TV column for Thursday, June 11

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: "The New Adventures of Old Christine," 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS.
When NBC scheduled "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here," it temporarily forfeited its pride, its dignity and half of its Thursday comedy block.
Now CBS is kindly filling that gap with Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Her "Christine" is no match for "Seinfeld" (where she was a Thursday mainstay for five years), but it's well above-average.
The show gives her an ex-husband, a son and two especially good supporting characters -- her droll brother (Hamish Linklater) and her acerbic friend Barb (Wanda Sykes).
In tonight's second rerun, those two have slept together once; now they goad Christine by pretending to be inseparable. In the first, Christine considers doing something wild, to prove to Barb she's not dull.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: "She's Got the Look," 9 p.m., TV Land; repeats at 10.
When this show -- looking for models older than 35 -- started last season, it was stale and flat. Now the second season has sharper editing and a terrific set of contestants.
We're quickly charmed by someone so shy that a judge calls her "the most unawarely beautiful woman ever." And we meet her opposite, a fast-talking, overconfident sort who says her personality type has previously existed only in Oprah Winfrey and Joan of Arc; she hasn't been burned at the stake, but she has been fired from seven corporate jobs.
We meet a glamorous trans-sexual, a really cute lesbian rock singer, an attractive 72-year-old. One woman offers a neat blend of Hispanic and Chinese roots; another says she's ready to be "your first petite, plus-sized, Asian model."
Many of them have the brains and beauty to match their eccentricity. It could be a fun year.
Other choices include:
-- "You Only Live Twice" (1967, 6:30 p.m.) and "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971, 9 p.m.), Sci Fi. Here are two slick James Bond adventures from the later (and sillier) part of the Sean Connery era. They're fun films, but on Sci Fi? Fi, definitely; not so much sci.
-- Basketball previews (8 and 8:31 p.m. ET) and game (9:01 p.m.), ABC. It's the fourth game of the best-of-seven championship season, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic.
-- "Bones," 8 p.m., Fox. The "Grave Digger" has buried Booth alive in this rerun; his friends scramble to save him.
-- "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," 9 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, an undercover FBI agent has been brutally beaten. Now the CSI team works with his former partner.
-- "The Office," 9 p.m., NBC. This rerun goes back to Halloween, when Pam is the only person to come to work at the corporate office in costume.
-- "30 Rock," 9:31 p.m., NBC. We go back to when Jack first lusted for his mom's gorgeous nurse (Salma Hayek). Meanwhile, friends figure Liz's latest guy (played by the 4-foot-5 Peter Dinklage) reflects her desire to have a child.
-- "The Listener," 10 p.m., NBC. As Toby searches for a missing girl, he starts to wonder if a homeless man shares his telepathic abilities.
-- "The Mentalist," 10 p.m., CBS. In addition to its old Tuesday spot, this show also has reruns in the Thursday home where it will live next season. Tonight, Patrick Jane avoids his boss' probe of a waitress-killing; his own plan uses Van Pelt as bait.
-- "Royal Pains," 10 p.m., USA. In last week's entertaining debut, an honest young doctor lost his job and money; he stumbled into work as a "concierge doctor," living in a rich man's cottage and caring for the wealthy of The Hamptons. Tonight, his brother tries to set him up with the attractive (and honest) hospital administrator.

TV column for Wednesday, June 10

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: "So You Think You Can Dance," 8-10 p.m., Fox.
Last week, viewers saw the Las Vegas round trim the field from 172 dancers to 20.
Some stunning talents were ousted. Now all of the survivors perform; on Thursday, two of them will be ousted.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: "American Masters: Neil Young: Don't Be Denied," 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
To envision Neil Young, just imagine Bob Dylan only more so.
Both are from the frozen North -- Dylan from northern Minnesota, Young from central Canada. Both wrote a few protest classics, then refused to do more.
Young leaped wildly between styles and groups -- Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse and more, peaking with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. "I only do this for the music," he said.
With every shift, he's disappointed some fans. "If you're trying to stay in the favor of the public, you're a loser," he said. "You'll never get there."
That makes him interesting, yet difficult to profile. This film tries, with fairly good success.
Other choices include:
-- "Wipeout" (ABC) and "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here" (NBC), each 8-10 p.m. Both networks are expanding their offbeat shows to two hours tonight. That dumps one of NBC's two "Law & Order" reruns; it also slides ABC's "The Good Family" to a new, four-comedy block on Fridays.

-- "The New Adventures of Old Christine," 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun has Jeffrey Tambor ("Arrested Development") as a reptile expert. To help her son, Christine reluctantly dates him.
-- "Shine" (1996), 8 p.m., IFC; and/or "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), 9 p.m., Oxygen. Here are two brilliant, Oscar-winning performances -- first Geoffrey Rush in the true tale of a gifted (but mentally troubled) pianist, then Hilary Swank in Clint Eastwood's moving tale of a female boxer.
-- "Nacho Libre" (2006), Cartoon Network, or "Aladdin" (1992), Disney; both 8 p.m. Go figure: The Cartoon Network movie isn't a cartoon; the Disney Channel one is. "Nacho Libre" is an odd trifle -- with Jack Black as a Mexican wrestling star -- that promise big laughs and delivers modest ones; "Aladdin," however, is a delight.
-- "Top Chef Masters" debut, 10 p.m., Bravo. For each of the first six weeks, we'll see four master chefs compete, with only one advancing. For this opener, the show struggles to have some variety in background -- an older French chef, a young (and self-taught) Texan, a guy who picked up tips from his Chinese grandfather. Still, we're looking at four white guys who seem kind of identical in white coats; the young-chef shows offer more variety and flair.
-- "True Hollywood Story," 10 p.m., E. Patrick Swayze isn't one of those quick-fad guys. He's been married to dancer-actress Lisa Niemi for 34 of his 56 years; he's loved dance since his days in his mom's Houston studio. This profile ranges from past triumphs ("Ghost," "Dirty Dancing") to his struggles with pancreatic cancer. It also includes scenes from a 2007 German drama that hasn't had a U.S. release.  

TV column for Tuesday, June 9

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: "Rescue Me," 10 p.m., FX.
As last week's episode ended, Mike was seeing the truth about Tommy (Denis Leary): After all his Alcoholics Anonymous progress, he's still a clumsy drunk, sullen and broken.
As this hour begins, Mike sees the other side: In a fire emergency, Tommy remains heroic.
"Rescue Me" can still be slyly funny when it wants to be. A long scene, with Tommy trying to confess his drinking, is wonderfully played.
Mostly, however, this hour is quietly moving. Tonight, Sean -- facing serious cancer surgery -- finally has a meaningful talk with his emotionally distant mom.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: Basketball (ABC) or hockey (NBC), 8 p.m. ET.
The two winter sports collide in June, with their best-of-seven championship series.
For hockey, game six of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup series returns to Pittsburgh, where the Penguins have won twice. If there's a seventh game, it will be Friday on the Red Wings' ice in Detroit.
Meanwhile, basketball moves to the Orlando Magic's home court, for game three with the Los Angeles Lakers. Pre-game shows start at 8, tip-off at 9:01.
Other choices include:
-- "90210," 8 p.m., CW. Here's a chance to catch up, starting with its first episode. Harry and Debbie Wilson (Rob Estes and Lori Loughlin) raised their daughter and adoptive son in Kansas; now he's taken a job as principal of West Beverly High, his old high school. That brings him back to his eccentric mom (Jessica Walter) and his former girlfriend Kelly (Jennie Garth); it also introduces lots of beautiful teens with too much money.
-- "Live From Lincoln Center," 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). The cheery, outdoor concert season is celebrated here, from the Lincoln Center's bandshell. Yo-Yo Ma, the great cellist, links with the Silk Road Ensemble, which has 60 people -- musicians, composers, artists, storytellers -- from 20 countries.
-- "House," 8 p.m., Fox. In this rerun, a patient provides insight into the hard-partying life of the doctor known as "Thirteen."
-- "Mental," 9 p.m., Fox. Lightning has killed one person and left her husband (the late David Carradine) in a catatonic state. Now Jack tries a drastic cure, complicated by his attraction to the guy's daughter (Estella Warren).
-- "The Mentalist," 9 p.m., CBS. Who knew there could be greed and betrayal among financiers? The team investigates murders at a corporate retreat.

TV column for Monday, June 8

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: "Raising the Bar" season-opener, 10 p.m., TNT.
Tonight's hour starts wonderfully, as friends roast Jerry Kellerman (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) on his birthday. The guy's a public defender -- passionate, caring and profoundly disheveled.
Then -- for the sake of a client -- comes a transformation. That signals a strong start for the second season of this show from Steven Bochco, the "NYPD Blue" and "L.A. Law" producer.
Viewers will like these idealistic lawyers,changes and all. Jerry has had a makeover, Bobbi (Natalia Cigliuti) is getting a divorce; their boss (Gloria Reuben) is working cases again, because of funding problems.
And viewers will care about the cases. Tonight, a decent chap may go to jail, because his nephew was selling drugs in the back of his barber shop. It's smart, Bochco-quality TV.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: "Nurse Jackie" debut, 10 p.m., Showtime.
Even in her "Sopranos" days, Edie Falco didn't tackle such emotional extremes.
As a nurse, Jackie is hard-working and caring. As a person, she pops pills, forges a name, has quick-and-unappealing sex.
The opener quickly confronts sharp tragedy, then veers near comedy. It's dizzying and well-made.
Other choices include:
-- "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here," 8-10 p.m., NBC. With a hockey game pre-empting the show Tuesday, tonight's game has been expanded to two hours. Among other things, we'll learn whether Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag will be allowed to return yet again. Please catch my blog interviewing Angela Shelton, the first person dumped by viewers.

-- "The Bachelorette," 8-10:02 p.m., ABC. More than half the remaining bachelors are from Texas or California -- far from Jillian's northern world. Tonight, she takes all 13 there and shows them some Canadian pleasures -- from curling (sort of shuffleboard on ice) to a snowball fight. Meanwhile, there's dissension when one man claims the others have girlfriends back home.
-- "House," 8 p.m., Fox. In this rerun, a fitness expert's secret puts her health in danger. Meanwhile, Cuddy is temporarily sharing House's office and "Thirteen" is starting her experimental treatment for Huntington's Disease.
-- "The Big Bang Theory," 8 p.m., CBS. In a rerun, a paintball fight leads to arguing between Penny and Sheldon and romance between Wolowitz and Leslie, the delightful character played by Sara Gilbert.
-- "Two and a Half Men," 9 p.m., CBS. This rerun has Jake vanishing with the neighbor girl, leaving Charlie to worry about her dad -- played by the giant Michael Clarke Duncan -- will be angry.
-- "The Closer" season-opener, 9 p.m., TNT. The frills came at the end of last year, when Brenda (the tough homicide cop) actually married Fritz the FBI agent. That episode reruns at 8 p.m.; then things turn serious again. Four people, including two kids, have been killed; "The Closer" has an impressive ability to turn intense when the case requires.
-- "Army Wives," 9 p.m., Lifetime. If you missed Sunday's excellent season-opener, catch this rerun. It includes some big emotional blows for Denise (Catherine Bell); it also leads into a 10 p.m. rerun of the wonderful opening episode of "Desperate Housewives," which will air here on Mondays.
-- "My Life on the D List" season-opener, 10 p.m., Bravo. Kathy Griffin is a terrific stand-up comedian, as we see in concert reruns at 8 and 9 p.m., so now she's cut a comedy album. Tonight's best moments come early, when she saunters into the headquarters of the Grammy people, campaigning for an award; she even carries her two Emmys (for best reality show) as examples. In the second half, which is OK, she communes in Las Vegas with Bette Midler.

TV column for Sunday, June 7

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Tony Awards, 8 p.m., CBS.
This Broadway show will be stuffed with musical numbers and familiar faces.
Two well-known composers will be on stage with their shows -- Elton John with "Billy Elliot" and Dolly Parton with "9 to 5." Also, the heavy-metal band Poison will join the cast of "Rock of Ages" and Liza Minnelli will perform.
The night includes numbers from all four nominated musicals ("Billy Elliot," "Next to Normal," "Shrek" and "Rock of Ages"), plus the nominated revivals ("Hair," "West Side Story," "Pal Joey" and "Guys and Dolls") and three shows now on the road ("Mamma Mia," "Jersey Boys" and "Legally Blonde").
Viewers who don't go to Broadway will still recognize many of the people involved. They range from host Neil Patrick Harris to the entire cast of "God of Carnage," a comedy-drama about middle-class folks with faw emotions. It's up for best play; all four stars -- James Gandolfini, Jeff Daniels, Hope Davis and Marcia Gay Harden -- are up for acting awards and will present.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: "Army Wives" season opener, 10 p.m., Lifetime.
Three of the wives find their lives in chaos. Claudia Joy (Kim Delaney) searches for her teen daughter, who has run off to marry a soldier. Denise (Catherine Bell) has split with her husband, after falling for a wounded patient. And Roxy (Sally Pressman) battles a man who claims to own half her bar.
One of these problems is solved with absurd ease, but the others resonates deeply. That gives the hour an emotional conclusion.
Other choices:
-- Basketball previews at 7 p.m. ET, game at 8. Here's the second game of the best-of-seven series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic.
-- "10 Top Bridzilla Moments," 8 p.m., WE. This special re-visits some of the more outspoken brides from the first six seasons. One (who stormed out of her own wedding rehearsal) has already received divorce papers, but others are into behavior modification. One gives herself a breathalyzer test before breast-feeding her baby. This is followed by the season-openers for "Bridezillas" at 9 and "Amazing Wedding Cakes" at 10.
-- "Hannah Montana," "Sonny With a Chance" and "Jonas," 7:30-9 p.m., Disney Channel. All three are new episodes, including some stunt casting in the middle one: Selena Gomez plays herself, who has been cast in a movie to portray Sonny (played by Demi Lovato, who is the series star and Selena's long-time friend in real life).
-- "The Last Templar," 9-11 p.m., NBC. Here's the second half of this so-so mini-series rerun, with Mira Sorvino pursuing an important artifact. After showing the first half, NBC delayed this because of hockey.
-- "Masterpiece Mystery," 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). New shows are coming, buy yhe season opens with a couple of fairly good "Foyle's War" reruns. In this one, an abrasive doctor has been killed at a soldiers' hospital.
-- "HGTV's $250,000 Challenge," 10 p.m., HGTV. The second episode has the four surviving duos scrambling to make over a bedroom with 20 hours, $3,000 and a carpenter. This is a fun and well-made hour -- despite the fact that the signs in front of each house have punctuation errors.
-- "Expedition Africa," 10 p.m., History Channel. Four strong-minded adventurers try a variation on the route that took Henry Stanley to find David Livingstone. Tonight, they cross the Uluguru Mountains, as tempers build. Like other productions by Mark Burnett ("Survivor"), this is beautifully filmed and edited.
-- "Z Rock" season-opener, 11 p.m., and "Ideal" debut, 11:30, both Independent Film Channel. These two R-rated comedies are spotty, but have their moments. First, friends scramble to get the Z Rock trio back together. Then we meet Moz (Johnny Vegas), who spends his life in his apartment, dealing dope; parts of this are lost in thick English accents, but there are some funny bits involving a cheerily confused babysitter.