TV column for Friday, Aug. 21




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Ghost Whisperer”
and “Medium,” 8 and 9 p.m., CBS.

Here are reruns of shows that seem to
fit perfectly. Tonight, they begin the side-by-side spots that will
continue this fall.

First, “Ghost” has Sam saving
Melinda's life. He risks his own life, which is a problem; after all,
his body contains the soul of her late husband Jim.

Then is “Medium,” which switched
networks as soon as NBC dropped it. It settled into Tuesdays for a
while, but now is using a two-parter to jump to its new night.

On Tuesday, a stalker entered Allison's
dreams and her life. Tonight, he sabotages those dreams, making her
information useless.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Jockeys”
season-opener, 10 p.m., Animal Planet.

With more depth than most reality
shows, “Jockeys” focuses on big-money, big-risk horse racing.

One story tonight views Corey Nakatani,
racing at the same track (Santa Anita) where his grandparents were
confined to a World War II interment camp. Sidelined by an injury for
two months, he's back – and facing a fresh probe of his aggressive
style.

Another views Chantal Sutherland, a
Canadian star trying a new country. She helps her friend, trainer
Kristin Mulhall, take a risk: They run a potential champion in a race
in which any horse can be claimed for $50,000.

Other choices include:

– “The Dark Knight” (2008), 7:15
p.m., HBO. This film – a huge hit at the box office and an
Oscar-winner for the late Heath Ledger – launches a great movie
night.

– Football, 8 p.m. ET, Fox. For the
second straight night, Fox has a pre-season game with major NFL
teams. Now it's the Tennessee Titans at the Dallas Cowboys.

– Movies, 8 p.m., cable. “Bonnie
and Clyde” (1967, Turner Classic Movies) is a classic, with
director Arthur Penn getting perfect work from Warren Beatty and Faye
Dunaway. For sheer fun, catch Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in Ivan
Reitman's hilarious “Ghostbusters” (1984), on AMC.

– “Glenn Martin, DDS,” 8-10 p.m.,
Nickelodeon. Before settling into its regular slot at 8 p.m. Mondays,
this stop-motion-animation comedy aired new episodes on four straight
nights. All four rerun here, starting with a funny one that plunks
the family into Amish country.

– “Ugly Betty,” 9 p.m., ABC. In
this rerun, the kidnapping of Baby William endangers the plan to bail
the magazine out of financial trouble.

– More movies, 9 p.m., cable.
“Aliens” (1986, Spike) is a taut science-fiction adventure, with
brilliant director James Cameron and a cast led by Sigourney Weaver.
“The Da Vinci Code” (2006. TNT) has a hokey plot, partly redeemed
by director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks.

– “Monk,” 9 p.m., USA Network. Is
a girl's disappearance linked to reports that a UFO was seen in a
small town?

– “Numb3rs,” 10 p.m., CBS. Don's
life is in danger when Charlie's calculations go awry in a
home-invasion case. Playing a husband and wife in this rerun are
Michael Gaston (who was Gray Anderson in “Jericho”) and Debbon
Ayers, the real-life wife of Rob Morrow, who plays Don.

TV column for Thursday, Aug. 20




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Project Runway”
season-opener, 10 p.m., Lifetime; repeats at 11:30.

How long ago was this season taped?
Well, this hour visits the red carpet on the day of the Emmys – 11
months ago.

After “Runway” tried to jump from
Bravo to Lifetime, it seemed frozen forever. Now (after an
out-of-court settlement), it's finally back; this opener, finished
months ago, shows the usual deft touch.

The fashion designers range widely in
age; two are 23, others are 41, 44 and 49. Some have big-city
education and experience; one is a Minnesotan who didn't have a
chance to go to college. There's a medical student and there's a
former meth addict; there's a guy who's very macho and several who
aren't. There's also a woman who doesn't sketch her designs; she
merely meditates.

These are interesting people, with
varied results. A good show is finally back.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Skins,” 9
p.m., BBC America.

Fresh from the Congo, Thomas is filled
with optimism. His first two days in London will be epic, complete
with drugs, donuts, mobsters, women and more.

Some of this is way over the top.
Still, it's a throughly entertaining and self-contained hour.

Other choices include:

– Football, 8 p.m. ET, Fox. For the
next two nights, Fox has back-to-back pre-season games. This one has
two teams know for their quarterbacks. The Philadelphia Eagles, with
Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick, visit Peyton Manning's Indianapolis
Colts.

– “30 Rock,” 8 and 9:30 p.m.,
NBC. Both reruns include the varied love life of Jack (Alec Baldwin).
In the first, he's still in a long-distance relationship with a
congressman (Edie Falco); in the second, he's shopping for a ring for
Elisa (Salma Hayek). In pure desperation, he asks Tracy about being
an adult.

– “Project Runway: All-Star
Challenge,” 8-10 p.m., Lifetime. To boost the “Runway” that
follows, Lifetime has assembled some past favorites. They are Uli
Herzner, Mychael Knight,

Chris March, Kurt Momolu, Sweet P,
Santino Rice, Jeffrey Sebelia and Daniel Vosovic.

– “The Office,” 9 p.m., NBC.
Michael has to mediate a dispute in his new office, in this rerun. In
the old, there's a debate about how casual things can get on casual
Fridays.

– “Grey's Anatomy,” 9 p.m., ABC.
Bailey tries a difficult operation, while everyone gets heat from
Owen, the new head of surgery.

– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
9 p.m., CBS. This rerun switches the focus to Wendy and Hodges (Liz
Vassey and Wallace Langham). They meet at a science-fiction
convention and end up solving a crime; Kate Vernon, a real sci-fi
star from “Battlestar Galactica,” guests.

– “Seabiscuit” (2003), 9 p.m.,
TNT. Brilliantly written and directed by Gary Ross, this beautifully
captures the true story of Seabiscuit, the long-shot horse who became
a Depression-era hero. Tobey Maguire is perfect as the jockey who was
too big, riding a horse that was too small.

– “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m., CBS.
A poisoning leads to finding country-club secrets and deceit.

– “Models of the Runway” debut,
11 p.m., Lifetime. Sixteen of the “Project Runway” models
compete.

TV column for Wednesday, Aug. 19




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Top Chef: Las
Vegas” debut, 9-10:15 p.m., Bravo.

The setting is Vegas, but the
contestants are from all over. One is originally from Puerto Rico,
one from France; one survived a 27-day ocean trip to escape Haiti.

Now three each work in San Francisco,
Atlanta and the Baltimore-Washington area; two each are in Seattle
and Philadelphia. There's one each from New York, Pasadena, Florida;
and there's Eve Aronoff, 40, who has her own restaurant (simply named
Eve) in Ann Arbor.

There are brothers: Bryan Voltaggio,
33, works in Maryland; Michael Voltaggio, 30, near Los Angeles.

Tonight, each must make a dish
representing a personal vice. Alcohol shows up a lot; there are also
nods to smoking, hot temper and more. This is sometimes hard to
follow – especially with 17 contestants – but remains slick and
entertaining.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Pride &
Prejudice” (2005, Oxygen) or “Lonesome Dove” (1989, AMC), both
8 p.m.

These classics are opposites in
everything but quality.

“Pride” has indoor elegance, via
Jane Austen's novel. Director Joe Wright and star Keira Knightley
showed that great visuals (and an expressive face) can project more
than words.

“Dove” has outdoor grittiness, via
Larry McMurtry's novel. Director Simon Wincer got understated
perfection from Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones and more. Moving as
slowly a prairie ride, it will rerun from 8 p.m. to midnight today
and Thursday.

Other choices include:

– “Octomom: The Incredible Unseen
Footage,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. There's been lots of coverage of Nadya
Suleman and her octuplets. Still, Fox says it has fresh footage of
her, her family and the babies.

– “America's Got Talent,” 8 and 9
p.m., NBC. In a schedule change, NBC has a recap hour first; then
five more acts advance to the final 20.

– “The New Adventures of Old
Christine,” 8 p.m., CBS. Helping someone else through labor,
Christine and her ex-husband recall their own son's birth, in this
rerun.

– “In a Dream” (2008), 8 p.m.,
HBO2. This prize-winning documentary starts as Jeremiah Zagar's warm
portrait of his father Isaiah, who has covered large portions of
Philadelphia with richly detailed murals. Then, as lives crumble, it
turns increasingly dark.

– “Criminal Minds,” 9 p.m., CBS.
In a rerun, the search for an abducted boy causes Dr. Reid (Matthew
Gubler) to discovers things about his childhood. Jane Lynch –
usually known for comedy in “Two and a Half Men,” “Glee” and
movies – plays his mother.

– “Leverage,” 9 p.m., TNT. The
team pretends to be a magic act, to pierce an evil company's
security.

– “Dark Blue,” 10 p.m., TNT. Dean
and Jaimie pose as a married couple, to trap diamond thieves.

 

TV column for Tuesday, Aug. 18




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Rescue Me,” 10
p.m., FX.

A classic scene – big and broad and
sometimes wildly funny – opens this hour.

The firemen are shopping in a grocery
store, when a shoplifter is spotted and a chase begins. The result
mixes big moments of physical comedy, plus quiet litle touches at the
end; it's masterful.

Afterward, most of the episode has
Tommy colliding with each of his three women. There's a great scene
with his estranged wife (Andrea Roth) in a restaurant, plus good ones
with his cousin's widow (Callie Thorne) and with the enigmatic
newcomer (Maura Tierney). All are strong enough and eccentric enough
to keep Tommy wobbling.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: “Shaq Vs.”
debut, 9 p.m., ABC.

You may never again refer to Ben
Roethlisberger as “Big Ben.” Yes, he's substantial (6-foot-5, 241
pounds) by quarterback standards; still, he seems to shrink alongside
Shaquille O'Neal (7-1, 325).

O'Neal swears he'll beat Roethlisberger
in quarterbacking tests, culminating in a seven-on-seven game. We
haven't seen the full hour, but there's some agreeable jostling among
two champions.

In the weeks ahead, O'Neal will try to
top the best at their game. That includes Serena Williams (tennis),
Oscar de la Hoya (boxing), Albert Pujols (baseball) and some Olympic
champs – swimmer Michael Phelps and the volleyball duo of Kerri
Walsh and Misty May-Treanor.

Other choices include:

– “NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS. This rerun
focuses on Abby (Pauley Perrette), the lab whiz. When a government
scientist is killed, she's asked to step in. Friends worry that she's
in danger.

– “90210,” 8 and 9 p.m., CW. Both
reruns link two stars from the original “Beverly Hills, 90210.”
Donna Green (Tori Spelling) visits Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth) and
tells about her separation. She also designs a dress for Diablo Cody
(the “Juno” writer) and looks for a spot to open a clothing shop.

– “America's Got Talent,” 9-11
p.m., NBC (preceded by a rerun at 8). Ten more acts perform; then
viewers will vote, putting half of them in the top 20.

– “Medium,” 10 p.m., CBS. Here's
the start of a two-parter that nudges “Medium” into its new
night. Allison dreams of a stalker, then sees him in real life. He
doesn't approve of using dreams to solve crimes; the conclusion is in
the new slot, at 9 p.m. Friday.

– “P.O.V.: Shorts,” 10 p.m., PBS
(check local listings). The South China Mall is outrageously
ambitious. In a city without major airports or highways, it's twice
the size of the Mall of America; it even has boat rides. It's big and
(so far) a flop. It has 10 or 12 tenants; the Mall of America has
more than 400. Here's a fascinating view of the place; it's packaged
with three more-abstract shorts, dealing with manikins, building
cranes and England's war to protect red squirrels and destroy gray
ones.

– “Masters of Reception” debut,
10 p.m., TLC. This series watches a high-energy, New Jersey family
create wedding receptions. For one couple tonight, an outdoor
reception must be whisked inside; also, the groom accidentally steps
on and rips the bridal gown. For the other, a joyous bride-to-be
wants two hard-to-find items (candy and a specific kind of dancers)
from the Dominican Republic. The result – produced by the
husband-wife Mark Consuelo and Kelly Ripa, who don't appear in it –
is kind of fun.





– “Flipping Out” season-opener,
10 p.m., Bravo. In his freewheeling, house-flipping days, Jeff Lewis
was impossible to like. Now that he's scrambling for remodeling jobs,
there are times when he borders on the tolerable.

 

TV column for Monday, Aug. 17




TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “House,” 8
p.m., Fox.

After an accident, Lee (Mos Def) seems
comatose. In a haunting style – similar to a long-ago “Alfred
Hitchcock Presents” episode – we see things through his eyes.

The doctor, convinced the guy is
brain-dead, is talking about organ donations. Fortunately, the
patient in the next bed (Dr. House) has other ideas.

This rerun knows how long to stick with
its gimmick. It mixes in surreal scenes from Lee's sub-conscious,
then switches to a regular perspective. By then, viewers have been
hooked by great TV.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “Glenn Martin,
DDS,” 8 p.m., Nickelodeon,

Glenn's family needs some together
time. His son, 13, plays perpetual video games. His daughter, 11, has
hired a personal assistant; side-by-side, they text-message each
other.

So Glenn loads everyone into a
recreational vehicle. This is a rarity – a road-trip situation
comedy; that works because it's all in stop-motion animation.

The voices (Kevin Nealon, Catherine
O'Hara) are familiar, but the settings are fresh. In the opener, the
family reaches Amish country, creating accidental chaos in funny
ways.

TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Woodstock:
Now & Then,” 8-10 p.m., History Channel.

The story of Woodstock has been told
often, but it grows with time. Now we see long-married people,
casually discussing their first date (actually, jus two strangers
sharing drugs) 40 years ago. We see grandparents, fondly recalling
nudity, pot and rock 'n' roll.

There's ample footage from the original
movie, but this film – from Oscar-winner Barbara Kopple – is at
its best when viewing events from a modern perspective.

Other choices include:

– “Super Why,” times vary (check
local listings), PBS. In an OK new episode, the kids meet a future
Dr. Dolittle, who can tell what animals are thinking.

– “How I Met Your Mother,” 8 and
8:30 p.m., CBS. The first rerun has someone feeling he's ruined Ted's
life and needs to make amends. The second has Ted so involved with
his new company that friends have trouble luring him to his birthday
party.

– “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Chelsea sets Alan up on a blind date with her new
friend. Alas, that's Rose, Charlie's former stalker.

– “Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal
Naqshbandi,” 9-10:30 p.m., HBO. At 24, Ajmal Naqshbandi was
considered an important go-between for government officials,
reporters and others. Then he was kidnapped and killed by the
Taliban; this documentary tells the story.

– “The Big Bang Theory,” 9:30
p.m., CBS. In a funny rerun, Sheldon feels Penny has broken his
rules; he bans her from the apartment.

– “Castle,” 10:01 p.m., ABC. In a
rerun, a new murder leads to a 20-year-old case. Also, Beckett faces
Castle at the poker table.