TV column for Tuesday, May 5


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: "The Biggest Loser," 8-10 p.m., NBC.
This show is down to its final four now, filled with record-breakers.
Mike Morelli, who turns 19 today, is the biggest-losing contestant ever; in 22 weeks, he went from 388 pounds to 224. Tara Costa, 23 when the taping started, is the biggest-losing female contestant ever; she went from 294 to 169.
Then there's Ron Morelli, 55, Mike's dad; he went from 430 to 289. And Helen Phillips, 48, from 257 to 154.
Tonight, we see them try to do it at home for 30 days. They come back to run a marathon (or walk, in the case of Ron, who has bad knees), have a final work-out and a weigh-in. Two people advance to next Tuesday's live finale and a shot at the $250,000 prize. They'll be joined by one of the other two, decided by viewers' votes.
TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: "Scrubs," 8 p.m., ABC.
Last Wednesday's presidential press conference complicated ABC's farewells. That kicked this episode to tonight -- one night before the finale for "Scrubs" star Zach Braff and probably for the show itself. The finale of "According to Jim" -- originally set for tonight -- is tentatively pushed to June 2.
This episode has J.D. (Braff) considering a new job, so he can be closer to Kim (Elizabeth Banks) and their son. Meanwhile, Turk takes over as the chief of surgery.
Other choices include:
-- "NCIS," 8 p.m., CBS. Here's the second half of the story that doubles as the pilot for a spin-off series. Last week, Gibbs and McGee went to Los Angeles, to work on a case with the Office of Special Projects. Tonight, one OSP agent (Chris O'Donnell) goes undercover to infiltrate a terrorist cell; another (Louise Lombard), a psychologist learns, has a past link with Gibbs.
-- "American Idol" 8 p.m., Fox; and "Dancing With the Stars," 9 p.m., ABC. Both shows near their finales. "Idol," which dropped Matt Giraud last week, has its final four sing rock 'n' roll, with Slash (of Guns n' Roses) as their mentor. Afterward, "Stars" has its results show, trimming to four.
-- "Better Off Ted" season finale, 8:30 p.m., ABC. Here's another show that was bumped by the press conference. Veronica reacts to a survey that says employees are miserable and find her intimidating.
-- "The Mentalist," 9 p.m., CBS. A software magnate has been killed on his yacht. Now Patrick Jane uses his mental skills to pit two suspects against each other.
-- "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," 10 p.m., NBC. Can someone face child-pornography charges for sending pictures of herself? A teen text-messaged nude photos; now she's been beaten by an unknown assailant and sentenced by a tough judge (Swoosie Kurtz). Stabler's teen daughter tries to help.
-- "Rescue Me," 10 p.m., FX. Here are two superb performances. First is Michael J. Fox as the eccentric, paraplegic boyfriend of Tommy's ex-wife; it's a broad, bizarre character, done with zest. Then is Callie Thorne, closing the show with a long monologue about losing her husband on Sept. 11, then bonding with his cousin Tommy. It's quietly moving and Emmy-worthy.  

TV column for Monday, May 4


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE: "Dancing With the Stars," 8-10:02 p.m., ABC.
Last week, Chuck Wicks was ousted, despite strong advantages: He was dancing with his real-life girlfriend, Julianne Hough; both are popular young country-music stars.
That leaves two athletes -- Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and rodeo champ Ty Murray -- plus singer Lil' Kim, actor Giles Marini and Melissa Rycroft, fresh from a close call.
Rycroft -- who drew fame by winning-but-losing "The Bachelor" -- was injured and couldn't compete last Monday. Judged on a rehearsal performance, she got a wave of fan support and survived.
TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE II: "American Experience: We Shall Remain: Geronimo," 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings).
The warrior known as Geronimo drew fierce emotions, pro and con.
He was raised in the Apache tradition of raiding Mexican ranches for horses and more, this intriguing documentary says. Then Mexican soldiers raided while he was away, killing his wife, children and mother.
In the years that followed, he had the last band of resistance to whites. Geronimo was in his 50's when he led a tiny band that eluded U.S. soldiers for years.
Finally captured, he became a celebrity in his final years. By his death -- in 1909, at almost 80 -- he had appeared in the World's Fair and in Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade; he had become a symbol of an era that Americans already missed.
Other choices include:
-- "House," 8 p.m., Fox. Even dead people keep returning on TV. Battered by lack of sleep, Dr. House keeps imagining he's seeing Wilson's ex-love Amber -- whose death was partly House's fault. This distracts him from a difficult case, involving a ballerina who collapsed in mid-performance.
-- "Deal or No Deal," 8 p.m., NBC. After a long time on the shelf, the game show returns for at least the next three Mondays. Tonight's hour, NBC says, wrap up the stay by Iowa farmer Diane Jorgenson, then brings in Kansas City musician David Lee.
-- "The Big Bang Theory," 8 p.m., CBS. Penny has her second date with Stuart, the comic-store guy. She soon has a revelation that could affect her relationship with Leonard.
-- "Greek," 8 p.m., ABC Family. Kiki returns to the sorority for her wedding, bringing complications. Jordan and Rusty bond (and are hospitalized) while trying to get the flowers; Rebecca is surprised by her reaction, when a kissing game pairs her with a lesbian.
-- "Medium," 9-11 p.m., NBC. Lured into a new job by a psychic (Tracy Pollan), Allison has visions of a serial killer in Phoenix. She want to talk with the district attorney; her new boss (David Morse) claims the corporation now owns her dreams. Meanwhile, her daughter Ariel tries to eliminate visions while focusing on her SAT tests for college.
-- "Roommates," 9-11 p.m., ABC Family. This likable-enough comedy wraps up its first season with four straight new episodes.
-- "Castle," 10:02 p.m., ABC. Probing the disappearance of a 2-year-old, Kate Beckett is dismayed to learn she's working with her ex-boyfriend, a handsome FBI agent.

TV column for Sunday, May 3


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," 8 p.m., HBO; reruns at 10.
This hour starts well and ends wonderfully. In between are a couple of so-so detective tales.
At the core is Precious (Jill Scott), still grieving from a bad marriage to a great trumpet player. With her inheritance, she started the only female-run detective agency in Botswana. There she has an assistant (Anika Noni Rose) and the futile love of a neighboring garage owner.
Tonight, a competing detective arrives, filled with macho ego. Stick with this hour; your patience will be rewarded.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: "Cold Case" season finale, 9 p.m., CBS; concludes next week.
The music of Pearl Jam ripples through this two-parter, as the team re-examined the death of the first female cadet at a local military school.
Daniel Baldwin plays a school official, with Joe Penny and Jessica Tuck as the parents. The terrific Jesse Plemons (Landry on "Friday Night Lights") is one of the cadets.
Other choice include:
-- The Fairly Oddparents: Wishology," 6-9 p.m., Nickelodeon. Here's a chance to catch the three-night, animated mini-series in one gulp. In the first two hours (rerunning at 6 and 7 p.m.), Timmy Turner battled evil and occasionally doused himself in glory. In tonight's finale, he has some help from the deluded Turbo Thunder, voiced by Brendan Fraser.
-- "Nature: Eagles of Mull," 8 p.m., PBS (check local listings). After traveling the world for 15 years as a nature filmmaker, Gordon Buchanan returned to his home turf, the Scottish island of Mull. There, he caught gorgeous views of white-tailed sea eagles and wildlife.
-- "Masterpiece Classic: The Old Curiosity Shop," 9 p.m., PBS (check local listings). There have been terrific moments in PBS' Charles Dickens series, so we'll forgive this disappointing finish. An absurdly maudlin tale is filmed in unrelenting darkness. The only redeeming moments come from the villains, well-played by Toby Jones, Adam Godley and Gina McKee. There are strong moments near the end, but you may have left by then.
-- "Desperate Housewives," 9 p.m., ABC. Susan's young lover, Jackson, has been missing from the show for months, due to actor Gale Harold's motorcycle accident. Now he's back, in an episode with key personal moments. Katherine deceives Mike (Susan's ex-husband) to get him back. Tom and Lynette negotiate sex; Bree goes to extremes to get the best lawyer.
-- "Expedition Grizzly," 9 p.m., National Geographic Channel. Casey Anderson's close friend stands 7-foot-8 and weight 800 pounds. That's Brutus, the grizzly bear who has lived with him since a cub. With that perspective, Anderson offers this fairly interesting look at the 600 grizzlies living in Yellowstone Park.
-- "Breaking Bad," 10 p.m., AMC. Much of this hour is a terrific, two-person drama. Opposite souls -- Walt and Jesse -- are stuck together alone. It eventually requires a solution that MacGyver would love ... if, of course, MacGyver had a mobile meth lab.

-- "The IFC Media Project" season-opener, 11 p.m., IFC (Independent Film Channel). This show has a terrific host (Gideon Yago, formerly of MTV) and a fresh perspective. Tonight, it views the decline of international news coverage. It asks why cable systems in the U.S. have refused to air the Al Jazeera English channel; it also wonders if Americans were too quick to view Russians as the villains in the fight with tiny Georgia.

TV column for Saturday, May 2


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: "Saturday Night Live," 11:29 p.m., NBC.
There are two new episodes coming, followed by a long summer of reruns.
Tonight, Justin Timberlake hosts and joins musical guest Ciara for "Love Sex Magic." Next week, Will Ferrell hosts and Green Day is musical guest; then come the reruns.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: "Backstory: Darius Rucker," 10 p.m., GAC (Great American Country).
Darius Rucker's country-music career drew skepticism. That wasn't because he's black, people say in this interesting hour; it's because he was a rock star. His first Hootie and the Blowfish album sold 14 million copies in the U.S. alone.
Still, Rucker showed a country-music knowledge that goes back to his South Carolina roots. "My sisters would say, 'He's listening to that white-boys' music,'" he recalls here.
He would eventually be a football quarterback, but back then he was a self-professed "mama's boy," growing up with his mom and sisters. On the radio, he listened to the gospel music of a dad he rarely saw; on TV, he watched "Soul Train," "Hee Haw," "American Bandstand" and his grandmother's favorite, wrestling.
Yes, wrestling; Rucker even own's Ric Flair's robe. "I guess mid-life crisis does happen to people at different times," Tiger Woods says with a laugh.
His friendship with Woods has given Rucker one of golf's longest losing streaks; this is a story with fun surprises. 
Other choices include:
-- "Being Erica," 3-9 p.m., SoapNet. This series involves a young woman who bounces back to previous times in her life, where she tries to undo mistakes. The final episodes are on the next two Thursdays. First, here's a chance to catch up on the six most-recent ones.
-- "The Fairly Oddparents: Wishology," 7 and 8 p.m., Nickelodeon; concludes Sunday. In the terrific opener (rerunning at 7 p.m.), Timmy Turner found himself as the Chosen One, fighting evil on his own. In the pretty good second episode, he's covered with glory and self-praise -- until the villains return. A humorous animated adventure follows, including a clever little nod to "Star Wars."
-- "The Last Templar," 7-11 p.m., Ion. After scheduling the brilliant "Lonesome Dove" miniseries, Ion has switched to this so-so mini, shown in one night. Mira Sorvino stars as an adventurous anthropologist; this starts wonderfully, ends poorly.
-- "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," 8-11 p.m., ABC. The third Potter film took a darker tone, with Alfonso Cuaron taking over as director and Gary Oldman playing an escaped convict. Also added, as faculty members, are Emma Thompson and David Thewlis.
-- "Without a Trace," 8 p.m., CBS. This reruns the November episode in which Jack got back his job as department head. The team looks for a bank manager who vanished after foreclosing on people's homes.
-- "Harper's Island," 9 p.m., CBS. Yanked from its cozy Thursday slot, this show was banished to Saturdays. Tonight, friends take the groom-to-be fishing, then make a gruesome discovery. Also, a psychic has a strong reaction to Abby, whose mother was killed on the island.
-- "Living Out Loud," 9-11 p.m., Hallmark Channel. Gail O'Grady gives a quietly moving performance as a mom and music teacher with breast cancer. This subtle film is at its best when showing the reactions of her husband and daughter.

TV column for Friday, April 30


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: "The Fairly OddParents: Wishology," 8-9 p.m., Nickelodeon; concludes Saturday and Sunday.
When Timmy Turner, 10, gets home, his parents don't recognize him. They had decided not to have children, they say; now they have tons of money -- kitchen cabinets full of it -- and time to catch such things as the Middle-Aged Rock Festival.
Clearly, this three-night, animated mini-series isn't for the young and impressionable. Older kids and their parents, however, will enjoy its offbeat touches and its parodies of science-fiction classics.
In its regular form (2:30 p.m. weekdays, 8-9 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays), the series has Timmy guided by fairy godparents. Now, however, they are missing and his parent have been wiped of any memory of him. He's sort of on his own, as The Chosen One who must save civilization.
Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS appear as themselves. Also, Brendan Fraser is the confused Turbo Thunder and Patrick Warburton is the voice of government agents.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: "Prison Break," 8 p.m., Fox.
Michael Scofield finally confronts his mother Christina (played by Kathleen Quinlan). She drops some key news about his half-brother, Lincoln Burrows.
Meanwhile, Linc is scrambling to stop her scheme. We're two weeks from the finale of what has been a terrific -- albeit over-extended -- series.
Other choices include:
-- "Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!" 1 p.m., Nickelodeon. This was the week in which Beyonce spoke and sang the role of Shine, in some goofily fun episodes. You can catch part of that in this hour-long rerun.
-- "Friday Night Smackdown," 8-10 p.m., MyNetwork TV. Sherri Shepherd of "The View" shows up in this edition, taped in Madison Square Garden. She ends up in the corner of the wrestler known as MVP.
-- "Everybody Hates Chris," 8 p.m., CW. When Chris doesn't have his presentation ready, he takes a too-extreme step -- phoning in a bomb threat.
-- "Ghost Whisperer," 8 p.m., CBS. Melinda seems to be finding ghosts everywhere. Now they're in a girl's dollhouse.
-- "Flashpoint," 9 p.m., CBS. Pushed too far by bullies, a boy brought a gun to school Now Sgt. Parker (Enrico Colantoni) has to talk him down.
-- "Dollhouse," 9:01 p.m., Fox. Echo helps a young girl deal with her troubled past. All around her, however, there are cracks in the "dollhouse" operation. Ballard has located its original designer. Adelle is searching the attic for information. And the deadly Alpha reveals himself.
--"Numb3rs," 10 p.m., CBS. Here's the 100th episode of this show, which has been a sort of quiet hit. Feeling guilty that his error led to his brother's near-fatal stabbing, Charlie focuses on what now seem to be serial murders. Meanwhile, agents focus on some of Charlie's past math calculations, while trying to solve the current case.