While consensus is that Project Runway is showing real signs of fatigue, its old Bravo running mate Top Chef seems healthier than ever. It continues to draw leading guest judges from across the food world (not that I know who any of them are, but the oohing and aahing from the bowled-over cheftestants speaks volumes). And young chefs who already have a lot going for them have proven willing to give everything up for several weeks in order to win this competition. This season's final four -- Kevin Gillespie, Jennifer Carroll, and brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio -- is easily the deepest Top Chef has ever had, and any one will be a worthy winner.
For this week's first half of the sixth season finale (Bravo, Wednesday 10 p.m.), the quartet shifts from Las Vegas to northern California for a challenge that will reduce the field to three. Who is looking strongest? Jennifer's recent emotional collapse has put her distinctly behind the others, and she is most likely to finish fourth. Michael is such a jackass I can't bear to think he might win, and while Bryan is more of a mensch, he doesn't seem to be quite as talented as his younger brother. That leaves me pulling for the workmanlike and relatively sane Kevin, who has the added distinction of sporting the coolest reality show beard ever.
Also this week:
Monday: House (Fox, 8 p.m.): For those fans of the show, and I know there are a bunch of you, who always believe there's never enough of Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), this is your lucky day. House's best bud gives Cuddy some real estate advice, and makes a bet with House regarding whether or not an old friend's cancer has returned.
Tuesday: Sons of Anarchy (FX, 10 p.m.): The 90-minute season finale brings an end (?) to the season-long struggle between SAMCRO and Zobelle (Adam Arkin), who may not be safely behind bars after all. If there's one series out there right now that you just know has to end its season with a killin' or two, it's this one.
Thursday: Bones (Fox, 8 p.m.): The remains of an abrasive competitive gamer are discovered inside a grease truck, thereby throwing off the investigators, who aren't used to finding gamers dead of anything other than a Cheetos overdose in their mom's basement. In other dork news, Sweets, Hodgins, and Colin the intern stand in line for movie tickets.
Friday: Monk (USA, 9 p.m.): The series that truly put USA on the original programming map ends its eight-season run with the title character (Tony Shalhoub) finally solving the central mystery that changed his life: the murder of his wife. I hope he celebrates with a glass of champagne -- served in impeccably clean stemware, of course.
Saturday: Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m.): Blake "My Cleavage Sure Is" Lively continues the parade of attractive young female guest hosts this season on SNL. No stranger to revealing photography herself, Rihanna will serve as the musical guest, assuming NBC can find something from her new CD that doesn't need to be bleeped.
Sunday: The Amazing Race (CBS, 8 p.m.): After last week's Kafkaesque elimination of the Trotters, Season 15 ends with the final three teams racing to the finish line in Las Vegas. Between brothers Sam and Dan and sweethearts Brian and Ericka, I can only abide one (Brian), so I am forced to root for the machinelike Meghan and Cheyne, even though the male half of the pair looks way too much like Spencer Pratt than anyone ever should.