As the TV season approaches its final month, it's interesting to note that not one network will finish the year with its original Friday night schedule intact.
NBC airs two not-so-special specials tonight. The weeklong contest on "Celebrity Cooking Showdown" (7 p.m., NBC) wraps up. The presence of this show is a mystery. The beleaguered network finally produced a crowd pleaser with "Deal or No Deal," and then pulls it to air "Showdown." There is no secret to the success of "Deal": Viewers like to see ordinary people get the chance to win big money. The contestants on "Deal" are well cast and almost invariably provide drama.
In contrast, "Celebrity" offers us the chance to watch Tom Arnold get more airtime. Tonight, the celebrities take a backseat to celebrity chefs, as Wolfgang Puck, Cat Cora and Govind Armstrong show off their expertise.
"Celebrity" gives way to "Miss USA 2006" (8 p.m., NBC), staged at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore. Nancy O'Dell ("Access Hollywood") and Drew Lachey ("Dancing With the Stars") host. Carson Kressley ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") is on hand to offer snide commentary.
¢ I watched the half-hour pilot of "The Chelsea Handler Show" (9:30 p.m., E!) and never once laughed. For those like me who have never heard of her, Handler has worked as a correspondent on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and appeared on the Oxygen series "Girls Behaving Badly."
Handler begins her show by saying she's always dreamed of a network comedy show of her own, and until that happens, she'll settle for this little-watched cable show. Nothing like mixing a sense of entitlement with meager talents.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ Three men wrestle with their vocation in the documentary series "God or the Girl" (7 p.m., A&E;), unfolding over four hours tonight. The fifth and concluding chapter airs Sunday.
¢ Scheduled on "Primetime" (8 p.m., ABC): a 90-minute look at blended families.
¢ Two sudden losses inspire Don to take stock on "Numb3rs" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ A tipsy trip to wine country knocks Adrian sideways on "Monk" (9 p.m., USA).