The silver lining to NBC’s struggles of recent seasons is that the network has seen fit to allow several excellent but low-rated series to stay on the air, for lack of anything better to try instead (look at it this way: there were shows NBC was considering a year ago at this time that were even worse than The Playboy Club). We got five full seasons of Friday Night Lights, and for much of that time it was probably the best show on any of the four major networks. Neither Community nor Parks and Recreation would have made it past one season anywhere else, and despite the Emmy love, the same might even go for 30 Rock.
And then there’s Chuck, which ends its five-season run this week (Friday, 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.) despite being one of the most endangered shows on the air for its entire lifespan. To be honest, I don’t think Chuck has ever regained the heights of its first two seasons, but it’s usually been a breezy hour at the very least. The final hours offer up a new opportunity for Sarah and Captain Awesome, while Chuck is forced to enlist a motley crew to ensure his future. Hopefully his retirement will be filled with lots of sandwiches and discount electronics.
Also this week:
Monday: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Bravo, 9 p.m.): The second, not nearly as fun season ends with the gala wedding of Lisa’s daughter Pandora, and Taylor’s admission of deeper problems in her marriage. It’s hard to see how this show returns without major casting changes, and let’s be honest: most of them could stand quality time out of the spotlight.
Tuesday: Southland (TNT, 10 p.m.): Notice how every time a major network cancels a show nowadays, people ask whether it can pull a Southland and get moved to cable? The difference is that this was always a cable show, just one that was miscast on NBC. This week, Tang and Cooper get attacked on the street, and a new captain takes control.
Wednesday: CSI (CBS, 10 p.m.): It’s the final episode for Marg Helgenberger, although Catherine Willows is going out on her own terms (so as to be able to make guest appearances in the future, we assume). You have to respect her right to do other things – 12 years is an awfully long time in series TV – but it’s not going to seem much like CSI without her.
Thursday: Jersey Shore (MTV, 10 p.m.): The roommates make a pilgrimage to their ancestral homeland of Staten Island in an attempt to get Vinny to return. Also, Pauly and Mike have birthdays coming up, and the ladies are making suitably tacky plans. Now that Pauly is in his thirties, isn’t it time to put on a shirt?
Saturday: The Pregnancy Project (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): Based on a true story, a high school student fakes a pregnancy as part of an experiment to gauge attitudes towards teen moms. Let’s hope she at least told her parents what she was up to first. Onetime Spy Kid Alexa Vega stars as the provocateur.
Sunday: Kourtney and Kim Take New York (E!, 10 p.m.): Man, have you been following the action on this show? Kris and Kim sure are fighting a lot for newlyweds. I know there’s no way they could be breaking up so soon after their fairytale wedding, but it really doesn’t look good! This week is the season finale, so I guess we’ll know soon one way or the other, right?