TV column for Friday, July 13


TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,” 8 p.m., Syfy and USA.

Harry Potter seems
to be a perpetual force inside our TV sets. For years, the
Disney-owned networks had the rights; he was on ABC a little and
Freeform (with sprawling marathons) a lot.

Now Syfy has the
rights. It plans fewer commercials and more Harry-fan inserts, plus
some links with Universal Studios and syfy.com. The films, however,
remain the same. Tonight, we get the original and, at 11:05 p.m., its
first sequel (2002); both have the light, deft touch of director
Chris Columbus. They'll repeat at 7:30 and 10:52 a.m. Saturday,
followed by the other six, in a Potter-filled weekend.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE
II: “Whistleblower” debut, 8 p.m., CBS.

The new
“whistleblower” laws have offered a powerful tool for people who
find that their companies are misbehaving. Now this CBS News series
shows times when that made a difference.

The Kool Smiles
dental clinics were accused of billing Medicare for procedures (often
on children) that weren't needed ... and sometimes weren't performed;
the parent company settled with the U.S. for $23.9 million. And
Bristol-Myers Squibb was accused of paying kickbacks to doctors;
California agreed to a $30 million settlement. Both stories are
tentatively scheduled for the opeer of this summer series.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: Action movies, 8 p.m., cable.

The two comic-book
worlds collide tonight on sister networks. Marvel has “Captain
America: Civil War” (2016) on TNT; DC has “Batman v Superman”
(also 2016) on TBS.

There's more action,
from the little magicians in the Harry Potter films to mega-monsters
in “Jurassic World” (2015) on FX. At 8:05, HBO has “Dunkirk”
(2017), which – under director Chris Nolan – has great action,
but surprisingly little story.

Other choices
include:

“How It Ends”
and more, any time, Netflix. It's another crowded Friday for the
streaming service.That includes the debuts of this post-apocalyptic
movie, plus a stand-up special (Jim Jefferies), an animated series
(“The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants”) and even a baking
competition (“Sugar Rush”).

Murder marathon,
Reelz. To mark the creepy side of Friday the 13th, here
are three-hour strings of documentaries. The daytime one (10 a.m., 1
p.m. and 4 p.m. ET) has the “Hillside Strangler,” Jim Jones and
Ted Bundy. The evening one (7 and 10 p.m. ET) has a killer in
Plainfield, Wis. ... mysterious sleeping deaths in California and
beyond ... and teen killers in England.

“Quantico,” 8
p.m., ABC. Owen and McQuigg learn devastating news about family
members. For the team, nowhere – including home – is safe.
Everyone goes on high alert.

“The Resident,”
8 p.m., Fox. With three surgeries at the same time, the hospital's
staff is pushed to its limit. Also in this rerun, a rich contributor
arrives, ready to donate money to the oncology program of Dr. Lane
Hunter ... who is trying to discredit Nicolette's accusations about
the program.

“The Orville,” 9
p.m., Fox. This rerun finds the crew defeating the Krill, but then
facing a perilous assignment: Infiltrate the Krill ship and steal an
important document.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. Phillip Phillips, the “American Idol” winner, plays
a diamond smuggler in this rerun. He'll stop at nothing to find his
cotraband; now his partner's corpse has been stolen.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. This turns topical in two areas: Frank, the police
commissioner, faces fall-out when a rookie questions a pedestrian's
immigration status; also, Frank's granddaughter Nicky is sexually
harassed at her internship. Also in the rerun, his son Danny
considers a more lucrative job.

Operation Thai Cave
Rescue,” 10 p.m., Discovery Channel. This quick-turnaround special
looks at the rescue of the boys trapped for 18 days. It will rerun at
10 p.m. Saturday on the Science Channel.

 

TV column for Thursday, July 12


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Shooter,” 10:01 p.m., USA.

TV has had lots of
good-hearted doctors and very few venomous undersecretaries of
agriculture. Now Gerald McRaney has been both with equal perfection.
On “This Is Us,” he's the good doc; here, he's Red Bama, a
corrupt bureaucrat who orders murders – or does it himself –
without loosening his tie.

“Shooter” is at
its best when the unruffled Bama goes eye-to-eye with a perpetually
ruffled underling, Harris Downey. Bob Lee Swagger tries to protect
Downey, in a terrific episode.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Little Big Shots,” 8 p.m., NBC.

Maybe some siblings
spend their time fighting over videogames, but not here. Twins from
Spain are singers; other sibling duos are magicians and
singer-songwriters.

Steve Harvey chats
with them, along with some dancers and more. There's a 7-year-old
expert on movies and a 4-year-old expert on cotton candy. Chances
are, this will be fun.

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

We start with one of
the oldest monuments, marking the Battle of Bunker Hill ... which was
mostly fought on Breed's Hill. And we end with modern monuments and
the people who launched them.

Jan Scruggs, who saw
his fellow soldiers die, propelled the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,
which was completed in 1982. “I maxed out at 32,” he says. Cleve
Jones, who saw his friends die, launched the AIDS Memorial Quilt. His
own life was spared by modern AIDS drugs. “I'm 62 and ... I'm alive
and I'm in love and I'm still working and I'm fighting,” he says,
in a varied and fascinating hour.

Other choices
include:

“Trainwreck”
(2015), 5-8 p.m., FX. Tonight's best movies start early. This fun Amy
Schumer film is joined by “Groundhog Day” (1993) at 5:30 on AMC
and the animated “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) at 6 p.m. on
Freeform, Also, Steve McQueen's “The Great Escape” (1963) is 8
p.m. ET on Turner Classic Movies.

“The Four,” 8-10
p.m., Fox. Af ter settling for a rerun during the Fourth of July
week, this show is now back to the new. Two of the original four
singers – James Graham and Sheraya J – are still there, alongside
Jesse Kramer and Ali Caldwell, who arrived as challengers.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. Amy's birthday brings a cautionary note:
Always be careful when preparing an authentic “Little House on the
Prairie” meal. That's in a fairly funny episode that also has
Leonard fretting that his brother is much more accomplished than he
is.

“Cloak &
Dagger,” 8 p.m., Freeform. Tandy finds the key figure in clearing
her father's name ... and learns he's been in a coma for a decade.
That's workable for these two heroes, who need only touch someone to
read his hopes and fears.

“Marlon,” 9 and
9:30 p.m., NBC. Things go wrong for Marlon in both episodes – when
he gives a Career Day talk and when he throws a mock memorial
service, instead of his 43rd birthday party.

“Queen of the
South,” 9 p.m., USA. Europe was too dangerous for Teresa, so now
she's trying to set up her drug business in Phoenix. First, she meets
a corrupt sheriff and a commission of cartel bosses.

“Take Two,” 10
p.m., ABC. Putting her scandal days behind her, Sam is working
diligently as a private eye. But now her ex-lover's laptop has been
stolen; its images could put her back in the tabloids.

TV column for Wednesday, July 11


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

After promising a
“summer of adventure,” PBS soars to the top –literally. This
three-week series will spend its next weeks in the Himalayas and the
Andes; first, it's closer to home, with the Rockies.

That's a world of
brutal extremes – highs reaching 110, lows reaching minus-40, a
single-day having six feet of show or a 100-degree temperature swing.
But the animals that thrive there are amazing; so are the humans:
Hilaree O'Neill climbs up mountains and then skis down; Jeff Shapiro
floats down, via hang-glider. They're included in a gorgeous portrait
of America at the top.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Young & Hungry,” 8 and 8:31 p.m.; “Beauty and the Beast”
(1991), 9:02 p.m., Freeform.

Gabi is so giddy in
love that she forgets everything else ... including her friend
Sofia's 25th birthday. She promptly hides her mistake by
whisking Sofia to a vacation in Mexico.

That starts a
two-parter that gets way too silly. (We're to believe Gabi knew
nothing about the border crackdown? Or that people would cavort near
a $3 million painting?) Still, this has fun people and enough laughs
to keep us watching. And it's followed by one of the all-time great
animated movies.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “TKO: Total Knockout” debut, 9 p.m., CBS.

For weeks, CBS has
hit us with loud, blunt promos, saying only that this is a loud,
blunt show. Players race through obstacles, while others fire
projectiles; last year's failed “Candy Crush” comes to mind.

Still, this could
succeed for two reasons -- Kevin Hart is the host and Mark Burnett is
the producer. In the summer of 2000, Burnett transformed TV with
“Survivor.” He's gone on to do “The Voice,” “Shark Tank,”
“Beat Shazam” and more; most, like “TKO,” seemed like long
shots.

Other choices
include:

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. The auditions have ended now and the
judges will start their cuts on Tuesday. First, here's a “best of
auditions” recap.

“The Outpost,” 8
p.m., CW. This rerun of Tuesday's debut is sort of like “Game of
Thrones,” but a little younger, a lot cheaper and quite inept. A
warrior seeks revenge for the massacre she saw long ago.

“The Originals,”
9 p.m., CW. After a two-week rest, this is back for its final four
episodes. They'll point us toward next season's spin-off, focusing on
Hope, the tribrid (witch, werewolf, vampire) daughter of Niklaus and
Hayley. Tonight, Klaus helps her cope with pain; also, Marcel takes
on the nightwalkers.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Phil is rushed to the hospital for surgery.

“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. Last week, Rox (Moon Bloodgood) was seriously injured. Now
Dr. Willis (Rob Lowe), her EMT partner, continues to tend to her.
Also, Leanne searches for Ariel.

“Reverie,” 10
p.m., NBC. Ever since a recent tragedy, a young dancer has been
spiraling into deep despair. While trying to help her, Mara meets the
guy she left when her own life fell apart.

ALSO: This is TV's
Kevin Costner night, starting slowly. At 6 p.m., Showtime has “The
Big Chill” (1983), with Costner only as the corpse; his flashback
scenes were deleted. At 8, he stars in Showtime's “No Way Out”
(1986), a terrific political-intrigue thriller ... until its
way-too-cute ending. At 10, Paramount has the third week of the epic
“Yellowstone,” as his family faces a solemn anniversary.

TV column for Tuesday, July 10


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

What was our first
information superhighway? Geoffrey Baer says it was the Boston Post
Road, where George Washington sent couriers. That's in an intriguing
that goes down Broadway and beyond.

There are streets
that changed lifestyles. The auto obsession was spurred by Woodward
Avenue in Detroit and by the Lincoln Highway coast-to-coast. Suburban
sprawl was nudged by St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans and Wilshire
Boulevard in Los Angeles. And there was a tragedy: Greenwood Avenue
in Tulsa was a thriving black shopping district, invaded by whites in
a 1921 massacre.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Animal Kingdom,” 9 p.m., TNT, rerunning at 10.

Last week found teen
Nicky alone and distraught. Ignored by J and rejected by her father
(a military officer who didn't want her living with the family in
Guam), she found drugs and a pistol, accidentally shooting herself.
When J found her, he dumped her at the hospital door and fled.

That story gets
surprisingly little attention tonight, as the Codys scramble for a
big score. On the advice of his prodigal father (Denis Leary), Deran
plans a high-risk/high-reward heist. The others have their doubts –
as do viewers – in an episode that may propel us toward big moments
in future episodes.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Final Outpost” debut, 9 p.m., CW.

Yes, it's good to
see a broadcast network launch an action-adventure series in the
middle of the summer. Still, it would be better if “Final Outpost”
weren't so ineptly done.

In a world of swords
and monsters, a girl saw her people massacred. Now grown, she's ready
for revenge. That's a solid story, from a network (CW) and producer
(Dean Devlin of “Leverage”) that usually do well. But “Outpost”
has bad acting, stiff dialog and uninvolving, unconvincing battle
scenes.

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

Why do TV characters
insist on confessing to their loved ones? Tonight, Kat confesses a
random kiss ... and even confesses a dream. (People: You do NOT have
to confess dreams.)

That's in an hour
that has too many people overthinking their lives. “You are getting
really boring,” one outsider observes, accurately. Still, these are
likable characters and tonight brings a key plot point.

Other choices
include:

“The Lion King”
(1994), 6-8 p.m., Freeform. Here's the start of a great movie night.
At 8 p.m., FX has “The Martian” (2015), E has “The Notebook”
(2004) and Sundance has “A League of Their Own” (1992). And at 8
p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies has the Bogart-Bacall “Key Largo”
(1948).

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. This is the sixth and final round of
auditions. A “best of” episode follows on Wednesday, with the
judges starting to make their cuts next week.

“The 100,” 8
p.m., CW. There are big problems in the combined Wonkru clan ... and
bigger problems in Shadow Valley. Murphy starts a fire, with a
catastrophic result.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a rerun, Torres and Bishop pose as a criminal couple, to
catch drug-runners.

“Black-ish,” 9
and 9:30 p.m., ABC. The first rerun offers a testing ground for
gender bias: The parents learn their twins – a boy and a girl --
are each sexually active. The second has father-son basketball.

“Married at First
Sight” season-debut, 9-11 p.m., Lifetime. At 36, Amber Martorana
says she's tired of dating liars and cheats. Let's hope Dave
Flaherty, 37, is neither; they meet and marry tonight, then have
eight weeks to decide if it's permanent. Two other Dallas couples do
the same; in this seventh season.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. After putting the crooked mayor (Steven
Weber) in prison, Pride learns the guy is working a deal to get free.
In this rerun, he scrambles to prevent it.

TV column for Monday, July 9


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Penn & Teller: Fool Us,” 8 p.m., CW.

In this show's first
four seasons, Ryan Hayashi says, it presented 240 magic acts ... only
three of them working with coins. That's logical; little coins don't
work well on TV ... or didn't until now. With verbal flair and visual
flourish, Hayashi whirls things past us with astonishing skill and
humor.

That's in an hour
with strong work from magicians who have day jobs – Ed Ripley is a
nuclear metallurgist, Ryan Chandler teaches (and baffles)
middle-schoolers – plus a magic veteran named Losander. And it ends
with Penn & Teller doing a funny little riff on the notion of
magic mirrors.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“In Defense of ... Jodi Arias,” 8 and 11 p.m., Oxygen.

Arias' trial seized
attention, a legal analyst says here. It had sex, religion (as a
Mormon, the victim kept their affair secret), gore (he was stabbed 27
times and shot) and “this beautiful defendant.”

Far less beautiful
was her lawyer. “I was a 290-pound guy with a shaved head and a
goatee,” says Kirk Nurmi. He was assigned the case; when he tried
to drop it and leave the public defender's office, a judge blocked
him. Now we see him and others describe a wild ride. It's a strong
hour, the third in this series; others rerun at 10 and 11 a.m., with
lawyers for Timothy McVeigh and for Branch Davidians.

TONIGHT'S ODDITY:
Schedule switches, NBC and CBS.

Here's a good reason
for viewers to switch to cable: The broadcast networks can't be
trusted to stick with the shows they promised. Tonight, two of them
made last-minute changes, making the schedules – in TV magazines
and in newspapers – wrong.

CBS yanked
“Elementary,” slid “Salvation” back to 10 p.m. and inserted
an “NCIS: New Orleans” rerun at 9. NBC suddenly moved “Running
Wild With Bear Grylls” to 7 p.m. Sundays. Tonight was supposed to
have the episode (a good one) with Roger Federer at 8 p.m. Instead,
that aired Sunday; tonight, “American Ninja Warrior” moves to 8
p.m., with a “Dateline” murder story at 10.

Other choices
include:

“Pocahontas”
(1995) and “The Lion King” (1994), 6 and 9:01 p.m., Freeform. Two
major animated movies – the latter a great one – sandwich the 8
p.m. “Disney's Fairy Tale Wedding.”

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here is the qualifying round in
Minneapolis.

“The
Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC. It's time to choose the final
four, the guys who will take Becca Kufrin to their home towns.
First, she has one-on-one dates in the Bahamas with Colton Underwood,
Garrett Yrigoyen and Blake Horstmann. That basically leaves the
others – Jason Tartick, Lee Dottavio and Wills Reid – fighting
for the other hometown spot.

“So You Think You
Can Dance,” 8 p.m., Fox. This show – one of the best of the
reality competitions – begins its two-Monday “Academy” phase.
Next week, it chooses its top 20.

“Mom,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In a fairly good rerun, Patti Lupone is the new
apartment-building owner. If she finds out what Bonnie is like as her
maintenance person, Bonnie will be jobless and homeless.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. With Pride on probation, a by-the-books
supervisor takes over; the team ignores her and secretly works a
case.

“Salvation,” 10
p.m., CBS. Liam has a dangerous mission and Grace has an iffy one –
lying under oath. Then sudden violence plunges the nation into chaos.

“POV,” 10 p.m.,
PBS (check local listings). Amid the opulence of Qatar, we meet
migrants doing difficult work for $200 a month, building grand
stadiums for the 2022 World Cup. We also see a flip side – a
“Workers Cup” soccer tournament, on the actual site of the future
Cup.