Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, May 10. All times are Eastern.
Parks And Recreation (NBC, 9:30 p.m.): It’s a big night for finales, with half of TV Club’s regular Thursday-night lineup heading out for summer vacation at the end of the night. But before Parks And Recreation can do so, it needs to sort out all these city-council ballots and determine what becomes of the Parks Department staff in the event Leslie defeats Bobby Newport. Steve Heisler’s suggestion: Send the cast to Cape Canaveral where, while touring an experimental spacecraft, Jerry accidentally initiates a launch procedure, stranding Leslie and company in space for the (still uncomfirmed) fifth season…
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8 p.m.): …unless that’s the big ending planned for Howard and Bernadette’s pre-spaceflight wedding. Real-life NASA engineer Mike Massimino appears as himself, quashing Oliver Sava’s concerns that NASA’s representation on The Big Bang Theory lacks verisimilitude.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8 p.m.): “Stefan and Damon leave Mystic Falls on a mission”—to Mars? No, John Carpenter definitively proved that the supernatural and moviegoers’ least-favorite planet don’t mix. Carrie Raisler thinks we’ve definitively proven that the “finales in space” gag is getting old.
American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.): In a bit of cautionary wisdom for current competitors, season-seven champ David Cook returns to the Idol stage to perform his upcoming, self-released single “The Last Song I’ll Write For You.” The “you” in this case could very well be Cook’s ostensible label home, RCA, in which case Claire Zulkey has this to say to the top four: Run.
Community (NBC, 8 p.m.): Abed thinks the Dean who says he’s the Dean isn’t the real Dean—and he is obviously, because the real Craig Pelton wouldn’t dare cut his only form of contact with Jeff Winger. Todd VanDerWerff joins Abed in his hunt for the truth.
30 Rock (NBC, 8:30): Jack has doubts about Avery’s fidelity while she was held captive in North Korea. Which is unfair, what with Jack and Avery’s mom and the thing with their lips. When did 30 Rock get so soapy? Meredith Blake wouldn’t mind it if the characters suddenly started speaking in upper-crust British accents and the title of the show was changed to Rockton Abbey.
The Secret Circle (The CW, 9 p.m.): The Secret Circle has all the right ingredients to set off some end-of-season fireworks—teenage hormones, witch hunters, magic both light and dark—but it needs to set them off nice and loud if it wants the chance to stage a second season finale. Katherine Miller prepares to say “Oh,” “Ah,” and “Ew.”
The Office (NBC, 9 p.m.): There’s still no telling whether this will be the final finale for the crew at Dunder Mifflin—and despite our personal misgivings about a ninth season of The Office, we’d be surprised if it was. Especially because no one, not even Myles McNutt, wants to see Andy Bernard shuffle into TV oblivion while posing as a janitor.
Awake (NBC, 10 p.m.): Memories of Britten’s accident are poking through the detective’s waking hours in surprising and startling ways—and, since the accident, every hour is a waking hour for our split-reality hero. Zack Handlen thinks it’s about damn time things started getting weirder around these parts.
Eagleheart (Cartoon Network, midnight): The title (“Little Dude”) and premise (a hermaphroditic killer is on the loose) of this episode promise to take us to places only Eagleheart dares to tread. If the “little dude” of the title isn’t a penis, we each owe Kevin McFarland $5.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (11 a.m.): With our Cheers reviews on hiatus, Deep Space Nine steps in with an episode that gives Quark’s its very own Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern-style rival. To avoid becoming Zack Handlen’s archenemy, we recommend reading this review.
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
E! News Special: Bobby Brown Speaks (E!, 8 p.m.): In case you missed Today’s “Enough time has passed so we can talk about this now” interview with Bobby Brown, here’s Matt Lauer’s sit-down with the former Mr. Whitney Houston, expanded to a full 30 minutes of not-at-all-exploitative chatter.
Beastie Boys: Solid Gold Hits (Fuse, 8:30 p.m.): In a less-cringe-worthy tribute to a recently fallen musical icon, the late Adam “MCA” Yauch (nope, still doesn’t feel okay to type those words) is remembered through the finger-popping, rump-shaking, fighting-for-its-right-to-party videography of the Beastie Boys.
Confederate Flying Machine (National Geographic, 8 p.m.): Your steam-punk-obsessed co-worker couldn’t have imagined it better themselves: The hated Confederacy wanted to harness the power of steam to bring the American Civil War to the air, and NatGeo has the documents to prove it.
Punk’d (MTV, 10 p.m.): Parenthood helped actor Dax Shepard prove that he’s much more than “that guy who used to be on Punk’d.” Of course, with that show on the ropes and Shepard doing a one-off hosting gig on the revived version of the program that gave him his big break, maybe it’s not the worst time to be “that guy who used to be on Punk’d.”
Walk The Line (FMC, 7:30 p.m.): As sure as night is dark and day is light, James Mangold’s Johnny Cash biopic captures a portrait of Cash’s life that sands down The Man In Black’s rougher edges and exaggerates his personal melodramas. Sanitized storytelling doesn’t dull the impact of Cash’s music, however, and performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon ground the film’s most over-the-top sequences.
Scream (Encore, 9:35 p.m.): Following the diminished returns of his early 1990s output, Wes Craven returned to the top of the horror heap with this inventive riff on the slasher clichés. Calling out clichés about immortal virgins and other horror-movie rules eventually become its own cliché, but it’s still fun to watch Craven hack away at tropes he originally helped codify.
NBA Playoff: Lakers at Nuggets (TNT, 10:30 p.m.): Los Angeles came within three points of closing out its first-round series with Denver in Game 5, pushed along by a 43-point performance by Kobe Bryant. With the series back in Denver, the Nuggets must force a Game 7 and a return to the Staples Center.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Around The World In 80 Plates: A chance to learn the intricacies of international cuisine is crammed right down the gullet of the chefs vying for a win in Bravo’s newest cooking-competition series. Emily Yoshida would like the rest of the world to know that some Americans can recite the ingredients of a steak and kidney pie.