TV column for Friday, June 22


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“The Great British Baking Show” season-opener, 9 and 10 p.m.,
PBS.

This cooking show is
as peaceful and pastoral as a tea party, as good-natured as an Agatha
Christie book club. Yes, it's a competition, but you soon want every
contestant to win.

They range from a
law student and medical student, ages 21 and 22, to a retired
computer specialist who now dabbles in the cello and the kitchen.
There's a gym teacher, a vicar's wife, a nursery worker, a a
photographer and more, including the CEO of a charity promoting the
use of wild plants. They have three tasks in the first hour alone;
it's difficult, demanding ... but done in a gentle, British way.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Quantico,” 8 p.m., ABC.

A scientist has come
up with a deadly technology ... which could be unfortunate if it
falls into the wrong hands. Now the team is trying to prevent that.

Meanwhile, Ryan and
Shelby accidentally find some thing personal about Alex (Priyanka
Chopra). That could signal a change in her life.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Harry Potter: A History of Magic,” 8-9:30 p.m., CW.

The big networks
mostly ignore magic, except on “The Gong Show” or “America's
Got Talent.” But for CW, magic is a key summer pleasure: “Masters
of Illusion” and “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” both start their
seasons next week; first, here's a rerun about the world's most
famous (albeit fictional) wizard.

This debuted last
year in England, when a British Library exhibit was marking the 20th
anniversary of the Harry Potter books. The special includes the
artifacts and early sketches of author J.K. Rowling, plus readings by
some of the actors – David Thewlis, Warwick Davis, etc. -- from the
Potter movies.

Other choices
include:

“Luke Cage,” any
time, Netflix. This has been a great time for black superheroes:
“Black Panther” scored big at the box office (and has just won
MTV's best-movie award) ... “Black Lightning” has been renewed on
CW ... and here's the second year of Marvel's hero.

“American Ninja
Warrior,” 8-10 p.m., NBC. Here's a quick rerun of Tuesday's
Indianapolis try-outs.

“Undercover Boss:
Celebrity Edition,” 8 p.m., CBS. Ashley Graham has found fame --
including her image on a Barbie doll and in Sports Illustrated's
swimsuit edition – as a plus-sized model. Now she goes undercover.
She's rejected at an open call ... does a photo shoot with a snake
... and meets a young woman who has a big online following, while
defying the usual body standards for a ballerina.

“12 Monkeys,”
8-11 p.m., Syfy. It's the second of four Fridays that will conclude
this ambitious series. Desperate to change history and prevent a
plague, the team travels to the Old West, the 1960s (with Christopher
Lloyd as guest star) and Nazi Germany.

“The Orville,” 9
p.m., Fox. This won't be back until mid-season, but we can try
reruns. Tonight, Ed likes the captain of a stranded ship. That's
understandable, because she's played by Charlize Theron.

“Hawaii Five-0,”
9 p.m., CBS. This one is clearly a rerun: Danny reads his son a
Christmas story, complete with bad Santas and a holiday miracle.
Several real-life military veterans are guest stars.

“Blue Bloods,”
10 p.m., CBS. In this rerun, a man has heroically rescued a woman
from a hostage situation. Now Jamie suggests that his sister drop old
charges against the guy. She has doubts.

TV column for Thursday, June 21


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“The Gong Show” season-opener, 8 p.m., ABC.

Here is an hour of
sheer fun. It has everything you'd expect – magician, fiddler,
drummer, balancing act – and some things you wouldn't. One guy
impersonates a walrus, another makes fart sounds with his hands.
Also, there are synchronized swimmers who don't have any water.

The fiddler,
incidentally, sometimes uses his toes; the drummer drums ... well,
anything. There's a lot of silliness here, but there's also great
talent. Add Mike Myers (hosting under the persona of Tommy Maitland)
and a terrific band and you have a thoroughly entertaining show.,

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Take Two” debut, 10 p.m., ABC.

After dumping
“Castle” two years ago, ABC had a void. It's had plenty of
serialized shows – good ones, mostly – but no crime-of-the-week
tales. Now it tries a short-cut, simply taking the “Castle” story
and switching genders.

Now the guy is the
serious crimesolver; he's a private eye, played by Eddie Cibrian. The
woman is the outsider; she's an actress, played by Rachel Bilson. The
result has zero originality, but mild fun.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Cloak and Dagger,” 8 p.m., Freeform.

“We need to talk,”
Tyrone told Tandy as last week's hour ended. They do. These two are
opposites – he's from a comfortable family, she's a thief whose
mother sinks into liquor and despair – but they have much in common
... including a time, a decade ago, when both were saved by a
mysterious force.

Now they finally
discuss their interwoven lives, while also rediscovering the people
around them. He gets new insights into his dad; she gets fresh
glimpses of the lawyer dating her mother. Written and filmed
intelligently, “Cloak and Dagger” far exceeds any expectations
for a teen-superpower show.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Marlon,” 9 and 9:30 p.m., NBC.

When casting his
sisters, Marlon Wayans had some obvious choices. In real life, he has
five sisters and four brothers -- all older than him. In tonight's
first episode, however, he has Sherri Shepherd and Kym Whitley as
his sisters; in the second, Kim Wayans (his real sister) plays his
therapist.

Both episodes fit a
pattern – likable people, OK stories, over-the-top acting. In the
first, Marlon and his ex-wife haven't told the sisters they're
divorced; in the second, they try a divorce counselor. The latter
includes a role-playing bit that proves that even overacting can
occasionally be hilarious.

Other choices
include:

“The Four,” 8-10
p.m., Fox. Heading into the third week, half of the original four
singers remain. James Graham and Sharaya J each went unchallenged in
one episode and survived a challenge in the other. Meanwhile, Jesse
Kramer and Whitney Reign have won challenges to seize the other
spots.

“The Big Bang
Theory,” 8 p.m., CBS. In a funny rerun, Leonard and Howard fume
when they learn Sheldon has secretly been working with the military,
on what was their project.

“Match Game”
season-opener, 9 p.m., ABC. Alec Baldwin's panelists are Kenan
Thompson, Niecy Nash, Caroline Rhea, Thomas Lennon, Mark Duplass and
Constance Zimmer.

“Queen of the
South” season-opener, 9 p.m., USA. We've seen Teresa's sudden rise
in the drug world. It was too sudden, perhaps; now she's hiding from
Camila and trying to start a new empire in Malta.

“Shooter”
season-opener, 10 p.m., USA. Bob Lee Swagger (Ryan Phillippe), the
former military marksman, was kidnapped. His wife and Isaac (Omar
Epps), his former commander, try to rescue him.

“Detroiters”
season-opener, 10 and 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central. The second episode
is merely OK, as the guys try to star in ads. The first, however,
includes a hilarious fake ad: Tim Meadows plays a lawyer so humble
that he only promises to try.

 

TV column for Wednesday, June 20


TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE:
“Yellowstone” debut, 9-11 p.m., Paramount.

Here is the best of
both worlds; it's both big and intimate, sprawling and smart. Taylor
Sheridan – who wrote and directed the indie gem “Wind River” --
puts sharp dialog alongside gorgeous settings.

John Dutton (Kevin
Costner) owns a mega-ranch at the edge of Yellowstone, living by
horseback and helicopter. He has three kids -- a fierce
businesswoman, a lawyer and a cowboy who lives on the nearby Indian
reservation with his wife – and a ranch that he refuses to sell.
“Leverage,” he says, “is knowing that if someone had all the
money in the world, this is what he'd buy.”

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“World of Dance,” 8 and 9 p.m., NBC.

“America's Got
Talent” gets the big attention and big ratings, but this show –
which follows it on Tuesdays – is also fun. Now NBC helpfully
reruns the most recent audition hours.

Here are people who
know what they're talking about – Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough and
NE-YO as judges, Jenna Dewan as host and mentor. And here are dancers
from all over, in all styles. The smaller acts have from one to four
people, the teams have up to 15. Each has a junior (17 and younger)
and upper category. That will give us four champions this summer;
then one of them will win $1 million.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Condor,” 10 p.m., Audience Network (via DirecTV or
AT&T).

In the first two
episodes, Joe (Max Irons) became enmeshed in a high-octane nightmare.
He's a computer guy who was starting to figure out who had triggered
a scheme to spread a deadly plague. Then assassins burst in, trying
to kill everyone in his unit; only Joe escaped.

Now he's being
sought by the assassins and the police, who think he was in on it.
Only his mentor (William Hurt) trusts him. Joe has forced his way by
gunpoint into the apartment of a lawyer he dated once. As she
schemes, he pushes his computer for answers. Soon, forces will
collide sharply.

Other choices
include:

“MasterChef,” 8
p.m., Fox. Inside the Busch brewery in Los Angeles, the 20
contestants make lunches that are, logically enough, beer-infused.

“Young &
Hungry” return, 8 and 8:30 p.m., Freeform. For four-and-a-half
seasons, the relationship Gabi (a young chef) went in and out of a
romance with her boss (a tech millionaire). Now they're officially a
couple, so what could go wrong? A lot, of course. In the first
episode, he's stunned by her messy apartment; in the second, her
roommate keeps getting in the way. All of this does have some funny
moments, albeit ones delivered clumsily; often, “Young &
Hungry” is just loud & blunt.

“24 Hours to Hell
and Back,” 9 p.m., Fox. Gordon Ramsay's team has one day to
transform The Old Coffee Pot, a Cajun restaurant in New Orleans.

“The Originals,”
9 p.m., CW. Vincent, Marcel and Josh face an uprising of purist
vampires. In a night of confrontations, that follows an 8 p.m. rerun
of the “Supergirl” season-finale.

“Modern Family,”
9 p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Phil is showing a house to his music hero.
Soon, family members are each recalling their celebrity encounters.

“Code Black,” 10
p.m., CBS. Ethan Willis (Rob Lowe) is an Army colonel who's also a
doctor, working as an EMT. Now his worlds overlap: At a funeral for
his brother's Army buddy, Willis decides to find out what happened to
his brother's unit.

“Reverie,” 10
p.m., NBC. Life gets tangled for Mara (Sarah Shahi), who is supposed
to intervene in virtual-reality worlds. She's warned of side effects;
and after a theft, she must enter a rogue world.

TV column for Tuesday, June 19


TONIGHT'S MUST-TRY:
“Genius” finale, 10 p.m., National Geographic.

The end of a
biography is rarely the best part. It leads to death, which – with
the exception of Jesus and John Henry and such – isn't the most
interesting part of a life. The final few “Genius” minutes are
terrific; the rest are grim, with Pablo Picasso (Antonio Banderas)
turning mostly dark and crabby.

Much more
interesting is Francoise Gilot. She survives today at 96, 45 years
after the death of her ex-lover Picasso (at 91) and 23 years after
the death of her ex-husband Dr. Jonas Salk. Tonight's Gilot portions
are first-rate; the rest is, until the final minutes, a downhill
slide.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“Beat Shazam,” 8 p.m., Fox.

This is Jamie Foxx's
musical week. He hosts this show – a “Name That Tune” variation
– tonight, then hosts the BET Awards, stuffed with R&B stars,
on Sunday.

Yes, we know him as
the Oscar-winning actor in “Ray.” But Foxx is also a classically
trained pianist, a former choir leader and an R&B singer who's
had four albums in the top 10. This show is brightened by guest
performances (Bell Biv DeVoe tonight) and by Foxx's daughter Corinne,
24, as the DJ.

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

For the season's
first three week, one thing was clear: “Smurf” needs protection
money inside prison; J, her grandson, has been planning a daring
robbery – in the daylight, while the police are tailing him.

That gives this hour
a high-octane (but smart) core, but there's more. Nicky (J's young
girlfriend) is a loose cannon ... and someone looser arrives tonight.
It's an ongoing role, played by Denis Leary, so we know it's trouble.
“Get him out,” Smurf commands from prison; she may be right.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “Drunk History” return, 10 p.m., Comedy Central.

A flurry of reruns
starts at 7:55 p.m. with a good one – heroines in history. There
are more reruns at 8:30, 9 and 9:30 p.m. ... leading to a new show at
10, with true (albeit inebriated) World War II bits.

The first one is a
so-so view of the “ghost army” Patton created as a D-Day
distraction. The second is better; Randall Park, the son of Korean
immigrants, looks at Japanese-Americans who resisted oppression in
internment camps. The third is a simplified version of a fascinating
life: Willy Hitler, born in England to Adolph's half-brother,
received a Purple Heart in the U.S. Navy.

Other choices
include:

“Brigadoon”
(1954), 6 p.m. ET, Turner Classic Movies. This starts a string of
Gene Kelly films, considered among the all-time greatest musicals.
“Singin' in the Rain” and “An American in Paris” (both 1951)
follow at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

“NCIS,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. On Thanksgiving – yes, it's a rerun – there's little time
for the holiday. The team is tracking an arms dealer who recently
killed Sloane's friend; also, Abby rushes Delilah to the hospital.

“Civilization,”
8 p.m., PBS. In the 15th century, this interesting hour
says, art and commerce blended vibrantly. The ingredients for colors
tended to reach Venice ports; soon, Venetian artists were creating
bold palettes. That's one of many ways that art was influenced by
color availability. The Madonna, for instance, was often dressed in
blue for a basic reason: That was the rarest and most expensive
color.

“The Bold Type,”
8 p.m., Freeform. Just as this show seemed to be out-of-control –
careers propelling too quickly forward – there was a detour: At her
new job, Jane saw her story twisted by an editor; she went public
and was fired. Now, in a good episode, she scrambles for work; also,
Kat pushes Sutton to hire her girlfriend (an artistic-photography
type) for a standard fashion shoot.

“The 100,” 9
p.m., CW. Clarke and Bellamy make a jolting discovery about Wonkru's
battle plans.

“Younger,” 10
p.m., TV Land. Liza (Sutton Foster) faces trouble on the “Marriage
Vacation” book tour. Meanwyile, Kelsey (Hilary Duff) and Zane go
to Washington, hoping to land a speechwriter's memoir.

 

TV column for Monday, June 18


TONIGHT'S ODDITY:
“The Proposal” debut, 10:01 p.m., ABC.

Somehow, this show
has found 10 attractive women who want a guy they've never seen to
propose to them. There's a baton-twirling neuropsychologist, a
weightlifter, a medical student and more.

Then host Jesse
Palmer – who proposed to no one when he did “The Bachelor,”
quickly breaking up with his chosen one – announces: “Because
physical compatibility is important in love,” the next portion will
be in beachwear. Soon, a bikini beauty – talking to the guy hidden
behind a wall -- astutely observes: “I'm carrying a mike and you're
Mike. That's perfect.” Then things go further downhill.

TONIGHT'S MIGHT-SEE:
“MTV Music & TV Awards,” 9 p.m., MTV, BET, CMT, VH1 and
Comedy Central.

Just 11 months ago,
Tiffany Haddish was a semi-known. Then “Girls Trip” opened and
she soared. It was a box-office hit and has brought her eight awards
so far; now she's up for two more and “Trip” is up for best
movie, facing “Wonder Woman,” “Black Panther,” “It” and
“Avengers: Infinity War.”

Haddish hosts, with
music from two duos – Mustard and Nick Jonas, Chloe and Halle.
There are special awards for Chris Pratt and for Lena Waithe, creator
of “The Chi.” And there are lots of MTV-ready presenters,
including Zendaya, Common, Mila Kunis, Seth Rogen and Gina Rodriguez.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE: “POV” season opener, 10 p.m., PBS (check local
listings).

This documentary
started as a portrait of one family in a tough North Philadelphia
neighborhood. Chris Rainey delivers papers and has a small hip hop
studio; his wife Christine works at a women's shelter.

Then “Quest”
shifted focus and grew, catching profound changes in the life of
their daughter PJ. When we meet her, she's a zestful young basketball
player and drummer. When the film ends eight years later, she and
her parents are dealing with transformations that seem to reflect
modern life.

TONIGHT'S
ALTERNATIVE II: “Bachelorette,” 8-10:01 p.m., ABC.

Last week ended with
a jolt. Playing football, Clay Harbor -- a former pro player -- was
injured. He left the show, presumably to heal and keep his career
hopes alive. (At 30, Harbor had seemed to be done with football. A
tight end, he didn't play last season and caught only three passes
the year before.)

Now the guys ponder
that. Two are sent home and the rest go to Park City, Utah, where
Becca Kufrin and a date have a rare combination – a bobsled ride
and (via Granger Smith) a country concert.

Other choices
include:

“Supergirl”
season-finale, 8 p.m., CW. Supergirl and her friends battle Serena,
trying to save the Earth.

“Running Wild With
Bear Grylls,” 8 p.m., NBC. In a change, this episode – with Don
Cheadle in New England's White Mountains – moves up to 8 p.m.,
nudging “American Ninja Warrior” to 9.

“Mom,” 8 p.m.,
CBS. In Thursday's rerun, Jill returned from rehab and Christy was
shattered by being rejected for law school. Here's a rerun of the
follow-up episode: Christy tries to bounce back, while her mom
battles Jill's “inner strength” coach, played by Kristin
Chenoweth.

“NCIS: New
Orleans,” 9 p.m., CBS. A mysterious woman is targeting men who have
high security clearances. Also in this rerun, LaSalle's father
visits, to discuss the family business.

“Dietland,” 9
p.m., AMC. As the terrorist movement against abusive males goes
global, our heroine (simply known as Plum) tries the next step in the
New Baptist Plan.

“Elementary,” 10
p.m., CBS. When a woman is found encased in concrete, the probe takes
Sherlock to the “clean technology” industry. Also, Watson takes a
major step in her quest for adoption.