TV column for Tuesday, Sept. 18


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“America's Got Talent” finale, 8-10 p.m., NBC.

The show finally has
its 10 finalists, each with one more chance to impress. Tonight, they
perform and viewers vote; on Wednesday, the show “Talent” will
have its million-dollar winner.

There are four
singers (one operatic) and more. There's an electric violinist, a
close-up magician, two comedians (ages 30 and 60) and two acrobatic
acts – one massive, the other a duo. Seven are from the U.S.;
others are Dutch, English and Austrian. America, it seems, isn't the
only place that has talent.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “The Great American Read,” 8 p.m. Tuesday, PBS.

When Noelle Santos
was grumpy one day, her mom told her to read “A Tree Grows in
Brooklyn.” The girl grumbled ... and then became a passionate
reader. Now she has a new life plan.

“There are 1.4
million people and 10 colleges in the Bronx and no book stores,”
she says. So Santos – who had “never set foot in an independent
book store” -- is opening The Lit. Bar, a book/wine bar. That story
and others are in a fun hour, viewing books that make us ask, “Who
Am I?” We hear celebrities, authors and more; Shanna Peeples, a
past Teacher of the Year, has particularly cogent comments.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “The Paley Center Salutes 'This Is Us,'” 10 p.m.,
NBC.

In six days, the new
season will flood us with shows, some off them good and some not.
First, we can celebrate the splendid surprise from two years ago.
Here's a look, before it returns next Tuesday.

“This Is Us”
breaks all the rules. It doesn't have one of the usual franchises –
cops, courts, doctors – to give stories a finish point. It's on a
broadcast network, yet has the quality we expect from cable. It was
written by a comedy guy – Dan Fogelman's “Galavant” and “The
Neighbors” were sometimes hilarious – yet is deeply moving. And
it has killed two terrific characters ... who continue to thrive via
flashback.

Other choices
include:

“The Flash” and
“Legends of Tomorrow,” 8 and 9 p.m., CW. Last night, CW reran the
first half of this four-show crossover. Some Earth-X bad guys rudely
broke up the wedding of Barry and Iris. This second half brings a
good-guy confluence, including Supergirl, Green Arrow and White
Canary.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. Lots of shows are rerunning their season-finales, preparing for
next week's openers. In this one, Sloane (Maria Bello) is convinced
she's seen the man – believed dead – who tortured her years ago.
Vance and Gibbs fear it's an obsession that will destroy her.

“Black-ish,” 9
p.m., ABC. This rerun offers a test of gender bias: When they learn
that their teens are sexually active, the parents lean toward
different reactions to the boy and the girl.

“American
Masters,” 9-10:30 p.m., PBS. Fresh from “Great American Read,”
PBS reruns a compelling profile of one of the nominated authors:
Harper Lee grew up in small-town Alabama, the daughter of a lawyer
who once defended two black men charged with murder. She studied law
without graduating, worked as an airline reservation agent in New
York ... and received a gift from friends – a year's wages, so she
could focus on her novel. Four years later, “To Kill a Mockingbird”
won the Pulitzer Prize.

“Castaways”
season-finale, 10 p.m., ABC. One of the castaways quits and others
ponder the future.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 10 p.m., CBS. In another season-finale rerun, Pride –
still facing indictment – and his team try to stop a plot during
the Tricentennial Fleet Week celebration.

“Mayans MC,” 10
p.m., FX. The brutal battle between the Galindo cartel and the Samoan
gang has hit a new extreme. Miguel Galindo tortured and killed gang
leader; then his child was kidnapped. That puts the Mayans in the
middle – especially EZ, who is Miguel's wife's ex-boyfriend.

TV column for Monday, Sept. 17


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
Emmy awards, 8 p.m. ET, NBC.

The Emmys have
always been important, but haven't always been fun. This time, we're
hopeful: Lorne Michaels is in charge, with Colin Jost and Michael Che
(his “Saturday Night Live” anchors) hosting.

The broadcast
networks have only one drama nominee (“This Is Us”) , facing past
winners “Game of Thrones” and “Handmaid's Tale,” plus “The
Crown,” “The Americans,” “Westworld” and “Stranger
Things.” Their only comedy (“Black-ish”) faces “Atlanta,”
“Barry,” “GLOW,” “Silicon Valley,” “Curb Your
Enthusiasm,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “The Unbreakable
Kimmy Schmidt.”

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Salvation” season-finale, 9 p.m., CBS.

Tonight's kinda-big
problem involves Grace (Jennifer Finnigan). Harris is ready to marry
her today ... but she just had passionate sex with Darius, who's
about to go on a suicide mission to save the world.

And the bigger
problem? Darius' uncle (the terrific John Noble) has just kidnapped
him. He doesn't want the world saved, he wants the asteroid to kill
most people, leaving only a few well-secured survivors ... including
him. That wraps up the second season, which may also be the last.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Supergirl” and “Arrow,” 8 and 9 p.m., CW.

Every TV wedding
seems to have interruptions, but never quite like this: Villains from
Earth-X attack the ceremony, intent on destroying everyone.

Fortunately, the
couple is good at these things; Barry is The Flash, Iris is the
co-leader of Team Flash. More fortunately, lots of cool people have
been invited to the ceremony. They include Supergirl, Green Arrow,
White Canary, The Ray and, of course, Citizen Cold. This four-hour
rerun – a good one – concludes with Tuesday's episodes of “The
Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”

Other choices
include:

“Star Wars”
shows, all day, TNT and TBS. First is a double-feature on TNT --
“Revenge of the Jedi” (1983) at 2 p.m. and “The Force Awakens”
(2015) at 5. Then switch to TBS; at 8:30, it has an hour-long “Star
Wars” take-off on “Family Guy.”

Emmy previews, E and
NBC. The red-carpet coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC ... but
much sooner on E. There's an Emmy preview at 4:30, with red-carpet
interviews at 6.

“Inside the Manson
Cult: The Lost Tapes,” 8-10 p.m., Fox. This was culled from more
than 100 hours of footage, Fox says. It has new and old interviews,
including Catherine “Gypsy” Share and Dianne “Snake” Lake,
plus a prosecutor, a profiler and a prison interview with Bobby
Beausoleil.

“Castaways,” 8
and 9 p.m., ABC. As resources dwindle, emotions grow and some of the
castaways consider going elsewhere. That sets up Tuesday's finale.

“Elementary”
season-finale, 10 p.m., CBS. Last week, Sherlock's former friend
Michael was the prime suspect in a murder case. That sets up tonight,
with the Holmes-Watson partnership teetering.

“The Good Doctor,”
10 p.m., ABC. After a distraction during surgery, Shaun's job is at
risk.

ALSO: Turner Classic
Movies has a triple-feature of early Martin Scorsese films -- “Alice
Doesn't Live Here Anymore” (1974) at 8 p.m. ET, “Mean Streets”
(1973) at 10 and “Taxi Driver” (1976) at 12:15 a.m. That's on a
night stuffed with 8 p.m. crowdpleasers. It's “Ghostbuster”
(2016) on FX, “Wonder Woman” (2017) on HBO and “Terminator”
(1984) on Sundance.

TV column for Sunday, Sept. 16


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“You,” 10:04 p.m., Lifetime.

Once we get over the
initial disappointment, this is a fine series. The problem came
early; what seemed like a great love story – perfectly written,
filmed and played – deteriorated into a stalker story. That seemed
especially odd because this guy (played by Penn Badgley) could have
succeeded legitimately.

Now we've accepted
that and can move on. Beck (Elizabeth Lail) is a poet and grad
student, bright, beautiful and fragile. Joe, a book-store manager; is
sharp, handsome ... and has her semi-boyfriend locked downstairs.
Tonight's hour is beautifully written by Sera Gamble and directed by
Lee Krieger.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
George Stephanopoulos shows, ABC.

First, we see him in
his usual Sunday chore – hosting “This Week With George
Stephanopoulos” at 10 a.m. Then a 9 p.m. rerun offers a lighter
side – being a contestant on “$100,000 Pyramid.”

He faces Ali
Wentworth, who should be a tough opponent. Yes, she's known for
comedy – she was Jerry Seinfeld's girlfriend in the “Soup Nazi”
episode – but she's also a preppie, descended from newsmen, an
explorer and Nancy Reagan's social secretary. One thing more: Two
months after she met Stephanopoulos, they were engaged. They married
five months later and have two teen daughters.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Warriors of Liberty City” debut, 8 p.m., Starz.

To much of the
world, Luther Campbell's image will be eternally nasty. This is the 2
Live Crew rapper who gave the world “Me So Horny” and beat a
string of obscenity charges.

But this series
shows the other side: Campbell still lives in his old Liberty City
neighborhood of Miami, where he runs a youth football program.
Liberty City is considered the top source of football stars and

Campbell (a former
college player) sees that as a route to a free education. “Warriors”
lacks the depth and quality of “America to Me,” which follows at
9; still, it's a solid, feel-good documentary.

Other choices
include:

“The Simpsons,”
7:30 and 8 p.m., Fox. The first rerun has Homer's bowling team facing
arrogant millionaires. The second has Lisa in the future, recalling
all her birthday disappointments.

“Celebrity Family
Feud,” 8 p.m., ABC. On the second week of the pro football season,
a team of rookies (led by Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky) faces
veterans (led by Tampa Bay tackle Gerald McCoy). The other game has
Nia Vardalos (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) and Wanda Sykes.

Football, 8:20 p.m.
ET, NBC; preview at 7. After losing their openers, the Cowboys and
Giants meet.

“Masterpiece: The
Miniaturist,” 9 p.m., PBS. In last week's opener, teen Nella
reluctantly married a maybe-wealthy stranger, then found him oddly
disinterested. As the hour ended, she found him having sex with a
young man. That explains the disinterest, but other mysteries – his
failure to make business deals, his sister's rage – remain. Few
shows have been as visually gorgeous and emotionally dreary.

“The Deuce,” 9
p.m., HBO. In 1970s New York, Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) seeks advice
on porn filmmaking; Vince (James Franco) and Abby take a nostalgic
trip to Coney Island.

“NCIS: Los
Angeles,” 9:30 and 10:30 p.m., CBS. In the first rerun, the adopted
daughter of a notorious counterfeiter has been slain in prison. In
the second, Sam is shot.

“Kidding,” 10
p.m., Showtime, rerunning at 10:30. There are bright moments when
we're reminded that this is a gifted actor (Jim Carrey) playing a
beloved kid-show host. Catch the delightful first scene, when his car
is stolen ... or another, in a hospital. But then “Kidding”
slides back into the dark turf of its opener (which reruns at 4:05
p.m.) -- a man whose life and marriage crumbled after his son's
death.

 

TV column for Saturday, Sept. 15


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Saturday Night Live,” 11:29 p.m., NBC.

On Monday, Colin
Jost and Michael Che host the Emmys; first, this rerun offers a dandy
warm-up. We can savor Jost and Che anchoring “Weekend Update” and
see Donald Glover as host and (as Childish Gambino) music guest; he
received an Emmy nomination for this ... one of his four this season.

And there's a bonus:
Pete Davidson has a hilarious bit during “Update,” grumbling
about Jost and Che being named hosts. “I think it's great that Emmy
hosts now are just cute friends,” he says. “Who's hosting next
year, a squirrel and a cat?”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“The Bad Seed,” 8-10:03 p.m., Lifetime, rerunning at 11.

This weekend,
Lifetime is busy remaking the past. On Sunday, it has a new version
of “No One Would Tell,” the 1996 film about a controlling
boyfriend. And tonight, it redoes a much older story.

Patty McCormack was
9 when she played a maybe-killer in Broadway's 1954 “Seed”; two
years later, she did the movie, getting an Oscar nomination. Now, at
73, she's in this film (which debuted Sunday), as the psychiatrist.
Mckenna Grace, 12, stars; Rob Lowe plays her father and was the
director.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “All the Money in the World” (2017), 8 p.m., Starz.

HBO has had its
version of the classic kidnapping case; in its 10-part “Trust”
mini-series, Donald Sutherland was J. Paul Getty, refusing to pay the
ransom for his grandson. Now Starz has the movie version, which
originally had Kevin Spacey; then his scenes were done, with
Christopher Plummer.

There's s key
difference: “Trust” flatly says J. Paul Getty III was in on the
kidnapping ... then saw it go bad when another gang took over; the
movie leaves that open. Plummer is great as Getty -- at 88, he was
the oldest actor ever nominated for an Oscar – as is Michelle
Williams as young Getty's mother.

Other choices
include:

“The Phantom
Menace” (1999), 10:49 a.m., TNT. The story unfolds chronologically,
starting with the prequels. “Attack of the Clones” (2002) is at
1:49 p.m., with “Revenge of the Sith” (2005) at 4:55, the
original “Star Wars” (1977) at 8 and “The Empire Strikes Back”
(1980) at 10:45.

“Pocahontas”
(1995), 2:40 p.m., Freeform. A day of heroines starts with animated
movies; “Mulan” (1998) is at 4:40 p.m., with “Beauty and the
Beast” (1991) at 6:45. Then “Cinderella” -- the gorgeous, 2015
film, not the animated classic – is at 8:50. They all rerun Sunday,
about two hours earlier.

Football, 3:30 p.m.
ET, CBS. This may be the day's best match-up, with LSU (ranked No.
12) at Auburn (No. 7). At 8 p.m. ET, ABC has Ohio State (No. 4) at
Texas Christian and Fox has USC (No. 22) at Texas. There's much more,
including top-ranked Alabama at Mississippi at 7 on ESPN.

“America's Got
Talent,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. On Tuesday and Wednesday, this show has
its finals, with viewers choosing a million-dollar winner. First,
here's a rerun of last Tuesday, with 11 acts performing; the next
night, five were chosen to be half of the finalists.

“Pink Collar
Crime” season-finale, 8 p.m., CBS. In an upscale Brooklyn
neighborhood, the local PTA was known for lavish fundraisers.
Providence Hogan, the treasurer, said it raised a million dollars;
then she was convicted of skimming at least $80,000. She was briefly
in prison, has been repaying the money ... and was vice-president of
another PTA, until people recognized her name. Here's the story.

“Love in Design,”
9-11 p.m., Hallmark. Danica McKellar, the math whiz and former
“Wonder Years” co-star, plays the star of a TV design show. When
she returns to her old home town to work on a classic building, the
architect is her former boyfriend. We have no idea, of course, what
might happen next.

TV column for Friday, Sept. 14


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

We're in the
late-'70s, recalled by one man as a “pre-gentrification, gritty,
grimy, extra-fun New York.” Rent was cheap and artists were
everywhere. There was a rumor that one gallery had a genius locked in
its basement. Jean-Michel Basquiat's response: “If I was white,
they'd call it an artist-in-residence.”

He was a
Haitian-Puerto Rican teen, a drop-out who started with graffiti. He
crashed in apartments and offices, considered $15 a good day ... and
then soared. This superb documentary captures the era with its music
and rhythm. And last year – 30 years after his death at 27 – a
Basquiat sold for $110 million.

TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE
II: “Sunday's Best: 40 Years of CBS Sunday Morning,” 8 p.m., CBS.

Amid the swirling
changes in TV, “CBS Sunday Morning” had stayed steady. It its
first 37 years, it had only two regular hosts, both named Charles.
Kuralt did 15 folksy years; Osgood – a part-time poet, no less –
did 22. Now Jane Pauley hosts, with sidekicks ranging from Ben Stein
to Jim Gaffigan.

This hour views
changes in pop culture over the past four decades and profiles a
woman born the same year as the show – Louise Brown, the first
“test-tube baby.” It also tours Ralph Lauren's ranch, profiles
Robert Redford, visits Chrissy Teigen and husband John Legend and
even has a Ted Koppel poem.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Forever” debut, any time, Amazon Prime.

The wonderful,
wordless opening minutes whisk us through the relationship of a
couple (Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph). Then “Forever” jumps to a
key point. After annual fishing vacations, she makes a life-changing
decision: This time, instead, they should go to a ski resort.

The result is told
with dry humor and hints of tragedy. Beautifully directed and
co-written by Alan Yang, it gives Armisen his third mini-gem,
alongside “Portlandia” and “Documentary Now.”

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: More shows, streaming.

The broadcast
networks are 10 days from the new season, but alternative sites are
loading up. There's “The First” (Sean Penn goes to Mars) on Hulu,
“Forever” on Amazon and a fresh pile on Netflix.

The newcomers are a
talk show (“Norm Macdonald Has a Show”) and a movie (“The Land
of Steady Habits,” with Ben Mendelsohn and Edie Falco). Also,
several series return; there's the animated “Bojack Horseman,”
plus a fake documentary (“American Vandal”) and a real one, “The
World's Most Extraordinary Houses.”

Other choices
include:

“American Ninja
Warriors,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. This reruns the mid-section of the
three-night finals.

“Fresh Off the
Boat,” 8 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Jessica has a good reason for
wanting Evan to excel: If he's “student of the month,” she can
rub it in the face of her sorta-friend.

“Speechless,”
8:30 p.m., ABC. As a busy mom, Maya thinks of jury duty as a
vacation. Her mood changes, in this rerun, when she sees that
Taylor's mother is there, too.

“TKO,” 9 p.m.,
CBS. A former professional bodyboarder faces younger competitors –
a fitness buff, a

motocross racier, a
jewelry designer and a little league coach.

“The Orville,” 9
p.m., Fox. In this rerun, Kelly discovers that Lt. Lamarr is smarter
than he lets on. She wants him to be in a leadership position, after
an anomaly endangers all living things.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. A terrorist's phone may have crucial information about
upcoming targets; Frank battles a company that refuses to unlock it.
Also in this rerun, his son Jamie tries to find the woman who
kidnapped a newborn baby. His daughter and son, Erin and Danny,
follow information from a shady source, about an impending murder.

“Killjoys,” 10
p.m., Syfy. The team must sneak onto RAC (Rescue Apprehension
Coalition) turf, to rescue Westerly's children. Also,Seph and Pip
grow closer.

Blah blah

sneak onto the RAC
to rescue Westerly's stolen children. Zeph and Pip grow closer.

Kelly discovers that
Lt. John Lamarr is smarter than he lets on. So, she pushes Ed to
consider him for a key leadership position on the ship after The
Orville gets damaged by a mysterious spatial anomaly, causing
harrowing effects to all things living i