The forensics buddy cop drama "Rizzoli and Isles" (9 p.m., TNT, TV-14) enters its fourth season in domestic mode.
The show opens with
detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and her best friend, Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), dressed in their pajamas in the kitchen, caring for an infant like doting married parents. Only the baby belongs (or so we suppose) to Rizzoli's not-so-organized brother, Tommy (Colin Egglesfield), and his on-again-off-again girlfriend, who just abandoned the baby on Rizzoli and Isles' doorstep. Whatever the circumstances, Rizzoli and Isles seem to be eager to raise the child as a family, or as part of some extended unit.
For the uninitiated, Rizzoli, played by the impossibly good-looking Harmon, is the tomboy of the couple -- or rather, the pair. Isles is the intellectually snobbish girly-girl. Much like Dr. Temperance Brennan on "Bones," Isles projects an
academic detachment from
ordinary life so she can better master mortuary science.
When not discussing domestic issues, the banter between the two women often revolves around corpses or the gross stuff found inside them. Isles offers up her findings with a combination of pride and icy
detachment; Rizzoli responds with wisecracks and an air of blue-collar practicality.
In the season's premiere, a cadaver betrays signs of a possible contagion, sparking a code-red. The women, as well as a hunky corpse-delivery guy, must retreat into a safe room, where they are required to shower in each other's com-
pany. The scene offers ample
opportunities for the limber Harmon to exhibit her talent for physical comedy and for the handsome stranger to show absolutely zero interest in the two women. What is he seeing, or not seeing?
Not to give too much away here, but a citywide plague is averted and a major crime is solved, all before we return to the baby and scenes of domestic tranquility, with Rizzoli and Isles making plans about future holidays, vacations and family milestones with the new bundle of joy.
The ambiguity of the Rizzoli and Isles' relationship is clearly intended and skillfully played out. They're like the Bert and Ernie of forensic detectives. The decision to keep things
between them deliberately un-
labeled is very much like the show itself, and perhaps its
audience. It's decidedly, even
audaciously, old school.
---The heist drama "Lever age" (10 p.m., TNT, TV-PG) also returns for a new season, set in a big-box store rigged with explosives.
---Tonight's holiday specials include one of the very best of the season, the 1966 animated fantasy "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-G), narrated by Boris Karloff.
Other baubles include "Shrek the Halls" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) and "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christ mas" (9 p.m., MoreMax).
---TV-themed DVDs available today include "Luck: The Complete First Season."
---50 Cent performs on "The Voice" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
---Another season of "Dancing With the Stars" (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) concludes.
---A teen patient puts Mindy on the spot on "The Mindy Project" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---The summer Olympics helped promote "Go On" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG), and now it returns the favor. Look for a cameo from beach volleyball star Misty May-Treanor.
---Savino's ex lands a singing job on "Vegas" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Julia chafes at her stay-at-home status on "Parenthood" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
---Jax announces a new direction on "Sons of Anarchy" (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).
A veteran (Sylvester Stallone) relearns old skills to rescue a missionary in the all-but-unasked-for 2008 sequel "Rambo" (8 p.m., AMC).
---A teen goes missing on "NCIS" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---A charity event on "Raising Hope" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Ruby's motives remain a mystery on "Hart of Dixie" (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG).
---Kate recognizes something unpleasant in her beau's face on "Ben and Kate" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---Hetty seems too close to a case on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
---Jess hears her clock ticking on "New Girl" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---An infant's sweet nature masks a deadly ailment on "Emily Owens, M.D." (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
---TMI on "The New Normal" (9:30 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
---Warren Buffett and Carol Loomis are scheduled on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" (11 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Mel Brooks, Kristen Schaal and Jon Dore appear on "Conan" (11 p.m., TBS).
---Whitney Cummings, Fortune Feimster, Ingrid Haas and Gary Valentine are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---Dolly Parton sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Alec Baldwin and Dirty Projectors appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r).
---Jay Leno welcomes Julie Bowen and Little Big Town on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Reba McEntire, Future and the winner of "Dancing With the Stars" appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (midnight, ABC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts James Marsden on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Kevin McDonough can be reached at email@example.com.