I’ve given up trying to predict when Dancing With the Stars might finally lose some of its ratings steam. This current 12th season didn’t at first shape up as a viewer magnet, given its lack of both an obvious lightning rod and a clear leader to be pursued. And yet, it hasn’t made any difference, as the Monday performance shows have occasionally led even American Idol in the ratings. Credit a mostly likable and controversy-free cast, and credit also the lack of strong competition: House doesn’t pose a huge threat these days, and the Charlie Sheen sideshow has weakened the whole CBS lineup on Mondays.
The final three for DWTS will be set Tuesday (ABC, 9 p.m.), following performances by Stevie Nicks (!) and the suddenly inescapable Pitbull. Handicapping the rest of the competition isn’t easy, because while Hines Ward and Chelsea Kane have gotten the higher scores for the most part, Ralph Macchio and Kirstie Alley have that all-important emotional edge with viewers – and Ralph has survived one finish deep in last place in the judges’ scores already. I would bet on Ralph to win, assuming he can hold out physically.
Also this week:
Monday: Real Housewives of New Jersey (Bravo, 9 p.m.): The third season premiere (90 minutes, take note) features both Jacqueline and Caroline getting emotional around their kids, while Teresa takes steps to avoid losing her hideous home. Is Teresa the star of the show now, with Danielle and Dina outta there? Both new cast members are connected with her: cousin Kathy and sister-in-law Melissa.
Wednesday: America’s Next Top Model (CW, 9 p.m.): Can anyone name all 16 champions of this show? Can even Tyra Banks manage? Another cycle comes to an end, with what we’re being promised is a major runway crisis for one of the finalists. I’d pick Brittani over Molly, but what does a straight guy know about modeling anyway?
Thursday: Bones (Fox, 9 p.m.): Six seasons in, the producers are still coming up with gross new ways to discover a body: this time, an unfortunate dude is inside the pinsetting device at a bowling alley. So, are Brennan and Booth finally going to do it, or is the endless speculation about these two going to carry on for another season? The show is called Bones, for cryin’ out loud.
Friday: Camelot (Starz, 10 p.m.): Morgan is in hiding at Camelot, as she plots to turn Arthur’s forces against him. Since this is Friday night on Starz, we can assume this plan involves someone taking their clothes off at some point. Also, Igraine looks for a way out of Pendragon.
Saturday: Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m.): Another season comes to an end, and one suspects SNL has saved the best for last: Justin Timberlake hosts, with Lady Gaga as the musical guest. The show really should make some significant changes this offseason, but it probably won’t.
Sunday: Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost (CBS, 9 p.m.): Tom Selleck is able to stretch a lot more playing this boozing cop than he is as the stolid center of Blue Bloods. In the latest in this series of films, Stone’s old friends on the force lament the arrival of a new chief, while he struggles to understand the apparent suicide of a girl he once tried to help.