TV column for Saturday, April 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Beach House,” 9 p.m., Hallmark and Hallmark Movies and
Mysteries.

A young woman,
bright and beautiful, leaves the big-city to visit a place from her
past. She brings a secret; her mother has a bigger one. So far, all
of this is familiar turf for novels and TV shows.

But this isn't your
ordinary tale; it's “Hallmark Hall of Fame.” Each year, Hallmark
makes countless interchangeable films, but only a couple “Hall”
ones; they continue a 67-year, 81-Emmy tradition. “Beach House”
is too predictable and only adequately acted, but it blends lush
visuals and strong emotions. Amid tears and turtles, blue skies and a
fierce storm, “Beach House” finds its place.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“White House Correspondents Dinner,” all night, cable.

This tends to bring
some great comedy moments – often from the president himself.
Donald Trump plans to again skip it (sending Sarah Huckabee Sanders),
but his name is likely to come up.

Each year has a pro
performer, with clear trends: In the past 23 years, 20 have been men;
17 have been linked to TV latenight. This time, it's Michelle Wolf, a
former writer for Seth Meyers and for “The Daily Show.” The tough
part is gauging when to look for her: CNN plans on covering the
dinner from 7 p.m. to midnight; MSNBC plans 9-11 p.m., which could be
a good guess for when the fun starts.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Forrest Gump” (1994), 5:35 p.m., Freeform.

A night of
entertaining movies starts with this Tom Hanks gem. There are some
fun comedies – Will Ferrell's “Talladaga Nights,” 6:30 p.m.,
CMT' and “Wedding Crashers” (2006), 7:30 p.m., Bravo.

Prefer an adventure?
At 7:30 p.m., VH1 has “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2011), wrapping up
a strong confused-spy trilogy. At 8, FX has “Guardians of the
Galaxy” (2014).

Other choices
include:

Sports, all day.
There are some double-headers today – hockey on NBC (Boston-Tampa
Bay at 3 p.m. ET, San Jose-Las Vegas at 8) and basketball on TNT
(Milwaukee-Boston at 8 p.m., New Orleans-Golden State at 10:30).
Also, Fox goes from Supercross at 5:30 p.m. to boxing at 8:30.

“American Idol,”
8-10:01 p.m., ABC. This rerun sees the show's 10 survivors perform
Disney tunes.

“Ransom,” 8
p.m., CBS.Things get precarious: The kidnap victim used to be a guard
at Guantanamo; Eric's best chance to save him may involve working
with a former detainee who's with the kidnappers.

“Trading Spaces,”
8 p.m., TLC, rerunning at 10:07. One family, with do-it-yourself
skills, tries to help neighbors who have been struggling with their
toddler's cancer.

“Nate &
Jeremiah: By Design,” 9:05 p.m., TLC. Nate Berkus and Jeremiah
Brent design a house for a family of little people.

“Howards End,”
9:29 p.m., Starz. This excellent four-parter has its finale at 8 p.m.
Sunday; here's a chance to catch the second-to-last episode. Also,
all three episodes so far will air from 5-8 p.m. Sunday.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Will Ferrell hosts a rerun, with music from
Chris Stapleton.

TV column for Friday, April 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Live From Lincoln Center” and “International Jazz Day from
Cuba,” 9 and 10 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

Here's a night of
top musicians, first Broadway and then beyond. It starts with an
intimate concert by Leslie Odom, Jr., the “Hamilton” Tony-winner;
then it assembles jazz greats in Havana.

There's the first
link between two generations of acclaimed singer/instrumentalists,
Esperanza Spalding, 33, and Bobby Carcasses, 89. There's singer Kurt
Elling with Chilean saxophonist Melissa Aldana ... violinist Regina
Carter with Korean singer Youn Sun Nah ... many people with Herbie
Hancock for his “4 AM” ... and more than 50 people linking for
John Lennon's “Imagine.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Last week, this show
stepped aside for a Meghan Markle special. Not to worry: “Blue
Bloods” is semi-eternal; it recently was renewed for its ninth
season on CBS, the most consistent of the networks.

Tonight, Frank (the
police commissioner) tries to subtly convince his son Jamie (a street
cop) to take the sergeant's test. His older son Danny (a police
detective) needs help from incarcerated enemy Victor Lugo, to catch
an escapee. And Frank's daughter Jamie (a prosecutor) plans a date
with her ex-husband, causing friction with her investigator, Anthony.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Pro football draft (7 p.m. ET, Fox and cable) and “All or
Nothing: The Dallas Cowboys,” any time, Amazon Prime.

The second and third
rounds of the NFL draft are on Fox and the NFL Network. ESPN has the
first hour, then hands it off to ESPN2. Meanwhile, the Prime series
reminds us how important this is.

It starts with the
2016 draft, when the Cowboys grabbed Ezekiel Elliott and dreamed of
trading up for Paxton Lynch. They “settled” for Dak Prescott (the
135th man chosen) and started a powerhouse. This series
jumps to a year later, with Elliott facing a a league suspension and
the Cowboy future cloudy.

Other choices
include:

More streaming, any
time. The big arrival came Wednesday: Hulu's “The Handmaid's Tale”
-- winner of eight Emmys, including best drama series – launched
its second season. Today, brings the debut of a movie -- Netflix's
“The Week Of” has Adam Sandler trying a low-budget wedding,
ignoring the wealth of the groom's dad (Chris Rock). There are also
documentaries: Netflix eyes Robert Kennedy's presidential run; Hulu
views the history of the Barbie doll and feminism.

“The Avengers”
(2012), 5 p.m., FX. Marvel guys dominate the night; at 8 p.m., FX
adds “Thor” (2011) and TNT has “Ant-Man” (2015). For a
non-Marvel film at 8, try the delightful “Lego Movie” (2014) on
Nickelodeon or Jeff Bridges terrific, Oscar-winning work in “Crazy
Heart” (2009) on HBO.

“Blindspot,” 8
p.m., NBC. To keep Crawford from getting a weapon, the team links
with an oddball conspiracy theorist. Also, Roman has trouble
maintaining a romance while doing secret missions.

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Shades of Roswell: Mac and Riley are supposed to examine a
mysterious object that landed in the Nevada desert. Then they're
attacked by masked men.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. To save his kidnapped granddaughter, Duke is supposed to
steal evidence from a police locker. Also, Jerry goes undercover at a
mental health facility.

“Life Sentence,”
9 p.m., CW. This likable show now moves to a spot behind the
unlikable “Dynasty.” Tonight, Stella and Wes – who married as
near-strangers – promise to always tell each other the truth; that
soon becomes difficult for him. Also, she gets her brother a job at
the coffee shop, then has doubts.

“Howards End,”
10 p.m., Starz. On the eve of the finale of this excellent
four-parter, here's another chance to catch the third part, with a
major change in relationships.

TV column for Thursday, April 26


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Quantico” season-opener, 10 p.m., ABC.

This hour starts the
way a Hallmark movie might end: Alex (Priyanka Chopra) has fled her
old spy world; now she has a sunny ife in Italy's wine country, with
a nice guy and his sweet daughter.

Naturally, her old
life intervenes. Jumping ahead three years, this opener brings back
many of the old characters -- Alex, Ryan, Shelby, Owen, Harry and
Mike – but scrambles their relationships and adds Marlee Matlin.
Mixing action and intelligence, it's off to a strong start.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY
II: “Life in Pieces,” 9:30 p.m., CBS.

With its usual
format – four separate pieces in a half-hour – this show tends to
be erratic. Its special episodes, however, are better. This one is
promising, with a night of flashbacks. We see John (James Brolin), a
jet pilot, on his final flight before retirement; we also get past
glimpses of his three kids.

There's Greg, buying
his dream house with his wife Jen. And Matt, waiting for a blind date
– but sidetracked after seeing Colleen. And Heather, introducing
Tim to her strange family.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Mega-movies, cable.

The two mighty
comic-book giants collide. At 7 p.m., it's Marvel with “The
Avengers” (2012) on FX; at 8, it's DC Comics and “Wonder Woman”
(2017) on HBO.

And if you want
more? At 10:17 p.m., shortly after “Avengers” ends, Starz has
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003). Despite
having too many sorta-endings – about seven of them – it provides
a strong finish to a great trilogy.

Other choices
include:

NFL draft preview, 7
p.m. ET, ESPN. This cable channel used to have the draft all to
itself, but now it needs a head start. When the actual draft begins
at 8 p.m. ET, it will be on Fox, ESPN, ESPN2 and the NFL Network.
This is just the first round; the second and third start at 7 p.m.
Friday and the final rounds (4 through 7) start at noon Saturday on
ABC and ESPN.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. As allegations concerning Jackson's late grandfather
grow, a crisis management team arrives .

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In the old days, a typical comedy plot had
someone trying to raise $300 for rent. Now Sheldon wants $300
million, for a science project; he'll even try Las Vegas.

“Siren,” 8 p.m.,
Freeform. Slowly unfolding, this series now emphasizes another part
of the mermaid myth – the ability to mesmerize with a siren song.
“Siren” might have worked better as a short-form mini-series, but
it continues to hold our attention with its slow, solid approach.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. Billy Gardell (“Mike & Molly”) has been
playing the family's good-natured neighbor. Now there's trouble, when
his dog terrorizes Sheldon.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. So far, Bonnie and her daughter have survived because
she's an apartment manager. Now that's endangered when she battles
the new owner, played by Patti Lupone.

“A.P. Bio,” 9:30
p.m., NBC. We finally get extensive looks at two factors that are
usually only talked about – the City of Toledo and Jack's nemesis
Miles. Both are nicer than Jack realizes.

“Chicago Fire,”
10 p.m., NBC. After a rescue, Boden and Severide get a surprise.
Also, Bria – the girl who was found and helped previously –
returns to Dawson's life, mid-crisis.

TV column for Wednesday, April 25


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

At times, “Empire”
is just a splashy soap opera; singers, young and attractive, are
surrounded by sex, sizzle and uptempo music. At other times, however,
great actors collide.

One “Empire”
star (Oscar-nominee Terrence Howard) battles Forest Whitaker (an
Oscar-winner) for control of the record label. Another (Oscar-nominee
Taraji Henson), in flashbacks, battles her mom (Alfre Woodard, who
has four Emmys). These are great scenes in a strong episode.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Code Black” season-opener, 10 p.m., CBS.

This is a semi-new
notion -- an action-adventure hospital show. “Night Shift” did
that by having combat veterans as its doctors and patients; “Code
Black” added Dr. Ethan Willis (Rob Lowe), an Army colonel, last
season; now Willis does field work with a skeptical EMT (Moon
Bloodgood).

The problem here is
... well, the rest of the show. Several parts – overwrought laymen,
a camera-wielding doctor – are mostly absurd. Still, this hour's
final 10 minutes are first-rate.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Nova Wonders” opener, 9 p.m., PBS.

Usually a solid and
sober hour, “Nova” switches tone for this six-week series. It has
quick glimpses, flashy graphics and amiable hosts. These three
people, young and diverse, seem like amiable infomercial hosts, but
are actually a mathematician, a neuroscientist and a computer
scientist.

Some of tonight's
experts also seem young and hip. One guy admits it's odd that he's
seen spiders have sex thousands of times; it's quite dramatic, he
says, because each suitor could end up as “mate or meal.” People
probe animals' ability to learn humans' language; they also study
animals' own communication.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Americans,” 10 p.m., FX.

In this final
season, the gap between Elizabeth and Philip has widened drastically.
Embedded in 1980s American suburbia, they're Russian spies. But she's
become fiercely intense; he's dropping out.

That gap grows in
this hour's final minutes. His move surprises us; hers doesn't –
similar things have happened often recently – but this one still
hits with jolting power. It's a strong hour.

Other choices
include:

“The Blacklist,”
8 p.m., NBC. Intent on learning Red's secrets, Liz goes to an
unexpected source.

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. Last week, the school musical ended violently; now Archie
leads the effort to see what happened. At 9, “The Originals” has
Klaus returning to New Orleans, stirring dark magic.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Claire is planning a 10th-anniversary
party for her dad and Gloria. Phil wants to include a magic trick
with Gloria.

“Suits”
season-finale, 9-11:05 p.m., USA, rerunning at 12:04 a.m. Here's our
first chance to see Meghan Markle's wedding. It's the fictional one,
of course. Rachel (Markle's likable “Suits” character) marries
Mike and leaves the show; the real-life wedding with Prince Harry is
still a month away. This finale is encased in office politics. The
first hour is OK; the second, a pilot for a spin-off, is dreary.

“Designated
Survivor,” 10 p.m., ABC. Probing the president's fitness for
office, a lawyer (Michael J. Fox) starts interviewing the staffers.

“Archer”
season-opener, 10 p.m., FXX, rerunning at 10:30. This animated comedy
thrives on chaos. There's lots of it in this funny episode, including
a screeching bride, island royalty and a faulty plane.

“Brockmire”
season-opener, 10 p.m., IFC. After sinking to the bottom of the
minors, this former Major League baseball announcer is on his way
back up. He's in New Orleans, just a step from the Majors; he also
has a high-rated podcast; naturally, he'll find a way to foul things
up. It's an erratic start, ranging from a brilliant (albeit very
adult) opening rant to some sophomoric plot twists.

TV column for Tuesday, April 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Roseanne,” 8-10 p.m., ABC.

Sure, we were
skeptical about this. Bring a show back after a 21-year gap ... and
after Roseanne Barr had done lots of unfunny things ... and after
she'd even killed off the husband?

But “Roseanne”
works beautifully. It toys with viewers – getting laughs out of the
Dan-is-dead thing and the two actresses playing Becky. It ages
smoothly. Once perplexed parents, Dan and Roseanne are now perplexed
grandparents, riding out life's quirks. Now the first four episodes
rerun. The first two get heavy use of the two Beckys; the fourth has
great moments when David (Johnny Galecki) returns.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The 100” season-opener, 9 p.m., CW.

For more than half
the hour, this offers remarkable television; after that it's ...
well, just “The 100.”

Clarke (Eliza
Taylor) saved her friends, but is alone on a scorched Earth,
desperate to find food, water and people. This is a one-person drama,
beautifully done. Then it reverts to lots of combative chaos. We see
her friends in space and we see new characters reach Earth. People
strut and fuss and pick fights.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Genius” opener, 9 and 10 p.m., National Geographic;
reruns at 11:01.

The first season
focused on two eras – the older Albert Einstein (Geoffrey Rush) in
World War II and the younger one, struggling to be noticed. Now
“Genius” tries to duplicate that with Pablo Picasso.

Again, a movie star
plays the older part. Antonio Banderas is fine, but this Old Picasso
isn't very interesting. Young Picasso is ... when “Genius” slows
down. In the first hour, we see Picasso at ages 0, 9, 13-14, 16,
18-19 and 56. We leap back and forth dizzyingly; we see romances with
women we've never met. Gorgeously filmed, “Genius” finally works
in the second hour, when it sticks to two eras.

Other choices
include:

“Thor: The Dark
World” (2013), 7:30 p.m., FX. It's a busy movie night for action,
with this film and “Atomic Blonde” (2017), at 8 p.m. on HBO.
There's also a pleasant comedy -- “The Wedding Ringer” (2015), 8
p.m., E – and a bonus: At 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies has “The
Apartment” (1960), a beautifully nuanced, black-and-white drama
with Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.

“NCIS,” 8 and 9
p.m., CBS. In the first hour, Drew Carey (a former Marine Reserve)
plays a Marine retiree who sends packages to current soldiers;
cyanide is found in one of them. The second – a rerun, nudging
“Bull” to 10 p.m. -- has Ducky spot a missing murder weapon on an
antiques show.

“Civilizations,”
8 p.m., PBS. Some of the most imposing sculptures went unseen for
millennia. It was in 1863 that people began finding Olmic heads –
some almost 10 feet high – in a southern Mexico jungle; it was 1974
when terracotta soldiers – thousands of them, originally – were
found in Chinese farm country. Both reflect an obsession with the
human form, examined in this fairly good hour.

“Rise,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. As opening night for the high school musical gets closer, “Rise”
keeps piling up the troubles. There's a pregnancy, an affair, a
crumbled marriage, a flailing attempt at heterosexuality. One guy
even feels he's failing in opposite worlds – football and theater.
We're a half-step away from frogs and locusts here ... but “Rise”
is so well-done that it keeps us watching and rooting.

“Married at First
Sight,” 9 p.m., Lifetime.This is “decision day,” when we're
supposed to learn if the three couples – each a marriage of
strangers – will stay together. Part of that was settled last week,
however, when Molly Duff and Jonathan Francetic said they're breaking
up.

“New Girl,” 9:30
p.m., Fox. Schmidt frets about his daughter's interview at a
prestigious pre-school. Now he asks Jess, a former school principal,
to prepare her.

“Deception,” 10
p.m., ABC. Borrowing the “For the People” timeslot, this launches
a two-parter, concluding Sunday. Cameron is trying to stop the
Mystery Woman from pulling off a jewelry heist.