The Monday Playlist: Mel Brooks on Masters, Finales (Rectify, Bates Motel), Motive
Freddie Highmore, Vera Farmiga | Photo Credits: Joe Lederer/A&E
At 86, Mel Brooks is still the life of the party, a consummate ham and peerless joke-spinning storyteller. "I've come to stop the show," announces the irrepressible comic dynamo as he does just that, breaking into song mid-interview and reinforcing why PBS' American Masters titled its latest must-see career profile Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (Monday, check tvguide.com listings). His brilliant career in TV (Your Show of Shows, Get Smart), the movies and Broadway makes him an overdue American Masters subject, and his unflagging comic energy keeps everyone amused — including an intrusively visible camera crew. "I'm head over heels in love with myself," Brooks says, only half-joking. And you're likely to flip as well as you hear others talk admiringly about him, including close friend Carl Reiner, comic muse Cloris Leachman (never funnier than in Young Frankenstein), pal Joan Rivers, Broadway The Producers star Nathan Lane and beloved late wife Anne Bancroft, in a clip recorded before her death. Reiner says Brooks "makes fun of big things" — and quite obviously, the bigger the laugh, the better the life.
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FINALE FEVER: We're just a few days away from the official end of the broadcast network season, but on this Monday, the finales with the greatest critical buzz are on cable. Starting with Sundance Channel's brilliant if bleak Rectify (10/9c), which ends its too-brief six-episode first season on a disturbingly violent note, foreshadowed by the local sheriff saying of newly released death-row inmate Daniel Holden (the mesmerizing Aden Young): "Him being here stirs up things" — in the community at large and within his rattled family. Before it's over, Daniel gets another beautifully written soliloquy, contemplating the "calming and soothing" nature of the mundane. Which Rectify is anything but. ... Not available for preview, the first-season finish of A&E's gloriously bizarre Bates Motel (10/9c) is ominously titled "Midnight," which is the deadline the sinister Jake Abernathy (Jere Burns) has given put-upon Norma to cough up $150,000 or watch him take down her family. Crazy Norman is occupied with taking Emma to the school dance, but the ever-vigilant Miss Watson gives him a ride home. I'm assuming this all doesn't end well for somebody. ... After seven seasons and 100 episodes, it's finally curtains for CBS' perennial underdog Rules of Engagement (8:30/7:30c), with Brenda going into labor on Jennifer and Adam's wedding day. ... In its final new Monday episode before moving to Fridays next season — read into that scheduling what you will — CBS' Hawaii Five-0 (10/9c) wraps its third season with Kono on the run, falsely accused of murder, while McGarrett visits Wo Fat in prison.
BURNOFFS AND IMPORTS: We've come to expect something less than the best when broadcast networks premiere new shows in the last week of the season, heralding the beginning of another low-rent summer. And so it is with Fox's lamentable and immediately forgettable The Goodwin Games (8:30/7:30c), a sitcom burn-off wasting the considerable talents of Scott Foley and Ugly Betty's much-missed spitfire Becki Newton as sibs — he's an uptight doctor, she's a lapsed math whiz, and T.J. Miller rounds out the uninspired Goodwin troika as their jailbird bro — who are all forced to jump through hoops and learn how to be a family again in hopes of inheriting a fortune left by their eccentric father (Beau Bridges, seen only in mischievously manipulative videos). The "games" in the pilot include a specially designed version of Trivial Pursuit where all the questions reveal aspects of this unhappy clan's back story. That's as clever as Goodwin gets, and except for Newton's daffy sparkle, there's no real incentive to play along.