TV column for Friday, Feb. 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Masters,” 9-11 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

This rerun follows
one of last year's greatest shows, tracing Maya Angelou sprawling and
soaring life.

A city kid, she
became a country kid in Stamps, Ark. Mute for five childhood years,
she became a great speaker with, Bill Clinton said, “the voice of
God.” Physically imposing – once a six-foot-tall Calypso dancer –
she became a intellectual who wrote 32 books. It's a huge story,
beautifully told.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Winter Olympics, 3-5 p.m., 8 p.m. to midnight, 12:35 a.m. ET,
NBC.

Men's figureskating
dominates tonight; it's time for the long program, when Nathan Chen
of the U.S. tends to shine. That's in the expanded prime time,
alongside skiing (Alpine and freestyle) and skeleton.

In the afternoon,
NBC has ski jumping, speed skating and cross-country skiing.
Latenight has more freestyle skiing, with other events scattered
through cable.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “A Bug's Life” (1998), 8-10 p.m., ABC, and more.

This is a splendid
month for animation. Last week, ABC had the delightful “Inside
Out”; tonight it had scheduled “Wreck-It Ralph” ... then
delayed it to next Friday and inserted this clever film

All of those are
from Disney, as are two gorgeous films tonight on Freeform -- “Mulan”
(1998) at 6:40 p.m. and “Up” (2009) at 8:45. (Yes, Disney owns
both channels.) Meanwhile, FX has “The Croods” (2013) at 7 and 9
p.m. and Nickelodeon has the second “SpongeBob” film (2015) at 8.

Other choices
include:

More Winter
Olympics, cable. There's lots of hockey now – 7 a.m. ET on USA, 10
p.m. on CNBC, often (7:10 a.m., 5 and 10:10 p.m.) on the NBC Sports
Network. That network also has skeleton at 9:30 a.m., speed skating
at 10:45 a.m. and curling at 2 p.m.

Dog things, noon to
2 a.m. ET, NatGeo Wild. Tuesday's finale of the Westminster Kennel
Club Dog Show reruns from 8-11 p.m., then again at 11. First, catch
the excellent “Road to Westminster” documentary, from 6-8. It's
in an all-rerun day that has “How Dogs Got Their Shapes” at noon,
the gripping “A Dog Saved My Life” at 1, Cesar Millan from 2-5
p.m. and “Dr. Pol” at 5.

More animation,
cable. If the movies aren't enough four you, catch some TV reruns:
“The Simpsons” is 6 p.m. to midnight on FXX; its spin-off,
“Futurama,” is 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Syfy.

NBA All-Star
Celebrity Game, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. Before becoming a rapper and actor,
Common was a young basketball star. Now he coaches and plays with
Jamie Foxx, Anthony Anderson and ex-pro Paul Pierce. The other team
has Nick Cannon, ex-pro Tracy McGrady and the WNBA's Candace Pqrker.
“The X-Files,” 8 and 9 p.m., Fox. The first rerun is the
season-opener, full of world-at-stake worries; it's both fascinating
and frustrating, with no real ending. The second is intriguing; Fox
and Scully are contacted by one of the Lone Gunmen ... who's been
dead for years.

“Celebrity Big
Brother,” 8-10 p.m., CBS. This bumps cop shows tonight and next
Friday.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
10 p.m., CBS. Trouble seems to follow these guys everywhere. Danny is
simply chaperoning his daughter's dance, when terrorists arrive to
seize a diplomat's son.

TV column for Thursday, Feb. 15


 

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Gotham” return, 8 p.m., Fox.

This ambitious
series – with a richly cinematic look – has sat on the shelf for
nine weeks, partly waiting for “The Four” to end. Now it's back,
moving to this 8 p.m. spot.

Bruce Wayne (the
future Batman) continues spiraling into teen angst; the sturdy Alfred
tries to pull him out of it. Meanwhile, Jim Gordon (the future police
commissioner) tries to broker a deal with Penguin, involving Sofia.
Also, Lee Thompkins gains some more control over the Narrows.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Winter Olympics, 3-5 p.m., 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., 1:05 a.m. ET,
NBC.

Nathan Chen arrived
as the U.S.' gold-medal prospect. The Grand Prix champion, he had a
string of firsts in quadruple jumps. Then, in the team portion of the
Olympics, he faltered. Now, a week later, he gets a second chance;
the men's individual portion has short programs today, long programs
Friday.

That's in the
expanded primetime slot, which also has snowboarding, skeleton and
freestyle skiing. Latenight has luge and biathlon, afternoon has
speed skating and cross-country, cable has more.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Big Bang Theory” and “Mom,” 9 and 9:30
p.m., CBS.

TV's best comedies
have been given odd treatment lately. Some Thursdays, they've been
moved or rested, to make room for reality shows.

Now, however,
viewers get a bonus. After “Big Bang” and “Young Sheldon”
reruns in their regular spots (8 and 8:30 p.m.), here are reruns of
the season-openers, both of them delights. At 9. we get Amy's answer
to Sheldon's awkward proposal; Laurie Metcalf is back as his mom. At
9:30, the birth mom of Jill's foster daughter is back; Christy is
torn between helping and preparing for a big test.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Beyond,” 8 p.m., Freeform.

When bowlers get in
fights, they really should take it outside. They don't tonight; soon,
big balls are zooming through the air. That's typical of life for
Holden, who spent 12 coma years in another realm.

This show is full of
dark twists, but now it's balanced by one vibrant character. That's
Charlie, zestfully played by Eden Brolin (Josh's daughter, James'
granddaughter, Barbra Streisand's step-granddaughter). She's back in
Kansas and in Holden's life, both of which really need her.

Other choices
include:

More Winter
Olympics, cable. Hockey sprawls over three networks today. At 7 a.m.
ET, there are games on USA and the NBC Sports Network. The latter
also has a game at 5 p.m.; at 10 p.m., CNBC has the U.S. and
Slovakia. There's much more on the NBC Sports Network, including
speed skating and the luge at 9:30 a.m. ET, the biathlon at noon,
curling at 2 and figure skating at 8.

“The Bachelor
Winter Games,” 8-10 p.m., ABC. These young singles want to focus on
romance, but now they're supposed to compete in speed skating.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, Penny learns a technique for
manipulating Sheldon.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. In a quietly funny rerun, George Jr. is in danger of
losing his football eligibility. Now he faces the ultimate ordeal –
being tutored by his little brother Sheldon.

“9-1-1,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. For now, this will do double duty on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Tonight, the crew races to a wedding disaster. Also, Abby (Connie
Britton) needs Buck's help to find her mother (Mariette Hartley), who
has dementia.

“20/20,” 10
p.m., ABC. The bad news is that this show is willing to do hype for
its network; this hour is about the revived “Roseanne,” which
returns March 27. And the good? “Roseanne” is worth hyping. A
landmark show back in 1988, it's come up with a refreshingly clever
revival.

TV column for Wednesday, Feb. 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“He Lied About Everything,” 8-10 p.m., Investigation Discovery.

This starts in
Valentine style – homevideo footage of a grand gesture, complete
with rose petals. Paolo Macchiarini is a pioneering surgeon who
speaks six languages and, ex-fiancee Benita Alexander says, has a
“sexy George Clooney” vibe. A friend compared him to “the most
interesting man in the world.”

Their wedding would
be performed by his friend Pope Francis, with music by Elton John and
Andrea Bocelli; guests would include the Clintons, the Obamas and
maybe Vladimir Putin. It was “totally a Cinderella story,” she
says – and a lie. Even his medical reputation crumbled; it's a
fascinating tale.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Relationships Just for Laughs,” 8 p.m., CW, and more.

We can spend part of
Valentine's Day seeing comedians – Whitney Cummings, Tom Papa,
Maria Bamford, Kevin James, etc. – joke about relationships. At 9
is a look at the best romantic movies.

Or, of course, we
can simply watch a romantic movie. Hallmark has one (you knew it
would), “My Secret Valentine” (2018) with Lacey Chabert, at 8
p.m. Freeform has a bland one (“Valentine's Day,” 2010, 5:30
p.m.); AMC has a great one (“Titanic,” 1997, 6 and 10:30 p.m.).
Even the Olympics have a promise of romance – the final round of
pairs figure-skating, with duos doing their long programs.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Assassination of Gianni Versace, 10 p.m., FX.

This episode has
much in common with Investigation Discovery's film. This is scripted,
the other is a documentary, but both tell true stories of charming
chaps whose lies finally imploded.

Alone and desperate,
Andrew Cunanan is flying to Minneapolis, hoping to re-connect with
ex-lovers. But they're aware of his lies; one man, Jeffrey Trail,
blames him for destroying his Naval career. This strong hour
juxtaposes the coming-out interviews of Trail and Versace – two men
Cunanan would kill. On Valentine's Day, this reminds us that love can
go badly ... and that gays have faced immense peril.

Other choices
include:

Winter Olympics, NBC
and cable. The pairs finals lead NBC's prime time (8-11:30 p.m. ET),
which also has Alpine skiing, skeleton and speedskating. The
afternoon (3-5 p.m.) has the luge and Nordic combined skiing;
latenight (12:05 a.m.) has snowboarding. There's more all day on the
NBC Sports Network, including U.S. hockey teams – men at 6:30 a.m.
ET, women at 10 p.m.

“The Resident,”
8 p.m., Fox. In a late change, Fox reruns the show's second episode.
That's the one that transforms Conrad from a jerk to a hero, as he
struggles to give someone a needed heart transplant.

“Schitt's Creek,”
8 p.m., Pop. Michael Short has been writing Canadian comedy for 37
years, from “SCTV” to shows starring his younger brother Martin.
Here, he's written a fairly funny episode that includes good moments
for two women in supporting roles. Emily Hampshire (who has an
explosive role in “12 Monkeys”) is Stevie; Sarah Levy (whose
father and brother created the show) is Twyla.

“Nova,” 9 p.m.,
PBS. It's been almost 78 years since British soldiers were rescued
from Dunkirk, but that's newly on people's minds. It's the
centerpiece of two of the current Oscar-nominees (“Dunkirk” and
“Darkest Hour”) and of this expedition, examining sunken ships
and crashed planes.

“The Amazing
Race,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. It's an all-reality night for CBS –
one hour of “Celebrity Big Brother,” then two hours of “Amazing
Race,” racing through Bahrain and Thailand.

“9-1-1,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. Bobby (Peter Krause) rushes to a deadly plane crash. Athena
(Angela Bassett wants revenge toward teen bullies); Abby (Connie
Britton) delivers a message from a 9-1-1 caller.

“Waco,” 10 p.m.,
Paramount. In last week's episode, the first federal raid of the
Branch Davidian compound went terribly wrong. Shots were fired at a
dog, the film says, leading to fierce gunfire; 10 people were killed,
others were injured. A compromise fell apart after the Davidian
leader heard the official version of what had happened. Now a
negotiator tries to bring the sides back together.

TV column for Tuesday, Feb. 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Experience,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Long before modern
car bombs, a horse-drawn wagon lumbered down Wall Street. Its
dynamite exploded in front of the Morgan Bank, killing 38 people and
seriously injuring hundreds.

That was in 1920;
the crime was never solved, but this well-crafted documentary shows
its aftershocks. There had been other bombing attempts; in reaction,
the attorney general created a “Radical Division,” led by
24-year-old J. Edgar Hoover. He began a crackdown on people who had
voiced anti-capitalist feelings; one series of raids sent 249 people
(including famed activist Emma Goldman) to Russia.

TODAY'S MUST-SEE:
Winter Olympics, NBC and cable.

Things start early
on the NBC Sports Network, with the U.S. women's hockey team facing
Russian players at 7 a.m. ET. That's followed by luge, cross-country
skiing, speedskating and (at 2:30 p.m.) the bronze-medal curling
match. The gold-medal match is at 5 p.m. on CNBC.

NBC joins from 3-5
p.m. ET, with speedskating, luge and cross-country skiing. At night
(8-11:30 p.m., then 12:05 a.m.) it has Alpine skiing, snowboarding,
short-track speedskating and lots of figureskating. The team
competition ended Sunday and others start now; pairs will swirl today
and Wednesday.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Bachelor Winter Games,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

This is the new
strategy for facing the Olympics: Concoct a short-term reality show
with some familiar faces. CBS has “Celebrity Big Brother”; ABC
has this, on two Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Winter-type games
are played, alongside romantic opportunities. This includes a dozen
people from “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette,” plus 13 from
overseas. Ben Higgins – newly single, after being the 2016 bachelor
-- will compete; JoJo Fletcher -- the 2016 bachelorette, after being
Higgins' runner-up – will visit. Also visiting: Ryan and Trista
Sutter, Rachel Lindsay, Arie Luyendyk Jr. and past Olympians.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “20/20,” 10 p.m., ABC.

On the eve of
Valentine's Day, the subject turns to romantic movies. Several of the
interviews involve the “Fifty Shades” films – their author,
stars and set designer – but there are others.

Nia Vardalos talks
about “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which she molded from her own
life. Taylor Hackford discusses directing Richard Gere and Debra
Winger, who were chilly off-screen and passionate in “An Officer
and a Gentleman.” Also: Ione Skye (“Say Anything”) and more.

Other choices
include:

“Westminster
Kennel Club Dog Show” conclusion, 1-4 p.m. ET, NatGeo Wild; and
8-11 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. The evening portion will hand out the top
prize. The NatGeo Wild portion leads into a Cesar Millan marathon,
from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. ET; including new “Cesar 911” hours from
8-11 p.m. ET

“The Color Purple”
(1985), 7-10:30 p.m., Sundance. Some Oscar-nominees can be far more
interesting than the winners. This one – 11 nominations, zero wins
– is a stirring Steven Spielberg classic. By comparison, Turner
Classic Movies focuses tonight on foreign-language films, an uneven
bunch. The nominated “Babette's Feast” is 6 p.m. ET, followed by
winners, including Fellini's “La Strada” at 8.

“Black Lightning,”
8 p.m., CW. As a fierce drug rips through the community, Jefferson
Pierce looks for answers ... unaware that his daughter is secretly
becoming a superhero – just as he did long ago. It's a good
episode, despite the show's inconsistencies. It preaches
non-violence, yet has brutal moments; it's dead-serious, but gives
the daughter a silly, “Pretty Woman” kind of costume scene.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. This reruns the episode that added a forensic psychologist
(Maria Bello).

“LA to Vegas,” 9
p.m., Fox. Ronnie figures that one of the regular passengers is
cheating on his wife, but isn't sure what to do about it. Meanwhile.
The cocky Captain Dave is timid about romance.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. This reruns the season-opener, with Pride
(Scott Bakula) suspended and a by-the-books supervisor (Becky Ann
Baker) in charge.

 

TV column for Monday, Feb. 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Olympics, NBC and cable.

After the three-day
team event, figure-skaters finally get a day off. That lets NBC focus
on high-octane action. This afternoon (3-5 p.m. ET) includes
freestyle skating, ski jumping, luge and biathlon; tonight (8-11:30
p.m., then 12:05 a.m.) has snowboarding, speedskating and Alpine
skiing.

Then there's the NBC
Sports Network, going almost non-stop. It's busy in the morning –
freestyle skating (10 a.m.), ski jumping (11), biathlon and
speedskating. It also has hockey at 5 and 10 p.m.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Legends of Tomorrow,” 8 p.m., CW.

This is really not
good coffeeshop behavior. The sweet-looking girl claws deep ruts in
the table, growls loudly and makes objects fly about; the other
patrons are quite displeased.

That's one of many
things happening in an hour stuffed with big moments. Here are new
chances to see Constantine (who used to have his own show), Leo Snart
and Damien Darkh. There's time-travel, demon-possession, exorcism and
whiz-bang fighting ... plus Amaya confronting her granddaughter.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, 8-11 p.m. ET, Fox
Sports 1.

Back in 1876,
America had two identities: The West was still wild, the East was
not; it was the year of Custer's Last Stand and of the Centennial
Exposition. And a year later, this dog show was born.

Now the 142nd
show is massive – two days, two sites, two cable networks, 2,800
dogs.

NatGeo Wild – in
the midst of its “Barkfest” -- has the daytime portion, from 1-4
p.m. ET. Then the show moves to Madison Square Garden for FS1; on
Tuesday, this concludes at the same times.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Malcolm X” (1992), 7 p.m., Sundance; “Lincoln”
(2012), 8 p.m., The Movie Channel.

At least, someone
has remembered this is Presidents Day ... and it's Black History
Month.

Here are master
directors in top form. Spike Lee gives the Malcolm X story an epic
feel; Steven Spielberg focuses on Abraham Lincoln's defining moment,
as he struggled to abolish slavery. Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar as
Lincoln; Denzel Washington was nominated as Malcolm.

Other choices
include:

“Who's Afraid of
Virginia Woolf?” (1966), 5:45 p.m ET., Turner Classic Movies. For the
second straight day, TCM focuses on the best-director Oscar category.
Mike Nichols was nominated for this blistering, black-and-white film.
Some winners follow, starting with Bob Fosse's “Cabaret” (1972)
at 8 p.m., George Stevens' “Giant” (1956) at 10:15 and John
Huston's “Treasure of Sierra Madre” (1948) at 1:45.

“The Bachelor,”
8-10:01 p.m., ABC. Next week, we get what's often one of the best
episodes – the visit to the contestants' home towns. First, in the
beauty of Tuscany, the field is trimmed from seven to four.

“Lucifer,” 8
p.m., Fox. It's a big night for demons – as the bad guy in “Legends
of Tomorrow” and the sorta-good guy here. In this rerun, Lucifer
faces a serial killer AND the estranged husband of a lover.

“A Dog Saved My
Live,” 8 and 11 p.m. ET, NatGeo Wild. Attacked by a bear, a dogsled
racer took refuge at a tree; for
hours, one of his huskies fought the bear's attempt to reach him.
Another story tells of an 80-year-old man trapped for hours in a
Hurricane Katrina flood; his dog worked to keep him alive.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 9 p.m., CBS. This transplanted rerun – a good one –
has a merger of opposites: Leonard's too-cranial mother (Christine
Baranski) bonds with his wife Penny.

“The Good Doctor,”
10:01 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, an experimental procedure is devised to
help a young bridegroom. Also, Dr. Jared Kalu struggles to connect
with a patient.