Week's TV top-10 for Monday, March 18


1) “The Fix”
debut, 10 p.m. today, ABC. For a time, Marcia Clark was one of the
best-known lawyers on the planet. And then? O.J. Simpson won; Clark
lost and left trial law. Now, 23 years later, she has a rematch ...
albeit a fictional one. She's helping write and produce a series in
which an actor survived a double-homicide trial; the losing lawyer
retreated. Eight years later, he's charged with a new murder and
she's back. Beautifully directed and acted, this 10-parter has a
smart script that keeps us guessing.

2) “The Village”
debut, 10 p.m. Tuesday, NBC. Is there really a place like this –
where people immerse warmly in neighbors' lives ... and a stranger
will open an amusement park, so three old guys can savor some
memories? Maybe that world existed near Walton's Mountain or inside
the little house on the prairie; now it's in a Brooklyn apartment
building, where good people face bad breaks. It's a world we want to
believe in and visit, but take note: At the end of a splendid hour,
there's one twist too many.

3) Basketball, CBS
and cable. Beginning Thursday, the NCAA tournament devours CBS. That
means no “Big Bang” or “Blue Bloods” or “Bold and
Beautiful” -- just basketball. On Thursday and Friday, the network
has games at noon and 2:30, 7 and 9:30 p.m. ET; they'll be noon, 2:30
a.m., 5 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, then just noon, 2:30 and 5 on Sunday.
Other games are on TNT, TBS and even on TruTV ... which starts things
with the “First Four” games, at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Tuesday and
Wednesday.

4) “The Inventor:
Out For Blood in Silicon Valley,” 9-11 p.m. today, HBO. In 2015,
everyone wanted to join Elizabeth Holmes' bandwagon. She was young
(31), confident, charismatic ... and had a great blood-testing
device. She had prominent investors (Rupert Murdoch, Betsy DeVos) and
supporters (Henry Kissinger, George Shultz); her company, Theranos,
was valued at $9 billion ... and, soon, at zero. Very simply, the
product didn't work. This documents a fascinating tale of greed and
delusion.

5) “Mental
Samurai” debut, 9 p.m. Tuesday, Fox. Donovan Hand had a modest
career as a Major League pitcher -- five starts for the Brewers in
2013, three scoreless innings for the Reds in 2015. Now comes a
bigger challenge – swirling around in a capsule, answering 12
questions in five minutes. Others – astronaut, lawyer, drag queen
and more – also try. Skillfully hosted by Rob Lowe, the game is
sometimes exhilarating – but one category (memory) lacks play-along
appeal and stops the fun cold.

6) “Buble,” 10
p.m. Wednesday, NBC. In some ways, this is a perfect special,
beautifully directed. A superb orchestra does vibrant arrangements.
Michael Buble roams among the 36 musicians. He does classics -- “Fly
Me to the Moon,” “You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You,” etc.
-- and songs he co-wrote ... including “Home,” a Blake Shelton
hit. What's missing? An audience ... and variety ... and (except for
Cecile Salvant on a “La Vie en Rose” duet) other singers. But
almost-perfect is still good.

7) “The Act,”
any time Wednesday, Hulu. After the searing, Emmy-winning brilliance
of her “Escape at Dannemora” performance, Patricia Arquette might
have slipped into something silly. Instead, she again has a superb
performance in a potent, real-life story. She moves into the
neighborhood with Gypsy (Joey King, also great), a disabled teen who
needs her constant care. But how much of that is in the imagination
of a mom clinging to control? The opener hints that there are dark,
deadly moments ahead.

8) “Pretty Little
Liars: The Perfectionists” debut, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Freeform. A
gorgeous, waterfront campus is filled with troubled and telegenic
students. One's mother plans to run for president; another's father
ran off with money, Madoff-style. Entering this world are two “Pretty
Little Liars” grads – Alison, formerly a mean girl, and Mona,
formerly institutionalized. The schemes build quickly, in a stylish
hour that will remind you (in a good way) of the start of “How to
Get Away With Murder.”

9) “Kids Choice
Awards,” 8 p.m., Saturday, Nickelodeon, repeating at 9:30. Each
year, this special has lots of stars and a peek into what kids like.
They like large personalities – music's DJ Khaled hosts this year –
and people getting doused by slime. They also like action movies:
“Black Panther,” “Aquaman” and “Avengers: Infinity Wars”
are nominated for favorite movie, along with “Mary Poppins Returns”
and two Netflix teen movies, “The Kissing Booth” and “To All
the Boys I've Loved Before.”

10) “Great
Performances,” 9 p.m. Friday, PBS (check local listings). With the
pledge drive wrapping up, PBS returns to the arts. This portrait of
Birgit Nilsson -- clumsily crafted, lots of sub-titles, lots of opera
– isn't for everyone. But it has the intriguing story of, as one
woman says, “a country girl from Sweden who became this amazing
diva.” On Sunday, there's a profile of Prince Charles at 8 p.m. and
a rerun of the fictional “King Charles III” at 9 ... overlapping
with the return of “Badlands,” at 10:30 on AMC.

TV best-bets for Sunday, March 17


1) “Tricky Dick”
or “Billions,” 9 p.m., CNN or Showtime. Here are two sweeping
stories of smart schemers, fighting the odds; one is true, one isn't,
both are fascinating. On CNN, we see Richard Nixon leap from Whittier
College – he was accepted to Harvard, but couldn't afford it – to
Washington. This opener (at 9 p.m. and midnight ET, barring breaking
news) ends with him almost being president in 1960. On Showtime,
Rhoades has been fired as U.S. attorney; the season-opener has him
use smarts (and a parking pass) for leverage.

2) “NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. For nine years, Kensi (Daniela Ruah) and
Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) have been saving the world and realizing
(gradually) that they're both attractive and single. Now it's time
for their wedding. A villain, Anatoli Kirkin, shows up, reviving a
favorite TV notion: Buffy the vampire slayer once karate-kicked bad
guys in her prom dress; now Kensi can do it in a wedding dress.

3) Basketball, CBS.
Here's a frantic stretch: At 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS has the Big Ten
tournament finals. At 6 – shortly after the game ends, barring an
overtime – it has the announcement of the brackets for the NCAA
tourney. Indeed, there might be last-minute changes, caused by that
tourney or others. There are also finals for the Ivy League (noon ET,
ESPN2), SEC (1 p.m, ESPN), Atlantic 10 (1 p.m., CBS), Sunbelt (2
p.m., ESPN2 and American Athletic (3 p.m., ESPN).

4) “Supergirl,”
8 p.m., CW. It was 32 years ago that Jon Cryer played Lenny Luthor in
“Superman IV.” His uncle Lex considered him incompetent, but
Lenny did help create the second Nuclear Man, which very nearly
destroyed Superman and the Statue of Liberty. Now Cryer gets a major
promotion: He plays Lex himself – furloughed from prison, near
death and begging his sister to help find a cure.

5) “The Quiet
Man,” 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. A few channels noticed this
is St. Patrick's Day. Syfy has 20 hours of evil-leprechaun movies
.... Many PBS stations, wrapping their pledge drives, have Irish
specials ....TCM has a full day of Irish films, peaking with a boxer
(John Wayne) returning to his homeland. It was nominated for the
best-picture Oscar and John Ford won for best director.

-- Mike Hughes, TV
America

TV best-bets for Saturday, March 16


1) College
basketball, everywhere. For one wild day, fans can leap bettween
tourney championship games. At 6 p.m. ET, they can choose between
Mountain West on CBS, Big 12 on ESPN and SWAC on ESPNU. Then it's Big
East at 6:30 ET on Fox, MAC at 7:30 on ESPN2 and more: Big Sky (8
p.m., ESPNU), ACC (8:30, ESPNU). Southland (9:30, ESPN2). WAC (10
p.m., ESPNU) and Pac 12 (10:30 p.m., ESPN). Six more are in their
semi-finals, including the Big Ten at 1 and 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

2) “One Night for
One Drop,” 8 p.m., CBS. Spectacle and charity entwine in this
special. It's the seventh annual performance by Circue du Soleil, as
a fundraiser to address the global water crisis; it's also the first
time it's been televised. Kevin Frazier and Olympic champion Tara
Lipinski are the hosts.

3) “Ransom,” 9
p.m., CBS. As a negotiator, Eric's job is to free the hostage, not
capture the perpetrator. Now that comes back to haunt him, when a
perp from the past returns, threatening to hurt a child.

4) “Ghostbusters”
(2016), 8-11 p.m., FX; then “Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m.,
NBC. “SNL” has a rerun from December, with Matt Damon hosting and
Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus combining as music guest. And you can
make it a night full of the show's past and present stars and hosts,
by also catching the “Ghostbusters” reboot; it's a fun ride, with
Kate McKinnon, Kristin Wiig, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy and
(briefly) Dan Aykroyd.

5) “The Crossword
Mysteries: A Puzzle to Die For,” 9 p.m., Hallmark Movies &
Mysteries. Here's a second chance to see the film concocted by Will
Shortz, the New York Times' crossword whiz. Naturally, it has a
crossword creator (Lacey Chabert) finding that the puzzles are linked
to a murder.

-- Mike Hughes, TV
America

Week's seven TV best-bets for Sunday, March 17


(Sunday)

“Tricky Dick”
opener or “Billions” season-opener

9 p.m. and midnight
ET, CNN; 9 p.m., Showtime. Here are stories of smart schemers,
beating odds; one is true, one isn't, both are fascinating. On CNN,
we see Richard Nixon leap from Whittier College – he was accepted
to Harvard, but couldn't afford it – to Washington. This opener
ends with him almost being president in 1960. On Showtime, Rhoades
(Paul Giamatti) has been fired as U.S. attorney; it's fun to see him
use smarts (and a parking pass) to get new leverage. Also, Axe
battles his former CEO.

(Monday)

“The Fix” debut

10 p.m., ABC. In
1995, Marcia Clark was one of the best-known lawyers on the planet,
unsuccessfully prosecuting O.J. Simpson. Have you ever wondered what
a rematch would be like? Apparently, she has; she co-created this
series: After an actor was found not guilty, the prosecutor (Robin
Tunney) quit. But now he's been charged with another murder and she's
back. Smartly written, the opener keeps us guessing. It collides with
a terrific documentary about a blood-test scam, from 9-11 p.m. on
HBO.

(Tuesday)

“Mental Samurai”
debut

9 p.m., Fox. Donovan
Hand had a modest career as a baseball pitcher, peaking with five
starts for the Brewers in 2013 and three scoreless innings for the
Reds in 2013. Now comes a bigger challenge – swirling around in a
capsule, answering `12 questions in five minutes. Others –
astronaut, lawyer, drag queen and more – also try. Skillfully
hosted by Rob Lowe, the game is sometimes exhilarating – but has a
flaw: Some categories have great play-along factors, but the memory
ones often stop the fun cold.

(Wednesday)

“Buble”

10 p.m., NBC. It's a
musical night for NBC. At 8 p.m. is “The Voice,” recounting the
six nights of blind auditions (which conclude Monday). Then Michael
Buble has his seventh NBC special. Backed by a 36-piece orchestra, he
does romantic standards, including “My Funny Valentine” and (with
Cecile McLorin Salvant) “La Vie en Rose.” He does some originals,
plus several of the songs that inspired his early career, including
“Fly Me To the Moon” and “You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves
You.”

(Thursday)

Basketball

Noon to midnight ET,
CBS and cable. Now the NCAA tournament devours CBS. There's no “Big
Bang” or “Blue Bloods” or “Bold and Beautiful” -- just
basketball. The network has games at noon, 2:30, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Thursday and Friday; noon, 2:30, 5 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, with more
on cable. But who's playing when? That's being decided now: Six
conferences have March 17 tourney finales; that wraps up with the Big
Ten finals at 3:30 p.m. on CBS -- which announces NCAA brackets at 6.

(Friday)

“Great
Performances: Birgit Nilsson”

9-10:30 p.m., PBS
(check local listings). Nilsson's father bought her a piano when she
was 5 and loved her music ... but as a hobby. He sent her to study
homemaking skills. Instead, she reached Stockholm, where one teacher
grumbled about “a farmer's daughter who ... hoots like a foghorn.”
Others disagreed, as Nilsson soared. This is a difficult film–
clumsy craftsmanship, lots of sub-titles – with a strong story.
“She was just a country girl from Sweden,” one woman says, “who
became this amazing diva.”

(Saturday)

“Kids Choice
Awards:

8 p.m., Nickelodeon,
repeating at 9:30. Each year, this special has lots of stars and a
peek into what kids like. They like large personalities – music's
DJ Khaled hosts this year – and the fact that anyone could get
slimed. They also like action movies: “Avengers: Infinity Wars”
and “Black Panther” lead with 10 and five nominations. They're up
for favorite movie, along with “Aquaman,” “Mary Poppins
Returns” and two Netflix teen films, “The Kissing Booth” and
“To All the Boys I've Loved Before.”

TV best-bets for Friday, March 15


1) “20/20,” 9-11
p.m., ABC. In 2015, Elizabeth Holmes symbolized a new world. She was
31, with a cherubic face, a forceful manner and an invention
revolutionizing blood tests; she had a prominent family and key
supporters (Henry Kissinger, George Schulz) and investors (Rupert
Murdoch, Betsy DeVos). Her Theranos company was valued at $9 billion
one year ... and zero the next, amid reports that the tests were
faked. Here's ABC's documentary; a compelling HBO one will be Monday.

2) “Crazy
Ex-Girlfriend” return, 9 p.m., CW. This quickly became one of TV
smartest and sharpest shows, mixing pretty-good comedy with wonderful
music numbers. Rachel Bloom has had best-actress wins from Golden
Globes, Critics Choice and the Television Critics Association. There
was an Emmy for choreography and nominations for songs. Now, after a
five-week break, “Crazy” is back for its final five episodes.
Rebecca (Bloom) tries out for community theater and Paula ponders job
offers.

3) “MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Fans were startled last week, when “MacGyver” was
missing. It was a late move by CBS, inserting Gayle King's R. Kelly
interview. Now comes the episode that was scheduled for last Friday:
Somehow, a man was killed inside a super-secure international seed
vault.

4) “Shrill,” any
time, Hulu. Annie (Aidy Bryant) has troubles. Co-workers ignore her,
a boyfriend slips her out the back door and no one told her the
day-after pill isn't dependable if you're obese. Yes, this is partly
a comedy ... albeit a sad one. It wraps up a busy week for streaming
-- “Manhunt” Monday on Acorn ... “Triple Frontier” (a Ben
Affleck action movie) Wednesday on Netflix ... and the season-opener
of the “The Good Fight” (the terrific “Good Wife” spin-off)
Thursday on CBS All Access.

5) “Me Before You”
(2016), 8 p.m., Lifetime. Far from “Game of Thrones” – where
she has ambition and dragons – Emelia Clarke is Louisa, a cheery
soul supporting her family by working at a cafe. When she loses that,
she settles for caring for a quadriplegic man. The film drew mixed
reactions, particularly because of its ending, but there's an
appealing nature to the Louisa and the rural-British settings.

-- Mike Hughes, TV
America