TV column for Thursday, July 16






TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Grey's Anatomy”
(9 p.m.) and “Private Practice” (10:02 p.m.), ABC.

Two shows blend tonight, in well-made
reruns.

At the core is Addison. Her brother
Archer (Grant Show) is having fierce seizures; she rushes him to
Seattle, where her ex-husband Derek can try brain surgery.

Naomi, Archer's lover, comes along and
soon helps work on another troubled patient. Sam also comes, and soon
becomes a patient; “Grey's Anatomy,” in particular, delivers
strongly when it counts.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Southern
Belles: Louisville,” 10 p.m., Soapnet.

This is a good time to join this
reality show, a week before its finale. These women love Louisville
culture, but two of them must decide whether to leave it.

Emily Gimmel, 24, ducked her dad's
hopes of joining his big-money business. Instead, she's a
$30,000-a-year TV reporter; now she has a chance to try Las Vegas.

Kellie Frey, 32, married into money,
but divorced twice. Now an older guy wants her to move to Chicago –
and makes it clear he doesn't want any more kids.

Hadley Hartz, 26, and Julie Smith, 34,
have guy troubles and job troubles. Shea Johnson, 28, has a good guy
and big tastes; she wants to buy half a mansion, as her starter home.

Other choices include:

– “Big Brother,” 8 p.m., CBS.
It's time for the first person to be evicted,

– “J.K. Rowling: A Year in the
Life,” 8 p.m., ABC. Much has happened since J.K. Rowling began
writing her first Harry Potter novel in cafes while her baby slept.
At 43, she's considered virtually a billionaire. Now – on the week
that the newest Potter film reaches theaters – here's a portrait.

– “30 Rock,” 8 and 9:31 p.m.,
NBC. In the first rerun, Valentine's Day finds romances in disarray.
In the second, Liz befriends a pregnant teen-aged donut-shop worker,
hoping to get her baby.

– “The Office,” 8:30 and 9 p.m.,
NBC. In the first rerun, Michael has a scheme to put “golden
tickets” into some paper packages. In the second, a new,
no-nonsense boss arrives.

– “So You Think You Can Dance,” 9
p.m., Fox. Two more dancers are cut, trimming the field to eight.
Also, the Black Eyed Peas perform.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
9 p.m., CBS. A connection is found for three murder cases that had
seemed unrelated.

– “Soundstage,” 10 p.m., PBS
(check local listings). At 53, Billy Idol remains a solid rock 'n'
roll frontman. With a strong boost from guitarist and songwriting
partner Steve Stevens, he rips through “White Wedding,” “Rebel
Yell” and other songs that were big in MTV's early days.

– “The Mentalist,” 10:01 p.m.,
CBS. Patrick Jane hopes a phony séance will trap a fake psychic.

– “The Listener,” 10:01 p.m.,
NBC. Toby, who can sometimes hear thoughts, is fascinated by a woman
who can sometimes heal people with her mind.

 

TV column for Wednesday, July 15




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Dark Blue”
debut, 10 p.m., TNT.

This may be the deepest, darkest cop
show yet.

Its hero (Dylan McDermott) is solemn,
battered by personal tragedy and by years undercover. Now videotape
indicates his man may be in top deep, even taking part in a
near-murder.

Is the guy crooked? There are no easy
answers, but there is sharp writing and richly layered characters.
There's also superb technical work; we expect that, because this is a
Jerry Bruckheimer production.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: The Ascent of
Money,” 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).

John Law, a Scotsman, was convicted of
murder after a duel. He fled to France and prospered.

Law had a palace and 12 country
estates, plus control of the French financial system and the
Louisiana territory, where he owned seven plantations. Alas, it was
all based on the overstated value of his holdings; he printed more
money and destroyed that economy, indirectly leading to revolution.

That's the first of several stories in
which war and finance entwine. We see how the Rothschild family
financed Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, then resisted financing the
Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War.

Other choices include:

– “So You Think You Can Dance”
(Fox) and “America's Got Talent” (NBC), both8-10 p.m. The two
reality reivals continue to collide. Last week, “Dance” dropped
the acrobatic Caitlin Kinney and self-taught popper Phillip Chbeeb.

– “Leverage” season-opener, 9
p.m., TNT. As the first season ended, the team was splitting, its
headquarters had exploded and Nathan (Tim Hutton) was sinking toward
alcoholism. They pull things back together now, to get revenge on an
evil banker. Viewers will find that satisfying – and will, as
usual, be surprised by clever twists.

– “Ted Williams,” 9:30-10:45
p.m., HBO. At 22, Ted Williams had one of the great years in baseball
history – hitting .406 and homering to win the All-Star game in
Detroit. His career would lose five years via two wars; his average
would be cut by the “Williams shift” that he refused to adjust
to. Williams rarely adjusted to anything; here's a fascinating
portrait of a purist.

– “True Hollywood Story: Natasha
Richardson,” 10 p.m., E. Half of this film is a re-telling of
Richardson's life, using old clips plus a new interview with Todd
Haimes, who directed her in three stage performances, including the
one that first linked her with Liam Neeson, now her widower. The rest
asks how a fall – on what ski journalist Guy Thibaud calls “a
flat slope, a beginner's run … with plenty of snow” – could be
fatal. It asks what would have happened if Richardson had worn a
helmet or hadn't originally refused medical care.

– “Michael & Michael Have
Issues,” 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central. Michael Ian Black and Michael
Showalter play stars of a sketch-comedy show. The sketches and
onstage jokes are funny, but the best moments come back-stage, with
Black portraying himself as immensely self-centered. In this
excellent opener, the Michaels battle over space in their intern's
high school newspaper.

 

TV column for Tuesday, July 14




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: Baseball's All-Star
game, 8 p.m. ET, Fox.

For 12 straight years (11 wins and a
tie), the American League has dominated this game.

This might be the year that changes.
The National League is on home turf in St. Louis, where the Cardinals
provide two key starters (Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina) and ace
reliever Ryan Franklin.

The American League is dominated, as
usual, by its two upscale teams. Half the starters voted by fans are
Yankees (Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira) or Red Sox (Jason Bay, Dustin
Pedroia).

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The Departed”
(2006), 7 p.m., and “Rescue Me,” 10 p.m.; FX.

First is Martin Scorsese's splendid
Oscar-winner, a cops-and-crooks tale with Matt Damon and Leonardo
DiCaprio on opposite sides. Then is a series that juggles loopy
comedy and fierce drama.

Last week's “Rescue Me” ended with
wild humor, when a boy from the cancer ward stole a fire truck. This
one starts with laughs; then gets back to its serious roots.

The show started with Tommy (Denis
Leary) talking to the ghost of his cousin Jimmy, who died in the
World Trade Center. Those sightings faded; they return now that Tommy
keeps an eye on Jimmy's son (a new firefighter) and has frantic sex
with Jimmy's widow.

Other choices include:

– “WordGirl,” times vary (check
local listings), PBS. The “Summer Road Trip” week continues with
two fairly good episodes (one new) dealing with greed and envy.

– “Great American Road Trip,” 8
p.m., NBC. The families stop in the mid-American oasis of Branson,
Mo. There, they perform for the town's key stars, Andy Williams, a
smooth performer at 81.

– “The Superstars,” 8 p.m., ABC.
The five remaining duos face a standard event (a relay race) and a
detour – a bowling competition.

– “Better Off Ted,” 9 p.m., ABC.
The company's perfume attracts hornets. Now friendships are torn, as
the blame goes to Linda and Ted and beyond.

– “Big Brother” (CBS) and
“America's Got Talent” (NBC), both 9 p.m. Beginning tonight,
these two major reality shows will collide each week.

– “Scrubs,” 9:30 p.m., ABC.
Here's the rerun that was scheduled for last week, then delayed.
During a full moon, the new residents have their worst night.

– “P.O.V: The Reckoning,” 10
p.m., PBS (check local listings). More than a half-century after the
Nuremberg tribunal, a permanent International Criminal Court was
finally created in 2002. There have been problems, however, with
powerful countries – the U.S., Russia and China – refusing to
join. This richly detailed documentary views the attempt to penalize
brutality and genocide.

– “Miami Social” debut, 10 p.m.,
Bravo. This reality show follows friends in Miami. Some are straight,
some gay, some bi; most are pretty and all seem to be rich. Along the
way, we learn why this city is different. Explains one man hiring
models: “In New York, you don't have (breasts). In Miami, you do.”

TV column for Monday, July 13




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Closer,” 9
p.m., TNT.

From its first moments, this one grabs
us. Fresh and funny, it's one of the best hours of a terrific series.

Will Pope (J.K. Simmons), the assistant
police chief, is accompanying two of his detectives, trying to be one
of the guys. He soon finds the guys ignoring a crime scene; when Pope
goes there, he promptly admires the detective work of an enthusiastic
chap (Andrew Daly) who rushed to the scene.

A solid murder mystery evolves,
alongside lots of fun twists. There's great work from the writer
(Adam Belanoff), the director (actor Adam Arkin) and Daly.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:02 p.m., ABC.

Two weeks from the finale, Jillian
Harris is down to three guys. Having dropped Wes (the musician from
Austin, Texas), she frolics with the others in Hawaii.

Kiptyn (31, a California developer) tries a beachside ropes course. Reid (30, a Philadelphia realtor) has a helicopter tour of Maui and a picnic on a
secluded beach. Ed (29, a Chicago technology consultant)
takes a boat ride to a remote cove.

Each then gets an overnight invitation
to her “fantasy suite.” We're guessing they say yes.

Other choices include:

– “WordGirl,” times vary (check
local listings), PBS. This clever cartoon launches its “summer road
trip” week with a new story. The kids rough it at camp – except
for Tobey, who has robots do the work. A second story, also a good
one, raises the dire prospect that Becky will have overdue library
books.

– “House,” 8 p.m., Fox. This
excellent rerun features a woman who quit work as a cancer researcher
to pursue a happier life. That notion – pursuit of happiness –
perplexes staffers, especially Dr. House.

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8
p.m., CBS. This rerun has stars of reality shows – Spencer Pratt,
Heidi Montag, Kim Kardashian, Kendra Wilkinson – taunt Marshall
from the pages of magazines. Also, ex-lovers Ted and Robin decide to
have occasional sex.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Alan's ex-wife is pregnant and he may be the father.

– “Lie to Me,” 9 p.m., Fox. In a
rerun that remains timely, the team tries to get back some of the
billions that were bilked with a Ponzi scheme.

– “Teddy: In His Own Words,”
9-10:30 p.m., HBO. Teddy Kennedy has had an epic life. The weakness
here is the use of his own narration, which merely flattens the film.
The strength is in great clips, from home movies to White House tapes
of Richard Nixon planning to wiretap and spy on Kennedy. There's even
a clip of the 1955 Harvard-Yale football game; a pass slipped off the
fingers of the intended receiver and Kennedy made a diving touchdown
catch.

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 9:30
p.m., CBS. The wonderful character Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert)
returns, in a terrific rerun. Leonard dates her on the rebound from
Penny.

TV column for Sunday, July 12


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Meteor,” 9-11
p.m., NBC; concludes next Sunday.
For the second time this summer, an
object is streaking at us. Scientists and soldiers scramble to save
the Earth.
This film is bigger and broader than
ABC's “Impact.” It's overwrought at times, but easy to watch.
A young scientist (Marla Sokoloff)
tries to contact officials with her mentor's revised prediction.
Along the way, she confronts car crashes, killers, profiteers and
more.
Meanwhile, we see one small town deal
with disaster. And we see an evil cop who keep returning like …
well, like a bad plot device.
Too contrived and too cynical, “Meteor”
still works as sprawling summer entertainment.
TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: “Drop Dead
Diva,” 9 p.m., Lifetime.
A young blonde has everything she wants
– a sleek=2
0body, a handsome boyfriend and an audition to point at
things on “The Price is Right.” Then she has a really bad day –
partly because she dies and partly because she emerges in the
plus-sized body of a lawyer (Brooke Elliott).
Until now, she's been neither a good
person nor a bad one – just a determinedly skinny one. Now –
monitored by a demoted guardian angel – she must adjust. The result
offers an adequate mix of comedy, drama and social insight.
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “True Blood”
(9 p.m.), “Hung” (10) and “Entourage” (10:30), HBO.
The Sunday line-up is finally in place.
First, two shows return from a week off. (“True Blood” sends
Sookie to Dallas on a mission, then distrupts life at home; Sam and
Lafayette have new alliances and Tara's birthday party turns epic.)
Then “Entourage” starts its sixth season with the guys teetering
toward adulthood.
Vince tries to get a driver's license.
His brother is working; his oft-overlooked friend Turtle is dating
Jamie-Lynn Sigler, of “Sopranos” fame. And his manager is being
nudged into getting a place of his own; the years of frat-house style
living are wobbling.
This is far from a great episode –
it's especially flawed by Ari's cruelty – but “Ent
ourage”
remains immensely watchable.
Other choices include:
– “Merlin,” 8 p.m., NBC. As the
beautiful Morgana lies ill, a mysterious man claims he can cure her.
He also threatens to expose the fact that Merlin is a magician.
– “Big Brother,” 8 p.m., CBS. The
reality show – which debuted Thursday, settles into one of its
nights. It will also air at 9 p.m. Tuesdays, with its live eviction
shows at 8 p.m. Thursdays.
– “Hoosiers” (1986, CW) or
“Batman Returns” (1992, Ion), both 8 p.m. These two small
networks both have big movies tonight. “Hoosiers” is a classic, a
moving portrait of an Indiana town where basketball dominates. Tim
Burton's “Batman Returns” isn't as esteemed as others in the
series, but it does introduce Danny DeVito as the Penguin and
Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman.
– “Masterpiece Mystery: Miss
Marple: Murder is Easy,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS. There's nothing Miss
Marple savors more than catching a killer in a peaceful-looking
English village. When she hears of such a place from a train
passenger, she investigates. The result is a well-crafted mystery.
– “Z Rock,” 11 p.m., IFC
(Independent Film Channel). The guys perform at a wrestling-themed
party that includes ring star Chris Jericho. The best moments come
from comedian Jim Norton's dark portrayal of himself.