TV column for Thursday, Feb. 14


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Top 14 Greatest Valentine's Day Movies of All Time,” 8 p.m.,
CW.

Let's forgive the
title, which seems obligated to put “top” “greatest” and “all
time” in one string ... somehow forgetting “best,” “coolest”
and some exclamation marks. Once we're past that, we have Dean Cain
taking us through 14 films.

There's “Love,
Actually” (which also makes it onto Christmas-film lists), “The
Notebook” (a great film), “Pretty Woman” (Julia Roberts
overcomes a flawed story), “Sleepless in Seattle” and more.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: Valentine marathon, Hallmark.

Since this is
Valentine's Day, you can wallow in lots of reruns of recent TV films.
Expect bright settings, bright-eyed heroines, minor problems and –
sorry to spoil the surprise – happy endings.

“Valentine Ever
After” (2016, with Autumn Reeser) is at 2 p.m. Then come “Very,
Very Valentine” (2018, Danica McKellar) at 4, “My Secret
Valentine” (2018, Lacey Chabert) at 6, “The Story of Us” (2019,
Maggie Lawson) a 8 and “Valentine in the Vineyard” (2018, Rachael
Leigh Cook) at 10.

AND MIGHT-SEE III:
More Valentine movies, cable.

There are a lot of
choices. Freeform has “Pretty Woman” at 5:30 p.m. and the
splendid “Beauty ant the Beast” cartoon (1991) at 9:01. At 8, HBO
has “Valentine's Day” (2010), with a mega-cast and so-so story; E
has “Fifty Shades of Grey” (2015), which may not match your image
of Valentine romance.

But the best choices
may be on Turner Classic Movies. At 1:45 p.m. ET, Elia Kazan's
“Splendor in the Grass” (1961) has young Natalie Wood and Warren
Beatty. Then: “All This and Heaven Too” (1940) at 4, “Brief
Encounter” (1945) at 6:30 and Katharine Hepburn's “The
Philadelphia Story” (1940) at 8.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Grey's Anatomy,” 8 p.m., ABC.

It's the 330th
episode, which means something: In two weeks, the show passes “ER”
and becomes the longest-lasting medical drama in TV history.

For now, the
hospital is flooded with patients after gunfire at a parade. Also,
Maggie is thrown off by a reminder of the past. And Owen and Amelia
get some major news about Betty, Leo's birth mom.

Other choices
include:

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. This reruns the episode in which Sheldon and
Amy were devastated to learn their theory has been disproven. In a
funny side plot, Bernadette has a new scheme: Stuart's girlfriend can
teach her how to beat Howard in a video game.

“Gotham,” 8 p.m.
Thursday, Fox. Jim Gordon was happy when soldiers swooped into
crime-torn Gotham City. But now he knows these are the bad guys; he
assembles a ragged group of heroes and villains. It's a strong hour
(albeit a fiercely violent one) that blasts Gordon with
complications.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. When Christy has no plans for Valentine's Day, her mom takes her
out.

“Will &
Grace,” 9:30 p.m., NBC. Aya Cash – star of the darkly funny
“You're the Worst” -- guests as Karen's estranged stepdaughter, a
student in Will's law class. He tries to settle it with a mock trial.

“Law & Order:
Special Victims Unit,” 10 p.m., NBC. There are pop-up restaurants
and such, but this is different – a pop-up brothel. Fin joins a
colleague to investigate.

“The Pacific: In
the Wake of Captain Cook” debut, 10 and 11 p.m. ET, Ovation. James
Cook was a gifted mariner and map-maker, this show says. He also led
to the colonization of the Pacific. Sam Neill offers some rich
snippets in this six-hour series; tonight, he visits Tahiti and his
New Zealand homeland.

TV column for Wednesday, Feb. 13


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Big Brother: Celebrity Edition” finale, 9-11 p.m., CBS.

From the beginning,
this has been weird. Anthony Scaramucci lasted six days (five fewer
than his White House stay), with producers insisting it was a planned
stunt. Also ousted were two athletes, (Ryan Lochte, Natalie Eva
Marie), plus Joey Lawrence, Jonathan Bennett, Tom Green and Kato
Kaelin.

That left two
athletes –Ricky Williams and Lolo Jones – plus three people who
have been on other reality shows: Tamar Braxton and Kandi Burruss are
singers; Dina Lohan is a mom.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Schooled,” 8:30 p.m., ABC.

Like many schools,
the fictional William Penn Academy throws everything into sports.
Lainey finds that the school gives its musical zero money and zero
priority.

Her solution is to
do “Rent” -- requiring almost noting for sets and costumes –
and to collide with Coach Mellor. The result is burdened by huge
jumps in credibility and by an often-lame sub-plot involving a
sex-education class. At the core, however, it's still an important
subject, told in a fun way.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: All night, Freeform.

On Thursday, another
network (CW) will have a Valentine's Day special, talking about the
all-time favorite romance films. As it happens, Freeform has two of
them tonight: “The Notebook” (2004, 5 p.m.), is deeply moving;
“Pretty Woman” (1990, 8:31 p.m.), is, at least, beautifully
acted.

Sandwiched between
them, at 8 p.m., is a sharp episode of “Grown-ish.” Working for
the twins, Zoey takes her first stab at being a professional stylist;
but will she trust her own instincts?

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962) and “Bridge On the
River Kwai” (1957). 8 p.m. and midnight ET, Turner Classic Movies.

In another era –
when people watched long, graceful movies in giant theaters – these
were among the best. They are epic wartime stories, told amid
sprawling backdrops.

Each of these won
seven Academy Awards, including best picture and director (David
Lean). Each ranks high on the American Film Institute's all-time list
– No. 7 for “Lawrence,” No. 36 for “Bridge.”

Other choices
include:

“The World's
Best,” 8 p.m., CBS. There's only one hour tonight, to give “Big
Brother” more room.

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. This reruns the flashback episode, catching the time when
the parents of the current teens were entangled in the dangerous
“Gryphons and Gargoyles” game. Most actors are portraying their
characters' parents. An exception is Michael Consuelos, 21; the son
of Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa, he plays the younger version of the
guy (Hiram Lodge) played by his dad.

“Won't You Be My
Neighbor?” (2018), 8 p.m., HBO. Here's another chance to see this
beautifully made, feel-good portrait of the late Fred Rogers.

“The Masked
Singer,” 9 p.m., Fox. With only six singers left, the show is
finally able to have all compete in one hour. Eliminated so far are
two athletes (Antonio Brown and Terry Bradshaw), two comedians (Tommy
Chong and Margaret Cho) and two actresses (Tori Spelling and Ricki
Lake). Bradshaw and Lake had done some singing previously, but there
are some pros remaining.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Haley needs motherly advice about her
future.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. The team heads to a Wisconsin gun show, where someone
is selling “cop killer” machine guns.

“The Dictator's
Playbook” finale, 10 p.m., PBS. Over five weeks, “Playbook” has
shown some of the fiercest forces in the 20th century –
Mussolini, Franco, Noriega, Hussein and Kim Il-Sung. Now it concludes
with Idi Amin. Like many of the others, he started slowly (roughly a
4th-grade education); like Hussein, he was bigger than
most people (6-foot-4 and stocky). He moved up in the military,
overthrew the president, ruled for eight brutal years, then tried a
disastrous incursion into Tanzania.

TV column for Tuesday, Feb. 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY
“Miracle Workers” debut, 10 p.m., TBS, repeating at 11:30.

Deep inside the
bureaucracy of Heaven, one poor chap (Daniel Radcliffe) is assigned
to answer all prayers. Mostly, he chooses small ones – lost keys,
for instance.

Then he gets an
idealistic assistant and a challenge: If they can't get specific
strangers to kiss, God (Steve Buscemi, of course) will destroy the
world. That starts a seven-week series, written by Simon Rich (“Man
Seeking Woman”). Some people will be offended; many will find it
rippling with wit.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“This Is Us,” 9 p.m., NBC.

After two weeks in
State-of-the-Union limbo, TV's best drama is back, with strong
stories to tell. Coming next week is an extraordinary detour, with
Beth going to see her mother, played by Phylicia Rashad. It's a great
hour, but first there are other journeys tonight.

Kevin was startled
to learn that Nicky – the uncle he was told died in Vietnam – is
alive; he tries to help him. (Nicky is played by Griffin Dunne, the
gifted actor who found 1980s fame in “After Hours” and “An
American Werewolf in London.”) Also, Randall and Kate have
differing childhood memories.

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

In the early 1960s,
exploration and Cold War combined. Americans were in space; now they
dreamed of living and working undersea ... and doing it before the
Russians. A strong person was in charge.

George Bond grew up
in Ohio and was a doctor in the Appalachian town of Bat Cave, N.C. He
became a Navy officer who, in 1957, began undersea experiments. By
'65, a team spent 45 days underwater, with 15-day stints for each
“aquanaut” ... including 30 days for Scott Carpenter, who'd
already been the second man to orbit the Earth. It's a large and
interesting story, well-told.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. A 9-year-old girl, frightened and confused, is found hiding in a
storage unit. She may be the daughter of a Navy recruit who went
missing a decade ago; the team re-opens the case.

“The Kids Are
Alright,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. Timmy has complications at school (a
mystery valentine) and at home: His mom tricks him into solving his
hygiene problem, but his dad has fears about meddling.

“Black-ish,” 9
p.m., ABC. Diane lands the top male role in a school play, then frets
when the guy she likes spends time with another girl.

“The Gifted,” 9
p.m., Fox. In a big, busy hour, there are crises everywhere. Inside
the Inner Circle, Reeva insists on finding – and instantly killing
– the mole. And in the tunnels, the Morlocks face a fierce attack
from the Purefiers. The result is loud, messy and (for a key
character) fatal.

“Roswell, New
Mexico,” 9 p.m., CW. For the three siblings – secretly descended
from a UFO crash – there's a new crisis: Isobel faces mysterious
black-outs. Also, Kyle finds a secret that his father, the sheriff,
has been keeping. And Liz looks for a possible witness to the night
her sister died.

“New Amsterdam,”
10 p.m., NBC. Two top doctors are supposed to cut back on work while
facing their own medical problems0 – Max's cancer, Dr. Bloom's
ADHD. Tonight, both face crises.

“Frontline,” 10
p.m., PBS. This story seems way too familiar: Reports of sexual
abuse are ignored ... or the suspected offender is simply sent
elsewhere. In the past, it has involved priests, a coach, a doctor
for gymnasts; this time, it's an Indian Health Service doctor. After
two decades of complaints in Montana and Souh Dakota reservations,
Stanley Weber was convicted; it's a chilling hour.

TV column for Monday, Feb. 11


 

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

The two-part finale
begins, with contestants ranging afar in genre and in geography.

There are six
singers, plus a magician, a comedian, some knife-throwers and
(really) a sand artist. Five of the finalists previously competed in
the U.S. version, four did overseas shows, one did both. There's the
current American champion (card magician Shin Lim), the previous
year's runner-up (singer Angela Hale) and the show's most famous
contestant – 2009 British runner-up Susan Boyle.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Passage,” 9 p.m., Fox.

When research began,
intentions were good and desperation was growing. A global epidemic
was building; there were hopes that an antidote could be harvested
from people infected with fierce powers.

Still, none of this
seemed right to the scientists ... particularly the involuntary
testing on young Amy. Now a top government official arrives,
confirming all doubts. Concerns grow, at the same time that Brad
scrambles to help Amy escape. It's a strong story, leaping between
vampire-type fantasy and emotional flashbacks to the romance between
Lear, Fanning and the now-stricken Elizabeth.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS.

Two weeks before the
Academy Award ceremony, we can catch one of the nominees for best
documentary feature. “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” is
definitely not for everyone.

As PBS puts it, this
is “without a traditional narrative” ... or, it seems, any
narrative at all. The goal is to catch the quiet rhythms of black
lives in rural Alabama. We follows events (or non-events), often
with nothing going on. If you prefer something more direct, stick
around: “While I Yet Live” -- a gorgeous, 14-minute documentary
about the lives of four black women – follows at about 11:14 p.m.

Other choices
include:

“Delicious” new
season, any time, www.acorn.tv. In
the first season, the death of a charismatic chef led to his
restaurant being run by his wife and his mistress. Now the third
season finds them trying to expand – with their late ex's spirit
helpfully showing up as narrator. A celebrity chef arrives, creating
business and romance complications. The result continues to be smart
and stylish.

“The Bachelor,”
8-10 p.m., ABC. A while back, no one would have imagined this: An
American show – giddy and romantic – that includes gorgeous women
fighting in Vietnam. That's martial arts, as Colton Underwood takes
the women to the Cam Ranh coast.

“The Resident,”
8 p.m., Fox. A Valentine-themed episode finds Conrad planning a
surprise for Nicolette. Mina and Devo try to distract themselves from
the day by probing an enigmatic death.

“Man With a Plan,”
8:30 p.m., CBS. For Adam (Matt LeBlanc) and his wife (Liza Snyder),
this notion of working together is off to a slow start. They struggle
to avoid taking their fights home.

“Big Brother:
Celebrity Edition,” 9 p.m., CBS. This hour sets up Wednesday's
two-hour finale.

“I Am the Night,”
9 p.m., TNT, repeating at 10. Fauna suspects that her birth mother is
being hidden from her. And when Jay gets a visit from the police, he
feels he's getting close to the truth.

“The Good Doctor,”
10 p.m., ABC. In a rerun from October, Shaun uses memories of his own
youth, to help a teen-ager.p { margin-bottom: 0.25cm; line-height: 120%; }a:link { }

TV column for Sunday, Feb. 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Grammy awards, 8-11:30 p.m. ET, CBS (on West Coast, 5 p.m. PT,
repeating at 8:30).

The night opens with
Ricky Martin, Arturo Sandoval, Camila Cabello, Young Thug and J
Balvin. Also coming up: Miley Cyrus, Shawn Mendes, Cardi B, Post
Malone, Dan + Shay, Janelle Monae, H.E.R. and Brandi Carlile ...
whose six Grammy nominations trail only Kendrick Lamar and Drake.

There are also big
moments for three classic women. Alicia Keys hosts ... Diana Ross
gets a special award, marking (six weeks early) her 75th
birthday ... And Dolly Parton does new songs, while her older ones
are sung by Katy Perry, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves and Little Big
Town.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Walking Dead” return, 9 p.m., AMC; also 11:14 p.m. and 1:29
a.m.

It isn't easy,
apparently, to keep Jeffrey Dean Morgan down. As noble John
Winchester, he was killed on “Supernatural,” but revisited the
show Thursday, 11 years later. As nasty Negan, he was jailed on
“Walking Dead,” but somehow strolled out of an unlocked cell in
the “mid-season finale.”

That episode (with
an extra scene) reruns at 7:54 p.m., wrapping up a two-day rerun
marathon. Then the show returns in mid-crisis. Paul “Jesus”
Rovia is dead and his friends are surrounded.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Roots,” 11 a.m. to 12:55 a.m., Sundance.

When ir debuted in
January of 1977, “Roots” soared. Ratings were huge; awards
followed. There was a Peabody, nine Emmys (including best
mini-series) and 28 more Emmy nominations..

“Roots” also
stirred fresh discussions of the history of slavery. Here's a Black
History Month rerun.

Other choices
include:

Grammy previews, E
and CBS. E starts at 4 p.m. ET, moving to the red carpet (with Ryan
Seacrest) at 6; CBS has its own red-carpet hour at 7 ... making it a
rare Sunday without “60 Minutes.”

“Fantastic Beasts
and Where to Find Them,” 7-10 p.m., NBC. People in movies are
forever mixing up their handbags or boxes or such. This time, it's
two suitcases – one with baked goods, the other with creepy
creatures. The result has lots of charm, but a so-so plot that keeps
us moderately interested.

“The Simpsons,”
7 and 8 p.m., Fox. First is a rerun, with Marge becoming a drag
queen. Then a new show has Homer making amends, after binging on
their favorite show without her.

“Victoria,” 9
p.m., PBS. After another assassination attempt, the royal family
retreats to Ireland. That leads to fresh conflicts and romance.

“Margaret: The
Rebel Princess,” 10 p.m., PBS. Life kept transforming for Margaret.
She was 6 when her father became king, 21 when her older sister
became Queen Elizabeth II, 22 when her boyfriend divorced, with plans
to marry her. The Church of England refused and she would remain at
the edges of controversy. This two-week documentary views her life
against the backdrop of a changing world.

“SMILF,” 10:30
p.m., Showtime. Last week, Bridgette's night out went badly. Now, in
a remarkable episode, we flash back to see the same night from other
perspectives.

“Ride With Norm
Reedus,”12:28 a.m., AMC. After bedeviling “Walking Dead,”
Jeffrey Morgan joins Reedus for a bike ride through England. Also,
“Talking Dead” is at 10:14 p.m.