The River" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-14) wraps up its first season tonight. It was the fourth-rated show in its time slot last Tuesday, so don't hold your breath for more trips up the Amazon.
It's one thing to get beaten by a repeat of "NCIS: Los Angeles" and a dollop of "The Biggest Loser," but it's a sinking feeling to attract fewer young viewers than the unwatchable "Breaking In."
It's been tough sledding for new series centered on cosmic mysteries. The Fox shows "Al catraz" and "Fringe" have had difficulty finding traction with viewers, and not even a Spielberg pedigree could save Fox's "Terra Nova" from cancellation. The only "Lost"-inspired series launched this year that's guaranteed to return is "Person of Interest" on CBS.
---"Mad Men" star Jon Hamm appears on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC). Last week, Hamm, the actor who plays tortured ad executive Don Draper, stirred the pop-culture pot by citing Kim Kardashian as an example of television celebrating stupidity. His choice of words was unfortunate (and unprintable), but he's onto something.
As someone who writes about TV on a daily basis, I'm keenly aware of how much the medium, particularly basic cable, has doubled down on the dumb. So it's nice to see Hamm, the face of one of television's smartest shows, taking a stand against a symbol of one of its trashiest.
Hamm isn't the only non-critic weighing in on the shortcomings of basic cable. For months, I have been using this column to decry the decline of the History Channel.
Last week, that complaint was echoed by Sen. Chuck Grassley. The Iowa Republican wrote The Washington Examiner and tweeted to his followers that he loves history and cannot find it on the History Channel. He went on to extol the value of learning history and its place in civic society. Grassley complained that he paid for History Channel on his cable bill, but "all I see are people chopping wood or driving trucks on an icy road." Well said, senator! He did admit to liking "American Pickers."
I congratulate Hamm and Grassley on speaking out. Over the years, people have accused me of bias in my column. I freely admit that I am biased on the side of smart television and that I wish broadcasters would try half as hard to find smart viewers as they do to
placate the cynical, the lazy, the witless and the gullible.
---TV-themed DVDs available today include "The Kill ing, Season One."
---Virginia mentors a teen on "Raising Hope" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---A parent-teacher conference gets romantic on "New Girl" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---The source of a lead may be a notorious sniper on "Unforget table" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---The talents clamor to place their products on "Fashion Star" (10 p.m., NBC).
---After her controversial
acquittal, a woman is found dead on "Body of Proof" (10 p.m., ABC, r, TV-14).
---Scheduled on "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" (10 p.m., HBO): the enduring Wallenda family.
---Raylan juggles to keep the lid on Dickie and Quarles on "Justi fied" (10 p.m., FX, TV-14).
There are big shoes to fill in the 2009 shocker "Assault of the Sasquatch" (9 p.m., Chiller).
---Leaks must be plugged on "NCIS" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG).
---Animal rights on "Last Man Standing" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
---Raj is hospitalized on "90210" (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
---Spring-break madness on "I Hate My Teenage Daughter" (8:30 p.m., Fox).
---Grayson's little dividend on "Cougar Town" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
---Murder on embassy row on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Bridget becomes a target on "Ringer" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---Veronica mentors a teen on "Breaking In" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Shaquille O'Neal, Steve Schirripa and Sharon Van Etten appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).
---Jennifer Lawrence and the Shins appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Ron Paul, Frank Caliendo and the Wanted on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Kristen Bell, Ice Cube and KISS appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (midnight, ABC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Kathy Bates and Brad Goreski on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at email@example.com.