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Archive for Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shows get a half-life

May 17, 2012

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On television, as in life, May is a season of renewal. Or cancellation. Or a promise of a half-hearted, tentative renewal that feels a little bit like a death sentence. Ah, May.

Earlier this month, in a generous act mixed with respect and pity, Fox announced that its cult sci-fi series “Fringe” would return for a truncated, 13-episode season. The ratings-starved series still had stories to tell, execs explained.

Since then, “30 Rock” (7:30 p.m., NBC) has received an identical lease on life. It, too, will have 13 episodes next year to put its affairs in order for its final, seventh season.

‘‘Community” (7 p.m., NBC) was also renewed for a 13-episode season. To put that in perspective, the series will bow out tonight with three original helpings. That’s nearly a quarter of a “season” in one night!

To no one’s surprise, “The Office” will also return on NBC, as will “Parks and Recreation.” Occasionally seen on Thursdays, NBC’s harried-parent comedy “Up all Night” has also been renewed.

Other shows wrapping up tonight include “Rules of Engagement” (7:30 p.m., CBS), a series that has popped up and disappeared so many times that most viewers forget it’s even on the schedule. Yet that seems to have been its strategy for survival. CBS renewed most of its existing series, including “Person of Interest” (8 p.m.) and “The Mentalist” (9 p.m.) months ago. And just last week, it announced the end of “CSI: Miami,” ‘‘Unforgettable” and “Rob.” The fate of “Rules” was not disclosed. So you might as well call it “Not Dead Yet!”

Safely renewed, “Grey’s Anatomy” (8 p.m., ABC) follows in the time-honored tradition of ending a season by putting most of the major characters in mortal peril. ABC’s “Missing” (7 p.m.) will not return next season, but “Scandal” (9 p.m.) will.

Tonight’s finales

• On three episodes of “Community” (NBC): saving Pierce’s inheritance (7 p.m.), challenging Chang (9 p.m.), legal wrangling (8:30 p.m.).

• Becca battles her past to save her son on “Missing” (7 p.m., ABC).

• A victimized therapist becomes a “Person of Interest” (8 p.m., CBS).

• Jane bottoms out in a Las Vegas club on “The Mentalist” (9 p.m., CBS).

• Quinn and Fitz call on Olivia for help on “Scandal” (9 p.m., ABC).

Tonight’s other highlights

• A couple defies Middle Eastern hatreds on “Touch” (8 p.m., Fox).

• The truth behind the accident emerges, conspiracies in tow, on “Awake” (9 p.m., NBC).

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