Mad Men makes up for its lengthy absence with a two-hour première 

Mad Men makes up for its lengthy absence with a two-hour première 

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, March 25. All times are Eastern.

TOP PICK
Mad Men (AMC, 9 p.m.): Mad Men aired the last episode of its fourth season, “Tomorrowland,” in October 2010. After that, things got tricky. There were contract negotiations and movie careers to maneuver around, and the show is really, really sorry that it’s taken so long for the Jon Hamm-directed “A Little Kiss” to arrive. (Of course, it’s not like Hamm and co-star John Slattery stopped making ads during that break—they just weren’t produced by Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.) In the meantime, Don Draper’s been busy staring and nude mannequins and… that’s all showrunner Matt Weiner wants you to know before the two-hour season première airs tonight. There are places to find spoilers—this is the Internet, after all—but we suggest you follow Todd VanDerWerff’s lead and spread patently false information about the beginning of season five. We’ll start: Can you believe Don grew that extra hand?


REGULAR COVERAGE
Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8 p.m.): The Who’s Roger Daltrey guests as the Caterpillar in an episode that mixes Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland into OUAT’s storybook land. It’s not the weirdest TV role Daltrey’s ever played: Anyone remember when he was The Devil in VH1’s Twilight-Zone-if-it-was-written-by-Jann-Wenner series Strange Frequency? (Oliver Sava, meanwhile, prefers Daltrey’s guest shot on Lois And Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman.)

The Amazing Race (CBS, 8 p.m.): Sentences you never hoped to see in an Amazing Race episode synopsis: “At a Detour, the duos must scrub excess oil off of some very hairy bathers.” Scott Von Doviak has never been more thankful for the words “excess oil” and “of.”

Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 8:30 p.m.): The restaurant gets a soft-serve ice-cream machine, though there’s no indication whether or not the Belchers are changing the name of their establishment to Bob’s Burgers And Also A Soft-Serve Ice-Cream Machine. Rowan Kaiser just wants to know if the machine can swirl chocolate and vanilla together.

The Good Wife (CBS, 9 p.m.): Alicia enters the exciting world of serving on a blue-ribbon panel—which is a real law thing and not just for deciding who bakes the best pie in a given county or state. David Sims has the best apple pie in New York County for five years running.

Luck (HBO, 9 p.m.): The beleaguered and prematurely canceled series ends its run at the Western Derby, where, Todd VanDerWerff assures us, its storylines reach conclusions that are as satisfying as the circumstances allow. (Too bad Mad Men will be busy grinding the show’s ratings into a can of Caldecott Farms dog food.)  

Celebrity Apprentice (NBC, 9 p.m.): The teams are charged with creating their own “mocktail,” a drink with all the delicious taste of booze—and none of the delightfully intoxicating upsides of booze. It’s sort of like Dee Snider out of his Twisted Sister getup—a sight to which Margaret Eby is still adjusting. 

Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.): Live, from Chicago’s South Side, it’s a Gallagher Family Thanksgiving! Featuring: A genetic predisposition to alcoholism and depression! Identity swapping! And the birth of a child! With a special appearance by Joshua Alston and The Joshua Alston Orchestra!

American Dad (Fox, 9:30 p.m.): When the flagship Animation Domination shows are away (in deference to Mad Men?), Bob’s Burgers and American Dad will play. In the Smith household, that means Stan’s trying to prove that the family could live on minimum wage for a month. Rowan Kaiser hopes you like government cheese, Smiths!

Eastbound & Down (HBO, 10:10 p.m.): Stevie’s been a real dick this season, and it appears that’s all finally coming back to haunt him. Not as much as we’re haunted by the image of Stevie and Maria’s tryst with the dildo in “Chapter 17.” Nathan Rabin’s still trying to scrub that last shot from his brain.

House Of Lies (Showtime, 10 p.m.): With each passing episode of House Of Lies, we grow increasingly more worried that the show will finally destroy Rowan Kaiser. Roscoe’s presence in this episode gives up hope that this won’t be the one that pushes Rowan over the edge—but you never know. Just try to remember all the good things other TV shows have done for you, man!

Life’s Too Short (HBO, 10:30 p.m.): Warwick throws a house-warming party, and its of the utmost importance that the guest list include a bunch of celebrities—because it’s Life’s Too Short. Erik Adams would like to think the presence of Cat Deeley will brighten things up, but it didn’t work for House Of Lies, so…

Californication (Showtime, 10:30 p.m.): Hank is booted from Karen and Richard’s place, effectively making him homeless. If this were SXSWification, dude could become a wireless hotspot, but since it’s Californication, he’s going to get trashed and make matters worse for himself. C’mon, Hank: You know Kenny Herzog has a spot on his couch for ya!


WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Finding Your Roots With Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (PBS, 8 and 9 p.m.):It’s not surprising that PBS’ spin on tracing the genealogy of the famous is, from its title on down, a kinder, gentler approach to the subject than NBC’s always-accusatory-sounding British import Who Do You Think You Are? Host Henry Louis Gates Jr. checks out the ancestry of New Orleans natives Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis, before doing the same for politicians Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis.

Leave It To Niecy (TLC, 10 p.m.): Reno 911! alumnus Niecy Nash is the latest celebrity to let a cable network’s cameras into her house. There are requisite colorful characters among the Nashes, of course—our “breakout star” money’s on Niecy’s mother, who returns to the dating scene in the series première. 

Full Metal Jousting (History, 10 p.m.): In the horse-trauma department, Full Metal Jousting has nothing on Luck. Sure a contestant was recently disqualified for going full metal Mongo on his steed, but no horses have died yet. Nonetheless, in light of recent developments, it’s hard to believe History gave the thumbs up to an episode titled “A Killing Machine.”

Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole/Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule (Cartoon Network, 12:15 a.m./12:30 a.m.): With Adult Swim primed for one of its biggest debuts in years—Odd Future’s “Jackass meets Chappelle’s Show and then strains to push the buttons of old, uptight white people by saying ‘faggot’ a bunch of times” series Loiter Squad—Brandon Nowalk takes a look at a show on the programming bloc that’s flown under the radar for two whole seasons. Join Brandon as Dino Stamatopoulos’ skewed take on Dr. Frankenstein devises a way to indulge his narcissism mirror-free, then stick around for another of Adult Swim’s under-appreciated gems, Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament: Gonzaga vs. Kentucky (6:30 p.m., ESPN2): Gonzaga’s women’s basketball team is becoming known for what it’s men’s team was in the early ’00s: Consistently spoiling the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs look to reach their second-straight Elite Eight against a Kentucky squad that just squeaked by Green Bay in the second round.

Best In Show (Ion, 8 p.m.): After making the mockumentary format of This Is Spinal Tap his own with 1997’s Waiting For Guffman, Christopher Guest took it to its pinnacle with the dog-show-spoofing Best In Show. It’s a comedy that doesn’t mock the dog-show circuit so much as play the eccentric characters within the community for every awkward exchange and toy-related hissy fit they can throw.

Brute Force (TCM, 10 p.m.): A prison-break film noir from a time when men were men (with surnames like “Bickford,” “Duff,” and the steeliest of all, “Lancaster”), women were women (and not yet vampires, as in the case of future Munsters star Yvonne De Carlo), and Hume Cronyn could convincingly play a twisted authority figure. 


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Ball Boys (Saturday): If your favorite episodes of Pawn Stars are the ones where Rick calls in one of his “buddies” to burst a sports collector’s autographed bubble, you’ll love this ABC series, which carries a certificate of authenticity from Pawn Stars creator Brent Montgomery and the Kenny Herzog seal of approval. 

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