Piper Perabo and Richard Coyle
What summer vacation? It's not like TV took much of a break during what used to be the off-season. But with Labor Day behind us, and a handful of major fall premieres just a week away, here's a quick look at today's playlist.
In daytime (check local schedules), Kelly Ripa officially unveils her new permanent co-host on Live! With Kelly. Who could it possibly be? (Kidding; the news leaked a while back. But just in case you managed to stay out of the loop, why spoil it now?) ... Over on CBS, The Price Is Right marks its 40th anniversary with vintage clips and appearances by some memorable past contestants to "come on down" one more time — including the very first Showcase winner from 1972. ... Speaking of game shows, the classic Pyramid is back on Game Show Network (weeknights, 6/5c), and the celebrity players on premiere week are a delight: Community's Yvette Nicole Brown (who rocks the game, as you know she would) and Danny Pudi (also a natural). The affable host is Mike Richards, and while nothing can erase the memory of Dick Clark, the game is and always has been the star of this show.
The spy game gets serious on a pivotal episode of USA Network's Covert Affairs (10/9c), as Annie (the appealing Piper Perabo) once again takes lead in the ongoing investigation of master spy/love interest Simon Fischer (Richard Coyle), after an unsettling connection is made to another of her colleagues. But the twists don't stop coming as Annie attempts to bring Simon into the CIA fold, with a concerned Auggie (Christopher Gorham) listening in on the emotionally charged negotiation, while assassins lie in wait. "Can I trust you?" Simon asks his conflicted paramour. It's not Annie he should be worried about.
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One of TV's best ongoing reality-competition shows, Syfy's Face Off (9/8c), takes its creature-design challenges into a colorful new realm — that of the Chinese New Year dancing dragon — with contestants in teams of two designing elaborate headpieces and costumes, with their zodiac animals as inspiration, and the final results must be able to withstand a rigorous choreographed routine on the "reveal stage." Unlike team challenges in a contentious show like the current season of Project Runway, these artists tend to work well together and even express dismay when one of their peers falls short — or, in this case, slices a finger open, requiring stitches and (even more critically) time away from the creative process as the merciless clock keeps ticking. As usual, watching these visions take final form can be surprising and enlightening, and I never tire of listening to the designers walk us through the various stages, like the design phase, the importance of which Roy underscores by noting: "If you don't know where you're going, it's kind of hard to get there." Sounds like a life lesson to me.
One of TV's most relentless reality-competition shows, NBC's America's Got Talent (8/7c) concludes its semi-finals performances, and only three of tonight's 12 acts will move on to next week's Top Six finals. But since they got rid of the dog ventriloquist, I'm not sure I care. ... In other reality news, there's more dance drama on Oxygen's All the Right Moves (10/9c) as the boys face more setbacks while they prepare to introduce their Shaping Sound troupe at a dance convention. And will leading lady Taja act on her promise to quit the company? Might be more peaceful if she did. ... Missing ABC's NY Med already? (Correct answer is yes.) National Geographic Channel unveils a real-life ER with Chicago Trauma (10/9c), in which newly minted med students from top schools become residents at Cook County Hospital and are thrown into the deep end as they treat gunshot and car-crash victims among other casualties of urban life. ... If you like your medical melodrama on the ghoulish side of camp, A&E's two-part thriller Coma (9/8c) airs its conclusion, and is worth tuning in for one of the first scenes, when Ellen Burstyn, a world removed from her boozy Political Animals matriarch, cackles to an understandably creeped-out Lauren Ambrose: "You see, they're not really alive. But they're not dead, either." You may not lose sleep over this, unless you get nightmares from hammy performances from Oscar and Emmy winners like Burstyn, Richard Dreyfuss, Geena Davis and James Woods.
Finally, the Democratic National Convention gets underway from Charlotte, N.C., with wall-to-wall coverage on cable and, in prime time, PBS (starting at 8/7c). For a laugh, check out The Daily Show's weeklong coverage of DNC 2012: Hope and Change 2 (11/10c) as a nightcap. NBC's Tom Brokaw visits with Jon Stewart on the first night.
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