"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (9 p.m., Bravo) returns for a third season with a "very special" episode that offers a poignant and at times jarring departure for the cheeky series. This time their fashion-deprived subject is named Ray. And he's got bigger problems than bad hair.
Ray is a soldier due to depart for Iraq in the coming weeks, leaving his wife, Marie, and their 1-year-old daughter for at least 544 days. While putting his affairs in order, Ray discovers that his marriage, which was officiated in Marie's native Colombia, is not recognized by the military. So, in a period of a few days, the "Queer Eye" teams set out to give Ray and Marie a proper home; arrange for a memorable wedding ceremony and romantic send-off; and provide Marie and baby daughter with clothes, furniture and amenities to see them through Ray's absence.
It's difficult to watch this episode without getting, in Carson Kressley's words, "a little misty." It's also impossible to avoid the encroaching subtext. The Fab Five seem genuinely touched by Ray's sweetness and his stoic dedication to duty. Each of the guys takes time to salute him and wish him well. With repetition, the message emerges that the gay, sarcastic, name-dropping, witty, New York-based Fab Five supports the troops, too. It's a noble effort to bridge the manufactured and wearisome Red State-Blue State divide.
After the wedding ceremony, the five tastemakers show us how to make a care package for the soldiers in our lives. Again, this sends a double-edged message. We're inspired to reach out and support our troops. At the same time, we're reminded that the same military establishment that asks these men to risk their lives in a hostile desert doesn't even supply them with underwear, proper footwear, skincare or sunglasses.
- On a similar theme, "Frontline/World" (8 p.m., PBS) returns for a fourth season with a report from Iraq, where journalists find it increasingly impossible to report without getting kidnapped or killed. "World" also reports on genocide in Sudan and tensions in a Muslim province of China.
- An elderly woman recalls the night she was raped, at age 76, and her efforts to keep her attacker behind bars, in the harrowing documentary "A Rape in a Small Town" (7 p.m., HBO).
Tonight's other highlights
- Novelist Norman Mailer guest stars on "Gilmore Girls" (7 p.m., WB).
- Corsican intrigue on "The Amazing Race" (8 p.m., CBS).
- A troubled teen's domestic woes may imperil her parole on "Judging Amy" (9 p.m., CBS).
- A young victim of a car crash shows signs of molestation on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (9 p.m., NBC).
A freshwater grave for a sailor on "Navy NCIS" (7 p.m., CBS) ... An old friend's new collar inspires contemplation on "All of Us" (7 p.m., UPN).
Carmen wants to play it safe on "George Lopez" (7:30 p.m., ABC) ... Shelly considers a front-end realignment on "Eve" (7:30 p.m., UPN).
Jim treats his neighbors like a sports good-luck charm on "According to Jim" (8 p.m., ABC) ... A secret campus cabal on "Veronica Mars" (8 p.m., UPN).
Nate's domestic mess looms large on "Committed" (8:30 p.m., NBC) ... Torn between family and the stage on "Rodney" (8:30 p.m., ABC).
Anna Netrebko appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Scarlett Johansson, Gerard Butler and John Legend on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Oliver Platt, Elizabeth Rohm and Michael McDonald appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC).
Samuel L. Jackson and Tegan & Sara chat on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... Craig Ferguson hosts William H. Macy and Little Richard on "The Late, Late Show" (11:37 p.m., CBS).