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Monday's TV Highlights: 'MasterChef' on Fox

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TV listings for the week of Sept. 14 - 20, 2014 in PDF format

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American Ninja Warrior In the season finale contestants from the U.S. face teams from Japan and Europe on the Las Vegas finals course. 8 p.m. NBC

Dancing With the Stars Season 19 of the competition begins with a new group of celebrity dancers. 8 p.m. ABC

MasterChef It's hard not to root for Leslie — the clear underdog — in the two hour season finale. The stay-at-home dad from Malibu has squeaked by all season long, outlasting all competitors but Courtney and Elizabeth. 8 p.m. Fox

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History In the Ken Burns miniseries' second episode, "In the Arena (1901-1910)," Meryl Streep provides the voice of Eleanor Roosevelt — who marries Franklin (voice of Edward Herrmann). 8 and 10 p.m. KOCE

Dallas Bobby (Patrick Duffy) puts everything on the line to save lives in the wake of a...

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Saturday's TV Highlights and Weekend Talk: 'Great Performances'

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TV listings for the week of Sept. 14 - 20, 2014 in PDF format

This week's TV Movies


Reckless Lee Anne's (Georgina Haig) case against the police goes to trial and Roy and Jamie (Cam Gigandet, Anna Wood) are on opposite sides of the biggest battle of their careers in the two-part season finale of the legal drama. 8 and 9 p.m. CBS

Great Performances The season premiere celebrates the 200th anniversary of "The Star-Spangled Banner." John Lithgow and Jordin Sparks hosts. 8 p.m. KOCE

Hell on Wheels Cullen (Anson Mount) tries to reconnect with Elam (Common) while Durant (Colm Meaney) confronts an old problem in this new episode. 9 p.m. AMC

Intruders In this new episode Gary (Tory Kittles) uncovers a strange link between Amy (Mira Sorvino) and one of his former clients. 10 p.m. BBC America

The Chair In this new episode the filmmakers learn one the harsh realities of Hollywood: it isn't all...

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Fox's 'Utopia' ratings tumble further in first Friday airing

Has the TV audience decided it doesn't want to live in "Utopia"?

It's beginning to look that way. Fox's heavily promoted reality show about 15 people trying to rebuild a "perfect society" while locked away from routine civilization plummeted to its lowest rating yet on Friday, according to Nielsen.

The show drew just 2 million total viewers at 8 p.m.

Let's put that in perspective. NBC delivered 3 million in the same time slot with the outdoors reality adventure "Running Wild with Bear Grylls" and ABC notched 4.5 million with two episodes of Tim Allen's sitcom "Last Man Standing." And those were all repeats.

Furthermore, "Utopia" premiered Sunday to 4.6 million total viewers - which means it's lost more than half its audience in under a week.

Another underperforming reality show would hardly be Earth-shattering news, but then "Utopia" isn't just another "I Wanna Marry Harry" (the gimmicky show about a fake British royal that Fox quickly pulled earlier this summer).

"Utopia" was created...

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'Please Like Me's' Josh Thomas on coming out, Lena Dunham comparisons

When the Australian comedy "Please Like Me" made its under-the-radar American premiere on the fledgling Pivot network, it instantly became every TV critic's pick for Best Show You've Never Heard Of.

The semi-autobiographical series is written by and stars 27-year-old Josh Thomas, who claimed the top prize at the prestigious RAW open-mic competition in Melbourne when he was just 17. 

In the pilot episode his character, also named Josh, comes out to his friends and family, prompting a collective shrug, and moves back in with his suicidal mother -- experiences all drawn directly from Thomas' personal life. 

The charming series invited comparisons to "Girls" and "Louie" and landed on numerous year-end best-of lists (including that of Times critic Robert Lloyd). Currently in its second season on Pivot, it continues to draw raves. Thomas recently spoke to The Times via telephone from Australia. 

You won a major stand-up contest when you were just 17. Can you remember what was in your...

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Thu Tran, 'Bad Moon,' Whistler, Tim & Eric, 'The Roosevelts'

Thu Tran (slight return) (The Internet, mostly). Thu Tran, the mistress and co-architect of IFC's "Food Party," a cardboard-and-glitter, puppets-and-grub series at the top of my top list back when it was running in 2009 and 2010 -- and still is, whenever I see it again -- fell off my radar after she left the conventional "air." But as things transpire in the Webbed world, I happened to catch a glimpse of her on Twitter the other day -- mentioned as the upcoming guest presenter of Barfcade, a food-themed game jam culminating in a streaming live event Sept. 21 -- and now, via various channels and sites I could have been looking at all along, sensibly including, I have caught up a little. She has been busy making things -- her own art videos, music videos for others, a just-finished interactive video wall for Case Western Reserve University. Let's take a look.

Earlier this year, MTV Other, an impolite Internet iteration of the Viacomathon, posted six episodes of her Web...

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Chris Brown, Mo'Nique offer Ray Rice advice during TV interviews

The controversy over Ray Rice's domestic violence incident and the NFL's handling of the situation continues to swirl, but outside the storm's center Rice got some advice from someone very familiar with the situation: Chris Brown.

Brown, who was sentenced to five years of probation after assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna on the evening before the Grammy Awards in 2009, offered up these observations to Rice during an appearance on MTV on Thursday: "To Ray, or anybody else -- because I'm not better than the next man -- I can just say I've been down that road. I deal with situations and I've made my mistakes too, but it's all about how you push forward and how you control yourself."

Rice was cut from the Baltimore Ravens and suspended indefinitely from the NFL after a video was obtained by the media showing the football player punching his then-fiancee, now wife, Janay Palmer in an elevator at an Atlantic City casino.

Brown has had continuous run-ins with the law since the 2009 incident,...

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'Sesame Street' crew joins Jimmy Fallon on 'The Tonight Show'

As far as Jimmy Fallon "Tonight Show" bits go, reading people's hashtagged tweets is one of the least complicated to explain. 

The hashtag on Thursday's show was #WhenIWasAKid and the idea was for viewers to share their misconceptions about life or funny behaviors they had when they were young. Pretty straight-forward and a little simple for Fallon, which is why the host got a little help from the most famous remnants of nearly everyone's childhood: the "Sesame Street" crew.

The human elements from "Sesame" weren't present, but all the superstars were there: Elmo, Big Bird, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Abby, Murray and Cookie Monster.

The characters were there to promote the upcoming 45th season of "Sesame Street," which starts Monday. 

Fallon is no stranger to "The Street," he appeared as himself in an episode back in 2010.

And no one appeared more excited to get back together with him than Elmo, who gushed over the "Tonight Show" set, calling it swanky -- a good vocab word for the...

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Live chat with 'Red Band Society' head doc Dave Annable on Monday

"Red Band Society" isn't the usual medical drama, nor is it the typical coming-of-age tale.

At the heart of the new Fox series, which premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET/PT, are a group of kids and teenagers with serious illnesses who find common ground while living in the pediatric ward of a Los Angeles hospital.

Keeping them all safe and in check is the staff of adults, which include Octavia Spencer as strict-but-tender Nurse Jackson and Dave Annable as compassionate Dr. McAndrew (yes, that's an intentional nod to the Dr. McSteamies and McDreamies that have inhabited the TV world).

"We're sort of making fun of it a little bit," executive producer Margaret Nagle has said

Annable will be joining us at the Times' offices on Monday at 2 p.m. PT to take part in a live video chat to discuss the new series, as well as his role as the head doc, which is in some ways based on an actual Los Angeles-based doctor (he'll explain).

For the Red Banders out there who have a question for Annable, we...

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Michael Che to replace Cecily Strong as 'SNL' 'Weekend Update' co-anchor

Late night television may have entered a kinder, gentler era, but the competition for fake-news talent remains fierce.

On Thursday "Saturday Night Live" announced that comedian Michael Che, who made his debut as a correspondent on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" just three months ago, will become co-anchor of "Weekend Update," joining Colin Jost. It will be a return to "SNL" for Che, who was a member of the show's writing staff last season.

Che will replace Cecily Strong, who was assigned to the desk last year and shared duties with longtime anchor Seth Meyers until his departure in February. Executive producer Lorne Michaels reportedly reassigned Strong, widely regarded as one of "SNL's" strongest players thanks to characters like The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party, so that she would be free to appear in more sketches.

Che will be the first African American to permanently fill the "Weekend Update" slot in the 40-year history of the show, which added ...

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CBS pulls Rihanna song from Ravens game in wake of Ray Rice furor

Rihanna's song "Run This Town" had been scheduled to open CBS' broadcast Thursday night of the NFL showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.

But just a few hours before kickoff, the network pulled the singer and the song in light of the ongoing domestic violence scandal over former Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was cut by the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after a video surfaced of him punching his then-fiance -- and current wife -- Janey Palmer in an Atlantic City elevator earlier this year.

Sports Illustrated reported the change was made because Rihanna was a victim of domestic violence in 2009 when her former boyfriend Chris Brown viciously beat her. The song had been planned to play with a narration from actor Don Cheadle.

CBS has also yanked a planned comedic segment and will now open its pregame show with a report from "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell, who interviewed NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell earlier this week about his...

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Former NFL player Tim Tebow joins 'Good Morning America' as contributor

Tim Tebow is joining "Good Morning America" as a contributor, ABC announced Thursday.

The former NFL quarterback will make his debut on the top-rated morning program Sept. 15 as part of the "Motivate Me Monday" series, which will spotlight "amazing stories of triumph," according to the network.

Tebow made history in 2007 when he won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore at the University of Florida. During his college career, Tebow attracted a great deal of media attention due to his outspoken conservative Christian beliefs, often citing Bible verses in his eye black and declaring his commitment to remaining a virgin until marriage. He also appeared in an anti-abortion Super Bowl ad in 2010 financed by Focus on the Family.

Later that year, Tebow was a first-round draft pick for the Denver Broncos. Despite launching a viral fad known as "Tebowing," his NFL career quickly fizzled. He was traded to the New York Jets after a single season, and released a year later. He was subsequently cut by...

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Friday TV Highlights: '48 Hours: Oscar Pistorius Verdict' on CBS

Customized TV Listings are available here:

Click here to download (updated Sept. 9, 12:45 p.m.)

TV listings for the week of Sept. 7 - 13, 2014 in PDF format

This week's TV Movies


Kitchen Nightmares Gordon Ramsay updates some of his biggest "nightmares" from the show to see how the restaurants progressed in the season finale. 9 p.m. Fox

The Knick Barrow (Jeremy Bobb) treats one of Collier's (Danny Hoch) wounded men at the hospital in this new episode. Andre Holland and Clive Owen also star. 10 p.m. Cinemax

Z Nation This new zombie apocalypse series follows a band of survivors struggling to make their way from New York to California, transporting the only known survivor of a plague to the last functioning research lab, where they hope a vaccine can be derived from his blood. Harold Perrineau, Tom Everett Scott and D.J. Qualls stars. 10 p.m. Syfy


48 Hours: Oscar Pistorius Verdict This new special reports on the background, trial and verdict...

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