Allison Janney, Anna Faris
All season long, I've been likening CBS's freshman sleeper Mom to gritty sitcom foremothers like Roseanne and Grace Under Fire (shows on which executive producer Chuck Lorre famously spent time before his current CBS heyday). That comparison rings especially true in the first-season finale (Monday, 9:30/8:30c), as third-generation mom-too-soon Violet (Sadie Calvano) gives birth while her own imperfect mother, Christy (Anna Faris), and caustic grandma Bonnie (Allison Janney) look on with emotional empathy. Complicating matters is the presence down the hospital hallway of Violet's long-absent dad and Bonnie's despised — or so she says — ex, Alvin (Kevin Pollak), recovering from a heart attack and helpless to fend off Bonnie's withering sarcasm. (Which nobody delivers better than Janney, wonderfully described by Christy as "5-11 and crazy as a bag of rats.") Subtlety has no place in this raucous household, but as Violet mood-swings her way through delivery and the selfless decision to give her baby up for adoption, there's plenty of heart and tearful catharsis. These moms are survivors, and I'm glad Mom gets to survive to a second season. [By only-on-TV coincidence, MTV starts a new season of 16 and Pregnant tonight at 10/9c.]
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HOUSE ON FIRE: It's a sci-fi/fantasy "who's who" as Syfy's Warehouse 13 (9/8c) pulls out all the stops in a time-tripping free-for-all that opens the condensed fifth and final season on a boisterous note. You can't blame director/writer/exec producer Jack Kenny for overstuffing the hour, given that there are only six episodes left before this tongue-in-cheek fantasy closes up shop. The action (of which there is plenty) picks up with a battle for control of the Warehouse between Claudia (Allison Scagliotti) and the evil wizard Paracelsus (Buffy's Anthony Head, one of many familiar genre faces). Complications quickly ensue, propelling Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly) on an adventure that takes them to an original Olive Garden (the only joke I'll spoil). If the rest of the final mini-season stays this busy, fans are in for quite a ride.
THE MONDAY GUIDE: While investigating a better-than-average case involving cryogenics and medical ethics, Fox's Bones (8/7c) as usual finds time for some personal detours — including Cam's tense first meeting with her co-worker/lover's parents (24 and Grimm's Shohreh Aghdashloo plays the mom) and Booth fretting over the implications on work and family of a possible FBI promotion. ... On Fox's The Following (9/8c), Ryan finally tracks down the location of the Korban cult compound, and according to Fox's summary (and here's a shocker), "all doesn't go exactly as planned." ... After her buzz-worthy appearance on Letterman last week, Lindsay Lohan finds herself in suitably raunchy company on CBS's 2 Broke Girls (in an appallingly early 8/7c time period) as a bride who can't make up her mind about anything. Maybe she should try calling Oprah again? ... TNT's Dallas signs off until the summer with a cliffhanger (9/8c) spurred in part by Pamela's discovery that John Ross has been sleeping with Emma. Chalk that one up to "sins of the [much more interesting] father." ... This week's guest villain on NBC's The Blacklist (10/9c) is the "Good Samaritan" serial killer (guest star Frank Whaley), whom Liz is especially keen on putting away, with or without Red's help. ... Covering much of the same ground as HBO's docudrama Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight last fall, PBS's Independent Lens presents The Trials of Muhammad Ali (10/9c, check tvguide.com listings), focusing on the famed boxer's legal battles in the '60s, when he was convicted of draft evasion for his stance against the Vietnam War after his conversion to Islam.
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