Even in this era of instant fame, the rise and fall of Jon and Kate Gosselin has been startling to behold. As recently as the start of 2009, Jon & Kate Plus 8 was just modestly successful, and the Gosselins were known only to those who watched the show.
But once Jon began being photographed with other women, a tabloid frenzy was on, with new charges and countercharges appearing weekly at your checkout counter. By the beginning of summer, the Gosselins were basically the most famous people in America, at the time their breakup became official. After Jon was jettisoned by TLC, daddy Gosselin suddenly realized the show was exploitive and took legal measures to keep his children off the air.
With TLC clearly in the mood to move on to other projects with Kate, the decision was made to end the old format once and for all, and thus Jon & Kate Plus 8 ends its bizarre run this week (Monday, 9 p.m.). The finale proceeds in the same weird, sad vein as all the recent episodes, with Kate taking her brood to a farm to milk cows, while Jon separately brings them to a firehouse. The pair also has some time to reflect on their televised journey, which will rate a big chapter in the long history of "be careful what you wish for."
Also this week:
Tuesday: Dancing With the Stars (ABC, 9 p.m.): Season Nine ends with either Mya, Donny Osmond, or Kelly Osbourne following in the hoofing footsteps of such lumninaries as Kelly Monaco and Helio Castroneves. The finale brings back the eliminated dancers, for all you Tom DeLay freaks. Also, Whitney Houston will perform.
Wednesday: The Middle (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): In the battle of former Fox co-stars relocated to Wednesdays on ABC, Patricia Heaton pretty decisively bested Kelsey Grammer. The lousy economy forces Frankie (Heaton) to have to work at the dealership on Thanksgiving; also, Brick becomes lost in a corn maze.
Thursday: Paul McCartney: Good Evening New York City (ABC, 10 p.m.): The most famous Beatles concert ever happened at Shea Stadium in Queens in 1965. Shea has been replaced by Citi Field, but that's close enough for McCartney to treat this concert, filmed at Citi last summer, as a visit to old haunts. Beatles hits are among the songs performed.
Friday: Ugly Betty (ABC, 9 p.m.): Betty is looking pretty hot these days, but they can't very well change the name of the series at this stage. Betty becomes concerned by the amount of influence Bennett is gaining with Daniel, and thus within the magazine as a whole; also, Wilhelmina begins showing a lack of interest in her appearance.
Saturday: The National Tree (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): 'Tis the time of year to learn heartwarming lessons about the true meaning of Christmas -- perfect for when you're relaxing after having run over an old lady on your way to the Black Friday markdowns. Andrew McCarthy stars as a man who bonds with his teenage son as he's transporting his spruce, the new national Christmas tree, across the country to Washington.
Sunday: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert (HBO, 8 p.m.): The big museum is in Cleveland, so naturally this concert commemorating its 25th anniversary took place at Madison Square Garden. The starpower on hand includes Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, U2, Simon and Garfunkel, Crosby Stills & Nash, Metallica, and Stevie Wonder. They need four hours to get it all in.