Under the familiar heading of "shows gone too soon," ABC's robust, though at times berserk, military thriller Last Resort is the only failed freshman series from this season's underwhelming fall crop that I would argue deserved more of a chance — or at least a tryout in a more appropriate time period — to catch on as it figured out its sprawling narrative. With the great Andre Braugher and the appealing Scott Speedman leading a strong and (on the island at least) exotic cast, this action drama about a rogue nuclear sub standing up against a homeland gone haywire is unlike anything else on network TV. Which made it a risk, though one well worth taking, and at least ABC let the producers complete the initial 13-episode order, which now comes to a too-early, but let's hope satisfying, end (Thursday, 8/7c).
With the coup having apparently failed back in D.C., the focus now turns back to the U.S.S. Colorado, where the long-simmering battle for control leaves the sub open to attack from an unexpected source. I'm rooting for Marcus and Sam to triumph, but any outcome would be preferable to a cliffhanger.
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TALKING POINTS: A week ago, the big TV interview "get" was Oprah Winfrey's two-night sit-down with an unconvincingly apologetic Lance Armstrong, who mainly seemed sorry that he got caught. His confession was somewhat upstaged by the furor over college football's Manti Te'o, the alleged dupe of a bizarre Internet hoax involving a non-existent deceased girlfriend. (Sounds like a very special episode of Catfish.) The butt of many a late-night joke and endless rounds of tabloid speculation, Te'o brings his parents along for his first on-camera interview, with Katie Couric, airing on the syndicated Katie (check tvguide.com listings). Many are calling this Couric's "Oprah" moment. If enough tears are shed, they may be right.
In a potentially far wackier but no less memorable milestone for ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live (11:35/10:35c), the host finally welcomes his most celebrated frenemy, Matt Damon, to the show in his first official guest appearance, after years of Kimmel mock-apologizing for "running out of time" and bumping him every single night. Their "feud" peaked back in the days of those immortal music-video spoofs "I'm F---ing Matt Damon" and the "Ben Affleck" sequel, and good-sport Damon has participated over the years in various comedy pieces including a memorable spoof of the Bourne franchise, starring sidekick Guillermo. Can't wait to see what they have in store for each other on this historic occasion.
COMEDY TONIGHT: Proving once again that animated shows can get away with just about anything, FX's hilariously offensive and best-of-night comedy Archer (10/9c) twists a "dude" bromance into an extended bit of immature but shamelessly funny gay-panic shtick involving the studly secret agent (H. Jon Benjamin) and his idolized bud from training days, a "meathead frat-boy a—hole jock" voiced by Justified's droll Timothy Olyphant. This renegade spy's man-crush on Archer, which manifests in a stream of bawdy "says your mom" jokes, provides a welcome distraction from the company's dreaded peer reviews. My review: a 10.
Strictly for kids, Cartoon Network's new Incredible Crew sketch-com (8/7c), executive produced by Nick Cannon, is a slapsticky barrage of rapid-fire sight gags and parodies, zooming by in such a chaotic blur that it tends to be more exhausting than amusing. Best bit in the premiere: a rap-video spoof of a kid chanting about "Running Errands With My Mom." ... With only one week to go before the series finale, NBC's 30 Rock (8/7c) juggles a frantic agenda including family news for Liz and Criss, a search for a new NBC president and impending doom for the show-within-a-show TGS. ... Sounds like it will be more fun watching Leslie and April haul Pawnee's garbage on NBC's Parks and Recreation (8:30/7:30c) as part of a drive to involve women in government, though not as enjoyable as watching Ron Swanson get roped into babysitting Diane's little girls again. ... With the clock ticking on NBC's The Office (9/8c), we're finally promised a look behind the scenes of this seemingly endless documentary.
MUSIC AND FASHION: Fox's Glee (9/8c) returns from midseason break with the usual split focus, which tends to polarize fans. Some will be happy to be back at McKinley High, where Sam pursues a conspiracy theory that the Warblers cheated during Sectionals, while the girls prepare for a Sadie Hawkins dance where they get to choose their dates, resulting in some unexpected partnering. Others will be more interested in what's going on in New York, where Kurt is trying to fit in with the NYADA theatrical wannabes. ... The 11th season of Project Runway (Lifetime, 9/8c) is the first, and I'd like to think last, all-teams all-the-time edition, which sounds like the worst idea ever. (How does any individual get to stand out under those circumstances?) Worse, the witty Michael Kors won't do any judging until the finale. Taking his seat: designer Zac Posen. And guest-judging the New York-themed first challenge: "fierce" Season 4 Runway champ Christian Siriano. Doesn't really matter who's in these days. On such a busy TV night, with such an off-putting premise, I think I'm out for this round.