TV column for Friday, Sept. 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Masters,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS.

We're in the
late-'70s, recalled by one man as a “pre-gentrification, gritty,
grimy, extra-fun New York.” Rent was cheap and artists were
everywhere. There was a rumor that one gallery had a genius locked in
its basement. Jean-Michel Basquiat's response: “If I was white,
they'd call it an artist-in-residence.”

He was a
Haitian-Puerto Rican teen, a drop-out who started with graffiti. He
crashed in apartments and offices, considered $15 a good day ... and
then soared. This superb documentary captures the era with its music
and rhythm. And last year – 30 years after his death at 27 – a
Basquiat sold for $110 million.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Sunday's Best: 40 Years of CBS Sunday Morning,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Amid the swirling
changes in TV, “CBS Sunday Morning” had stayed steady. It its
first 37 years, it had only two regular hosts, both named Charles.
Kuralt did 15 folksy years; Osgood – a part-time poet, no less –
did 22. Now Jane Pauley hosts, with sidekicks ranging from Ben Stein
to Jim Gaffigan.

This hour views
changes in pop culture over the past four decades and profiles a
woman born the same year as the show – Louise Brown, the first
“test-tube baby.” It also tours Ralph Lauren's ranch, profiles
Robert Redford, visits Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend and
even has a Ted Koppel poem.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Forever” debut, any time, Amazon Prime.

The wonderful,
wordless opening minutes whisk us through the relationship of a
couple (Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph). Then “Forever” jumps to a
key point. After annual fishing vacations, she makes a life-changing
decision: This time, instead, they should go to a ski resort.

The result is told
with dry humor and hints of tragedy. Beautifully directed and
co-written by Alan Yang, it gives Armisen his third mini-gem,
alongside “Portlandia” and “Documentary Now.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: More shows, streaming.

The broadcast
networks are 10 days from the new season, but alternative sites are
loading up. There's “The First” (Sean Penn goes to Mars) on Hulu,
“Forever” on Amazon and a fresh pile on Netflix.

The newcomers are a
talk show (“Norm Macdonald Has a Show”) and a movie (“The Land
of Steady Habits,” with Ben Mendelsohn and Edie Falco). Also,
several series return; there's the animated “Bojack Horseman,”
plus a fake documentary (“American Vandal”) and a real one, “The
World's Most Extraordinary Houses.”

Other choices
include:

“American Ninja
Warriors,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. This reruns the mid-section of the
three-night finals.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Jessica has a good reason for
wanting Evan to excel: If he's “student of the month,” she can
rub it in the face of her sorta-friend.

“Speechless,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. As a busy mom, Maya thinks of jury duty as a
vacation. Her mood changes, in this rerun, when she sees that
Taylor's mother is there, too.

“TKO,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. A former professional bodyboarder faces younger competitors –
a fitness buff, a

motocross racier, a
jewelry designer and a little league coach.

“The Orville,” 9
p.m., Fox. In this rerun, Kelly discovers that Lt. Lamarr is smarter
than he lets on. She wants him to be in a leadership position, after
an anomaly endangers all living things.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. A terrorist's phone may have crucial information about
upcoming targets; Frank battles a company that refuses to unlock it.
Also in this rerun, his son Jamie tries to find the woman who
kidnapped a newborn baby. His daughter and son, Erin and Danny,
follow information from a shady source, about an impending murder.

“Killjoys,” 10
p.m., Syfy. The team must sneak onto RAC (Rescue Apprehension
Coalition) turf, to rescue Westerly's children. Also,Seph and Pip
grow closer.

Blah blah

sneak onto the RAC
to rescue Westerly's stolen children. Zeph and Pip grow closer.

Kelly discovers that
Lt. John Lamarr is smarter than he lets on. So, she pushes Ed to
consider him for a key leadership position on the ship after The
Orville gets damaged by a mysterious spatial anomaly, causing
harrowing effects to all things living i

TV comedy for Friday, Sept. 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“American Masters,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS.

We're in the
late-'70s, recalled by one man as a “pre-gentrification, gritty,
grimy, extra-fun New York.” Rent was cheap and artists were
everywhere. There was a rumor that one gallery had a genius locked in
its basement. Jean-Michel Basquiat's response: “If I was white,
they'd call it an artist-in-residence.”

He was a
Haitian-Puerto Rican teen, a drop-out who started with graffiti. He
crashed in apartments and offices, considered $15 a good day ... and
then soared. This superb documentary captures the era with its music
and rhythm. And last year – 30 years after his death at 27 – a
Basquiat sold for $110 million.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Sunday's Best: 40 Years of CBS Sunday Morning,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Amid the swirling
changes in TV, “CBS Sunday Morning” had stayed steady. It its
first 37 years, it had only two regular hosts, both named Charles.
Kuralt did 15 folksy years; Osgood – a part-time poet, no less –
did 22. Now Jane Pauley hosts, with sidekicks ranging from Ben Stein
to Jim Gaffigan.

This hour views
changes in pop culture over the past four decades and profiles a
woman born the same year as the show – Louise Brown, the first
“test-tube baby.” It also tours Ralph Lauren's ranch, profiles
Robert Redford, visits Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend and
even has a Ted Koppel poem.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Forever” debut, any time, Amazon Prime.

The wonderful,
wordless opening minutes whisk us through the relationship of a
couple (Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph). Then “Forever” jumps to a
key point. After annual fishing vacations, she makes a life-changing
decision: This time, instead, they should go to a ski resort.

The result is told
with dry humor and hints of tragedy. Beautifully directed and
co-written by Alan Yang, it gives Armisen his third mini-gem,
alongside “Portlandia” and “Documentary Now.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: More shows, streaming.

The broadcast
networks are 10 days from the new season, but alternative sites are
loading up. There's “The First” (Sean Penn goes to Mars) on Hulu,
“Forever” on Amazon and a fresh pile on Netflix.

The newcomers are a
talk show (“Norm Macdonald Has a Show”) and a movie (“The Land
of Steady Habits,” with Ben Mendelsohn and Edie Falco). Also,
several series return; there's the animated “Bojack Horseman,”
plus a fake documentary (“American Vandal”) and a real one, “The
World's Most Extraordinary Houses.”

Other choices
include:

“American Ninja
Warriors,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. This reruns the mid-section of the
three-night finals.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Jessica has a good reason for
wanting Evan to excel: If he's “student of the month,” she can
rub it in the face of her sorta-friend.

“Speechless,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. As a busy mom, Maya thinks of jury duty as a
vacation. Her mood changes, in this rerun, when she sees that
Taylor's mother is there, too.

“TKO,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. A former professional bodyboarder faces younger competitors –
a fitness buff, a

motocross racier, a
jewelry designer and a little league coach.

“The Orville,” 9
p.m., Fox. In this rerun, Kelly discovers that Lt. Lamarr is smarter
than he lets on. She wants him to be in a leadership position, after
an anomaly endangers all living things.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. A terrorist's phone may have crucial information about
upcoming targets; Frank battles a company that refuses to unlock it.
Also in this rerun, his son Jamie tries to find the woman who
kidnapped a newborn baby. His daughter and son, Erin and Danny,
follow information from a shady source, about an impending murder.

“Killjoys,” 10
p.m., Syfy. The team must sneak onto RAC (Rescue Apprehension
Coalition) turf, to rescue Westerly's children. Also,Seph and Pip
grow closer.

Blah blah

sneak onto the RAC
to rescue Westerly's stolen children. Zeph and Pip grow closer.

Kelly discovers that
Lt. John Lamarr is smarter than he lets on. So, she pushes Ed to
consider him for a key leadership position on the ship after The
Orville gets damaged by a mysterious spatial anomaly, causing
harrowing effects to all things living i

TV column for Thursday, Sept. 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Good Place,” 8-10 p.m., NBC.

In its first two
seasons, this fresh and clever show has drawn high praise and modest
ratings. The Critics Choice Awards named it the most exciting new
show and the Television Critics Association nominated it for best
comedy; it was also one of the 10 American Film Institute programs of
the year.

But will viewers
find it? NBC keeps trying; tonight it reruns this season's episodes
No. 2, 5, 6 and 10 (of 12); next week are No. 11 and 12. Expect
clever, twisty humor, plus some visual fun.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Take Two” finale, 10 p.m., ABC.

This is the sort of
thing that leaves critics (and viewers) baffled: “Take Two”
started as an amiable trifle; when her cop show was canceled, a
super-cute actress (Rachel Bilson) worked real cases with a
super-hunk detective (Eddie Cibrian). They squabbled, which means, of
course, that they're now in lust.

“Take Two” does
light stuff well and heavy stuff terribly; it's not expected to be
back next year. So what to we get for the finale? A heavy episode
with a cliffhanger ending. Go figure.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Queen of the South” and “Shooter”
season-finales, 9-11 p.m., USA.

Two tough, intense
shows wrap up their seasons. First we see Teresa, who has gone from
bystander to an aspiring druglord. Reeling from a surprise attack,
she tries a bold move.

Then it's Bob Lee
Swagger (Ryan Phillippe), who has been learning who was behind the
murder of his father, decades go. Now he tries to bring down the evil
Atlas group, while saving his marriage. Meanwhile, Isaac, Nadine and
Harris find new roles in Washington, D.C.

Other choices
include:

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. One rerun has the casts of “Grey's Anatomy”
and “Station 19”; the other pits the families of young
actress/singers – Adrienne Houghton and Ally and AJ Michalka.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Eleven days from the start of its final
season, TV's best show reruns the second-to-last show from this
season. Tonight, Sheldon travels to Texas to talk his mother into
coming to his wedding. It's a terrific episode that lets us re-meet
Georgie (played here by Jerry O'Donnell), the brother who is
Sheldon's opposite in every way.

“Young Sheldon,”
8:31 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, Sheldon faces a big fear – the
neighbors' dog.

“Big Brother,” 9
p.m., CBS. Julie Chen took some time off this week, while her
colleagues on

“The Talk”
discussed the fall of her husband, former CBS chief Les Moonves. But
she's said she'll be back for “Big Brother” tonight, as the show
gets closer to its Sept. 25 season-finale.

“The Gifted,” 9
p.m., Fox. In a rerun, tensions heat up in the mutants' headquarters
and Reed (Stephen Moyer) worries about his family's safety.

“Victoria and
Abdul” (2017), 9:40 p.m., HBO. It's indie-movie night at HBO. At 8
p.m. is “The Oslo Diaries” (2017), a documentary about attempts
at Middle Eastern peace talks in 1992. Then is this gem, the true
story of the friendship between Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and the
clerk she met in India.

“Snowfall,” 10
p.m., FX. This view of the drug wars – the cocaine business
explodes in 1980s Los Angeles – juggles three stories. Tonight,
Franklin receives devastating news and Lucia and Gustavo plan to
leave town. And Teddy – secretly doing the CIA's guns-and-drugs
deal -- tries to convert a foe.

TV column for Wednesday, Sept. 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“World of Dance” finale, 9-11 p.m., NBC.

The season aleady
has four winners .... now it needs an overall champion. The category
champs are: junior, Charity & Andres, from Utah; junior team, The
Lab, from West Covina, Cal. (of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” fame);
upper, Michael Dameski of Australia; and upper team, S-Rank, of Los
Angeles.

Now they'll compete
for the million-dollar prize. In between, there will also be
performances by last year's champs (Les Twins), other finalists last
year (Kinjaz and Keane & Mari) and the talented people who host
(Jenna Dewan) and judge (Derek Hough, Jennifer Lopez and Ne-Yo).

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “America's Got Talent” (NBC) and “MasterChef” (Fox), 8-10
p.m.

We're a week from
the championship for both shows. On Tuesday's “Talent,” 11 acts
performed, ranging from five singers to an electric violinist and a
“danger act”; tonight, five move to the finals.

“MasterChef” is
already down to five home chefs – two teachers (from Houston and
Louisville), plus a college student from Iowa, a professional grocery
shopper (really) from Florida and a pilot from China. After they cook
with beef, one will be gone and the others will compete for three
spots in the finale.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Castle Rock” season-finale, any time, Hulu.

“Castle Rock”
has sort of created the perfect anthology series. Yes, it will be
back next season; in the final moments – as credits seem to be
starting – we get a hint of who might be the focus. But that should
feel like a fresh story; tonight wraps up most things neatly.

There's much to
settle for Henry, his stepmom (Sissy Spacek) and neighbor (Melanie
Lynskey). Then there's the creepy guy found in the basement of the
Shawshank prison. The prison is closing now, but he keeps sparking
chaos. A jail scene tonight provides an epic moment in a strong
finale.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Hold the Sunset,” any time, Britbox.

Edith and Phil have
much in common. They're neighbors, they're widowed, they're
easygoing; they could marry and find a mellow life .... Except her
son is back (consumed by mid-life crisis) ... her daughter is
scheming ... and there's verbal chaos everywhere.

This may sound like
a standard situation comedy, but three things make it stand out: The
words are witty, the people are British and Phil is John Cleese.
Stepping into his first sitcom since the wonderful “Fawlty Towers”
ended 39 years ago, Cleese is just one droll piece of some clever
entertainment.

Other choices
include:

“Burden of Truth,”
8 p.m., CW. The lawsuit has faced a setback and both lawyers are at a
crossroads. Joanna must decide if she'll head back to the big city;
Billy still scrambles for a solution.

“The Goldbergs,”
8 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Beverly decides her new passion is dance;
her family is not supportive. Also, Adam worries about his friendship
with Emmy, when she starts dating a cool guy.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. This rerun brings back Shelley Long as DeDe, the mom of
Mitchell and Claire. Cam and Mitchell start to understand the
influence she has on their lives.

“Suits,” 9 p.m.,
USA. The firm is backed into a corner by an old foe. Also, Samantha
and Alex try to have peace talks between two of their clients.

“American Horror
Story” opener, 10 p.m., FX. What can you expect of a show that has
“The End” for the title of its first episode? That end is,
apparently, nuclear annihilation; to escape it, some characters enter
a place that might be even worse. The great regulars – Sarah
Paulson, Evan Peters, Jessica Lange, etc. -- are back, adding Joan
Collins, Gabourey Sidibe and more.

“Greenleaf,” 10
p.m., Oprah Winfrey Network. Last week (rerunning at 9 p.m.), the
bishop startled Lady Mae by asking for a divorce. Now she visits
world-famous Pastor Maxine Patterson. And their daughter Grace is
asked by Commie if she would be interested in running the church.

TV column for Tuesday, Sept. 11


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

By 9 p.m. Wednesday,
we'll know the 10 acts in next week's finale. Last week, 11 performed
and five advanced; it was a varied bunch -- a singer, a magician, a
comedian, a trapeze act and roller acrobats.

Tonight, 11 more
acts perform. There are lots of singers, as usual – five
individuals, plus a chorale and the We Three band. But there's also a
Dominican dance group, a Belgian “danger act.” a 60-year-old
comedian and a 27-year-old electric violinist. Viewers will vote,
then learn Wednesday who survived.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Great American Read” debut, 8 p.m., PBS.

Over the next six
weeks, viewers can keep voting for their favorite novel. Before the
winner is announced (Oct. 23), “Read: offers a joy ride through the
100 choices. Next week, it will start focusing on genres; tonight is
an overview of the books and of the people – famous and not -- who
read them.

There's a former
“library nerd” from Chicago, rhapsodizing about Harry Potter ...
and George Lopez saying, “I'm not the same person I was before I
read ('Siddhartha')” ... and the Bush twins saying “our dad loves
to read books.” Yes, George W. is a big reader; all sorts of
surprises await us here.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Mayans MC,” 10 p.m., FX.

In last week's taut,
tough opener, we learned that both brothers had secrets. Angel (a
Mayans member) told JD (prospective member) that he's secretly
working with a rebel wing. JD didn't tell him the flip side: He's
working undercover for the feds, who claim they're only after the
cartel, not the Mayans.

Other crises loom:
JD broke up with Emily when he went to prison. Now she's married to
Miguel, the Ivy League-educated, second-generation head of the
cartel. When he tortured and killed an enemy last week, he put
revenge schemes in motion. In tonight's strong hour, that booms back
on his family.

Other choices
include:

World Trade Center
documentaries, all day, cable. The History Channel has a 9/11
marathon from 7 a.m. to 5 a.m. and National Geographic has another,
from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. Those are mainly reruns, but History debuts
“9/11: Escape From the Tower,” from 9-11:03 p.m. and 1:03 to 3:06
a.m. It includes the story of two men who combined to carry a woman
down 65 flights of stairs.

“Gunsmoke,” 1
p.m. ET, MeTV, via digital. Through Saturday, each rerun has the late
Burt Reynolds.

“Bachelor in
Paradise” season-finale, 8-10 p.m., ABC. Going into this finale,
ABC says, several romances are in limbo. One woman was ready to get
engaged from the moment she met the guy; she's not sure if he feels
as strongly. One couple has faced obstacles; another is in love, but
both people have seen troubled relations in their families. After all
this gets settled, tonight will end with a reunion.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. This always complicates a funeral: In a rerun, Gibbs heads to a
memorial service for a friend lost at sea ... then learns that the
guy survived and has been hiding from the enemy.

“American
Masters,” 9 p.m., PBS. Fresh from its “Read” opener, PBS reruns
a terrific profile of one of the contenders: While other former
debutantes settled for the leisure life, Margaret Mitchell became a
promising Atlanta Journal feature writer. Recuperating from a leg
injury, she spent three years on a massive novel, then almost failed
to submit it. “Gone With the Wind” won the Pulitzer Prize, became
a best-seller, and was adapted into what is (accounting for
inflation) the most successful movie ever.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. Over the next two Tuesdays, the show will
rerun its two-part season-finale. Indicted for abuse of power, Pride
assembles an off-the-books team to clear himself.

“Sonny and Cher,”
2 a.m. ET, GetTV. Here's another digital channel with Reynolds
memories. He's a guest in this hour. On the next couple Saturdays,
GetTV will also rerun his “Hawk” and “Dan August.”