Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, July 11. All times are Eastern.
Damages (DirecTV’s Audience Network, 9 p.m.): There was a time when Damages was going to be the next, great drama series. Then everybody got a look at it and said, “Hey, that’s all right, but I’m not so sure it’s great,” except for the people who really, really, really loved Glenn Close in it (and, hey, who could blame them?). Anyway, the series is limping to the finish line, as it begins its final season tonight with pretty much nobody paying attention and with a prominent guest star role from everybody’s favorite Reese Witherspoon ex-husband, Ryan Phillippe. “Finally!” says TV Guide. “Patty and Ellen go head to head!” If that sounds promising to you, then, by all means, Joshua Alston will be there to recount the fireworks.
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox, 8 p.m.): Donna Bowman, who spent so many years covering this one for us, steps back into the reviewer circle to cover this episode, since Oliver Sava is off terrifying the comics industry at Comic-Con. Anyway, Donna’s pleased to watch the top 20 and offer her thoughts.
Dallas (TNT, 9 p.m.): Meanwhile, Phil Dyess-Nugent is stepping in for Steven Hyden, who just couldn’t stand to watch another hour of J.R. Ewing’s eyebrows cocking jauntily in his general direction. Phil will try to withstand the onslaught of eyebrowiness, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to escape.
The Franchise (Showtime, 10 p.m.): “It’s time for another season of your favorite baseball reality series!” said Showtime, and America said, “Yay!” “It’s about the Miami Marlins!” said Showtime, and Claire Zulkey stared, discontentedly, at the screen, hoping the season would be about the White Sox.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.): Leela’s mom begins dating Zapp Brannigan, and we suspect there’s just the slightest chance that this is going to be the point when the series officially runs out of stories and just starts phoning it in. Zack Handlen is changing his name to Zapp Handligan.
Inside Men (BBC America, 10 p.m.): The entertaining and exciting heist drama roars toward its conclusion, and the TV Guide summary says, “Complications arise as the plans come together.” Ooh. That sounds exciting. Meredith Blake can’t wait to see how all those complications come to arise!
TV CLUB CLASSIC
The Sopranos (1 p.m.): Season six reaches the point where it went off the air for nearly a year back when it originally aired, as the Soprano family gathers for the holidays. Todd VanDerWerff is also going to take a little time off, but he’ll be hanging out with a bunch of Depression-era carnival freaks instead.
Sports Night (3 p.m.): We’re hoping The Newsroom has gotten you excited to pull out your Aaron Sorkin Bingo cards and note all of the assorted plot points he’s taken—often clumsily—from this series. This week’s episode reveals even more. Donna Bowman clings to the good old days as hard as she can.
WHAT ELSE IS ON
Dogs In The City (CBS, 8 p.m.): It’s season finale time, as Justin and Edie Falco team up to renovate an animal shelter. We’re mostly sad this show is going away, because without it, how will we get our weekly updates on how dogs are doing while living in the city, driving cars and smoking pipes?
Beverly Hills Nannies (ABC Family, 9 p.m.): “I love the Real Housewives reality franchise, but what I’m really curious about is how the nannies that take care of the housewives’ children on a day-to-day basis live!” said precisely no one. ABC Family didn’t care, and they made a new reality show about it anyway.
Cheer Perfection (TLC, 10 p.m.): Is the title of this new special from the team behind Toddlers & Tiaras meant to be a pun on the phrase “sheer perfection,” a description of a series about cheerleaders, or an edict, handed down from on high, on how we should never, ever tolerate even A- work. Pick it up!
Hit & Miss (DirecTV’s Audience Network, 10 p.m.): Chloe Sevigny stars as a transsexual contract killer who’s struggling both with the prejudices of those around her and, well, killing people. It sounds gimmicky, but it’s from the solid Paul Abbott, and people we know like it. Farihah Zaman checks it out.
Spider (Sundance, 8 p.m.): Who wouldn’t like to spend the evening watching David Cronenberg’s expertly crafted mind-bender? Well, people who don’t like Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, and Gabriel Byrne, that’s who! But we don’t really care for those people here at What’s On Tonight!
The Sting (TCM, 8 p.m.): Or you could watch one of the most effortlessly entertaining films ever made, as Robert Redford and Paul Newman pull cons and yuck it up, with George Roy Hill’s direction keeping everything light and spry. Plus, there’s all that great Scott Joplin ragtime! A good time is guaranteed.
ESPY Awards (ESPN, 9 p.m.): We don’t really know that anybody gets really excited for the ESPYs, but they’re on again, and there’s really nothing else going on in the world of sports besides the Tour de France, so we guess you should check them out, if you like seeing athletes win things, that is.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Trust Us With Your Life (Tuesday): Ryan McGee knows from attempts to revive the basic format of the venerable Whose Line Is It Anyway? format, and he’s happy to tell you that this one isn’t perfect, but it’s better than most. If you’ve got an improv comedy itch that needs scratching, you could do much worse.