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Archive for Monday, May 21, 2012

‘House’ folds its tent

May 21, 2012

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Unlike Tom Sawyer, few of us get to witness our own funerals. But if a television show runs long enough, its cast, producers and crew even get to plan and “star” in the grim last rites.

‘‘House” (7 p.m., Fox) will look back at its eight seasons with an hourlong retrospective, including clips from scenes past and interviews with the show’s cast and creators. The series finale (8 p.m.) will guest-star James LeGros (“Mildred Pierce”) as an addict seeking treatment whose struggles force Dr. Gregory House to examine his own bad choices.

‘‘House” ranks with a handful of scripted network dramas from the past decade that attracted a large, faithful audience and featured smart writing and strong performances, ranking with anything on premium cable or imported from across the Atlantic.

Critics and fans have quibbled that “House” ran off the rails some two seasons back when House (Hugh Laurie) and Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein) became lovers. But, hey, this is a funeral. It’s not nice to speak ill of the deceased.

• The addition of Howard Stern to the judging panel of “America’s Got Talent” (7 p.m., NBC) was fraught with questions: Would the shock jock with a reputation for saying rude things detract from the family-friendly show? Or would the show, which also features judges Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel and host Nick Cannon, domesticate the radio bad-boy? So far, it looks like the latter has occurred.

With its roots in the broad comedy of vaudeville, “Talent” has no room for one signature star or persistent distraction. As with vaudeville, the key to “Talent” is the conveyor belt of spectacle. If you don’t like what you’re seeing or hearing, there’s always something else coming down the chute.

Stern seems a bit blander for the experience. The greatest risk to a cult figure like him is to turn into just any other celebrity. On “Talent,” a show that used to

Tonight’s other highlights

• Emily sizes up the bachelors as potential dads on “The Bachelorette” (8 p.m., ABC).

• “In Performance at the White House” (8 p.m., PBS) honors Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

• Supermodel Heidi Klum and Kevin Frazier (“The Insider”) co-host “Clash of the Commercials: U.S.A. vs. the World” (9 p.m., CBS), a roundup of the best television advertising spots.

• “I Cloned My Pet 2” (9 p.m., TLC) hopes to replicate the success of the first season.

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