There's more tearful soul-searching than singing in Fox's Glee (Thursday, 8/7c) as the show tackles an issue that couldn't be more timely and topical, on Capitol Hill and in any community that worries about its children's safety in the wake of recent (and not-so-recent) tragedies. The episode is titled "Shooting Star," which should give you an indication of just what triggers such intense emotional anxiety in the halls of McKinley High. Some would argue that the way the story ultimately plays out trivializes the issue, and maybe they're right, but as unpleasant realities seep into what is usually a musical-comedy fantasy, the glee club won't be the only ones left shaken and perhaps even a little more awakened.
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COMEDY TONIGHT: With most of the major networks in repeat mode, many of the night's high points are of a lighter nature. Although as NBC's Go On wraps its first season (9:31/8:31c), the support group is urging Ryan (Matthew Perry) to cross a rather morbid threshold: finally spreading his late wife's ashes and moving on with his life so maybe then can, too. If it were that easy, you wonder what would be left for Season 2 — should there be one, though there probably will be. The funniest bit: John Cho's attempts at singing a heartfelt spiritual to mark the supposedly solemn occasion. ... The most adventurous of NBC's comedies, Community (8/7c), gets surreal again, with the study group transforming into puppets (probably closer in spirit to Avenue Q than Sesame Street) in a story features Jason Alexander (with hair) as a mountain man.
FX's best comedy, the animated Archer (10/9c), signs off for the season with the raucously punch-drunk conclusion to last week's cliffhanger, in which a mad eco-terrorist (a wonderfully hammy Jon Hamm) threatened to launch nerve-gas missiles from his underwater SEA LABoratory. Unhappily sharing a submersible to the bottom of the ocean: Archer, an unusually irascible Lana, and the rest of the hapless team, posing as a TV news crew. "I don't think it's a trap," Archer muses on the way down. "Although I never do. And it very often is." This is why I love Archer. ... The freshman season of FX's Legit (10:30/9:30c) ends with a throwback to the pilot episode, when the prostitute that Billy visited shows up pregnant.
MURDER GARDEN: Just when you think you've seen everything, NBC's incredibly macabre Hannibal (10:01/9:01c) reminds you otherwise. In the second episode of this hauntingly weird crime drama, FBI consultant Will Graham (the terrific Hugh Dancy) is led to an oddly fertilized garden, where victims are buried alive amid a healthy crop of mushrooms. "What you need is a way out of dark places," advises Hannibal Lecter (the super-creepy Mads Mikkelsen) as he begins to head-shrink a most reluctant Will ("I'm not going to be comfortable with anyone inside my head"). While the authorities duck the intrusive snooping of an annoying crime blogger (Lara Jean Chorostecki, in the show's most thankless role), the mad doctor and his patient contemplate the roots and consequences of killing: "Killing must feel good to God. He does it all the time," muses Lecter, who as we know is no slouch in that occupation as well.
THE DECISIVE MOMENT: As we wait to learn the results on Fox's American Idol (8/7c), to see if the field will be left to the girls, and if not, whether the judges will use their "save," the show's first champion (and one of its best), Kelly Clarkson, returns to perform. Country crooner and Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery also shows up in the comeback circle. ... USA Network gets in the reality game with the aspirational, inspirational and perhaps a bit desperational The Moment (10/9c), an aggressively teary-eyed package of uplift in which people get a second chance to pursue a long-deferred dream job. NFL quarterback/Super Bowl MVP/Dancing With the Stars contestant Kurt Warner hosts, and stays in the sports arena in the premiere episode, which profiles an Alabama supermom who sidelined her passion for photography to raise a family. With the help of a professional mentor, she gets to polish her rusty skills in a crash course of training to prepare her for an assignment and job interview with Sports Illustrated. We'll leave for another discussion the irony of letting an amateur in the door for the sake of the TV cameras when so many professionals in the struggling media business are being shown the door. When will they get their moment?