Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Tuesday, May 22. All times are Eastern.
Glee (Fox, 8 p.m.): New Directions prepares to part with the kids that made us care about Glee—and then care a little less, and then outwardly despise, and then finally accept that Rachel, Finn, Kurt, et al. weren’t so much characters as personality types subject to the fickle whims of Ryan Murphy—in the first place. (As such, Will Schuster’s reaction shots are bound to be extra-tearful tonight.) In a rare show of restraint, the episode’s soundtrack indulges in 1990s “class song” staples like “You Get What You Give” and “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life),” but not Todd VanDerWerff’s personal pick, “Graduation (Friends Forever).”
American Idol (Fox, 9 p.m.): The American Idol contenders have been pared down to early frontrunners Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez, cementing this season as the least eventful in the show’s 11-year history. In an attempt to provide some variety, Emily Yoshida’s on the Idol beat for the night.
Frontline (PBS, 10 p.m.): It’s the Frontline Family Smile-Time Variety Hour, with guest host Dr. Perilous Lives Of Cell-Tower Workers and a very special performance of data gathered in an investigation into the expert witnesses in child-abuse cases. Meredith Blake doesn’t appreciate our sarcasm.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
The Muppet Show (noon): The traditional end of the television season even applies to TV Club Classic: Erik Adams concludes his look at The Muppet Show’s second season with a prickly John Cleese and an under-siege Cloris Leachman.
WHAT ELSE IS ON
Civilization: The West And The Rest With Niall Ferguson (PBS, 8 p.m.): According to Niall Ferguson, the Western countries came to prominence in the last 500 years thanks to six “killer applications”: competition, science, democracy, medicine, consumerism, and work ethic. It takes four hours for Ferguson to give history buffs the source for the dorkiest “there’s an app for that” jokes ever made—and significantly less time for Phil Dyess-Nugent to find fault with the host’s assertions.
Dancing With The Stars (ABC, 9 p.m.): The major broadcast networks are pulling out all the stops for the final days of May sweeps: Fox has its musical bloc, NBC’s got America’s Got Talent, CBS is pushing NCIS reruns that will still pummel The CW’s new/old episode of The L.A. Complex, and ABC has the finale of its diminished hoofing-celebrities juggernaut. Like the matchup in Alien Vs. Predator, whoever wins the show’s 14th season (and the night’s ratings battle, for that matter), we lose.
Dateline NBC: 20th Anniversary Special (NBC, 10 p.m.): NBC’s flagship news magazine has been on the air for two decades (Ooooh!), but it’s usually too busy filing in-depth crime reports, celebrity profiles, and health stories to pat itself on the back (Oh no!). In this hour-long special, the show finally gives Keith Morrison a non-creepy reason to appear excited.
Hip Hop Squares (MTV2, 11 p.m.): For the past two decades, British television studios have outpaced their Stateside counterparts when it comes to developing game shows where celebrity charm is first priority and winning comes second. MTV2’s variation on Hollywood Squares threatens to end this trend—and if it doesn’t, at least it’ll answer the eternal question, “Who is the Paul Lynde of rap?”
Blue Velvet (Sundance, 8 p.m.): Four years before David Lynch tasked Kyle MacLachlan with investigating the murder of Laura Palmer, the filmmaker had the actor uncover the hideous hive of insects writhing beneath the surface of a different seemingly idyllic American lumber town. Unlike Twin Peaks, there are no supernatural elements at play in Blue Velvet’s Lumberton—just nitrous-huffing maniacs and suburbia’s scariest Roy Orbison fanatic.
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (ABC Family, 9 p.m.): There’s no reason for recommending the second Legally Blonde film over the original (also airing on ABC Family tonight), beyond Jennifer Coolidge’s addition to the “Put it on my tab” Honorary Hall of Fame for Weirdly Catchy Out-Of-Context Trailer Lines: “You look like the Fourth of July—it makes me want a hot dog real bad.” So enjoy that.
Stanley Cup Playoff: Kings at Coyotes (NBC Sports, 9 p.m.): The Los Angeles kings are poised to leap from eighth-seed to Western Conference Champions, and no one in Los Angeles cares. Make up for Angelenos’ collective apathy by watching the Kings attempt to put away the Coyotes in Phoenix tonight.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
House: Dr. Gregory House has made his last diagnosis (it wasn’t lupus), and Zack Handlen has filed his final House review. Celebrate eight seasons of it not being lupus by reading Zack’s farewell to television’s most-lovable, Vicodin-addicted, misanthropic convicted felon with an MD.