Friday, September 17, 2021

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The baby or the badge?


TVThe season premiere of “Rizzoli & Isles” (Tuesday, 8 p.m., TNT) proves why it’s one of cable’s most popular series. As opposite types — Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) rough and rude, Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) posh and pedantic — they tease each other mercilessly. But they also have a sisterly bond, which comes in handy now that Rizzoli is pregnant.

Rizzoli has doubts about herself as a mother. Right on cue, she’s confronted with a homicide in which the female victim’s baby was abducted.

The script is an exemplar of terrific TV storytelling, ending almost every scene with a cliffhanger. I guarantee you’ll stick around through the commercial breaks to find the answer to the mystery of whodunit. In fact, I recommend sticking with “Rizzoli & Isles” all summer to find out the answer to an even bigger mystery: boy or girl?


“Shark Girl”

Prep Iowa

Sunday, 7 p.m. (Smithsonian Channel)

Australia’s Madison Stewart has the hippest nickname imaginable. And she’s earned it, too. Stewart speaks for the sharks the way the Lorax speaks for the trees. In this show, we learn about her global crusade to protect endangered shark species — an extraordinary effort for a mere 20-year-old. On top of that, she fearlessly swims with sharks to prove that their man-eating qualities have been greatly exaggerated.

I wish I were as cool as Madison Stewart. Shark TV Critic — that has a nice ring, doesn’t it?


“Cry Wolfe”

Tuesday, 9 p.m. (Investigation Discovery)

As a film noir fan, I love private eyes, with their fedoras and tough-guy lingo. “Cry Wolfe” is a new reality series about modern-day P.I. Brian Wolfe, who plies his trade in Los Angeles. Wolfe lacks a fedora, but it’s still fun to watch him work on cases involving cheating husbands and two-timing girlfriends.

 Each half-hour is structured like a mystery, starting with a client in distress. “I can’t always make it right,” Wolfe says, “but I can expose a wrong.”

That’s a pretty good piece of tough-guy lingo. If Wolfe only had a fedora, “Cry Wolfe” would be the perfect guilty pleasure for summer.


“American Pharaoh”

Wednesday, 3 a.m. (PBS)

In 2011 the Egyptian national team hired American soccer coach Bob Bradley, because it badly wanted to qualify for the World Cup. Remember that 2011 was not exactly a peaceful year in Egypt, with the Presidential mutiny and other tumultuous events, including a politically motivated massacre at an Egyptian soccer game and a military takeover. “Getting to the World Cup during this difficult period is a challenge,” Bradley says with notable understatement.

Such tight-lipped coach-speak runs throughout “American Pharaoh,” which chronicles Bradley’s extraordinary experiences in Egypt. It’s a touching portrait of this type of leader, familiar to those who grew up playing American sports. When the world is falling down all around you, who better to have at the helm than a tough team leader with a Steve Canyon jaw and a heart as big as Texas? CV

Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. He graduated from Grinnell College and went on to become an award-winning journalist, but he’s been a committed couch potato long before he figured out a way to get paid for watching TV. See more of his work at

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