TV column for Wednesday, Nov. 14


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Country Music Association awards, 8-11 p.m., ABC.

Here are many of
Nashville's top stars, in a big, busy night. Performers include all
five entertainer of the year nominees: Luke Bryan, Keith Urban. Kenny
Chesney, Jason Aldean and Chris Stapleton – who leads with five
nominations and will link with Maren Morris and Mavis Staples.

Miranda Lambert will
sing with Aldean and as one of the Pistol Annies. Carrie Underwood
and Brad Paisley will host and perform. Others include Kelsea
Ballerini, Thomas Rhett, Kacey Musgraves and more combinations –
Dierks Bentley with Brothers Osborne, Florida Georgia Line with Bebe
Rexha.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Nova,” 9 p.m., PBS.

For 17 days this
summer, the crisis had world attention: Twelve Thai soccer players
(ages 11-17) and a coach (25) were exploring a six-mile labyrinth
cave, when they were trapped by flood water. It took 10 days to find
them, a week to prepare a rescue. “I felt like this was mission
impossible,” one man said.

Emerging is a warm
portrait of heroic rescuers from Thailand, England, Australia, the
U.S. and beyond ... and of the boys' families. Elsewhere, one person
says, it would be normal “for the parents to be furious”; these
parents sent notes to the coach (an ex-monk), thanking him for
watching the boys.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Born Losers” (1967), 8 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.

Tom Laughlin's life
offered a fascinating slice of independent-movie history. A
semi-successful athlete, actor and Montessori-school chief, Laughlin
then directed (via pseudonym) the excellent, low-budget “Born
Losers,” playing Billy Jack, a half-Indian Vietnam vet who
confronts a biker gang.

It became a hit, as
did two sequels ... which Laughlin distributed. But the third film
bloated to almost three hours and the fourth faced legal tangles.
Here's the series, with “Billy Jack” (1971) at 10:15 p.m., “Trial
of Billy Jack” (1974) at 12:30 a.m. and “Billy Jack Goes to
Washington” (1976) at 3:30 a.m.

Other choices
include:

“Nature,” 8
p.m., PBS. These are squirrels at the extremes. Above, the flying
squirrel can leap 150 feet, sometimes at 20 miles an hour; below, the
Arctic ground squirrel can hibernate for eight months. And on the
ground? Some squirrels, researchers say, bury 10,000 nuts a year,
retrieving 90 percent of them. That's in a fun film that also traces
an orphaned red squirrel from infancy to freedom.

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. Somehow, Archie Andrews – noble and kind – remains
locked in a brutal juvenile detention center. Now Veronica has a
dangerous escape plan.

“Empire,” 8
p.m., Fox. Joss Stone, the powerhouse British singer, plays Wynter;
Cookie tries to steal her, angering Jamal. Meanwhile, Lucious tries
to cooperate with the label (Empire) he founded.

“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. As Carlotta prepares her festival, a social-media influencer is
hired to give it a boost. Also, Take 3's plan to steer the attention
toward its album doesn't go as planned.

“Chicago Fire,”
9 p.m., NBC. A dangerous structure fire puts everyone in peril.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. As the team tries to take down a drug kingpin, Atwater
faces a choice: Should he do what's needed to solve the murder of a
young dealer or what's best for the community?

“American Horror
Story,” 10 p.m., FX. It's the finale of this year's tale, set in a
survival bunker that's filled with horrors worse than the Armageddon
that's continuing outside.

TV column for Tuesday, Nov. 13


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Black-ish,” 9 p.m., ABC.

Parents sometimes
learn something shocking about their kids; tonight, Dre is startled
to learn that the twins know nothing about Prince. The result, in the
show's 100th episode, is an entertaining tutorial.

By the end of the
night, each of the eight stars will have stepped into a video-style
clip – singing, lip-syncing or acting to a Prince song. This may be
your only chance to see Anthony Anderson in bare-midriff or Tracee
Ellis Ross (whose own mom, Diana Ross, hit stardom 14 years before
Prince) as a guitar star. There are even some fun flashbacks to their
Prince-inspired first date.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “This Is Us,” 9 p.m., NBC.

Last week's election
coverage sent most of the Tuesday shows to the shelf. That reminded
us that this has become, perhaps, TV's best night ... with “This Is
Us” at the top.

There are key
stories in limbo – Kate's pregnancy, Toby's depression and
Randall's city council push (with his wife Beth added to the campaign
staff). And there's the big one – Kevin's obsession with learning
about the Vietnamese woman in a photo with his late father. He heads
to Vietnam with his girlfriend (and Beth's cousin) Zoe. Flashbacks
show Jack in Vietnam and on a road trip with his wife.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “The Voice,” 8 p.m., NBC; and “Real Country” debut, 10
p.m., USA.

On Monday, all 24
“Voice” contestants – six per team -- sang and viewers voted.
Now the top two on each team will advance, with each coach picking
one more. That gives us a top 12; two people will then sing for the
13th and final spot, with viewers choosing one for an “instant
save.”

For more music,
switch to USA at 10, for a show produced by Shania Twain. The judges
– Twain, Jake Owen and Travis Tritt – will each choose the acts
(solos, duos and groups) to perform. Later, they'll choose the best
ones to return for an extended concert as the eight-week series ends.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “We'll Meet Again” season-opener, 8 p.m., PBS.

Half a century ago,
half the world away, these men barely survived. Roger Wagner almost
lost his leg in Vietnam; a young surgeon in a field hospital was able
to avert amputation. Dave Johnson almost lost his life in Cambodia; a
helicopter pilot landed under heavy fire to rescue him.

Now both men, 71 and
78, seek the men who changed their lives. The result is compelling,.

Other choices
include:

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. The theft of a street artist's mural leads to the discovery of a
conspiracy.

“The Conners,” 8
p.m., ABC. After that election break, ABC's terrific Tuesday line-up
is back. Tonight, Geena – back from military duty overseas – is
angry that DJ hasn't been taking their daughter Mary to church. But
Mary won't go unless her cousins do, putting the pressure on Darlene.

“The Kids Are
Alright,” 8:30 p.m., ABC. Eddie has made a mess and needs time to
clean it up. His girlfriend schemes to have his mom go out for the
day ... then is surprised to be invited along.

“Native America”
conclusion, 9 and 10 p.m., PBS. In the first beautifully filmed hour,
we see the native world at its peak – the remains of grand
structures and cities. In the second, we see the effect of Europeans,
accidentally (through disease) and deliberately. “They tried to
annihilate us,” one man says. “But guess what? We're still here.”

“The Rookie,” 10
p.m., ABC. After the election break, this excellent show returns with
the rookies getting new training officers. Nolan tracks an escapee
with Lopez and faces a hard truth with Chen.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. A deadly car explosion in the French
Quarter leads to the interrogations of a college professor and a
former member of a student protest group.

TV column for Sunday, Nov. 11


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“You” finale, 10 p.m., Lifetime.

Brilliantly written
and superbly acted, “You” has had huge – and odd – twists.
Joe fell instantly for Beck (as anyone would), in what could have
been a great romance. But he obsessed, killing her pushy friend and
her nasty lover. When she began to suspect him, he imprisoned her at
his book store.

Now Joe also worries
about the neighbor boy, whose mother broke up with a violent drunk.
All of this is wrapped up with clever twists ... and with one twist
too many, to set up a second season.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Woman in White,” 10 p.m., PBS.

Ever since Sir
Percival married sweet Laura, he's been scheming to have her sign
away her money. Now – with the help of Count Fusco and his wife –
he goes to extremes.

Meanwhile, Hartright
is back. He's the young painter who met Anne Catherick – a Laura
lookalike who fled from a mental institution. Coming up are two
mega-jolts, leading to next week's strong finish.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: People's Choice awards, 9 p.m., E, Bravo, Syfy and USA.

For 43 years, this
trifle was on CBS; the awards were minor, the ratings were strong,
the people were pretty. Now it jumps to E, which has the red carpet
at 7 p.m., then shares the rest with other channels.

Nicki Minaj opens
the 9 p.m. show, followed by the awards deluge. Nominated for
favorite movie are two Marvel films -- “Black Panther” and
“Avengers: Infinity War” -- plus “Incredibles 2,” “Fifty
Shades Freed” and “A Quiet Place.” The favorite-TV-show
nominees are “The Big Bang Theory,” “This Is Us,” “Grey's
Anatomy,” “Shadowhunters” and “13 Reasons Why.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Inside North Korea's Dynasty,” 9-11 p.m.,
National Geographic.

For all of its 70
years, North Korea has been ruled by one family. Kim Jong-un will be
eyed next week, in the second half of this deeply detailed
documentary; the opener views his father and grandfather.

The emphasis is on
failures -- large (a million people killed in the Korean war), small
(two killed while trimming a poplar tree in the demilitarized zone)
and bizarre. When South Korea was awarded the 1988 Olympics, North
Korea claimed it would co-host; it even built a mega-stadium. And Kim
Jong-un's father, a movie buff, kidnapped a South Korean director and
actress; they made several films, then fled.

Other choices
include:

Military shows. This
is Veterans Day (with the official holiday Monday) and the 100th
anniversary of the end of World War I. Turner Classic Movies'
military marathon includes “Guns of Navarone” (1961) and “The
Longest Day” (1962) at 5:15 and 8 p.m. ET. Smithsonian has “Gun
Trucks of Vietnam” at 9.

“The Simpsons,”
8 p.m., Fox. Bart and pals use the Dark Web to get Moe a mail-order
bride.

“Masterpiece:
Durrells in Corfu,” 8 p.m., PBS. Life on this sunny island has its
serious moments. Spiros is devastated by the departure of his wife
and children ... Sven is a target of Greece's 1930s crackdown on
homosexuality ... and infamous author Henry Miller is visiting.
Louisa finds his nakedness distasteful; her teen daughter finds it
interesting. It's a good hour, mixing fun and gloom.

“Masterpiece:
Poldark,” 9 p.m., PBS. A splendid series in most ways, “Poldark”
has stumbled by creating broad, almost cartoon-ish villains. Tonight
it adds another one, who obsesses on Ross' wife. The result is absurd
on all sides, in a so-so hour that leads to next week's excellent
season-finale.

“Parts Unknown”
finale, 9-10:15 p.m. ET, CNN. Anthony Bourdain created rich portraits
of people, places and food. This last film – he died before writing
and narrating it – visits New York's Lower East Side, where he
meets Deborah Harry, Jim Jarmusch, Lydia Lunch, Fab Five Freddy and
other artisans.

“Country Music's
Biggest Stars,” 10 p.m., ABC. Three days before the Country Music
Association awards, Robin Roberts has her 10th special,
mixing new interviews and clips from previous ones.

TV column for Saturday, Nov. 10


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Southside With You” (2016), 8-11 p.m., BET.

Lawyers in love? It
happens sometimes, as this true story reminds us.

He was 28, a Harvard
law student interning in Chicago; she was 25 and his supervisor. She
resisted his attempts to date her, then went along for a long,
rambling day. There was a community meeting, a Spike Lee movie and a
kiss outside an ice cream place. Three years later, they married; 16
years after that, he became president. Parker Sawyers and Tika
Sumpter are the Obamas in a solid, subtle film.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“NCIS,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Pauley Perrette's
long run was impressive. On dramas, apparently, only seven actors (in
“Gunsmoke” and the “Law & Order” shows) have exceeded her
15 seasons; only 11 (those seven plus ones from “Dallas” and
“Bonanza”) topped her 354 episodes.

So her departure
drew lots of attention; this will be the fourth time CBS ran her
finale. Abby and an NCIS colleague have been shot. This seemed to be
vengeance for a case she solved; now we flash back through the
possibilities, while she drifts near death.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “It's Christmas, Eve,” 8-10 p.m., Hallmark.

Christmas and
country music seem to fit together. Next Saturday's movie has Kellie
Pickler; this one has LeAnn Rimes, who had her first No. 1 country
album 22 years ago, when she was 13.

Rimes plays an
interim school superintendent who has to trim the budget. A prime
spot to cut is the music program; as luck would have it, her handsome
neighbor is a music teacher.

Other choices
include:

Football, all day.
Two of the top-ranked teams reach primetime. Notre Dame (No. 3) hosts
Florida State at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC; Clemson (No. 2) visits Boston
(No. 17) at 8 p.m. on ABC. Also at 7:30, Texas (No. 19) visits Texas
Tech. There are more big games, all day. At noon, Fox has Ohio State
(No. 10) at Michigan State (No. 18); at 3:30, CBS has Alabama (No. 1)
hosting Mississippi (No. 16).

“Rocky” (1976),
noon, Paramount. Here's most of the series -- “Rocky II” (1979)
at 3 p.m.; skipping one to “Rocky IV” (1985) at 6; and “Creed”
at 8. “Creed II” will reach theaters on Nov. 21.

“The Great Escape”
(1963), 1:30 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This Veterans Day
weekend is filled with military movies. “Escape,” a Steve McQueen
classic, is followed by the splendid (if slow-paced) “Bridge of the
River Kwai” (1957) at 5, with Bataan movies at 8 (1943) and 10 p.m.
(1945).

“Frozen” (2013),
7:44 p.m., Starz. After lots of turns on ABC, Disney and Freeform,
this visually and musically gorgeous animated film is on Starz.

“Sully” (2016),
8 p.m., TNT. This quietly involving film has Tom Hanks as pilot
Chesley Sullenberger. It's the mid-section of three excellent,
true-life movies. Steven Spielberg directed Hanks in “Bridge of
Spies”(2015) at 5 p.m.; Clint Eastwood directed Bradley Copper in
“American Sniper” (2014) at 10.
“FBI,” 9 p.m., CBS. In a
rerun, eight people have been fatally poisoned in a New York deli.
Bell and Zidan (Missy Peregrym and Zeeko Zaki) must figure out which
one was the actual target.

“Saturday Night
Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC. Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) hosts,
with Lil Wayne as music guest. And sketches? “SNL” savors any
chance to have Kate McKinnon play Jeff Sessions.

TV column for Friday, Nov. 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Great Performances: The Sound of Music,” 9-11:30 p.m., PBS.

For the second
straight week, PBS delivers a full-scale musical. Last Friday had the
high-octane “American in Paris”; this one -- taped live in London
three years ago -- is a bit more stagnant and semi-drab, with a
palette that's quite gray. Still, the great Rodgers-and-Hammerstein
tunes prevail.

Don't expect the
vibrant Julie Andrews movie. This is the stage version; the kids
don't show up for the first 20 minutes and the plot sags in the
mid-section. But the cast is filled with magnificent singers –
especially Kara Tointon and Julian Ovenden in the leads – and the
songs soar.

TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Hawaii Five-0,” 9 p.m., CBS.

Here's the 200th
episode ... and a chance to do something special. McGarrett is
working a cold case from the 1940s, imagining his grandfather
handling it with famed Honolulu detective Chang Apana.

That allows lots of
flashbacks. Alex O'Loughlin doubles as both McGarrett and his
granddad; nine other regulars also have second roles from the past.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Patriot” second season, any time, Amazon Prime.

Imagine an old,
subtitled art film, with pregnant pauses and slow stares. Then mix in
some “Fargo,” with quirky characters. That's “Patriot,” in
which a decent chap is enmeshed in hit-man schemes. In the intriguing
season-opener, the relative weight of European nickels becomse a
life-or-death factor.

That's part of a
busy day for streaming. Netflix debuts a movie -- “Outlaw King,”
with Chris Pine leading the 14th-century, Scottish revolt
against England – and a documentary series. “Westside” follows
the lives of struggling performers, sometimes adding their music
videos.

TONIGHT'S ODDITY:
“Having a Wild Weekend” (1965), 9:45 p.m. ET, Turner Classic
Movies.

All that the movie
studio expected was a low-budget film with lots of Dave Clark Five
songs. But Clark admired a documentary and hired its then-obscure
director.

John Boorman would
later get Oscar nominations for “Deliverance” and “Hope and
Glory”; his triumphs have ranged from the epic “Excalibur” to
this vibrant, black-and-white rock film.

Other choices
include:

“MacGyver,” 8
p.m., CBS. Don't you hate it when you're boss makes you search
through a dump? Matty sends Mac to Ghana, to recover a hard drive
from an e-waste landfill run by a violent man.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8 p.m., ABC. From “ER” to “SHIELD” and cartoon
voices, Ming-Na Wen has been a busy TV presence. Now she plays a
newcomer; the neighborhood finally has a second Chinese family. Her
story is fairly good; two side ones (involving Louis and his sons)
aren't.

“Last Man
Standing,” 8 p.m., Fox. Mike's mother-in-law (Susan Sullivan)
visits. She soon clicks well – too well, by one view -- with Ed,
who is Mike's boss and friend.

“The Cool Kids,”
8:30 p.m., Fox. Is it stealing to take something that's rightfully
yours? After being cheated out of a prize – a 65-inch flat-screen
TV – the friends plan a heist.

“Crazy
Ex-Girlfriend,” 9 p.m., CW. Rebecca is jolted when Heather and
Valencia have changes in their lives. Also, Paula tries to adjust to
good news/bad news from hr eldest son.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. Danny obsesses on the man (Lou Diamond Phillips) who
burned his house. Also, Eddie reluctantly introduces her mother
(Christine Ebersole) to her boyfriend Jamie.