Whatever the male species did to deserve the recent run of lousy comedies that neuter them into a bland, whiny pudding — the trajectory of Man Up through Guys With Kids to CBS's new and painfully bland smarm-com We Are Men (8:30/7:30c) — can I just collectively say on behalf of the entire gender: We're sorry! Haven't we suffered enough?
Apparently not, because Men hits new lows in bromance abuse, cheapening the whole idea of "band of brothers" with its soggy account of male bonding at an apartment complex for jilted and/or unhappily divorced losers. The new kid on the block, Carter (Chris Smith), is left at the altar in a reverse-Graduate gag that's the cleverest part of the pilot. Such a milquetoast he makes How I Met Your Mother mensch Ted Mosby seem as dangerous as Ted Bundy, Carter is adopted by an unappealing threesome that includes middle-aged horndog Frank (Tony Shalhoub, slumming), sad sack Gil (Kal Penn, who's almost as hilarious here as he was as a wet blanket during HIMYM's dark period, which means not at all) and arrogant Stuart, overplayed by Jerry O'Connell, who parades around shirtless in a rainbow of Speedos that flaunt what some might call manhood. But they would be wrong.
These Men of no certain age and character aren't so much bad influences as terribly unfunny company.
Time for some serious soul-searching on the usually glib Castle, so it must be the end of another season. "With any luck, this could be your last case," crows the tone deaf-as-usual Capt. "Sir" Gates as the boss lady celebrates the prospect of Kate Beckett being "headed for bigger things" — or so promises the FBI Deputy Director (guest star Kyle Secor) who recruits the sultry homicide pro for a federal task force based in Washington, D.C. And what would that mean for Beckett's still budding but not quite defined romance with Castle? "I think our plot just thickened," quips the mystery writer-turned-crime solver — though he's talking about the week's murder case, not yet aware of his squeeze's big opportunity. With Castle fuming over trust issues that expose doubts in both parties, Beckett is left at an emotional crossroads: "What happens when the music stops? What if all we were in love with was the dance?" ABC dropped the last minutes of the episode (Monday, 10:01/9:01c) from the advance screener, so it's anyone's guess what their next step will be.
With a title like Scandal, surely you didn't expect subtlety to be on the menu of Shonda Rhimes' latest ABC potboiler. But as a companion piece to her enduring and still entertaining breakthrough Grey's Anatomy, it's just what the doctor ordered. If your doctor happens to be an indulgent "Dr. Feelgood" ...
NBC's holiday singing competition wraps up its second season tonight after two weeks of spirited performances by some of the country's top a cappella groups. In the finale, the winning group — which receives $100,000 and a Sony Music recording contract — is named, and surprise special guests perform. — Brie Hearn
Read on for previews of Martha and the Christmas Tree, Million Dollar Money Drop, Monday Night Football, Independent Lens, The Closer and True Life.
The Good Wife
The sophomore sensation continues to surprise and delight fans, and tonight's episode, the last original of 2010, promises more of the same. Alicia races against the clock to secure a stay of execution for a death-row inmate who is scheduled to die in nine hours. It's all set in motion when Alicia receives a cryptic message from a courthouse clerk concerning the condemned man's appeal. In more personal matters, Alicia, who recently learned of Will's phone call in which he professed his love for her, but which was deleted by Eli before she heard it, asks Will if they can talk about their relationship. Sounds like a good setup for 2011. — Tim Holland
Read on for previews of Three Wise Women, Biggest Loser, Independent Lens, Explorer, Fashion Show and Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Christmas.