TV column for Sunday, June 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Shades of Blue” season-opener, 10 p.m., NBC.

Clearly, Jennifer
Lopez is NBC's summertime star. She's the producer and a judge for
“World of Dance,” a ratings success on Tuesdays. And she stars
here, doing Emmy-worthy work tonight.

Lopez is Harlee
Santos, a police detective who has drifted into the wobbly ethics of
Lt. Wozniak (Ray Liotta). She was almost killed by Stahl, a
cop-and-stalker; now she thinks she sees him everywhere. Swirl that
all together and you have deep emotion. Tonight's opening scene is
powerful; the final minutes -- including a great scene with Wozniak
and Santos – are even better.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Claws,” 9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 10.

Desna (Niecy Nash)
has big problems now. She's working for a fierce Russian woman who
just killed her own sister. She's been told to take over Jennifer's
mega-house. And she's about to learn that her autistic brother
(Harold Perrineau) has impregnated clueless Virginia.

That sounds serious,
which it sometimes is; Perrineau has a couple of great scenes. But
“Claws” also can be wild and wildly funny. There are hilarious
moments, as the pain clinic shoots a commercial ... and wonderfully
hectic ones, when a mother-daughter moment leads to a massive brawl.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece: Man In an Orange Shirt,” 9 p.m., PBS.

Flora has always
hated homosexuality. Her husband was gay; “we will never talk about
it,” she announces, sinking into a blandly restrained existence.
Now her grandson – who knows nothing about the family history –
is also gay. The old Flora (Vanessa Redgrave) is shattered.

It would be easy to
simply show changes and progress: The grandfather's love was a
felony; the grandson's is simply part of society. But this story goes
deeper, because the young man is riddled with doubts and denial. It's
a quietly involving story, albeit one that some people will find
tough to watch.

Other choices
include:

“Instinct,” 8
p.m., CBS. Dylan and Lizzie scramble for a connection, when several
people – seemingly average and unrelated – use suicide bombs.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. The network really wanted to have basketball
tonight. The season ended early, though, so it has its popular game
shows. One has basketball commentators (including Charles Barkley and
Shaquille O'Neal) against former baseball people (including Johnny
Damon). The other has the families of rapper Eve and football player
Rashad Jennings.

“The $100,000
Pyramid,” 9 p.m., ABC. Just before hosting “To Tell the Truth,”
Anthony Anderson guests here; he faces Jenifer Lewis, who plays his
mom on “Black-ish.” Also, director Kevin Smith faces Joy Behar of
“The View.”

“The Affair”
season-opener, 9 p.m., Showtime. All of this started with Noah
(Dominic West) cheating on his wife Helen (Maura Tierney) with
Alison. Now Helen has moved west with a boyfriend ... but Noah has
moved there too. Alison is still in New York; so is her ex-boyfriend,
married to someone else.

“Good Witch,” 9
p.m., Hallmark. With their ceremony approaching, Cassie tries to find
a long-lost wedding dress and Sam works on the guest list.

“Ghosted,” 9:30
p.m., Fox. Someone has bugged Leroy's office, so he brings in a
psychic.

“To Tell the
Truth,” 10 p.m., ABC. We meet a record-breaking “headbanger,” a
prize-winning lint artist and someone who was accepted into every Ivy
League school (presumably by avoiding lint and headbanging). The
panel has Bill Hader, Natasha Leggero, Joel McHale and 91-year-old
Mel Brooks.

TV column for Saturday, June 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Jurassic Park” (1993), 8-11 p.m., NBC.

Six days before the
fifth “Jurassic” film reaches theaters, we can savor the
original. It started with an idea by author Michael Crichton: Maybe
the DNA from a fossil could relaunch an extinct species.

Steven Spielberg --
who was then working with Crichton on “ER” -- jumped at the idea,
buying the book before it came out. On a tidy budget ($63 million),
he made a movie that was smart, yet filled with high-octane action.
It topped $400 million in domestic box-office and propelled a
multi-billion-dollar splurge, with sequels, videos, arcade games,
comics and cartoons.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” 5:30-8 p.m. ET, Turner
Classic Movies.

We might as well
make this a Spielberg double-feature. With this one preceding
“Jurassic Park.”

Both films remind us
that Spielberg always thinks visually ... and is willing to suspend
logic. Do you really need to roll a giant globe into the room to
check coordinates? Not really, but it's more visual. Would a guy who
said he “spared no expense” for his park then give the tech job
to the lowest bidder? Not really, but it helps a movie master create
another richly involving tale.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
Sports, all day, Fox and Fox Sports1.

For Fox's sports
coverage, this is the mega-month. There's World Cup soccer (albeit
without a U.S. team) through July 15, plus lots of baseball (with the
all-star game July 17), cars, golf and more.

The first Cup
weekend starts with games on FS1 at 6 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. ET. Fox
also has soccer (9 a.m. ET), then switches to golf's U.S. Open at 11.
Then is baseball – three games, varying by region – at 8, with a
preview at 7:30. Add some FS1 drag racing and you have a sports
marathon.

Other choices
include:

Animation, all day,
Freeform. It's a good day for families, with “The Hunchback of Note
Dame” (1996) at 2:40 p.m., “Ratatouille” (2007) at 4:45,
“Despicable Me” (2010) at 7:25, the splendid “Finding Nemo”
(2013) at 9:30 and “Gnomeo & Juliet” (2011) at midnight.

“Titanic”
(1997), 7-11:30 p.m., CMT. This gem leads a strong movie night. At
7:30, Comedy Central has the clever “Men in Black” (1997). At 8,
TNT has the “Hunger Games” finale (2015) and IFC has James Bond's
“Skyfall” (2012). At 9, AMC has Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning
“Unforgiven” (1992).

“Ransom,” 8
p.m., CBS. This time, Eric's negotiations seem especially crucial:
The captain of a plane feels suicidal and threatens to crash –
killing Eric, his daughter and hundreds of other passengers.

“America's
Funniest Home Videos,” 8 p.m., ABC. You can tell this is a rerun
because it includes winter-themed blunders.

“Love at First
Dance,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark. Hired to help a couple prepare for a
wedding dance, Hope (Becca Tobin) finds that she really likes the guy
and vice versa.

“Skin Tight,” 10
p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. Weight-loss is just one step, this hour
tells us. A woman lost 140 pounds, a man lost 200, but both find the
excessive skin prevents a transformation.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Charles Barkley hosts this rerun, with
Migos as music guest.

TV column for Friday, June 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“12 Monkeys” season-opener, 8-11 p.m., Syfy.

We don't expect big
things in summer TV, but this one is downright epic. The entire final
season -- all 11 hours – will run over the next four Fridays.

Tonight flashes to
ancient days and the search for a superweapon, then leaps to 2043,
with disaster imminent. Katrina Hope is near death and her time
machine is broken; James Cole and Dr. Cassandra Railly have no way to
get back and prevent the plague. The terrific first hour is dominated
by a long battle scene, but also flashes to 2018 and the
mad/brilliant Jennifer Goines, scrambling for answers.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Life Sentence” finale, 9 p.m., CW.

The network calls
this the “season finale,” but has no plans for a second season.
So let's hope the show, which started wonderfully, is able to wrap up
some things tonight.

Stella (the luminous
Lucy Hale) spent years being told death was imminent. She rushed
through life – including marriage to Wes, a near-stranger –
without noticing that her family was crumbling. Now her dad's health
scare pushes him to a realization. Her brother, after years of
drifting, pushes his dream of opening a bar. And when Stella and Wes
go on social media, their relationship is under attack.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Goliath” and more, any time, streaming.

Any Friday tends to
be strong on the streaming networks, but this one has the second
season of “Goliath,” one of last year's best dramas. It opened
with Billy Bob Thornton as a brilliant lawyer whose career had
crumbled; he won a mega-case, but still needs challenges in a
drifting life.

That joins a typical
Friday burst on Netflix – a comedy series (Ashton Kutcher's “The
Ranch”), a movie (“Set It Up,” with schemes and maybe-romance
in the workplace) and a sci-fi cartoon series (“Voltron”). And on
Thursday, Hulu took over the quirky “Dirk Gently's Holistic
Detective Agency.”

Other choices
include:

“Finding Nemo”
(2003), 7-9 p.m., Disney. Families can savor a cartoon classic.
Grown-ups might try “The Truman Show” (1998), 7 and 9:30 p.m. on
Viceland, or “Goodfellas” (1990), 9:30 on Paramount.

“Quantico,” 8
p.m., ABC. This season, the show added Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin as
Jocelyn, a former FBI undercover agent. Tonight, she tells about the
bomb explosion that destroyed her hearing. The team takes on the
person responsible.

Competition reruns,
8-10 p.m., NBC and Fox. NBC reruns Wednesday's “American Ninja
Warrior” try-outs in Miami; Fox reruns the season's first “The
Four” ... one day after the second one aired.

“Celebrity
Undercover,” 8 p.m., CBS. Some people know Stephanie McMahon as a
wrestling villain and an executive with WWE, which her dad (Vince)
founded. Chances are, they won't recognize here here as an amiable
soul with blonde wig and Southern accent. McMahon, 41 and married to
Paul Levesque (known in wrestling as Triple H), uses the disguise to
help aspiring wrestlers and a fan.

“Great
Performances,” 9 p.m., PBS. A new production of Puccini's classic
“Tosca” stars Sonya Yoncheva, Vittorio Grigolo and Zeljko Lucic.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m.,. CBS. In a rerun, the murder of two tourists leads the team
to a man who has multiple personalities, one violent and another
childlike.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, Baez has an accidental overdose after
she joins the narcotics task force with her police partner Danny.

TV column for Thursday, June 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Cloak & Dagger,” 8 p.m., Freeform.

“Do you know what
this is?” Tyrone asks people tonight. They don't, he doesn't ...
and we don't. “Cloak” is an appealing enigma, a story that
simultaneously frustrates and fascinates us.

Tyrone is a teen in
a comfortable family, mourning an older brother who was shot by a
cop. Tandy is a sweet-faced thief, living on her own while her
widowed mom sinks into alcohol and despair. A decade ago, each was
saved by a mysterious force. What is this? We don't know, but it's an
intriguing journey.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Marlon” season-opener, 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

This usually settles
for light laughs, with a fun dad (Marlon Wayans), cute kids and goofy
friends. The first episode does have a rare topical twist, when a
shirt has a racial sub-text; the second stays light.

Marlon's ex-wife
(Essence Atkins) is ready to plunge back into the dating world, so
he's ready to offer dating advice. Some advice is solid – viewing
her pants suit: “Are you trying to get a date or win the popular
vote?” -- and some not. Never mention the kids, he insists: “Kids
are like STD's (sexually transmitted diseases). You just let him find
out later.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Little Big Shots” debut, 8 p.m., NBC.

This show keeps
offering its amiable blend of talented kids and a flabbergasted
Steve Harvey. Tonight, that includes an 8-year-old voiceover actor
and a 6-year-old who's ready for “American Ninja Warrior.”

There's a painter, a
pool table, a hip-hop dancer and more ... including the third visit
by Caleb Serrano. He was 4 when he did the show in March of 2017;
here's his third visit. In Greensboro, N.C., Caleb has been singing
with his grandfather's gospel quartet since he was 1; he's been
leading songs at the Baptist church since he was 3 and now is the
gospel variation of a young rock star.

Other choices
include:

“The Four,” 8-10
p.m., Fox. Last week's season-opener saw most of the original four
singers survive. James Graham and Stephanie Zelaya defeated
challengers; Sharaya J., the Hawaiian-born hip-hop singer, wasn't
challenged. The one change came when Majeste Pearson – the
preacher's kid with a majestic name – unseated Carvena Jones.
Tonight, new would-be challengers arrive.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. Yes, Steve Harvey is everywhere; now he
competes with himself. With the basketball finals ending early, ABC
plugs in its Sunday game. Harvey's “Feud” is followed by
“$100,000 Pyramid” and “To Tell the Truth.”

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a funny rerun, Sheldon – who tends to
mock geologists – tries to hide the fact that he's working with
Bert on a geology research project.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. And now we revisit Sheldon's first real contact with
geology. In this rerun, he and his friend Tam are intrigued by a girl
who has a brainy passion for rocks.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. Back from overeater-rehab, Jill is slim and vibrant ... and,
despite her wealth, not picking up the restaurant check. Bonnie is
offended; Christy has bigger concerns, as bad news arrives.

“Nashville,” 9
p.m., CMT. As the singing competition begins, Brad spots Daphne as a
potential star.

“American Woman,”
10 p.m., Paramount. Last week, Bonnie (Alicia Silverstone) caught her
husband cheating; she promptly impressed her daughters by standing up
to some toughs ... and impressed her friends by throwing a party. Now
comes the bigger question of supporting the girls.

TV column for Wednesday, June 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“24 Hours to Hell and Back” debut, 9 p.m., Fox.

Here, remarkably, is
someone who's more irritable and irritating than Gordon Ramsay. The
guy owns a failing restaurant in a gorgeous setting, an hour from
Manhattan. He yells at employees and snipes at customers – all
while he has outdated equipment and past-its-date food.

That puts Ramsay in
the rare position of urging him to mellow out. Meanwhile, Ramsay's
team has 24 hours to re-decorate and re-equip the restaurant,
re-train its staff and revise its menu. The result is fun.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.

Our summer
Wednesdays settle in. There's no more basketball (which took over ABC
last Wednesday) and no more hockey (which was supposed to be on NBC
tonight, before things ended abruptly).

So now we savor
ABC's reruns – led by “Modern Family,” with five best-comedy
Emmys. Tonight, Claire and Phil are out of their comfort zones: She
drives a big rig; he tries survival camping

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Season-openers, 10 p.m., cable.

For some reason,
three reality openers collide, pondering real-estate, hamburgers and
sunken treasure.

That last one is
“Caribbean Pirate Treasure,” on Travel; Philippe Cousteau –
whose granddad Jacques pioneered underwater TV – dives with his
wife Ashlan. CNBC counters with “The Deed,” with Sidney Torres
buying into wobbly properties. And A&E has “Wahlbergers”: The
famous Wahlbergs (Mark and Donnie) help their brother Paul expand
their burger busines.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Split,” 10 p.m., Sundance.

Last week, two
people were rebuffed after clumsy moves: Hannah's husband tried to
kiss her sister Nina; Hannah's younger sister tried to kiss the vicar
... who was giving her pre-marriage counseling, Then the sisters
found that their mom had been concealing letters and presents from
their dad.

All of this strained
believability, but packed a fierce emotional impact. And yes, these
things will resurface tonight: When the family gathers for a dinner,
Nina has a lot of alcohol and a lot of words.

Other choices
include:

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. With the hockey season ending early (just
as basketball did), NBC has quickly inserted its “Ninja” try-outs
from Miami.

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Yes, it's an all-Gordon-Ramsay night. Before his new show
debuts, this one has Ramsay show contestants how to break down a crab
and how to prepare crab Benedict.

“The Goldbergs,”
8 and 8:30 p.m., ABC. Giving his son Adam a driving lesson, Murray
learns something about his own dad. In the second rerun, Beverly has
a solution to “empty nest” despair.

“The Originals,”
9 p.m., CW. After all their fights and squabbling, the Mikaelson
siblings must work together, as rage soars in New Orleans.

“Reverie,” 10
p.m., NBC.What does an ordinary family guy do in his virtual-reality
dreams? This one robs banks; Mara tries to learn why ... and finds
her life in danger.

“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. Willis and Rox (Rob Lowe and Moon Bloodgood) rush to the
scene of a boat crash. Leanne (Marcia Gay Harden) tries to save a
brother and sister who tried a viral challenge.

“Particle Fever,”
10 p.m., PBS. How do you turn physics into an entertaining
documentary? This film starts with interesting people and an imposing
subject – the giant Hadron super collider. Monica Dunford – a
young physicist who bicycles to work each day – compares it to “a
five-story Swiss watch.” The film adds clever animation and is
slickly edited by Walter Murch, a triple Oscar-winner.