:30 p.m. and rerunning from 12:30-2

More sports,
everywhere. The Olympics get plenty of competition. The NBA –
preparing for Sunday's All-Star game – has its slam dunk and
three-point shooting contests and more; they start at 8 p.m. ET on
TNT, with a preview at 7. Also at 8, Fox has boxing, with Victor
Ortiz and Devon Alexander.

“The Middle,” 8
and 8:30 p.m., ABC. With no NBA game tonight, ABC can show reruns
from a terrific comedy series. In the first, Frankie's mom (Marsha
Mason) is staying with her; in the second, Axl is stunned to see that
his wild friend Hutch has become a responsible adult.

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a Navy SEAL is believed to be captive
somewhere in the Middle East. Mac tries to find him, using only a
cell phone and a soccer ball.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, the mayor's cohort starts a
city shoot-out.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. In the first rerun, mixed feeling are stirred by
the news that Dre's godbrother is being released from prison. In the
second, Dre takes over the firm's charity campaign.

“Bonnie and Clyde”
(1967), 2 a.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This masterful movie is
part of a night of Academy Award winners for best supporting actress.
Its Oscar went to Estelle Parsons; others are “For Whom the Bell
Tolls” (1943, Karen Patinau) at 8, “Passage to India” (1984,
Peggy Ashcroft) at 11 and “Shampoo” (1975, Lee Grant) at 4 a.m.