The Tuesday Playlist: Finales, a Salute to Primetime Soaps, White Collar, The Taste
Lauren Graham, Jason Ritter | Photo Credits: Colleen Hayes/NBC
It's another ridiculously busy night of TV, with premieres and finales jousting for attention amid other distractions. It's just as well that CBS' top-rated lineup is taking a breather with repeats.
First, the farewells, going head to head. Once again, NBC sends away its reliably tear-jerking Parenthood (10/9c) earlier in the TV year than we'd like, but a limited run of 15 episodes beats the alternative. Shows like this don't tend to repeat well, and if a shorter run makes business sense — while freeing up the time period in the back half of the season for something else (in this case, a retooled Smash in two weeks) — then so be it. This fourth season has been Parenthood's strongest and most emotionally charged to date, especially in the storyline involving Kristina's breast cancer ordeal, providing Monica Potter and Peter Krause (as husband Adam) with their strongest dramatic material to date. Emmy voters, wake up and take note.
In the finale, these Bravermans bravely prepare for the next step of the medical battle, and it sounds like there are more significant turning points for many of the other members of this extended family: Crosby and Jasmine, celebrating their anniversary; Amber and the troubled war vet Ryan (Friday Night Lights vet Matt Lauria, a very welcome addition to this cast) reassessing their relationship; and Sarah still wavering between her ex-fiancé Mark, who's fighting to get her back, and forlorn grump of a boss Hank, who's acting as if he's already lost. (Don't judge, but I'll be watching in my "Team Mark" T-shirt.)
While NBC hasn't confirmed a fifth season for Parenthood, I'm optimistic we haven't seen the last of this underappreciated gem. But it really is the last hurrah for ABC's medical melodrama Private Practice (10/9c), which has earned the right to a happy ending after six seasons of over-the-top angst. This spinoff never grabbed me the way Grey's Anatomy still often does, in part because its central figure, Kate Walsh's Addison, seemed to morph from a confident doc to an emotionally stunted nincompoop the minute she switched shows. But now it's Addison's wedding day, so let's think positive thoughts, and welcome back Audra McDonald (with another Tony under her wing) as Naomi to class up the joint.
Want more TV news and reviews? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!
Parenthood and Private Practice are modern practitioners — Parenthood on the high end, Practice on the low — of a time-honored genre, whose glory days in the '80s are fondly recalled in an episode of PBS' Pioneers of Television (check tvguide.com listings) devoted to "Primetime Soaps." The late Larry Hagman, who laughingly says of Dallas, "I always considered it a cartoon," gets plenty of face time, as does Dynasty's Joan Collins, deconstructing her elaborate slapstick catfights with the statuesque goody-two-shoulder-pads Krystle of Linda Evans. My personal favorite of the era, Knots Landing, earns a salute from its trinity of heroines: Michele Lee as "I want to be a Pollyanna" Karen, Joan Van Ark (reliving her triumphant Val-into-Verna transformation), and Donna Mills, the cul-de-sac's mischievous fly in the suburban ointment, still batting those marvelous eyes. This is very well timed, with TNT's Dallas reboot less than a week away from returning. But as my fellow suds devotee Michael Ausiello mentioned to me a few nights ago: What, no Falcon Crest retrospective? Maybe next time.