TV column for Wednesday, July 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Kingdoms of the Sky,” 9 p.m., PBS.

If kids say it's
hard to get to school, show them these teens: A 650-foot gorge
separates them from school. Walking down and up takes five-and-plus
hours; instead, a wire allows a scary basket ride.

That's in a
fascinating look at the Himalayas. We see snow leopards and
snub-nosed monkeys thrive in a land of minus-40 temperatures and
175-mph winds. And we see amazing people: Runners race down a part of
Mt. Everest; climbers reach the highest-point on Earth ... then,
after 15 minutes, head down.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Suits” season-opener, 9 p.m., USA.

“I miss her, too,”
Donna says. We all do, actually. She's talking about Rachel, who was
a decent soul in a law office filled with greed and ego. Alas, Rachel
married Mike and both left; she was played by Meghan Markle, who has
departed for another country and another life.

That leaves a brutal
power struggle between Harvey and Rachel's dad, who's backed by an
unrelenting Katherine Heigl. She has some great scenes tonight, in an
otherwise so-so hour.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Code Black” series finale, 10 p.m., CBS.

This medical show
started well, then sputtered in the ratings. In the second season, it
added Rob Lowe as Col. Willis, a soldier/surgeon; in this third,
Willis went out of the hospital and became an EMT.,

That's where we are
now, as troubles pile up. Willis' EMT partner (Moon Bloodgood) is
recovering from an accident; another accident injures Noa, with Mario
trying to save her life. Leanne has her custody hearing. It's a busy
time ... and lso, a plane crashes into the hospital.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: ESPY Awards, 8-11 p.m., ABC.

In the show's first
25 years, it had 20 different hosts ... all of them men. Now Danica
Patrick, the retired racecar driver, takes over in what's been a year
of emerging women's issues. Appropriately, the Arthur Ashe Courage
Award goes to the women who stopped the sexual abuse of Dr. Larry
Nassar.

And the top awards?
Nominated for best female athlete are two Olympians, Chloe Kim and
Mikaela Shiffrin, plus basketball's Sylvia Fowles and soccer's Julie
Ertz. The men are spread between football (Tom Brady), baseball (Jose
Altuve), basketball (James Harden) and hockey (Alexander Ovechkin).

Other choices
include:

“TKO: Total Knock
Out,” 8 p.m., CBS. The game show moves to its regular timeslot.

“Young &
Hungry,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., Freeform. In one episode, Gabi is
enthusiastic about her motorcycle; Josh isn't. In the other, she and
Sofia scheme to get their boyfriends to like each other..

“The Originals,”
9 p.m., CW. There are only three episodes left before this show
vanishes, setting up a spin-off (focusing on teen Hope) at
mid-season. That means lots of business to take care of, including a
possible wedding tonight. It's an OK episode, mixing good moments and
arbitrary obstacles.

“Reverie,” 10
p.m., NBC. Mara's usual job – strolling through someone else's
virtual reality – is hard enough; now she meets the world of Dark
Reveries, where normal rules don't apply.

“Yellowstone,”
10 p.m., Paramount. Where do we go to cancel our application to be a
cowboy? This episode reminds us how tough that life is. It starts
with cleaning up after a suicide, ends with an arrest for something.
(The guy has killed a lot of people lately.) In its own, brutal way,
it's a well-made hour.

ALSO: The Espys
aren't the only spot tonight to catch women on the rise. At 8 p.m.,
CW has “Girl Got Game” (a documentary about an all-female
videogame team) and HBO has “Battle of the Sexes” (2017), about
the historic Bobby Riggs/Billie Jean King tennis match in 1973.

TV column for Tuesday, July 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
All-Star Game, 8 p.m. ET, Fox, with preview at 7:30.

Baseball's best
players collide, in what's been an even battle: The National and
American leagues have each won 43 times, with two ties. Lately, it's
been all American, with five straight wins and 23 of 29.

The American League
is stacked again, with Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts in
the outfield and MVP Jose Altuve at second. But this is in
Washington, making it a home game for the National League and,
especially, for superstars Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“10 Monuments That Changed America,” 8 p.m., PBS.

Back in 1843 –
more than 40 years before the Statue of Liberty – Americans had
their first major monument. It notes the Battle of Bunker Hill ...
which, ironically, was mostly fought on Bliss Hill.

This fascinating
hour winds through other monuments, from Civil War to modern. We meet
Jan Scruggs, who says his life peaked 36 years ago, with the Vietnam
memorial he championed. And 33 years after launching the AIDS quilt,
Cleve Jones says: “I'm 62 (now 63) and I'm alive and I'm in love
and I'm still working and I'm still fighting.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “700 Sharks,” 9 p.m., NatGeo Wild.

It was 30 years ago
today that Discovery launched its first “Shark Week,” creating a
cable tradition. Discovery doesn't start its latest edition until
Sunday, but Wild has its variation, called “Sharkfest.” Today,
reruns are 4 p.m. to 3 a.m., with new hours at 8 p.m. and (this one)
at 9.

An estimated 700
small sharks converge on a tiny atoll, 300 miles from Tahiti. When a
researcher tried to swim among them, he kept being banged and
battered. The next step was to try to pull some in and tag them; this
may be the only time you'll see people trying to put a lasso around a
shark.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “The Bold Type,” 8 p.m., Freeform.

We again see this
show's best and worst sides. The good: It's an intelligent, balanced
look at a complex issue (in this case, gun control). The bad: Getting
there requires a smart character to suddenly be stupid.

Last week, it was
Kat, almost talking her way out of a great relationship. This time,
it's Jane; she's supposed to be a skilled journalist, but in this
episode she seems immensely inept.

Other choices
include:

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. The auditions have finally ended and the
trimming begins. Over the next couple Tuesdays, the judges decide who
reaches the live shows, when viewers will vote.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, a teen has witnessed a hit-and-run. But after McGee
and Torres visit her home, she flees with her parents.

“The Middle,” 8
and 8:30 p.m., ABC. We didn't know there could be a dark side to
anyone played by the genial Jack McBrayer. But in this rerun, Dr.
Goodwin shows it when Frankie fails to deliver his peanut brittle. In
the second one, Frankie forces Brick to take Cindy to the prom.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. Both reruns focus on Dre's views of his parents.
In the first, he gets a fresh perspective of his dad, while planning
the dad's birthday party. In the second, his mom has been scammed and
he worries that she's lost some sharpness.

“The Outpost,” 9
p.m., CW. Talon's mysterious savior teaches her deep secrets about
herself and her mostly-slain race. That follows “The 100,” at 8
p.m., with Abby's health deteriorating.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. A deadly armed robbery and high-speed chase
are linked to an undercover operation by the ATF. That connects Percy
with her former ATF partner.

TV column for Monday, July 16


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

Amid the glitz and
goofiness of the “Bachelor” world, the final-four episodes tend
to be interesting. That's when we visit the hometowns and families,
sometimes getting a glimpse of real lives.

Now Becca Kufrin
heads to the homes of Blake Horstmann of Bailey, Colo; Jason Tartic
of Buffalo; Garrett Yrigoyen of Manteca, Cal.; and Colton Underwood
of Washington, Ill. ... who told her he's a virgin at 26, partly
because he focused on his football career. Still, it's been a quiet
career, never getting beyond practice squads – the 2014 season with
the Chargers, then mini-stops with two other teams.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“So You Think You Can Dance” (Fox) or “American Ninja Warrior”
(NBC), both 8 p.m.

On a night of
reality-competition overload, each show is reaching a turning point.
On “Dance,” this is the end of the two-Monday “Academy”
round; tonight, judges pick the top 10 men and top 10 women.

And on “Warrior,”
the finals begin. In each city – starting with Los Angeles tonight
– we have the top 30 people from the qualifiers. They can face 10
obstacles, two of them new, for a shot at the finals.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Elementary,” 10 p.m., CBS.

Hey, life can't be
confined to reality shows; on summer Mondays, CBS is our one sure
spot for scripted shows. And even that became shaky last week, when
the network suddenly yanked “Elementary.”

Now the show is
back, with the same episode that was planned for last week: A lawyer
has been killed, while reviewing a cigarette company's finances. And
to protect his father, Sherlock faces an old foe.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Hidden,” any time, www.acorn.tv.

This is for people
who want a scripted show AND have some spare time – lots of it. It
feels like the longest, slowest, darkest drama ever ... but
ultimately is worth it.

Cadi had returned to
her bleak home town, to help her sisters care for their father. She's
a detective, in the same police department where he used to work. And
now the murder of a young woman seems to reflect past cases. This is
a grim, eight-hour tale, with some characters speaking Welsh (with
English sub-titles). It strains your patience, but gradually becomes
compelling.

Other choices
include:

“Penn &
Teller: Fool Us,” 8 p.m., CW. Where do magicians come from? Hakan
Berg is from a tiny, one-store town in Sweden; Danny Cole is from the
many-store town of Beverly Hills. Both have created neatly off-kilter
acts. Then there's John Michael Hinton, who has fresh approaches to a
Rubik's cube ... and Kostyn Kimlat, with amazing dexterity. They add
up to an entertaining hour.

“Mom,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun of the season-opener (a good one), Bonnie – who's
never been great with commitment – has second thoughts about Adam.
And to help someone, Christy risks failing a test.

“Robin Williams:
Come Inside My Mind,” 8-10 p.m., HBO. From concert specials to
“Comic Relief,” Williams was a dynamic force on HBO. Now his life
is profiled; that's followed at 10 p.m. by Williams' Oscar-winning
supporting role in the brilliant “Good Will Hunting” (1997).

“Man With a Plan,”
8:30 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, Adam (Matt LeBlanc) frets that his dad
(Stacy Keach) is increasingly forgetful.

“Salvation,” 9
p.m., CBS. Grace (Jennifer Finnigan) heads out on a dangerous
mission.

“Big Sharks Rule,”
9 p.m., NatGeo Wild. “SharkFest” -- not to be confused with
“Shark Week,” starting Sunday on Discovery – continues. This
hour sees hungry giants devouring a dead whale, a giant turtle (shell
and all) and even some cute seals. At times, it gets quite nasty.

“POV,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). After being on a jury that sent a man to
death, Lindy Wells was shaken. She wept; she visited him in prison.
And 20 years later, she went on a road trip to meet the other jurors.
This meandering documentary mostly reminds us of the human dimension
of any jury.

TV column for Sunday, July 15


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

After a couple so-so
movies this summer, the “Inspector Morse” prequel has bounced
back. For the second straight week, Inspector Sergeant Endeavour
Morse gets a first-rate mystery.

Last week, the
oft-lonely Morse met an attractive Frenchwoman. Now they're dating
and he's oddly cheery ... until he's called away to a murder probe,
against a backdrop of racial bias in 1968 England.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered: To the Altar,” 9-11 p.m., Hallmark
Movies & Mysteries.

Martha Williamson's
“Touched By an Angel” was a TV powerhouse; it ran nine seasons,
three of them in Nielsen's top 10. But the show departed 15 years ago
and Williamson almost disappeared.

This was her
comeback series, with people changing lives by following up on
undelivered mail. It had 10 episodes in 2014, but has been confined
to movies ever since. Here's the 12th film, with the lead
characters trying a good deed, as their own wedding nears. Carol
Burnett and Keb' Mo' appear briefly.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: All night, NBC.

In a late switch
last week, NBC moved “Running Wild With Bear Grylls” from Mondays
to Sundays. The timing was bad – why not give viewers some warning?
-- but the result strengthens Sundays.

Tonight, Uzo Aduba
(“Orange is the New Black”) is in Spain's Pyrenees, confronting a
flash flood, a poisonous viper and the prospect of field mice for
dinner. An “American Ninja Warrior” rerun is at 8 p.m., followed
at 10 by “Shades of Blue,” which is having a terrific summer.
Tonight, Harlee (Jennifer Lope) learns that the crooked cops are
deeply embedded in crime.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Shark vs. Tuna,” 9 p.m., NatGeo Wild; rerunning
at midnight.

Next Sunday,
Discovery launches its annual “Shark Week,” an idea it created 30
years ago. But Wild arrives a week earlier, with its “Sharkfest.”
Reruns start at 11 a.m., with new hours from 8-11 p.m.

At 8 p.m. (rerunning
at 11), “Mayhem in Mexico” discusses six attacks, from 2011 to
2013. At 10 (rerunning at 1 a.m.) is “The Whale That Ate Jaws.”
And at 9, we see a yellowfish tuna having a VERY bad day: A fishermen
tries to pull it onboard, before sharks finish chomping it. This
tends to be one-note, with end-of-the-world narration and music; some
of the stories, however, are fascinating.

Other choices
include:

“The Revenant”
(2015), 5:30 p.m., FX. The good films start early tonight, as
lead-ins to Sunday series. This one – with Leonardo DiCaprio's
superb, Oscar-winning performance – leads into “Pose” at 9 p.m.
On HBO, “Battle of the Sexes” (2017) -- an amiable view of the
Riggs-King tennis match – leads ito “Sharp Objects” at 9 p.m.
and “Succession” at 10.

“One Strange
Rock,” 7 p.m., Fox. Mike Massimino has been an astronaut in real
life (repairing the Hubble Space Telescope) and in fiction (six “Big
Bang Theory” episodes). In this rerun from a terrific

documentary series,
he discusses how microbes, plants and animals create and destroy
life.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. Speaking of sharks, Ian Zeiring – star of the
goofy “Sharknado” films – has his family oppose the family of
Sherri Shepherd. The other match has Tommy Chong and his kids
(including actress Rae Dawn Chong) against the family of basketball
star Derek Fisher.

“$100,000
Pyramid,” 9 p.m., ABC. Kathy Najimy has already shown she's
terrific at this game. Here, she faces Yvette Nicole Brown. The
other match has Gary Cole and Vanessa Williams.

“Ghosted,” 9:30
p.m., Fox. Sharing a case with the FBI and the FAA, the people in the
Bureau Underground realize that they really don't get much respect.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 10 p.m., CBS. A killer puts on shows for high-paying
voyeurs.

 

TV column for Saturday, July 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Battle of the Sexes” (2017), 8-10 p.m., HBO; and/or “Truth and
Lies: The Family Manson,” 9-11 p.m., ABC.

It's time to sample
pieces of American history – one dark and brutal, the other
surprisingly funny. The brutality involved the 1969 murders by
Charles Manson's followers; this is an ABC News special that debuted
last year. And the fun is from the 1973 tennis match, with Bobby
Riggs and Billy Jean King.

As “Battle”
tells it, Riggs (Steve Carell) was an amiable con man. Past his
prime, he insisted he could defeat any woman. King (Emma Stone)
resisted until Riggs' taunts went too far. A huge ABC audience
watched her win decisively. The story gets a bright, fun re-telling
here.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
:Mamma Mia” (2008), 8:30-11 p.m., NBC.

In a late switch,
NBC has put a “Will& Grace” rerun at 8 p.m., followed by this
movie ... six days before its sequel reaches theaters.

The original is
mostly cheery, with a bright island setting, a likable cast and all
those ABBA songs. Its one flaw: In a world filled with great voices,
the movie settled for less. Meryl Streep is a fine singer; others
range from adequate to not.

TODAY'S ALTERNATIVE:
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone” (2001) and more, 7:30
a.m., Syfy and USA.

After years of
marathons on Freeform, Harry Potter has moved to Syfy ... promptly
getting another marathon. His first two films aired Friday night and
repeat at 7:30 and 10:52 a.m. today.

Then comes the
switch from the light touch of director Chris Columbus to the darker
tone of Alfonso Cuaron for the third film at 2:23 p.m. Mike Newell
made the fourth at 5 p.m. and David Yates did the rest. The fifth
airs at 8 p.m. today ... followed by a repeat of the third at 10:41
p.m. Sunday repeats the fourth and fifth films at 8 and 11:21 a.m.,
then wraps up the mega-series at 2:18, 5:18 and 8 p.m.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Operation Thai Cave Rescue,” 10 p.m., Science.

If you missed this
quick-turnaround special Friday on Discovery, you can catch a rerun
tonight.

The 12 soccer
players, ages 14 to 16, and their assistant coach were trapped in a
flooded Thailand cave for almost 18 days. This special traces the
problems faced by the boys and by the Thai SEAL rescuers; it
interviews medical, mental and diving experts.

Other choices
include:

“Hotel
Transylvania” (2012), 5 p.m., FX. This fun animated movie is
followed by its sequel (2015) at 7 p.m.; then they repeat at 9 and
11.

Baseball, 7 p.m. ET,
Fox. Three days before it has the All-Star game, Fox has three games,
varying by region. Sports fans will also find NASCAR (7:30 p.m. ET,
NBC), boxing (7 p.m., ESPN) and mixed martial arts (7:30 p.m., Fox
Sports1 and 8 p.m.. Paramount, which has kickboxing at 10:15).

“America's
Funniest Home Videos,” 8 p.m., ABC. This rerun has kids reacting to
scary Halloween decorations ... and a monkey at the zoo, jealous
while watching a couple kiss. That's odd, because we've always been
jealous of zoo monkeys, what with all the climbing and swinging and
such.

“Me, Myself &
I,” 8 and 8:30 p.m., CBS. It's time for the Thanksgiving episode.
No, not a rerun – the first showing of an episode that would have
been better eight months ago; this has been on the shelf for a while.
In the first episode, mid-life Alex (Bobby Moynihan) has a blind date
on the holiday. In the second, his new girlfriend invests in his
invention ... which soon affects their dating life

“Living
Biblically,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., CBS. Following the Scriptures can be
tough sometimes. Chip is excited to be nominated for a journalism
award ... but is reminded that he's not supposed to covet. In the
second episode, he tries to convince his colleagues to help rebuild a
house for charity.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC Bill Hader hosts this rerun, with music
from Arcade Fire.