The second season of Mad Men was punctuated by the series winning the Emmy for Best Drama, but the kudos have not much impacted its ratings, which remain modest by the standards of cable dramas. Its loyal fan base has been treated to a bumpy ride, with intimations of changing times both in society at large (references in recent weeks to Bob Dylan and the civil rights movement) and within the Sterling Cooper universe, where Roger is involved in an expensive midlife crisis and Peggy is gaining favor at the expense of more experienced men. The season finale (AMC, Sunday at 10 p.m.) finds Don continuing his own wanderings, spiritual and otherwise, while estranged wife Betty is left to deal with grim news. One senses that once we return for season three -- Mad Men is certain to be renewed -- we might need a program to keep up with the changes.
Also this week:
Monday: Rita Rocks (Lifetime, 8:30 p.m.): Nicole Sullivan has always seemed like a sitcom star waiting to happen, so maybe this will be her time. Sullivan plays an average mom who deals with the dullness of her everyday life by forming a rock band with a couple of friends. Groupies? Drugs? Hotel rooms set ablaze? Probably not on Lifetime. New episodes air at 8:30 all week long before the show settles in on Tuesday nights starting next week.
Tuesday: Dancing With the Stars (ABC, 9 p.m.): The final eight are reduced to seven. Um, I don't want to be unnecessarily alarmist here, but we're halfway done with the season, and Cloris Leachman is still there. People, it's OK to vote her off! No one is going to report you to the police for elder abuse!
Wednesday: World Series, Game 1 (Fox, 8 p.m.): The Philadelphia Phillies will travel to Tampa to kick off the Fall Classic, unless something very weird happens between the time I'm writing this and Wednesday, and they end up in Boston instead. The last time the Phillies were in the World Series, one of the games had a final score of 15-14. Prepare for some long nights.
Thursday: Eleventh Hour (CBS, 10 p.m.): This newcomer did better in its second week than in its debut week, a rare feat during this troubled fall season. Jacob heads to northern California to investigate cases of poisoning that appear to be linked to a particular food. What did we tell you hippies about those mushrooms??
Friday: Crusoe (NBC, 9 p.m.): While attempting to fortify his tree house, Crusoe winds up losing his wedding ring. You know what that means: He can now pick up babes without them suspecting he's got someone back home.
Saturday: Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m.): Jon Hamm doesn't get to exercise many funny muscles on Mad Men, so we'll see how he fares doing sketch comedy. Coldplay descends from Mount Olympus and serves as musical guests.