TV column for Monday, April 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Crossing” debut, 10 p.m., ABC.

In a tiny town along
the coast, no one expects big things. Then there's something very big
-- 47 people washed ashore. Where did they come from? How is this
possible?

If you suspend all
disbelief and skepticism, you'll find a compelling concept,
well-crafted. Most shows would have cast some granite-looking chap as
sheriff; this one has Steve Zahn, who used to play stoners and
geniuses. Our only worry now is the habit of broadcast networks –
including ABC – to yank a show midway in its serialized story. If
ABC lets “Crossing” flow, we're in for a good time.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: Basketball, 9 p.m. ET, TBS and TNT.

This is the big one,
the championship game of the NCAA tournament.

Both channels have
the game, but TBS also has a preview show (7 p.m. ET) and a follow-up
(about 11:30). Catch it all and you have five-plus hours of
commotion.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Young Sheldon,” 8:31, CBS.

Many “Young
Sheldon” episodes are soft and sweet and pleasant. A few, like this
rerun, are hilarious.

Sheldon's dad has
been rushed to the hospital, putting the grandmother (Annie Potts) in
charge. She's not your typical caregiver ... and George Jr. isn't
someone who follows instructions. That leads to some great moments.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Independent Lens,” 10 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

Like many other
Iranian immigrants, Shahin Najafi was living in poverty and obscurity
in Germany. Then one of his songs enraged clerics; they issued a
fatwa, with a $100,000 reward for killing him. For a time, he was
hidden away by the same journalist who hid author Salman Rushdie
after a fatwa.

Called “the
Rushdie of rap,” Najafi caught on. “My songs didn't make me
famous,” he says here. “The fatwa did.” This documentary
catches his brash exterior, his quaking fears and his surprising
romance -- to the granddaughter of the man the Ayatollah Khomeni
chose as prime minister after the revolution.

Other choices
include:

“The Good Karma
Hospital,” any time, www.acorn.tv.
The first season offered a charming blend of comedy and drama, as a
young British doctor moved to a small-town hospital in India, her
ancestral homeland. Now the second season starts well, with a heat
wave, a black-out and candle-light surgery.

“American Idol”
(ABC) and “The Voice” (NBC), 8-10 p.m. For the “Idol”
singers, it's the first time performing for an audience; then the
field is trimmed to 24. And for “Voice,” the “knock-outs”
begin. Once again, teammates battle each other; this time, each gets
to choose his or her own song. And this time, past winners –
Cassadee Pope, Jordan Smith, Chloe Kohansi and Chris Blue – will be
mentors.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 and 9 p.m., CBS. It's a good Monday for CBS – because
most of it is borrowed from better nights. In the first “Big Bang”
rerun, a seven-year-old video reveals a secret about Penny and
Leonard. In the second, Sheldon and Amy try a math approach to
wedding-planning.

“The Resident,”
9 p.m., Fox. This rerun includes a busy stretch for Nicolette, who
discovers secrets about two doctors, Hunter and Okafor.

“Living
Biblically,” 9:30 p.m., CBS. In CBS' only non-rerun tonight, Chip
tackles one of the toughest commandments – that thing about not
telling lies.

“Good Girls,” 10
p.m., NBC. This task – laundering all the counterfeit money
gangsters can provide – is becoming way too big. Now the women hire
some help, while their personal lives crumble.

TV column for Sunday, April 1


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” 8:30 p.m., Fox.

For one delightful
episode, most of the characters are shuffled aside. Inside an
interrogation room and nearby, three terrific actors navigate a
cleverly winding script.

Andre Braugher won
an Emmy as a blistering interrogator in “Homicide” ... Andy
Samberg won a Golden Globe as Jake in this show ... and Sterling K.
Brown has won back-to-back Emmys. Now they're locked in verbal
combat, with Brown as the murder suspect. The result takes dizzying
twists.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Jesus Christ Superstar,” 8 p.m., NBC.

Before it became a
full-scale musical and movie, “Superstar” was just a collection
of great songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It was a concept
album and then a concert.

Now it returns to
its roots, with an Easter-night concert, performed live (taped for the West Coast) in a Brooklyn
armory. John Legend sings the role of Jesus, with Sara Bareilles as
Mary Magdalene and Alice Cooper as King Herod. Broadway stars fill
other key spots, including Tony-winner Brandon Victor Dixon in the
flashy role of Judas and Tony-nominee Norm Lewis as Caiaphas.
Musically, this could be splendid,

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Call the Midwife,” “Masterpiece: Child in Time,”
8 and 9 p.m., PBS.

Aren't Easter and
spring linked to brightness and joy? Instead, tonight has gloomy
extremes. “Midwife” has can't-win situations – an impoverished
mom with a debilitating disease and a self-administered abortion
attempt. There's a feel-good approach to the regular characters, but
it's not enough.

Then “A Child in
Time” has parents struggling after their daughter disappears.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Kelly Macdonald are superb, but the
characters – and the viewers – are simply overwhelmed.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Easter movies.

If you're looking
for holiday joy, try “Hop” (2011), at 11:30 a.m. and 9:50 p.m. on
Freeform; it's a fun trifle, with live actors and an animated Easter
bunny. Or try “Easter Parade” (1948), at 8 p.m. ET; it's stuffed
with Irving Berlin songs ... as is “Holiday Inn” (1942), which
follows at 10.

And the serious side
of Easter? “Risen” (2016) is 9:30 a.m. on UpTV. “King of Kings”
(1961) is 5 p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies. And “Heaven is For
Real” is 8 and 10:02 p.m. on Lifetime.

Other choices
include:

“Ice Age: The
Great Eggs-capade,” 7 p.m., Fox. Would anyone really entrust their
soon-to-hatch eggs to Sid (John Leguizamo)? Several people do; then
pirate-bunny Squint steals and hides the eggs. That leads to
history's first Easter egg hunt, in a rerun that includes Taraji
Henson and Gabriel Iglesias.

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. A clown-mask stunt goes terribly wrong, sending two
people to unfamiliar turf – Bart to prankster rehab, Krusty to
regional theater.

“Instinct,” 8
p.m., CBS. A young man is killed after leaving his family's religious
community. Now there are too many suspects and too many secrets.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 p.m., CBS. Mosley (Nia Long) assigns Callen to join her
on a mission to catch someone from her past. Also, a killer has been
putting on shows for high-paying voyeurs.

“Madam Secretary,”
10 p.m., CBS. On the 20th anniversary of an embassy
bombing, emotions are high.

“Trust,” 10
p.m., FX. Here's one of the key differences between this series and
the movie “All the Money in the World.” In the film, J. Paul
Getty's security chief (played by Mark Wahlberg) was a fairly average
chap; here (played by Brendan Fraser), he's a big, booming Texan who
wears a Stetson and dominates every situation. In this excellent
episode, he's sent to Rome to investigate.

“Barry,” 10:30
p.m., HBO. Life is getting complicated for Barry (Bill Hader), the
glum hit man, The guy he was supposed to kill (an aspiring actor) is
dead, but now gangsters are after Barry, his boss is pushing him ...
and he kind of likes being in the acting class. It adds up to a busy,
interesting episode.

TV column for Saturday, March 31


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Basketball, 6 and about 8:45 p.m. ET, TBS.

It's final-four
time, with one match-up that's a surprise and one that's not.

The non-surprise is
the second game; Kansas and Villanova were top-seeded in their
regions. The surprise is the first one: Michigan (which finished
fourth in the Big Ten) was seeded No. 3; Loyola of Chicago was seeded
No. 11. After tonight, one of them will be a step from the
championship.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Ten Commandments” (1956), 7 p.m., ABC, and more.

Once considered a
classic Hollywood epic, “Ten Commandments” won one Oscar (for
special effects) and was nominated for six more, including best
picture. By modern standards, it seems stiff and flat; still, it
draws strong audiences each year, on the eve of Easter.

Also airing today
are “Heaven Is For Real” (2014) at 12:30 p.m. on UpTV and the
massive “Greatest Story Ever Told” (1965) at 8 p.m. ET on Turner
Classic Movies. The former moves to Lifetime on Sunday ... the same
day that the holiday's light side will be shown, via “Hop” and
“Easter Parade.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: All day, National Geographic Channel.

First, we can catch
the entire, richly crafted “Story of God.” All nine episodes are
there (albeit in a different order), with Morgan Freeman crossing the
globe to ask religion questions. The result – both intelligent and
visually gorgeous – airs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m ET.

Then, from 8-11 p.m.
ET, is “Killing Jesus” (2015). Skillfully made – something we
expect from producer Ridley Scott – it has Stephen Moyer as Pilate
and Kelsey Grammer as Herod and narrator.

Other choices
include:

“Pocahontas”
(1995), 1:05 p.m., Freeform. It's all-day animation. The splendid
“Up” (2009) is at 3:05, with “Ratatouille” (2007) at 5:15,
“Despicable Me” (2010) at 7:55 and “Lilo & Stitch” (2002)
at 10.

“Genius Junior,”
8 and 9 p.m., NBC. Tentatively scheduled are reruns of the first two
hours of this show, with Neil Patrick Harris flinging questions at
super-bright kids.

“MasterChef
Junior,” 8 p.m., Fox. First, the kids display an important skill –
making lots of milkshakes in a hurry; then comes a
chicken-and-waffles dish. That's followed at 9 by “Showtime at the
Apollo.”

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun of the season's second episode, Gibbs and McGee are
back from their jungle hostage ordeal, but must get psych clearance
from Dr. Confalone (Laua San Giacomo). Meanwhile, the body of a
missing Navy officer has been found in a cemetery.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, Patton (Daryl “Chill”
Mitchell) must work with his ex-wife (Kelly Hu), after her research
project has been hacked.

“Home by Spring,”
9-11 p.m., Hallmark. This gets complicated: Loretta (Poppy Drayton)
is an event-planner, disguising as her boss. To help a guy impress
his prospective father-in-law (country-music star Kix Brooks), she
arranges a getaway at a hotel in her home town. But her former
boyfriend runs the hotel, her current one is pretending to be someone
else and ... well, it's all quite tangled.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Kevin Hart hosts a rerun, with music from
the Foo Fighters.

TV column for Friday, March 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“MacGyver,” 8 p.m., CBS.

On a night when the
other networks have high churn and low ratings, CBS has had the same
crime shows drawing strong ratings each Friday. The exception was a
two-week basketball break.

Now Mac is back ...
and has the Coltons with him. In the original “MacGyver” series,
this was a bounty-hunter family, with Della Reese as Mama Colton and
Cleavon Little, Richard Lawson and Cuba Gooding Jr. as Frank, Jesse
and Billy; they even had a pilot for their own series. Now they
return, with Sheryl Lee Ralph as Mama; her team and Mac's are seeking
the same person, for different reasons.

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

Here's another show
back from a two-week break. Alex O'Loughlin directs, with the focus
on others.

Danny (Scott Caan)
meets the ex-wife of the man who shot him; she tells how he saved her
life during a domestic dispute in New Jersey. Adam is framed for
murdering the crime boss he was tracking; also, Tani and Junior are
assigned to walk the beat for a day, as uniformed cops.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Dynasty,” 8 p.m., CW.

The original
“Dynasty” didn't soar until Alexis – Blake Carrington's ex-wife
– roared in at the start of the second season. That year, it jumped
to No. 19 in the Nielsen ratings; three years later, it was No. 1.

Now the remake adds
its own Alexis. As played by Nicollette Sheridan – who seems to
think this is a soap satire – her prime target is her daughter
Fallon. Soom, they're battling in a pool and Fallon is waving a gun.
“My mother really brings out the awful in me,” she understates.
This show has a lot of awful; Alexis merely adds to the volume.

Other choices
include:

“The Dangerous
Book for Boys” debut, any time, Amazon Prime. It's a busy day for
family-aimed streaming shows. This one arrives at the same day as the
second season of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” with Neil
Patrick Harris still scheming to get the kids' money.

“Hop” (2011),
6:20 p.m., Disney. This amiable blend – cartoon bunny meets live
actors – leads a strong family-film Friday. Freeform adds “Up”
(2009) at 6:20 p.m. and “Ratatouille” (2007) at 8:30. Grown-ups
have “Wonder Woman” (2017) at 6:30 p.m. on HBO and two Tom Hanks
classics -- “Forrest Gump” (1994) at 6:15 on VH1 and “Apollo
13” (1995) at 8 p.m. on History.

“Once Upon a
Time,” 8 p.m., ABC. The Candy Killer attacks, forcing Ivy to risk
what's left of her family. And while trying to join the Witch's
Coven, Drizella faces a steep challenge.

“Blindspot,” 8
p.m., NBC. David Morse continues as Hank Crawford, now a prime
suspect. Tonight, Avery (Kristina Reyes) and the FBI team hope to
arrest him at a gala he's hosting.

“Taken,” 9 p.m.,
NBC. Last week, Hart (Jennifer Beals) got the focus, during a
dangerous rogue mission. Now she's at the center again, trying to
stop a former journalist from leaking key names.

“Agents of
SHIELD,” 9:01 p.m., ABC. Coulson finally learns the secret plan of
Gen. Hale (Catherine Dent). It could bring the end of the world, if
SHIELD doesn't help her.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. In trouble with the mob, Danny's brother-in-law steals
his credit card; now Danny forces him to help take down the mobsters.
Also, Frank wants his daughter and her investigator to find out if
his old police partner is really guilty of a crime.

TV column for Thursday, March 29


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Will & Grace,” 9 p.m., NBC.

On a dozen episodes
of the original series, Debbie Reynolds played Grace's bubbly mom.
Reynolds died (at 84) in 2016, but her photos are prominent as the
family gathers for the late mom's birthday.

Sara Rue returns as
Grace's brassy sister Joyce, but the others have been recast –
Robert Klein as the dour dad, Mary McCormack as the cynical sister.
Add two more stories and James Burrows' directing and you have the
ideal: Sharp verbal comedy is peppered with great bursts of visual
humor.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS.

For two Thursdays,
TV's best comedy sat on the bench while CBS had basketball. Now “Big
Bang” is back, with a fairly funny episode.

Penny hosts Bill
Gates at work, sending the guys into envy and/or denial. The result
isn't as funny as a typical “Big Bang”; that happens sometimes
with special-guest-star episodes. Still, this is better than just
about any other TV comedy.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Young Sheldon,” 8:31 p.m., CBS.

Most weeks, this
settles for a quiet, sweet sort of humor. Tonight, however, it goes
for the big laughs.

Sheldon rages –
justifiably, perhaps – when his well-thought-out science project is
defeated by a pretty blonde making her hair go a-flutter. He quits
science and goes to the high school drama class, where the teacher
(Jason Alexander, a Tony-winner before TV) is obliging. The result
has some great moments.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Siren” debut, 8 p.m., Freeform.

“Splash” and
Disney had convinced us that mermaids are sweet and warm. Not so, it
seems. In the water, they see humans as prey; on the land, one is
overwhelmed ... but capable of flinging a guy through a windshield.
Local folks aren't aware of this, but the military is looming
ominously.

Soon, a good-hearted
researcher from a bad-hearted family meets a wordless woman who seems
wary on land. Well-filmed, this is a solid look at a quiet little
place, not yet aware it's into something big.

Other choices
include:

Baseball, all day,
ESPN and beyond. It's Opening Day, a time for optimism everywhere,
and ESPN has a quadruple-header. It's the Cubs at the Marlins at
12:30 p.m. ET, the Astros at the Rangers at 3:30, the Giants at the
Dodgers at 7 p.m. and the Indians at the Mariners at 10.

“Grey's Anatomy,”
8 p.m., ABC. Some unusual patients make an impact. Meredith treats a
transplant surgeon; April (in the middle of a crisis of faith) has a
rabbi.

“Mom,” 9:01
p.m., CBS. Alongside the show's cascade of comedy, there's the somber
underside: These characters share a lifelong struggle with alcoholism
persists. Now Jill is losing the fight; it's a quietly moving
episode, with moderate humor.

“Champions,”
9:30, NBC. Business is dwindling at the gym, partly because a
Curves-type, women-only spot has opened nearby. Vince retaliates, in
a so-so episode.

“Scandal,” 10
p.m., ABC. After skipping a week -- for the two-hour debut of
“Station 19” (which continues at 9 p.m. today) -- “Scandal”
is back for more of its final season. Charlie is arrested for
highjacking the vice-president's plane; that sort of behavior always
upsets officials.

ALSO: “Marcia
Clark Investigates” (9-11 p.m.) and “Grace vs. Abrams” (11),
both A&E. Two former prosecutors get their moments, going back to
old cases. Clark headlines s show; Nancy Grace has verbal duels with
Dan Abrams. In the opener, oddly, both shows eye the Casey Anthony
case.