Archive for Thursday, May 10, 2012

Season finales pick up speed

May 10, 2012

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Seasons end for five series tonight. Howard and Bernadette rearrange their wedding vows to make way for a NASA space launch as “The Big Bang Theory” (7 p.m., CBS) wraps up its fifth season.

Jeremy makes a fateful decision on the third season finale of “The Vampire Diaries” (7 p.m., CW), already renewed for another season. Dark magic emerges on the first season-ender for “The Secret Circle” (8 p.m., CW). The fate of this spell-casting melodrama has yet to be determined. But “Circle” is not among the lowest-rated series on CW, where the threshold for success and survival is pretty minimal.

‘‘The Office” (8 p.m., NBC) ends its eighth season with Andy bent on a corporate coup. Even big fans of this series know it has gone on for at least two seasons too long. I admire James Spader’s peculiar comic audacity. His character, Robert California, is just as incompetent as Steve Carell’s departed Michael Scott, but without the demented warmth or obvious desperation. California is sweaty, paunchy and too arrogant to know or care he’s in over his head. Some of us have had bosses like him, so maybe that’s why I find this year’s “Office” more terrifying than entertaining.

CBS has canceled several series that had far higher ratings than “The Office.” But given NBC’s lack of hits, we’ll probably be returning to Scranton next fall.

‘‘Parks and Recreation” (8:30 p.m., NBC) also concludes tonight, with an election night drama. This odd documentary-style comedy is not for every taste, but it has steadily improved over the years, and it has succeeded in transcending the stardom of its lead, Amy Poehler. It has become a showcase for other talents — including Nick Offerman as the gruff Ron Swanson and Aubrey Plaza, whose responsibility-evading April projects a hilariously blank disdain for humanity. I’m no soothsayer, but I’d predict a return for “Parks” as well.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Mandatory therapy on “Community” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Emotions roil as Becca tries to flee the continent on “Missing” (7 p.m., ABC).

• A conspiracy from Finch’s past looms large on “Person of Interest” (8 p.m., CBS).

• A Brazilian street musician enchants a beautiful woman on “Touch” (8 p.m., Fox).

• A missive from Red John marks a dark anniversary on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A disturbing dream may strand our hero in only one “reality” on “Awake” (9 p.m., NBC).

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