Mad Men has settled into a pattern in its four seasons: a few episodes to create a mood to begin the season, leaving viewers wondering exactly where Matthew Weiner is going with this; followed by a succession of stunning hours that leave them cursing the nine-month (if we're lucky) break. Last season ended on dual notes of giddy optimism (over the creation of the new agency) mixed with resignation (over the end of the Draper marriage), but there has been little in the 1965 of Season Four to lighten the mood. The old order is collapsing, and most of our characters are just now getting how devastating that will be.
Given that Weiner has become more phobic about spoilers than ever this season, we're going to have to mostly guess at the content of the finale (AMC, Sunday 10 p.m.). It would seem unlikely that this season will end with a dramatic change in our characters' working situation, since that would make it three seasons in a row. But look for Don Draper, who has getting closer to the edge for months now, to be in a dramatically different place. Could the early season prediction of Dr. Faye, that Don would be remarried with the year, actually come to pass?
Also this week:
Monday: Dancing With the Stars (ABC, 8 p.m.): This is an "Acoustic Week," and while I'm not entirely sure what that entails, if it means that one guy whose voice always cracks won't be singing, then I'm all for it. Big question for this week: is Bristol Palin next on the chopping block, or will she discover a personality just in time?
Tuesday: Parenthood (NBC, 10 p.m.): Kristina enlists in a support group for parents of kids with Asperger's, but Adam is reluctant to follow suit; Crosby wants Julia's help in getting Jabbar into the same school her daughter attends; Zeek and Camille decide it's never too late to take up ballroom dancing.
Wednesday: Survivor: Nicaragua (CBS, 8 p.m.): The young vs. old format seems to be leading to the imminent collapse of the geezers, so it's about time for a tribal switch to keep things from getting too brutal. In the preview for this week, Jeff Probst was heard to say "NaOnka becomes her own worst enemy." I'm thinking that as long as there's at least one other person alive on earth, that will never be the case.
Thursday: Bones (Fox, 8 p.m.): The gang finds the body of a bounty hunter, leading to questions about not just his murder, but who he might have been looking for. Also, the host of a science program for kids (David Alan Grier) agrees to help out around the lab in exchange for being able to host his show from the Jeffersonian. Brennan and kids: always a perfect match.
Friday: Teach: Tony Danza (A&E, 10 p.m.): I figured this show would be a gag along the lines of Steven Seagal: Lawman, but Danza is actually serious, to his credit. This week, the mayor asks for Danza's help at the same time he has made a commitment in Atlantic City. Also, a frustrated kid needs to be talked out of quitting football.
Saturday: Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp (VH1 Classic, 10 p.m.): The latest show from executive producer Mark Burnett brings together fifteen part-time musicians in a camp setting. Veteran rock stars (one of whom is Kip Winger, aka the guy Beavis and Butt-head were always making fun of) serve as mentors as they attempt to improve their showmanship to the point where they can command a stage. Is there a groupie-nailing contest too?