TV column for Monday, July 23


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

Bob Costas sums it
up neatly: “Ted Williams was the guy John Wayne played.” Williams
and Wayne had the same height (6-foot-4) and the same working-guy
manner. Wayne played war heroes; Williams was one, albeit
reluctantly. He was also the greatest hitter in baseball history.

Many fans knew his
ability ... and little else. They didn't know he was the first Latino
superstar; they didn't know his cruel temper ... or the kindly side
that saw him being the secret benefactor of sick kids and old
players. They knew him simply as a man who worked hard to perfect his
craft.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

This has become a
tradition. Down to the final three, the woman on consecutive days
asks each guy to spend the night with her. Quite often (well, always)
the answer is yes.

For this year, it
might have been interesting if Becca Kufrin had kept Colton
Underwood, who admitted he's a virgin. Alas, she dropped him last
week, leaving (one assumes) non-virgins: Jason Tartic, 29, is a
corporate banker; Blake Horstmann, 28, and Garrett Yrigoyen, 29, are
both sales representatives.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Giant” (1956), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies.

This was a gigantic
film in every way – in length (3 hours, 21 minutes, without
commercials), in pop culture (Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and –
in his final performance – James Dean) and in stature.

Alongside its
“Dallas”-style story of love, lust and greed, “Giant” had
serious sub-plots. Taylor, then 24, played someone who fought biases
toward Mexicans and women. (In real life, she also befriended Hudson
and became an early advocate of gay-rights and AIDS support.) George
Stevens won an Oscar for directing and there were nine more
nominations, including best picture, plus Hudson and Dean.

Other choices
include:

Sharks, all day,
cable. “Shark Week” has started now on Discovery, with non-stop
shark shows. Meanwhile, NatGeo Wild is in the second week of
“Sharkfest,” with shows from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. It's time for Dallas' city finals.

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8 p.m., Fox. Here's another competition show that's
starting to heat up. Tonight, the top 10 women perform; next week
will be the top 10 men.

“Life in Pieces,”
8:30 p.m., CBS. After being off the air for five weeks, this
oft-clever show takes a summer spot on Mondays, after “Mom.” In
this rerun, Greg and Colleen exchange their wedding gifts for cast
... then learn that was a big mistake.

“Salvation,” 9
p.m., CBS. Saving the world can require tenuous alliances. Now Darius
and Harris work together, to face Bennett's forces. Also, Grace has a
dangerous link with Claire's brother Alonzo.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. Holmes and Watson probe the disappearance of a woman who
lived a double life, moonlighting as a dominatrix. Meanwhile, their
ally, Det. Bell, may leave the police force.

“POV,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). After the Ted Williams film, viewers can
catch a different sort of sports documentary: In a Taliban-controlled
area of Pakistan, girls' sports are decried as un-Islamic. But Maria
Toorpakai disguised herself as a boy and became a squash star.

TV column for Sunday, July 22


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Shark Week” opener, all day, Discovery.

A 30-year tradition
continues, as Discovery fills its line-up with sharks. That starts
with reruns and then a repackaging: At 7 p.m., “Alien Sharks:
Greatest Hits” has some extremes from previous years.

Then the new hours
begin, taking stars out of their comfort zones. It's adventurer Bear
Grylls at 8 p.m. (“Bear vs. Shark”), basketball's Shaquille
O'Neal at 9 (“Shaq Does Shark Week”) and then a fight champion
amid mako stars in “Ronda Rousey Uncaged,” at 10.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY
II: Steve Harvey night, 7 p.m., NBC, and 8 p.m., ABC.

You can spend half
the night with Harvey, who seems to host everything. First, NBC
starts rerunning the third season of “Little Big Shots.” This
opener includes a 12-year-old gospel star, a 9-year-old bubble
artist, a 7-year-old math expert and a 4-year-old who belts Frank
Sinatra songs.

Then is ABC's
“Celebrity Family Feud.” One game has the “Grey's Anatomy”
and “Station 19” casts; Chandra Wilson and Jason George (who play
a married couple) oppose each other. The other has the families of
pop stars Aly and AJ (including their mom) facing “The Real”
co-host Adrienne Houghton.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Masterpiece: Endeavour,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS.

“This is way above
your pay grade,” someone tells Det. Sgt. Endeavour Morse tonight.
He's supposed to focus on the murders that pop up perpetually in
gentle Oxford; suddenly, he's wrapped into a game with international
players, assassins and more.

It strains our
credibility at times, as if James Bond and Miss Marple were
co-habitating. Still, we have to admit that it's a clever tale that
keeps us watching.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Pose” season-finale, 9 p.m., FX, rerunning at
10:30.

In a show overloaded
with sass and flash, tonight's best moments are quiet ones. During
these balls in 1988 New York, Pray Tell (brilliantly played by
Tony-winner Billy Porter) is brash and confident. But on a first
date, as an HIV-positive man mourning his lover, he shows an
endearing fragility.

That provides
counterpoint to a show that is visually stunning, yet faces a
constant obstacle: Most of us have no idea what's going on in these
30-year-ago competitions. It's like an Arctic native at his first
football game: This is fun and flashy, but we kind of wish we knew
the rules.

Other choices
include:

More sharks, all
day, NatGeo Wild. Apparently, one shark network isn't enough. Bashing
against “Shark Week,” this channel has the second week of
“Sharkfest.” Reruns start at 7 a.m. and there are three new “When
Shark Attack” hours at 8 p.m., rerunning at 11.

“One Strange
Rock,” 7 p.m., Fox. Forget about sharks and other Earth creatures:
On this rerun from a terrific series, astronaut Mae Jemison and
others face broader issues of life forms on other planets.

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. Homer and Marge were once happy and care-free, it seems.
They were also child-free; they relate the tale in this rerun.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9 and 10 p.m., CBS. Here are two reruns, the second
bringing back Bar Paly, the model-turned-actress. She's Anna
Kolcheck, an ATF agent, searching for a major weapons dealer.

“Ghosted,” 9:30
p.m., Fox. As they look for Agent Checker, the guys end up reversing
their usual views. Max (Adam Scott) is losing confidence in their
ability; Leroy (Craig Robinson) is a believer.

“Shades of Blue,”
10 p.m., NBC. Harlee and Wozniak already face tough times, for
exposing cop corruption. Now they seek to prove there's a link
between the intelligence unit and the crime cartel.

TV column for Saturday, July 21


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Me, Myself and I” series-finale, 8-9:30 p.m., CBS.

This was a failure,
but an ambitious one. It tried to be sort of a situation-comedy “This
Is Us,” weaving together three phases of one man's life.

Alas, the three
actors – handsome young Jack Grazer, roundish Bobby Moynihan,
towering John Larroquette – bore little resemblance; also, there
was an unshakable sadness. At 8 p.m. today, mid-life Alex sells an
invention to his old nemesis ... and older Alex speaks at the guy's
funeral. At 8:30, older Alex is upset when his daughter quits her
dream job; at 9, older Alex clings to a possible romance.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Little Big Shots,” 8 p.m., NBC.

On the eve of this
show's season-opener, here's a rerun of an April episode, with a
return performance by 13-year-old ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer.
She had done the show when she was 11 ... then went on to become the
2017 champion of “America's Got Talent.”

Also tonight: A
6-year-old inventor, a young soccer star, a singer-songwriter, an
Atlanta drum line and a pair of “human calculators.:

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Jaws” (1975), 8-11 p.m., Discovery.

Some 30 years (and
four days) after launching its first “Shark Week,” Discovery is
almost ready for the new round. It has this Steven Spielberg
masterpiece tonight, with its sequel at 11. At 2 a.m., it starts a
long string of shark reruns, leading into the real start, with new
hours from 7-11 p.m. Sunday.

And what about
NatGeo Wild, which has its own “Sharkfest”? Today, that's only
from noon to 4 p.m., stepping aside for light shows, including lots
of “Animals Doing Things.” The sharks return Sunday.

Other choices
include:

“Hotel
Transylvania” (2012), 3 p.m., FXX. This fun animated film is
followed by its sequel (2015) at 5 p.m. They repeat at 7 and 9 p.m.,
with the witty “Simpsons Movie” (2007) at 11.

“Up” (2009),
3:15 p.m., Freeform. Here's the start of a string of animated gems
from Pixar. It's followed by the “Toy Story” trilogy, at 5:25
(1995), 7:25 (1999) and 9:30 p.m. (2010).

“America's
Funniest Home Videos,” 8 p.m., ABC. Some car woes are in this
rerun: A wayward tire knocks down a neighbor's mailbox; a sunroof
leaks while the driver's going through a car wash.

“Kids Choice
Sports Awards,” 8 p.m., Nickelodeon. Basketball star Chris Paul
hosts, with other sports stars showing up. They include Olympians
Chloe Kim and Lindsey Vonn, former race driver Danica Patrick and
former football star Michael Strahan.

“Truth and Lies:
The Menendez Brothers,” 9-11 p.m., ABC. This reruns a look at the
headline-grabbing trial of young men accused of killing their
parents. It includes a prison interview with Lyle Menendez.

“Living
Biblically,” 9:30 p.m., CBS. Another CBS comedy has its
series-finale. This one, however, rarely got praise or interest.
Tonight, Chip is fired while trying to help Mrs. Meadows get her job
back.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Fresh from his “Black Panther” success,
Chadwick Boseman hosted this rerun, with Cardi B as the music guest.

TV column for Friday, July 20


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Wynonna Earp” and “Killjoys” season-openers, 9 and 10 p.m.,
Syfy.

At first glance,
these seem like opposites. One has a cowboy look, dark and gritty;
the other, set on futuristic planets and ships, is sometimes
gorgeous.

But at the core,
they're kin. Each show (later, we'll talk about them separately) has
a tough woman with jaw-dropping, bone-breaking combat skills. Each is
filmed in Canada, with droll humor. “Earp” is interesting,
“Killjoys” is more; both feel like bonuses on a summer Friday.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “The Great British Baking Show” and “Food Flirts,” 9-11
p.m., PBS.

Half of PBS' Friday
food focus will end tonight. That's “Food Flirts,” in which
Marilyn and Sheila Brass (sisters, in their 70s) sample and concoct
food adventures. At 10 p.m.., they mix specialties from the U.S. and
India, with a cheeseburger dosa. At 10:30, they make pastrami ramen
noodle kugel.

The other half, a
gentle British competition, has lots of episodes left. Tonight's
subject is pudding.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “West Side Story” (1961), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.

This year marks two
milestones – the 60th anniversary of this musical's
Broadway debut and the 100th anniversary of the birth of
its composer, Leonard Bernstein. In a convergence of genius, he
linked with lyricist Stephen Sondheim and choreographer Jerome
Robbins to create a classic.

Here's the movie ...
on a night that also reflects film genius with “Being John
Malkovich” (1999), at 8 p.m. on HBO. Charlie Kaufman wrote a
wonderfully weird stript, directed deftly by Spike Jonze.

Other choices
include:

“Charlie and the
Chocolate Factory” (2005), 6:10 p.m., Freeform. Tim Burton's
direction turned this into a classic. It's sandwiched by animated
gems -- “Mulan” (1998) at 4 p.m. and “Up” (2009) at 8:50.

“Quantico,” 8
p.m., ABC. Plotting revenge, Conor Devlin retreats to his native
Ireland. Soon, the team members are unwittingly pawns in his plan.

“Whistleblower,”
8 p.m., CBS. What's it like to suspect that your employer is a cheat?
Tess Mercer says the Marinello School of Beauty, in California, “was
a total fraud and a total scam.” George Karadsheh says the
oncologist he worked for gave chemotherapy to more than 500 patients
who didn't need it.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. This rerun finds Danny and McGarrett with two concerns:
They're investigating a private-eye whose client was killed; also,
Danny's uncle is helping open their restaurant.

“Wynonna Earp,”
9 p.m., Syfy. Like her great-great-grandfather Wyatt, Wynonna is a
tough fighter; unlike him, she's fighting demons. And despite the
toughness, she can crumble; this opener finds her sinking into drink
and despair, after she chose to give her daughter a safer childhood,
being raised by a relative. Amid the melancholy, new demons arrive;
it's a messy and fairly well-done episode.

“Blue Bloods, 10
p.m., CBS. In this rerun, Kevin Dillon is back as Danny's
brother-in-law, now in trouble with the Mob. He steals a credit card
from Danny – who forces him to help catch the mobsters.

“Killjoys,” 10
p.m., Syfy. This started as a skillful blend of action and humor,
centering on Dutch (a beautiful assassin-turned-bounty-hunter) and
her partner Johnny, who prefers scams instead of violence. It's
become increasingly complex, with Dutch in an eerie other-world. But
now it opens its season wtih virtually an hour-long flashback, as the
amnesiac Dutch learns how the partnership began.

TV column for Thursday, July 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Trial & Error: Lady Killer” season-opener, 9 and 9:30 p.m.,
NBC.

Fifteen months ago,
one of last season's best shows had its big finish: Josh – the
novice lawyer, surrounded by lunacy in East Peck, S.C. -- had won;
his guilty-seeming client didn't do it.

Now, at last, we get
a second season. This client (Kristin Chenoweth) – like the last
one (John Lithgow) -- has a knack for saying incriminating things.
The humor is a bit broader now – there's much emphasis on the fact
that locals are called Peckers – but this remains a witty delight.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Shooter” (2007), 8-10:30 p.m., TNT; or “Shooter” series,
10:01 p.m., USA.

The fictional Bob
Lee Swagger, former military sniper, has two versions. He's Mark
Wahlberg in the movie, on the lam after being framed; he's Ryan
Phillipe in the series, looking for his dad's killer.

In tonight's
episode, Swagger and the bad guys scramble for a codebreaking device.
It's a good show, rippling with great support. There's Gerald McRaney
being venomous, Jesse Bradford being nervous and Shantel VanSanten,
resisting the cliche that keeps having nay-saying spouses for TV
heroes.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Snowfall” season-opener, 10 p.m., FX.

The first season
ended with a fierce jolt: Lucia ordered a hit, wiping out most of her
family. Now we jump ahead four months and she's running the family
drug business. Also, Franklin is the local cocaine king and Teddy is
helping his CIA bosses secret trade coke for guns for Contra
soldiers.

What could go wrong
here? Almost everything. Skillfully produced by John Singleton and
Thomas Schlamme, “Snowfall” quickly enmeshes its people in all
the problems of 1980s Los Angeles.

Other choices
include:

“Doctor Who,” 6
a.m., BBC America. This marathon has a rerun every hour through the
noon hour, then longer films at 1, 2:40, 3:55. 5:15 and 6:35 p.m.,
leading to a re-created “lost episode” at 8.

“Mulan” (1998),
6 p.m., and “Cloak & Dagger,” 8 p.m., Freeform, rerunning at
9:01 and 10:01. First, a lovely cartoon classic; then (repeating at
9:01 and 10:01) “Cloak” delivers some first-rate fantasy. It's
the eighth anniversary of the night when, separately, Tandy's dad and
Tyrone's brother died. Now both teens have schemes that are more like
revenge than justice. His plan is quite clever; hers is not.

“The Four,” 8-10
p.m., ABC. Five weeks into the second season, two of the originals –
James Graham and Seraya J – remain. Last week, Noah Barlass was the
only successful challenger, bumping Jesse Kramer. Graham and Seraya
beat challenges. as did Ali Caldwell, the previous successful
challenger.

“Take Two,” 8
p.m., ABC. In its first four weeks, this “Castle” clone has shown
itself to be light-headed, but likable. Now it gets an earlier spot.
Tonight, Eddie (the private eye) and Sam (once a successful actress)
try to help someone who paid to be killed by a hit man, then changed
his mind.

“The Big Bang
Theory” and “Young Sheldon,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS. Sheldon's
mom shows up in both reruns. In the first (Sheldon boots Amy out so
he can work alone), she's played by Laurie Metcalf. In the second
(she frets when he samples religions), she's played by Metcalf's real
daughter, Zoe Perry.

“Queen of the
South,” 9 p.m., Syfy. After starting her winery in Phoenix, Teresa
meets an old enemy (quite violently) and an old friend (quite
passionately).

“The Gong Show,”
10 p.m., ABC. This fun show moves back from its 8 p.m. slot.