Inside the Actors Studio (Monday, 7/6c, Bravo)
Even in those moments when it succumbs to fawning self-parody, there's something about James Lipton's craft/career-focused Q&A's that I find irresistibly endearing. (May have something to do with my nostalgia for what Bravo was like before all of those heinous Real Housewives took over the network.) This week, this marginalized show — notice how it airs outside prime-time parameters — welcomes its first-ever graduate from the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University. Said successful alum being Bradley Cooper, beloved by TV fans for his work on Alias but now busy with a film career including The Hangover, Wedding Crashers and the new Limitless opposite Robert De Niro.
Glee (Tuesday, 8/7c, Fox)
Here's something new for TV's favorite love-em-or-hate-em glee group New Directions: a playlist of original songs. As New Directions heads back to regionals — facing arch-rival Aural Intensity, now coached by Sue Sylvester (don't ask) and the up-and-coming Warblers led by Kurt's BFF Blaine — the group decides that their best strategy may not be in Madonna or Britney covers. (Good idea.) Among the judges: Kathy Griffin and Loretta Devine. Those seeking a more cosmic showdown Tuesday night may want to check out the season (and possibly series) finale of ABC's V (9/8c), which offers up the mother of all battles as desperate mamas Erica and Diane go after Anna, who's obsessed with breeding her daughter Lisa with Erica's genetically engineered son Tyler. Erica's Fifth Column joins forces with rebellious Lisa for an explosive coup attempt. In stunt-casting news, Marc Singer of the original V series guests in a new role as a member of a secret government-military cabal that has never trusted the V's.
Criminal Minds (Wednesday, 9/8c, CBS)
This isn't a show I regularly recommend, but my mailbag is so full of complaints from fans upset about the looming departure of Paget Brewster (the same fan base that hasn't got over the dumping of A.J. Cook earlier this season), that this episode can't easily be ignored. Directed by co-star Matthew Gray Gubler, this week's adventure gives us the long-awaited confrontation between Prentiss and her longtime nemesis, Ian Doyle. The situation prompts the BAU to call JJ back into action to find their colleague and capture the bad guy. While fans may never be able to forgive the producers for showing these characters the door, the most we can hope for is a satisfying finish.
Community (Thursday, 8/7c, NBC)
One of the more underused players in this brilliant ensemble comedy is Yvette Nicole Brown's pious but feisty Shirley, which is why fans should celebrate this week's baby shower for Shirley, organized by Annie, while Shirley tries to figure out how to bounce Senor Chang from her business. Malcolm Jamal Warner returns as Shirley's ex. Also guesting this week: Dollhouse's fan fave Enver Gjokaj as Britta's new love interest, a poet with a dark side. Later in NBC's comedy lineup, Parks and Recreation (9:30/8:30c) finally presents Pawnee's Harvest Festival, an event that could make or break Leslie's reputation, and the future of her entire department.
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