TV column for Saturday, Nov. 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Southside With You” (2016), 8-11 p.m., BET.

Lawyers in love? It
happens sometimes, as this true story reminds us.

He was 28, a Harvard
law student interning in Chicago; she was 25 and his supervisor. She
resisted his attempts to date her, then went along for a long,
rambling day. There was a community meeting, a Spike Lee movie and a
kiss outside an ice cream place. Three years later, they married; 16
years after that, he became president. Parker Sawyers and Tika
Sumpter are the Obamas in a solid, subtle film.

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

Pauley Perrette's
long run was impressive. On dramas, apparently, only seven actors (in
“Gunsmoke” and the “Law & Order” shows) have exceeded her
15 seasons; only 11 (those seven plus ones from “Dallas” and
“Bonanza”) topped her 354 episodes.

So her departure
drew lots of attention; this will be the fourth time CBS ran her
finale. Abby and an NCIS colleague have been shot. This seemed to be
vengeance for a case she solved; now we flash back through the
possibilities, while she drifts near death.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “It's Christmas, Eve,” 8-10 p.m., Hallmark.

Christmas and
country music seem to fit together. Next Saturday's movie has Kellie
Pickler; this one has LeAnn Rimes, who had her first No. 1 country
album 22 years ago, when she was 13.

Rimes plays an
interim school superintendent who has to trim the budget. A prime
spot to cut is the music program; as luck would have it, her handsome
neighbor is a music teacher.

Other choices
include:

Football, all day.
Two of the top-ranked teams reach primetime. Notre Dame (No. 3) hosts
Florida State at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC; Clemson (No. 2) visits Boston
(No. 17) at 8 p.m. on ABC. Also at 7:30, Texas (No. 19) visits Texas
Tech. There are more big games, all day. At noon, Fox has Ohio State
(No. 10) at Michigan State (No. 18); at 3:30, CBS has Alabama (No. 1)
hosting Mississippi (No. 16).

“Rocky” (1976),
noon, Paramount. Here's most of the series -- “Rocky II” (1979)
at 3 p.m.; skipping one to “Rocky IV” (1985) at 6; and “Creed”
at 8. “Creed II” will reach theaters on Nov. 21.

“The Great Escape”
(1963), 1:30 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This Veterans Day
weekend is filled with military movies. “Escape,” a Steve McQueen
classic, is followed by the splendid (if slow-paced) “Bridge of the
River Kwai” (1957) at 5, with Bataan movies at 8 (1943) and 10 p.m.
(1945).

“Frozen” (2013),
7:44 p.m., Starz. After lots of turns on ABC, Disney and Freeform,
this visually and musically gorgeous animated film is on Starz.

“Sully” (2016),
8 p.m., TNT. This quietly involving film has Tom Hanks as pilot
Chesley Sullenberger. It's the mid-section of three excellent,
true-life movies. Steven Spielberg directed Hanks in “Bridge of
Spies”(2015) at 5 p.m.; Clint Eastwood directed Bradley Copper in
“American Sniper” (2014) at 10.
“FBI,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, eight people have been fatally poisoned in a New York deli.
Bell and Zidan (Missy Peregrym and Zeeko Zaki) must figure out which
one was the actual target.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) hosts,
with Lil Wayne as music guest. And sketches? “SNL” savors any
chance to have Kate McKinnon play Jeff Sessions.

TV column for Friday, Nov. 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Great Performances: The Sound of Music,” 9-11:30 p.m., PBS.

For the second
straight week, PBS delivers a full-scale musical. Last Friday had the
high-octane “American in Paris”; this one -- taped live in London
three years ago -- is a bit more stagnant and semi-drab, with a
palette that's quite gray. Still, the great Rodgers-and-Hammerstein
tunes prevail.

Don't expect the
vibrant Julie Andrews movie. This is the stage version; the kids
don't show up for the first 20 minutes and the plot sags in the
mid-section. But the cast is filled with magnificent singers –
especially Kara Tointon and Julian Ovenden in the leads – and the
songs soar.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.

Here's the 200th
episode ... and a chance to do something special. McGarrett is
working a cold case from the 1940s, imagining his grandfather
handling it with famed Honolulu detective Chang Apana.

That allows lots of
flashbacks. Alex O'Loughlin doubles as both McGarrett and his
granddad; nine other regulars also have second roles from the past.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Patriot” second season, any time, Amazon Prime.

Imagine an old,
subtitled art film, with pregnant pauses and slow stares. Then mix in
some “Fargo,” with quirky characters. That's “Patriot,” in
which a decent chap is enmeshed in hit-man schemes. In the intriguing
season-opener, the relative weight of European nickels becomse a
life-or-death factor.

That's part of a
busy day for streaming. Netflix debuts a movie -- “Outlaw King,”
with Chris Pine leading the 14th-century, Scottish revolt
against England – and a documentary series. “Westside” follows
the lives of struggling performers, sometimes adding their music
videos.

TONIGHT'S ODDITY:
“Having a Wild Weekend” (1965), 9:45 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.

All that the movie
studio expected was a low-budget film with lots of Dave Clark Five
songs. But Clark admired a documentary and hired its then-obscure
director.

John Boorman would
later get Oscar nominations for “Deliverance” and “Hope and
Glory”; his triumphs have ranged from the epic “Excalibur” to
this vibrant, black-and-white rock film.

Other choices
include:

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Don't you hate it when you're boss makes you search
through a dump? Matty sends Mac to Ghana, to recover a hard drive
from an e-waste landfill run by a violent man.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8 p.m., ABC. From “ER” to “SHIELD” and cartoon
voices, Ming-Na Wen has been a busy TV presence. Now she plays a
newcomer; the neighborhood finally has a second Chinese family. Her
story is fairly good; two side ones (involving Louis and his sons)
aren't.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., Fox. Mike's mother-in-law (Susan Sullivan)
visits. She soon clicks well – too well, by one view -- with Ed,
who is Mike's boss and friend.

“The Cool Kids,”
8:30 p.m., Fox. Is it stealing to take something that's rightfully
yours? After being cheated out of a prize – a 65-inch flat-screen
TV – the friends plan a heist.

“Crazy
Ex-Girlfriend,” 9 p.m., CW. Rebecca is jolted when Heather and
Valencia have changes in their lives. Also, Paula tries to adjust to
good news/bad news from hr eldest son.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Danny obsesses on the man (Lou Diamond Phillips) who
burned his house. Also, Eddie reluctantly introduces her mother
(Christine Ebersole) to her boyfriend Jamie.

TV column for Thursday, Nov. 8


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Good Place,” 8:30 p.m., NBC.

When was the last
time you saw a really good situation-comedy episode about the
relationship between determinism and free will? That's quite rare,
but this smart show keep surprising us.

Eleanor (Kristen
Bell) is convinced that everything she does was programmed by her
past. Michael (Ted Danson) disagrees ... and has the footage to make
his point. He's recorded every moment in every variation of her
afterlife. The result is punctuated with quick, clever scenes.

 

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Mom,” 9:01 p.m., CBS.

Who knew that jigsaw
puzzles and closet-cleaning could be good for the soul? “Mom” --
that rare combination of big laughs and capsule human insights –
surprises us that way.

Marjorie, newly
widowed, lures Bonnie into a puzzle day; Jill, perpetually wealthy,
lures Christy and Wendy into cleaning her mega-closet. Alongside the
fairly good humor, we get fresh views of women who could easily have
become comedy cliches.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Big Bang Theory” and “Murphy Brown,” 8 and 9:30 p.m.,
CBS.

“Murphy” has
been mildly disappointing so far, but we can't resist a guest-star
line-up like this: Charles Kimbrough is back as retired anchorman Jim
Dial, getting a lifetime award. Other guest stars are Katie Couric,
John Larroquette and Bette Midler -- repeating her long-ago role as
Murphy's worst secretary.

That's on a night
that starts with the never-disappointing “Big Bang”; it brings
back Amy's wonderfully mismatched parents, played by Oscar-winner
Kathy Bates and silent magician Teller. The latter is distracted by
(ironically) Howard's magic tricks, so Sheldon must bond with Bates'
stern character.

 

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Legacies,” 9 p.m., CW.

Like many teens,
Lizzie is having a really bad day. She fought with her dad, got
assigned trash pick-up and had a drink spilled on her. Also, a
gargoyle came to life and attacked her.

All of that follows
last week's episode, when the Savatore School kids – frustrated
because they couldn't reveal their powers – started a fight at the
football game. So far, “Legacies” is neatly juggling a teen soap
opera and a high-octane (and sometimes gory) special-effects
adventure.

Other choices
include:

“The Social
Network” (2010), 7:17 p.m., Starz. As Facebook faces fresh crises,
here's Aaron Sorkin's brilliantly written film about its early days.
That's followed at 9:21 p.m. by “Pennant Fever,” which also feels
current: In an amiable comedy, Jimmy Fallon plays a Red Sox fan
during a pennant chase.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Preparing to launch her foundation, Catherine (Debbie
Allen) sets a secret meeting with Meredith and Koracick. Also, a
nurse, seven months pregnant, collapses.

“Superstore,” 8
p.m., NBC. Amy learns she doesn't have any maternity leave. Also,
Jonah and Garrett are in charge of hiring seasonal help; Eden Sher,
who was the oft-failing Sue in “The Middle,” guests.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. It's a life-changing moment for Sheldon – his first
video game.

“Will &
Grace,” 9 p.m., NBC. Another show comes up with a key guest star.
This one is Jon Cryer, who replaces Jack in a play Karen is
producing. Also, Will learns that Grace's lover (David Schwimmer) has
a child he hasn't told her about

“How To Get Away
With Murder,” 10 p.m., ABC. To appease their moms, Conner and
Oliver seek a church for their wedding. Also, Annalise starts to
doubt the governor's dedication to her cause.
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TV column for Wednesday, Nov. 7


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

When the World
Series ended early, “Empire” was able to offer a new episode –
a good one – last week. There was joy for Jamal, when he and his
lover (who is HIV-positive) proposed simultaneously; and there was
rage for Hakeem, after a personal song he wrote was recorded by Tiana
and Blake.

Now Hakeem is camped
out in the studio, insisting that his rage is fueling his best music
ever. Jamal is told he's spending too much time away from work. And
their parents compete to find new talent.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“All American,” 9 p.m., CW.

This culture-clash
series started with Coach Baker (Taye Diggs) recruiting Spencer, a
football star from the tough Crenshaw neighborhood, to play at
Beverly Hills High. Now Spencer lives with him in Beverly High
weekdays, with a hardy allowance ... seemingly breaking all rules for
high school sports.

On a trip to
Crenshaw, the coach's son learned that his dad dated Spencer's
mother; tonight, suspicions grow. There's much more, in an hour that
ranges from lunk-headed behavior to a car emergency that manages to
merge the two worlds. “All American” keeps alternating between
sharp and lame moments.

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

Back in 1944, a B-24
bomber was shot over enemy territory and landed in the Adriatic Sea.
Seven men escaped, including one interviewed here, shortly before his
death at 94. The pilot and two others didn't.

In this involving
hour, we meet the pilot's daughter, talking about the hero she only
met once. We meet another woman whose father's remains were found
after more than 70 years. And we follow a task force that includes
divers, archeologists, the Croatian Navy and a special Defense
Department agency.

Other choices
include:

“Nature,” 8
p.m., PBS. The three-week look at cats ends with an ambitious, global
trek. One moment, we're near the jungle, where a scientist has timed
a cheetah at 58 mph; the next, we're in Mumbai, where one man has
painted spots on his dog, hoping that will keep leopards from
attacking. We hear of vanishing species ... and of a program that has
quintupled the Iberian lynx, which were down to 100.

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. As the dangerous “Gryphons and Gargoyles” game consumes
Riverdale teens, we get a flashback to the days when their parents
played the same game. That lets KJ Apa and Cole Sprouse – who
usually play Archie and Jughead – portray their dads. Veronica's
evil father Hiram is played by Michael Consuelos, 21, the son of Mark
Consuelos (the adult Hiram) and Kelly Ripa.

“SEAL Team,” 9
p.m., CBS. There have been strong moments lately, starting with the
death of Jason's wife. In a great scene last week, his teen daughter
talked him out of quitting the team and staying home. Now he's back
in action, big-time; the SEALs link with the Mexican Marines, to face
the cartel.

“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. A controversial rapper joins the concert, quickly clashing with
the Take 3 women. Simone has troubles of her own, when Jackson is
cast as her movie co-star.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. Trying to get back to his roots, Cam gets a chicken.
Also, before Alex can get an important government job, her family
must be interviewed; naturally, everyone overdoes it.

“Single Parents,”
9:31 p.m., ABC. Angie's son gets a lead role in “Grease,” while
Poppy's son gets a minor role. Soon, both parents are lobbying the
drama teacher.

“A Million Little
Things,” 10 p.m., ABC. Last week brought revelations. Eddie learned
that Delilah is pregnant with his baby ... but they'll say it's the
baby of her late husband Jon. Regina learned that her husband almost
committed suicide. Tonight. Regina is in a position to make decisions
for him.

TV column for Tuesday, Nov. 6


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Election coverage, all day.

As mid-term
elections go, this one is huge. Democrats hope to regain the House,
Republicans hope to expand their narrow Senate lead, both sides eye
statehouse races everywhere.

The cable channels
will obsess all day, with the big networks jumping in. Plans call for
coverage to start at 8 p.m. on PBS and ABC, 9 p.m. on CBS and NBC; on
the West Coast, PBS starts at 5 p.m. PT.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Gifted,” 8 p.m., Fox.

All the elements are
here tonight: Visually, the people are striking and the sci-fi scenes
are impressive; emotionally, there's surprising depth to many of the
characters.

Jace has reluctantly
linked with a vigilante group that could get trigger-happy .... Lorna
(also known as Polaris) hesitantly works with the Inner Circle and
its eerie triplets .... Caitlin wishes she could retrieve her son
from that circle, while her husband is overwhelmed by his new powers.
It's a strong hour.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Casablanca” (1942) and “The Best Years of Our
Lives” (1946), 8 and 10 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.

As a handy
alternative to the movies, TCM offers some true classics. Both are
black-and-white; both won Academy Awards for best picture, director
and screenplay.

“Best Years” --
the story of three men returning from World War II – also won for
its editing, its music and actors Fredric March and Harold Russell;
the American Film Institute puts it No. 37 on its all-time list.
“Casablanca” is No. 3, trailing only “Citizen Kane” and “The
Godfather.”

Other choices
include:

More movies, 7:30
and 8 p.m., cable. At 7:30 on FX, Matt Damon returns to his “Jason
Bourne” (2016) role. At 8, there are fun choices for people
ignoring the election. That includes “Caddyshack” (1980) on AMC,
“Mrs.Doubtfire” (1993) on Freeform and “Princess Diaries”
(2001) on E.

The Voice,” 8
p.m., NBC. To avoid colliding with election coverage, the show
settles for a recap.

“The Flash,” 8
p.m., CW. This reruns the season-opener, a good one that introduced a
visitor from the future. She's Nora West-Allen, the not-yet-born
daughter of Barry and Iris. As played by Jessica Parker Kennedy –
who stands 5-foot, 1/2 inch and has played an elf in two “Santa
Baby” movies – she's small, fast and zestful, a worthy addition
to the show.

“Black Lightning,”
9 p.m., CW. In the rerun of a fairly good episode, Jefferson Pierce
has complications everywhere. One daughter has trouble adjusting to
her new powers ... another is using hers in an unusual way ... and an
official is trying to close the school where Jeff is the principal.

“Lethal Weapon,”
9 p.m., Fox. While probing a crime involving safe-deposit boxes, both
men face other problems. Cole gets alarming news from his former
mentor; Murtaugh distrusts his wife's client.

“Mayans M.C.,”
10-11:30 p.m., FX. As the 10-episode first season of this excellent
show ends, the motorcycle club has good reasons to celebrate ... but
major doubts about its future.

“The Daily Show”
(11 p.m., Comedy Central), Stephen Colbert (11:35, CBS) and Seth
Meyers (12:37 a.m., NBC). Tentative plans call for all three to be
live (in some time zones), with election humor.