Taking advantage of the networks' post-sweeps lull, TNT roars back in a big way this week, with tonight's winter return (for five episodes) of its two biggest hits, The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles, and starting Tuesday for the next month, a weekly series of first-run mystery movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. (More on that later this week.)
The Closer (8/7c) and Rizzoli (9/8c) each have similar starting points for this ...
Some selective highlights and mini-reviews to get you through the long holiday weekend:
Last week, she was a hapless office assistant on Up All Night. Tonight, in the same time period on a different network, she's an insufferable sibling who makes Thanksgiving a chore, as Saturday Night Live vet Molly Shannon shows off her range, playing Frankie's demanding sister Janet on ABC's The Middle (8/7c). A holiday visit to Frankie's mom and dad (Marsha Mason and Jerry Van Dyke) becomes a recipe for disaster: "Stir in one broken toy, one passive-aggressive sister and let stew overnight ... Take unresolved issues and soak in alcohol." Frankie insists that "Everybody in one house is what makes holidays special," but anyone who's ever spent the festivities sleeping on an air mattress will relate to this first-rate episode.
Things finally started to get dramatic on Fox's The X Factor last week, and could get even more so with this week's first double elimination — but really, show, why stop at two? (If they'd just crown Melanie Amaro already, it would save us all a ton of time.) And here's a thought: Should the decision become as contentious as it was in last Thursday's showdown between the erratic Stacy Francis, who desperately wanted to stay, and petulant little "Astro," who was so disgruntled at being in the bottom he almost couldn't be bothered to "sing for his life," next time the judges should force a tie so the act with the lowest viewer vote totals is sent packing.
What is it with CBS sitcom stars and Saturday Night Live? First Melissa McCarthy wowed us with her fearless physical comedy earlier this fall, and this weekend Jason Segel delivered another of the season's most winning guest-host performances (with a strong assist from the Muppets). His gangly charms ...
From the cult-TV corner: It's rare to see a ballsy action heroine like Nikita (Maggie Q) in a state of panic, but in this week's typically tense episode of The CW's Nikita (8/7c), the first of the season I've been able to screen in advance, she places an anguished call to Michael in London to utter three unlikely words: "I lost Berkoff."
The timing couldn't be better for someone to make a commercial touting Greendale Community College, the madcap home for NBC's eternally underappreciated cult-com Community (8/7c) — but does it have to be Dean "Call me Craig" Pelton (the fearlessly funny Jim Rash) pulling the strings? With fans and critics having what seems to be a collective meltdown over the news that NBC is temporarily benching ...
Lost in all this week's understandable hubbub over NBC putting Community on midseason hiatus — and no, I'm not happy about it, either — was the welcome news that NBC is at least doing the right thing by its freshman sleeper comedy Up All Night and moving it to Thursdays come January, swapping time periods with Whitney. (What took them so long?) On this week's new episode (8/7c), yet another Saturday Night Live alum makes a guest appearance:
A week from now, we won't be thanking Fox for ditching its Tuesday comedy lineup to make room for another displaced edition of The X Factor (which will be shifting its schedule back a day to avoid spoiling our Thanksgiving digestion with another results show).
Mark Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords, Diane Sawyer
This week, it's all about Regis Philbin. The irrepressible broadcasting legend, who holds a Guinness World Record for most hours spent in front of a TV camera, will finally give it a rest at the end of this week, as he steps away from Live! With Regis and Kelly (check local listings) after nearly 25 years in national syndication and many years before that in a variety of jobs, including as Joey Bishop's late-night sidekick in the late '60s.
His time on Live! cemented his ...