TV column for Tuesday, May 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“World of Dance” debut, 10 p.m., NBC.

This will be a
two-dance-show summer -- NBC on Tuesdays, Fox's “So You Think You
Can Dance” (starting June 12) on Mondays. But you'll have no
trouble telling them apart.

The Fox show is
peacefully paced; this one is sheer spectacle. Lights flash, the
crowd roars, the judges cheer. Certainly, these are dancers worth
cheering for ... and panelists who know the subject. Derek Hough,
Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo are judges; Jenna Dewan Tatum is the host.
It's an hour filled with pretty faces, great moves and unrelenting,
unyielding, terribly excessive commotion.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“America's Got Talent” season-opener, 8-10 p.m., NBC.

It's the 12the
season of the annual summertime ratings champion, with things staying
mostly the same.

There's a new host –
Nick Cannon left, Tyra Banks arrives – but the judges remain. Simon
Cowell – who produces the show and is quite wealthy – is there,
alongside Howie Mandell, Heidi Klum and Mel B. As auditions start,
each judge has one “golden buzzer” to send an act straight to the
live shows.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Animal Kingdom” season-opener, 9 p.m., TNT,
rerunning at 10.

The season starts
with the sort of heist viewers savor – five guys, two all-terrain
vehicles, a pick-up truck and a daring attempt to grab a safe in
broad daylight. It's quick and slick, but sets up a new crisis.

So far, “Smurf”
(Ellen Barkin) has commanded every heist for her four sons (one
adopted) and her grandson. But some of her plans have failed; the
guys want to take control. Will they? And if they do, can five wildly
different guys agree on anything? You'll see, in a strong start to
the season.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “American Epic,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Blues buffs knew a
little about Mississippi John Hurt. A dazzling guitarist and a
passionate singer-songwriter, he recorded a few tracks in 1928, then
disappeared. He was dead, presumably.

But then a fan
listened to his “Avalon Blues” and searched for Avalon, Miss.,
which many maps ignored. He went there in '63 and found Hurt, who
was glad to perform ... if he could get a guitar. Already 70, he
would spend his final three years as a star. It's a great story,
wrapping up an hour that starts blandly and ends beautifully.

Other choices
include:

“Downward Dog,”
8 p.m., ABC. In a six-comedy night, ABC has two non-reruns – the
so-so “Imaginary Mary” at 9:30 and this clever show (which has
the thoughts of Martin the dog) at 8. In a fairly good episode,
Martin sees where Nan goes all day; he transforms her work life for
bad and good.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. To probe a murder, the team works with a group of elderly
crimesolvers ... including Tony DiNozzo's dad, played by Robert
Wagner, 87. That's rerun, but there's a new “Real NCIS”
documentary at 10 p.m., viewing a past case.

“Lethal Weapon,”
8 p.m., Fox. Moving into its summer slot, the show reruns an episode
with Riggs and Murtaugh suspecting an abuse of power in the sheriff's
department.

“Prison Break”
finale, 9 p.m., Fox. Fierce and bracing, but wildly improbable, this
season has taken us from a Yemen prison back to the U.S., where the
mastermind “Poseiden” has captured Sara (his wife, Michael's
ex-wife) and Mike (the son of Sara and Michael). Last week, he
tricked the guys to a remote spot where ... well, someone shot
someone. Tonight, we learn who's dead and what happens next.

“Genius,” 9
p.m., National Geographic, rerunning at 10. In previous episodes
(rerunning from 6-9 p.m.), we saw Albert Einstein's career soar and
his marriage to Mileva crumble. Now they move to his new job in
Berlin ... the home of Elsa, his cousin and his future wife. She
insists he divorce.

“Chopped,” 10
p.m., Food Network. Can ugly ingredients become beautiful food?
That's the challenge here, part of a “Chopped” marathon (2 p.m.
to 4 a.m.) that also launches a juniors tournament at 8 p.m.

“The Americans”
season-finale, 10 p.m., FX. With a life in the balance, Philip and
Elizabeth race. And Stan – their neighbor who doesn't know they're
Russian spies – is unsure of his own future at the FBI.

AND: This happens to
be a big day for Netflix viewers, including a new season of “House
of Cards.” Also today, Netflix has a Sarah Silverman stand-up
special and the animated “F is for Family.”

 

TV column for Monday, May 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Lucifer” season-finale, 9 p.m., Fox.

Don't you hate it
when you have to keep covering up for the odd things your mother does
– such as killing people? That's what Lucifer does now: His
gorgeous mom (Tricia Helfer) inadvertently burned someone to death;
she does that sort of thing. He must keep it from his colleagues in
the police.

First he has to find
her; she's disappeared with his brother. Maze searches for them,
wrapping up what has been a surprisingly good season, mixing wit and
drama.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Still Star-Crossed” debut, 10:01 p.m., ABC.

In old Verona, two
sweet kids are marrying. Romeo and Juliet are wildly in love; what
could go wrong?

A lot; their
families make war, not love. Yes, this first hour is Shakespeare's
classic story, souped up with fierce fights and dynamic visuals; but
from there, the series will ask what will happen after Romeo and
Juliet are gone. Shonda Rhimes' shows – especially “Scandal” --
often seem Shakespearean with their wild plots. Now she goes that
route directly, with an uneasy blend of stiff dialog and zesty
filming.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

On Memorial Day,
here's a quietly compelling portrait of a good man in a complicated
life. Alex Sutton joined the Army at 17; he had three Iraq tours,
wounds, medals and (after 13 years) an honorable discharge for
post-traumatic stress. He has other memories of things that may or
may not be real.

After shattering his
first marriage, he met and married Jessica, a college grad with a
business major. Now they try to run a 43-acre farm in North Carolina,
while raising their two babies. It's a story that swirls between
hope, despair and the healing (maybe) power of love, agriculture and
medication.

Other choices
include:

“Hockey,” 8 p.m.
ET, NBC. The Stanley Cup finals begin, three days before the
basketball finals start. Sometime this summer, the winter seasons
will finally end.

“The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Last week, Rachel Lindsay met 31
guys and sent eight of them home. Now the others settle into the
mansion and find adventues. Ten have a day of basketball with Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar, eight face a “husband-material obstacle course”
judged by Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis ... and Peter (a
business-owner from Madison, Wis.) gets the first one-on-one date.

“Gotham”
season-finale, 8 p.m., Fox. Last week ended with Gotham City wobbling
... again. The bad guys are ready to release the Alice virus; Jim
Gordon races to stop it and Lee Thompkins has her own plan. Also,
Bruce Wayne is back home, but Alfred notices that the Shaman has
changed him.

“Supergirl,” 8
p.m., CW. Here's a rerun of the season-opener, which amiably moved
the show over from CBS. Kara's cousin Super,am (Tyler Hoechlin)
visits; also, a new pod crashes to Earth.

“Whose Line Is It
Anyway” return, 9 and 9:30 p.m., CW. This fun improv show is back,
with new episodes at 9 (tonight, Tony Hawk guests) and reruns at 9:30
(tonight with Lea Thompson).

“Superior Donuts,”
9 p.m., CBS. The comedies settle into their summer reruns. This is
the second “Donuts” episode; Franco comes up with some popular
new flavors and Arthur tries to match them.

“Scorpion,” 10
p.m., CBS. Hackers are causing more trouble in this rerun. Now they
control a nuclear submarine and are aiming a missile toward the U.S.

TV column for Sunday, May 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“National Memorial Day Concert, 8-9:30 p.m., PBS, rerunning at 10
(check local listings).

Each year, on the
eve of Memorial Day, PBS delivers a passionate blend of music and
readings. This year has voices that have ranged from country (Scotty
McCreery) to classical (Renee Fleming, Ronan Tynen, Russell Watson)
and rock (John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting), from Broadway
(Christopher Jackson of “Hamilton”) to Disney classics (Vanessa
Williams, Auli'i Cravalho of “Moana”).

Joe Mantegna and
Laurence Fishburne host. Mary McCormiack tells of a Gold Star mother
from the Vietnam era; Robert Patrick portrays the last survivor, age
101, of the Doolittle Raiders.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
Fast cars, all day.

First, NBC filled
Saturday with speeding street cars, via the “Furious 6” movie.
Now the other networks try to top that.

At noon ET (with a
preview at 11 a.m.), ABC has the Indianapolis 500. And at 6 p.m. ET,
Fox has NASCAR, from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. In between, drive
your truck somewhere.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Pay-cable shows, 9-11 p.m..

Most channels
retreat into reruns this weekend, but the pay-extra channels remain
busy. That's led by Showtime, which repeats last week's “Twin
Peaks” at 7 p.m., then has a new round from 9-11 p.m.

Meanwhile, Starz has
a new “White Princess” at 8 p.m. – there's a pretender to the
throne – and “American Gods” at 9, with Shadow trying to work
things out with his unfaithful (and dead) wife. HBO has “The
Leftovers” (9), “Silicon Valley” (10) and then “Veep”
(10:30), with Selena writing her memoirs while waiting for her
portrait ceremony.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Memorial Day weekend shows.

The American Heroes
Channel continues its “Salute to Sacrifice” weekend. At 8 p.m. is
an “Air Aces” portrait of “Gabby” Gabreski, who was intent on
avenging the damage to his parents' Polish homeland. At 9, “Surviving
D-Day” traces such offbeat touches as floating tanks and exploding
“paratroopers.”

Also, Turner Classic
Movies continues its war weekend. Alfred Hitchcock's “Saboteur”
(1942) is at 4:15 p.m. ET, with John Huston's “Across the Pacific”
(1942) at 6:15. At 8 is “Twelve O'Clock High” (1949); Dean Jagger
won a supporting Oscar, with nominations for Gregory Peck and best
picture.

Other choices
include:

“The Godfather”
(1972) and “The Godfather, Part II” (1974), 1 and 5 p.m., AMC,
repeating at 9:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Here are chances to see the best
movie-and-sequel combo in Hollywood history.

“American Ninja
Warriors,” 8-11 p.m., NBC. The season is still two weeks away, but
NBC reruns some specials. At 8 is a celebrity hour, with Drek Hough,
Stephen Amell and other fit types; at 9 is an all-star match, with
each of the three hosts choosing a three-person team.

“The
Bachelorette,” 9-11 p.m., ABC. Here's a quick rerun of Monday's
opener. Rachel Lindsay, a Dallas lawyer, meets the 31 guys, including
two doctors, two lawyers, a wrestler, a model and a would-be drummer.
She trims the field to 23.

“Madam Secretary,”
9 p.m., CBS. Elizabeth pushes the president to change his policies on
foreign aid and climate change ... at a time when that could endanger
his re-election. It's a rerun, directed by Morgan Freeman, who is one
of the show's producers and also plays the chief justice.

“The Good Witch,”
9 p.m., Hallmark. Teens want their birthdays to be special, so it
helps if they have a mom who's a benevolent witch. Cassie gives Grace
a birthday wish book.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. A street gang kidnaps Sherlock and demands he find out who
killed one of their men. Soon, this rerun has him searching for a
priceless artifact.

TV column for Saturday, May 27


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Furious 6” (2013), 8 p.m., NBC.

On Memorial Day
weekends, people pack into movie theaters for action films. Now
they'll also find them at home – even on a broadcast network. This
one (originally “Fast & Furious 6”) offers lots of screeching
cars, plus Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Walker and Michelle
Rodriguez.

Cable adds more. At
8 p.m., FX has “Thor: The Dark Winter” (2013) and AMC has Steven
Spielberg's classic “Jurassic Park” (1993). Also, Freeform has
Harry Potter from the beginning, with movies at 7 a.m. (2002), 10:30
a.m. (2003), 2:30 p.m. (2004), 5:30 p.m. (2005) and, skipping one, 9
p.m. (2009).

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “To Tell the Truth,” 8 and 9 p.m., ABC.

Some 60 years after
its debut, this game show has re-emerged as a surprise success. It
prospered last summer and again in January; this fall, it will
compete with football on primetime Sundays.

Now it starts
Saturday reruns, beginning with the first ones from last summer. At 8
p.m., host Anthony Anderson has his “Black-ish” wife Tracee Ellis
Ross on the panel; they meet a contortionist, plus the world's
fastest texter and Taylor Swift's high school sweetheart. In the
second, Mike Tyson and others meet a seven-time lottery winner and
the original voice of Siri, the computer know-it-all.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Movies, all day, Turner Classic Movies.

The entire Memorial
Day weekend is stuffed with war films. That includes an emphasis on
airmen on Sunday night and sailors and submarines on Monday. Tonight,
however, brings a change of mood.

The daytime films
are serious, from “Target Zero” (1955) at 7 a.m. ET to “Battle
Hymn” (1957) at 6 p.m. Then TCM goes lighter – Andy Griffith in
“No Time For Sergeants” (1958) at 8 p.m. ET, Henry Fonda as
“Mister Roberts” (1965) at 10:30 and Robert Walker as “Ensign
Pulver” (1964) at 12:45 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“Dino Dana”
debut, any time, Amazon Prime. Two “Dino Dan” series mixed live
action and special effects, winning an Emmy for best pre-school show.
Now, in the spirit of fairness, we have a 9-year-old girl. Michaela
Luci (Agent Orchid on “The Odd Squad”) plays Dana; her field
guide not only tells her about dinosaurs, but lets her envision them.

“Vacation”
(1983), 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., Bravo. As the summer begins, we can
relive this fun (but uneven) Chevy Chase film about road-trip woes.
“Eurpoean Vacation” (1985) is 5:30 and 11:30.

“Scorpion,” 8
p.m., CBS. Here's a rerun of the season-opener. Consumed by personal
disputes and romantic complications, team members suddenly face a
bigger problem: Hackers have taken control of U.S. planes and
warships and are aiming missiles at our cities.

“Against All
Odds,” 8-11 p.m., American Heroes Channel. Throughout the Memorial
Day weekend, this spot (formerly the Military Channel) will have a
primetime “Salute to Sacrifice.” Tonight's first hour focuses on
a near-impossible World War II assault of the heavily fortified
island of Tarawa. At 9 is Sugar Loaf Hill in Okinawa; at 10 is the
Al-Qaeda stronghold of Ramadi, in Iraq.

“Doctor Who,” 9
p.m., BBC America. Pyramids take a long time to build, we're told,
but now one appears overnight. Also, every clock in the world is
counting down to the Earth's destruction.

“Class,” 10:05
p.m., BBC American. Now that her pesky students are trapped in
detention, Miss Quill accepts Dorothea's offer, designed to remove
the Arm from her head and regain her freedom.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. This rerun has Louis CK, one of the show's
best hosts. The Chainsmokers are the music guest.

TV column for Friday, May 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“First Dates,” 8 p.m., NBC; “Love Connection,” 9 p.m., Fox.

Here are two dating
shows with nothing in common except for sending attractive people to
Chicago restaurants. NBC's (with its final episode) is sweet and
subtle, letting us know the people; Fox's (repeating its opener) is
loud and brash, with a rate-their-looks system and an “oohing”
audience.

We've found the
former to be a delight; tonight, it includes a man looking for a
kale-lover, a woman with dreams of being in a power couple and a man
who's never been kissed. In different ways, the Fox show has its
merits, especially with Andy Cohen as host. He has fun with
“Connection” surprises.

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

As the summer season
begins, CBS tends to dominate Fridays. Its crook-catching shows have
self-contained stories that rerun easily.

Now that's boosted
by the return of “MacGyver,” after a five-week break. Mac and
Jack are transporting a war criminal, when their helicopter crashes
in a remote part of Kazakhstan. The prisoner has escaped ... and has
Jack's gun. Mac must improvise ... which he's really quite good at.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “American Masters,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Jacques Pepin's
kitchen skills have taken him to extremes. He was the personal chef
for Charles de Gaulle and was offered a similar spot with John
Kennedy ... but turned it down to work for the Howard Johnson chain.
He started restaurants ... then (after a car accident) switched to
teaching and writing.

This terrific
profile – followed at 10 p.m. by a rerun on chef Alice Waters –
traces a global life. During World War II, Pepin was sent to a French
farm, then was a kitchen apprentice at 13; a decade later, he moved
to the U.S., where he didn'thave a job and didn't know the language.
Pepin, now 81, thrived.

Other choices
include:

“Delicious,” any
time, www.acorn.tv. A handsome
rogue (Iain Glen) has two key women: An ex-wife (Dawn French) is
smart, Sicilian, round and passionate; a wife (Emilia Fox) is blonde,
beautiful, slim and distant. So far, this seems like so many dramas;
then the surprises pour down in a rich cascade. We won't spoil any,
except to say this is beautifully done; it gets a tad melodramatic in the last of its four hours, but remains filled with humor, drama and human
complexity.

“Murder, She
Baked: Just Desserts” (2017), 7-9 p.m., Hallmark Movies &
Mysteries. If summer is about mild pleasures, this film – likable
star (Allison Sweeney), adequate story – fits neatly. It's
surrounded by other recent mysteries, with Kellie Martin at 5 p.m.
and Candace Cameron Bure at 9.

“Shark Tank,” 8
and 9 p.m., ABC. The first rerun ranges from an electronic skateboard
to chewable coffee products; the second includes a profile of one of
the “sharks,” Mark Cuban.

“Shazam,” 8
p.m., Fox. In a rerun of Thursday's opener, teams try to guess songs.
Jamie Foxx hosts.

“Forrest Gump”
(1994, MTV) or “Avatar” (2009, AMC), both 8 p.m. Two big-budget
epics collide. “Gump” won six Oscars, including best picture;
“Avatar” won three, but not the big one.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. As the Memorial Day weekend begins, “Five-0” reruns
an hour in which Kono meets a former surfing competitor who's now a
disabled annd homeless war vet. Also, an FBI profiler (Claire
Forlani) finds a body in her bed; she joins McGarrett in searching
for the killer.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, Danny suspects that a traffic death was
no accident. Also, his dad, the police commissioner, meets a
whistleblower who feels there's evidence of abuse of power.