TV column for Monday, May 28


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“One Strange Rock” finale, 10 p.m., National Geographic,
rerunning at 11. Peggy Whitson's childhood was extremely grounded.
That was on a farm near Beaconsfield, which was once down to 11
people, making it the smallest incorporated city in Iowa.

Her adult life has
been thoroughly ungrounded; she's spent more time (665 days) in space
than anyone else. That contrast forms the core of this gorgeous end
to a brilliant series. We see the two worlds occupied by Whitson ...
and, interestingly, by monarch butterflies. Each year, they commute
between central Mexico and stretches of the Midwest, including
Beaconsfield. The result is stunning.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Bachelorette” opener, 8-10 p.m., ABC.

The new season has
the proper ingredients, starting with a likable woman. (Becca Kufrin,
28, is a publicist who grew up in a lakeside town near Minneapolis;
on “Bachelor,” Arie Luyendyk proposed to her, then dumped her.)
It also has a varied and interesting bunch of men.

One arrives in a
mini-van, another on a bull; one is even wearing a chicken suit. Two
guys are presented as pro football players; Clay Harbor, a tight end,
did catch 114 passes over seven seasons, but Colton Underwood was
only on practice squads. There's even a former Globetrotter, in a fun
start.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Crossing” (ABC) and “Elementary” (CBS),
both 10 p.m.

The official season
ended last week, but there are still shows with new episodes ...
including two that collide tonight. “Crossing” -- which won't be
back next season -- has four episodes; the other three will air next
Monday and Saturday. Tonight, Jude makes a risky move after a grisly
discovery.

And “Elementary”?
It has 17 episodes that CBS can run this summer or next season.
Tonight, Sherlock has a crisis: He can't remember where he's been ...
or why he's holding a severed head.

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

Here is fresh proof
that people can't be confined to one category. These are tough
soldiers or veterans. One lost both legs in Iraq; others have
survived rape, cancer, a neuromuscular disease, homelessness.

Now they're
contestants in a beauty pageant. Lt. Commander Rachel Engler is a
former Washington Redskins cheerleader, but she's also a nurse; in
Afghanistan, she removed her body armor, so local women could relate
to her. We see her and others in the 2015 Ms. Veteran America
pageant.

Other choices
include:

“The Best Years of
Our Lives” (1946), 5 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This movie
about returning soldiers won seven Oscars, including best picture. It
provides a highlight to TCM's military marathon, concluding on this
150th Memorial Day. Steve McQueen's “The Great Escape”
(1963) follows at 8.

“Supergirl,” 8
p.m., CW. Our hero is stunned to learn that her home planet (Krypton)
wasn't completely destroyed; part of it survived. Also, Alex is
attacked while she's out with Ruby.

“John McClain: For
Whom the Bell Tolls,” 8-10 p.m., HBO. McCain, 81, has lived many
lives, from Vietnam POW to presidential candidate and maverick
senator. Here's a profile.

“Man With a Plan,”
8:30 p.m., CBS. Of the six comedies that CBS gave regular Monday
slots, this is the only one that will be back next season. In this
rerun (surrounded by reruns of “Mom” and “CSI: New Orleans”),
Adam learns his wedding wasn't legal. He tries to fix things before
Andi finds out.

“iZombie”
season-finale, 9 p.m., CW. This terrific show will be back next
season. For tonight, Liv's friends – Clive, Ravi, Peyton and Major
– combine to help her.

“James Cameron's
Story of Science Fiction” finale, 10 p.m., ABC. Cameron closes this
series with a look at time-travel – a subject he's mastered in the
“Terminator” films. That follows a 9 p.m. look at a familiar
sci-fi subject – the super-smart machines that overachieve and
conquer us.

TV column for Sunday, May 27


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“National Memorial Day Concert,” 8 p.m., PBS, rerunning at 9:30.

Each year, on the
eve of Memorial Day, music and memories link for rich emotions. This
year's line-up is strong on Broadway stars – Cynthia Erivo of
“Color Purple,” Alfie Boe of “Les Miserables” and Megan Hilty
of “Wicked” and TV's “Smash.” But it also has Grammy-nominee
Leona Lewis and more.

TV viewers will
recognize Charles Esten (he's Deacon on “Nashville”) and “Voice”
finalist Spensha Baker, who will sing the National Anthem. More music
is from Gary Sinise (who also hosts with Joe Mantegna), choruses and
the National Symphony. Tributes include one to women in the military.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Deception” finale, 9 and 10 p.m., ABC.

The world was in no
hurry to see a show about a crimesolving magician; “Deception”
won't be back next season. At least, it's getting a two-hour send-off
against weak competition.

Cameron (Jack
Cutmore-Scott) is a star magician, forced to help the FBI. Lately,
his nemesis has been the “Mystery Woman” from his past. Now, amid
dueling deceptions, she unleashes her strongest step.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERATIVE: “The Fourth Estate” debut, 7:30-9 p.m., Showtime.

Filled with depth
and detail, this series follows the New York Times, starting on
Inauguration Day. It's a pivotal time: Readership keeps rising –
it's called “the Trump bump” -- but print advertising falls; for
the first time, the paper makes more ad money Online than in print.

Stories – once
confined to the next day – now can hit the Web instantly. Trimming,
the paper eliminates seven floors of office space; re-adjusting, it
lays off copy editors and adds reporters. We meet intense and
diligent newspeople; some manage to have a personal life, some don't.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: Military shows, cable.

On the eve of the
150th Memorial Day, there's the PBS special and more. The
Smithsonian Channel reruns its “Carriers at War” opener at 7
p.m., with a new episode at 8. These focus on the USS George H.W.
Bush, with 5,000 people and a task described as “playing dodgeball
with 60,000-pound jets.”

And Turner Classic
Movies continues its military marathon, with some of its lighter
films today. That includes Andy Griffith's “No Time For Sergeants”
(1958) at 3:30 p.m., “Mister Roberts” (1955) at 5:45 and two
Clint Eastwood films -- “Kelly's Heroes” (1970) at 8, “Where
Eagles Dare” (1968) at 10:30.

Other choices
include:

“Toy Story”
films, 2:35 p.m., Freeform. You can catch all three witty gems, at
2:35 (1995), 4:35 (1999) and 6:40 p.m. (2010). They're followed by
“Ratatouille” (2007) at 9:10 and “Up” (2009) at 11:15.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-11 p.m., NBC. The new season starts Wednesday. To get
us in the mood, here's a rerun of the battle between teams from the
U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America.

“Instinct,” 8
p.m., CBS. The network has picked up “Instinct” for mid-season
duty, but it also has six new episodes it can run this summer. Here
are two, starting with a challenge for Dylan (Alan Cumming) and
Lizzie: Solve a crime in 24 hours, before media and special-interest
pressure erupts.

“Good Witch,” 9
p.m., Hallmark. A medical enigma requires the help of opposite
approaches: That's from Sam, the no-nonsense doctor, and Cassie with
her blend of herbs,spices and magical winks.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 10 p.m., CBS. Here's a rerun, nudged an hour later than
usual.

“I'm Dying Up
Here,” 10 p.m., Showtime. Brad Garrett joined the show this year,
playing a sorta-prominent 1970s comedian. Tonight, Goldie wants him
to be on a fundraising telethon; instead, he leaves to address his
financial problems. Also, Cassie is starting to doubt her
relationship with Eddie.

TV column for Saturday, May 26


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Taken,” 8 p.m., NBC .

On a summer-season
Saturday, we're happy to see any new, scripted show, even a lame-duck
one.

“Taken” – a
prequel to the Liam Neeson movies – won't be back next year, but
NBC still has five new hours left. After a five-week lay-off, the
show moves to Saturdays. Tonight, Bryan links with the FBI, trying to
stop a weapons dealer before he reaches international waters.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “From Here to Eternity” (1951), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.

In the midst of its
Memorial Day weekend marathon, TCM has a black-and-white classic
that's mostly a pre-war drama. It's set on Pearl Harbor, just before
(and then during) the attack.

Filled with richly
drawn characters, “Eternity” won an Academy Award for best
picture and seven more Oscars, including its director (Fred
Zinnemann), script and supporting actors Frank Sinatra and Donna
Reed. There were also nominations for its stars, Burt Lancaster,
Donna Reed and Montgomery Clift.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Sports overload.

Yes, it's supposed
to be baseball season. Fox starts its primetime games; at 7:15 p.m.
ET on most Saturdays, it has three games, varying by region. Also,
ESPN has the Twins at Seattle at 10:10 p.m. ET.

But the winter
sports are still coming up to their playoff peaks. In basketball,
Golden State hosts Houston at 9 p.m. ET on TNT; hockey waits until
Monday, when the Stanley Cup finals begin on NBC.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Toy Story” trilogy, 5:20 p.m., Freeform.

Here are the fun
films that proved an important point: Animated movies can still have
clever scripts. The original (1995) is at 5:20, with sequels at 7:20
(1999) and 9:25 p.m. (2010).

That's part of a
cartoon-movies marathon. It starts with “Chicken Little” (2005)
at 7 a.m. and continues through “Despicable Me” (2010) at 3:15
p.m. Hey, some families want fun, not war.

Other choices
include:

More military
movies, cable. Mostly, John Wayne fills the day. His “Green Berets”
(1968) is at 7 p.m. on AMC; also Turner Classic Movies has five
straight Wayne films. There's “Flying Leathernecks” (1951) at
8:30 a.m. ET, “Back to Bataan” (1945) at 10:15, “Wings of
Eagles” (1957) at noon, “Operation Pacific” (1951) at 2 p.m.
and “They Were Expendable” (1945) at 4.

And more. Yes, there
are war films without Wayne; George C. Scott was Oscar-winning
perfection in “Patton” (1970). That's on AMC, which also has
“Windtalkers” (2002) at 1 p.m., “Midway” (1976) at 4 and Brad
Pitt's “Fury” (2014) at 10:05. Also, TCM has “December 7”
(1943) at 6:30 p.m. ET and “Across the Pacific” (1947), a John
Huston film with Humphrey Bogart, at 10:15.

“American Idol,”
8-10 p.m., ABC. If you missed Monday's finale, here's a second
chance. We won't spoil the surprise; the three finalists are Gabby
Barrett, from Munhall, Pa. (near Pittsburgh); Caleb Lee Hutchinson,
from Dallas, Ga. (near Atlanta); and Maddie Pope, from Clarksville,
Tenn.

“Ransom,” 8
p.m., CBS. A hostage negotiation turns tragic, leaving Eric with
self-doubts ... and leaving him facing charges of aiding and abetting
a kidnapper.

“Patrick Melrose,”
9 p.m., Showtime. In the first episode, we saw a drug-addicted
Patrick (Benedict Cumberbatch) retrieve the remains of his father. In
the second, a boyhood flashback, we saw that he has good reasons to
hate the guy. Now – at the mid-point of a five-week mini-series --
he attends a glittering social event that brings back pieces of his
past.

“Saturday Night
Live, “ 11:29 p.m., NBC. The summer rerun season begins. That
follows what was mostly a terrific “SNL” year, despite so-so
outings during the final two Saturdays.

TV column for Friday, May 25


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Quantico,” 10 p.m., ABC.

The TV season
officially ended Wednesday, making shows like “Quantico” and
“Elementary” (10 p.m. Mondays, CBS) seem more important. They
arrived late and have plenty of full-budget episodes to stretch into
the summer, when reruns and reality shows abound.

This is only the
fourth episode of what's planned as the 13-episode, third (and final)
season for “Quantico.” Originally about FBI agents, it now has
them in a sleek, off-the-books unit. Tonight, Alex and McQuigg
(Pyiyanka Chopra and Alan Powell) must protect a prince, after an
emir is assassinated.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY
II: “My Last Days” season-opener, 8 p.m., CW.

Some actors might
dabble in directing, but Justin Baldoni takes it further. producing
and directing richly emotional documentaries. Baldoni (who plays
Rafael on “Jane the Virgin”) has made films about people whose
doctors told them they have little time left. Here are two apiece,
for three Fridays.

Marinda Davis,
diagnosed with seven autoimmune diseases, is a former dancer who has
directed and choreographed a show about the stages of grief. Anthony
Carbajal was diagnosed at 26 with ALS; he devised a mount on the
armrest of his wheelchair that lets him continue as a street
photographer.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Great Performances,” 9-11 p.m., PBS.

It was an awesome
effort, to create the Lincoln Center and the new home of the
Metropolitan Opera. In the heart of New York, 45 acres were cleared,
88 giant building, homes and lives were crushed.

When the opera house
opened in 1966, there were hints of disaster. In rehearsals, the
turntable wouldn't turn and Leontyne Price was trapped inside an
unyielding pyramid. Still, the opening – and building –
triumphed. This film, like the project, is partly an unwieldy jumble
and partly fascinating. It's boosted by the rich memories of two
people in their early 90s, Price and former house manager Alfred
Hubay.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Guns of Navarone” (1961) and “The Dirty Dozen”
(1967), 8 and 11 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.

As the Memorial Day
weekend begins, TCM launches a military marathon. In three-and-a-hal
days (through 7:45 a.m. Tuesday), it has 38 movies, back-to=back and
commercial-free.

That ranges from a
few comedies to such Oscar-winning dramas as “From Here to
Eternity” (1953) at 8 p.m. ET Saturday and “The Best Years of Our
Lives” (1945) at 5 p.m. Monday. But it starts with epic-scale
action: “Guns” includes Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn and a young
Richard Harris. “Dozen” was Jim Brown's first film after leaving
football and one of the first for Lee Marvin after winning his Oscar.

Other choices
include:

“Phenoms,” 8-10
p.m., Fox. Yes, it's a five-hour documentary about soccer ... in a
country that's not really soccer turf. Fox – which has the World
Cup this summer on its broadcast and cable channels – insists on
converting us. This film will continue on two more Fridays.

“Champions,” 8
and 8:30 p.m., NBC. With its future undecided, this is pulled off the
shelf for two new episodes. In the first, Michael's mom (Mindy
Kaling, who produces the show) visits to see how he's doing in New
York. In the second, he's preparing for his first date and his dad
plans to expand the gym.

“Celebrity Boss
Undercover,” 8 p.m., CBS. Bethany Mota was 13 when she started her
upbeat channel on YouTube. Now, at 22, she disguises as a punk-rocker
to mentor other YouTube prospects.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun of the season-opener, Meaghan Rath joins the
team as recruit Tani Rey. Joey Lawrence – whose brother Andrew has
a recurring role as Eric Russo – guests as a hacker who finds a way
to release a dangerous arsonist from prison.

“Life Sentence,”
9 p.m., CW. Stella and Wes decide their hurry-up marriage needs
professional help. Also, her brother asks Wes for help in finding a
job. And their dad faces a tough decision.

“The Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. When a basketball star dies of an apparent overdose,
Danny looks into possible ties to a drug gang. Also. Erin considers
that a man may have been wrongly convicted. Their dad (Tom Selleck)
is pushed by the archbishop (Stacey Keach) to intervene on an
eviction.

TV column for Thursday, May 24


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Red Nose Day,” 8-11 p.m., NBC.

Here are three
specials, each designed to raise money and attention in the fight
against child poverty. That starts with a celebrity “American Ninja
Warrior”; Akbar Gbajabiamila (usually a host) competes, facing
dancer Derek Hough, singer NE-YO, gymnast Nastia Liukin, wrestler
Nikki Bella and more.

At 9 p.m.,
“Hollywood Game Night” has Jane Lynch hosting Kelly Clarkson,
Sean Hayes, Chelsea Handler, Jack Black, Isla Fisher, Sarah
Silverman, Sasheer Zanata and Cedric the Entertainer. At 10, a
special has Chris Hardwick introducing comedy skits and short
documentary films.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Showtime at the Apollo,” 9 p.m., Fox.

In its springtime
run, this revival has had introduced some remarkably talents, most of
them unknowns. Amiably hosted by Steve Harvey, it has had a few
quirky acts and a lot of extremely gifted singers.

It also has let its
theater audience choose a weekly winner. Tonight – a week later
than first announced – the champions compete; the winner gets to
headline a show in the 104-year-old Apollo Theater.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Siren” season-finale, 8 p.m., Freeform.

This has been a
pleasant surprise. Freeform's Tom Ascheim, who has renewed “Siren”
for next season, insists his people knew it would work. “Any time
we said 'killer mermaids,' everybody in the room smiled.” Vampires
and werewolves were taken, he said, but mermaid lore “is an
uncharted territory.”

Still, that makes it
sound flashy and splashy; instead, “Siren” is subtly crafted.
Filmed in Vancouver,

it has understated
Canadian and British actors, some with native roots. The
sometimes-fierce mermaids have been a secret in this fishing town;
tonight's fairly good hour has the aftermath to a shooting.

Other choices
include:

“The Last Days of
Michael Jackson,” 8-10 p.m., ABC. The TV season officially ended
Wednesday, putting networks into their summer scramble. Next
Thursday, ABC will have the pro-basketball finals; now it fills in
with this documentary, which it says has new interviews about
Jackson's life and career..

“Terrence Howard's
Fright Club,” 8 p.m., Fox. Howard – whose “Empire” ended its
season Wednesday – offers a mega-prank. Some of his fans think
they've won tickets to a filmed, VIP experience at his remote New
Orleans estate. But all the people they meet are actors, in on the
prank.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a fairly good rerun, Penny has a chance to
host Bill Gates at his work. Her friends scheme to be there ...
except Sheldon, who assumes it's a prank.

“Mom,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. This rerun has Bonnie making an extreme sacrifice to help her
daughter pay for law-school applications: She gives up cable-TV.
Also, Jill has a breakdown in her favorite store.

“Black Lightning,”
9 p.m., CW. Rerun time begins on CW, with the “Supernatural”
season-opener at 8 p.m. and then this series-opener. It's an
excellent one, with Cress Williams as a crusading school principal,
hesitant to resume the violence of his superhero days. In subsequent
episodes, that reluctant-hero bit would be stretched too thin; for
this hour, however, it works powerfully.

“What Would You
Do?” season-opener, 10 p.m., ABC. A well-made show, from ABC's news
division, this uses hidden cameras to see people's tendency to ignore
or intervene in tough social situations.

“SWAT,” 10
p.m., CBS. A rerun has the team at the core of an immigration debate.
Meanwhile, the head of the police commission has discovered the
secret romance between Hondo and Jessica Cortez, the captain who
supervises his unit.