Forget “The Da Vinci Code.” “Secrets of the Dead” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) offers “Michelangelo Revealed,” a provocative interpretation of his artwork and an examination of mysterious events surrounding his death and burial.
Responsible for many of the grand works of art that have dominated and defined the Vatican for viewers over the centuries, Michelangelo was long seen as a darling of the papacy.
But “Secrets” offers a counter-story, that of a simmering rift between the artist and his benefactors arising out of his alliance with a group that wanted to reform the church from within and to end its schism with the emerging Protestant movement.
This new theory arose when experts began to examine asymmetries and peculiarities in some of Michelangelo’s most famous works, leading to theories that he had them altered to reflect his reformist ideal and symbolize his rift from the church.
By the time of his death, some of Michelangelo’s associates had come under the scrutiny of the Inquisition, and the artist destroyed his manuscripts and written records as death approached. Despite a lifetime spent in the glorification of Rome, the artist’s body was secreted out of the city and buried in Florence, an emphatic symbol of renunciation from beyond the grave.
• A sign of great fantasy storytelling is when the audience comes to accept the preposterous and impossible as the only possible explanation. The writers of “Lost” (8 p.m., ABC) have not only achieved this, they have spun several overlapping tales with way-way-out-there scenarios taking place in different points in time, some featuring the same characters appearing in different decades.
As we bid farewell to the island for another year, Jack is back in 1977 hoping to explode a hydrogen bomb from 1954 to change the course of events that lead to a plane crash in 2004. Got that? Meanwhile, back in the present (which is 2005, I think), Locke wants to confront Jacob, the mysterious ruler of the island who few have ever seen. Does it surprise you that a gaggle of torch-bearing islanders is following Locke’s every command? Wouldn’t you?
The recap show “Lost: A Journey in Time” (7 p.m., ABC) precedes tonight’s two-hour season finale.
Tonight’s season finales
• The Lightman group must stop a terror bombing campaign on “Lie to Me” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Tyra Banks announces the winner of “America’s Next Top Model” (7 p.m., CW).
Tonight’s other highlights
• Murder shatters a bohemian circle on “Law & Order Criminal Intent” (7 p.m., NBC). This episode introduces Detective Zack Nichols (Jeff Goldblum).
• The top two emerge on “American Idol” (8 p.m., Fox). Katy Perry and Jordin Sparks perform.
• Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill plan the defeat of Germany and the fate of the postwar world on “WWII Behind Closed Doors” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings).
Fans of over-the-top Samuel L. Jackson movies with the word “snake” in the title are in luck! They can choose between the 2006 horror parody “Snakes on a Plane” (7 p.m. and 9 p.m., FX) and the 2006 gothic gumbo “Black Snake Moan” (7:05 p.m., The Movie Channel).