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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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TV best bets with returns of ‘American Idol,’ ‘Hot in Cleveland’

Yes, the No. 1 show for the past seven years,  “American Idol,” is back, aging, if not always gracefully. It moves to a Wednesday-Thursday combo each week this season, instead of Tuesday-Wednesday.

Betty White with Mary Tyler Moore in an on-screen reunion after nearly 40 years.

Betty White with Mary Tyler Moore in an on-screen reunion after nearly 40 years.

Aging more gracefully? Betty White, who just turned a spry 89. The second season of her TV Land sitcom “Hot in Cleveland” is back Wednesday.

And while Showtime’s new show “Episodes” makes fun of American TV execs trying to import British hit shows and making them work  stateside, two shows are truly attempting to replicate U.K. success. Syfy is going with “Being Human” while MTV has “Skins” Monday.

USA has yet another potential hit on its hands Thursday with “Fairly Legal,” a new legal drama starring Sarah Shari. The writing is self assured, thanks to David E. Kelley, and Shari radiates on the screen.

There are some notable guest turns this week, too, including Candice Bergen on “House” Monday, Bob Newhart on “NCIS” Tuesday, Mary Tyler Moore on “Hot in Cleveland” Wednesday and Christopher Lloyd on “Fringe” Friday.

MONDAY

“House” 8 p.m. Fox —  Candice Bergen guests as Cuddy’s mom.
“How I Met Your Mother” 8 p.m. CBS — Marshall mourns the death of his hero, his dad, while his friends try to keep his spirits up.
“Chuck” 8 p.m. NBC — Chuck works on a secret mission while on a separate secret mission.
Being Human” 9 p.m. Syfy (new series) — Three 20-something roommates (a vampire, a ghost, and werewolf) try to lead normal, human lives. Good luck with that! This is an Americanized version of a British series.

“Jersey Shore” 9 p.m. MTV (special time) — Sour Sammie, who has not lived up to her nickname “Sweetheart” of late, finally swallows her pride and apologizes to Snooki.
“Skins” 10 p.m. MTV (new series) — MTV hopes “Jersey Shore” fans stick around for yet another Americanized version of a British drama. It’s about teens, many having promiscuous sex and taking drugs.  James Milo Newman plays the ringleader with appealing charisma.

“Harry’s Law” 10 p.m. NBC (new series) — Bored patent attorney Harriet Korn (Kathy Bates) opens her own practice. David E. Kelley (”The Practice”) admits this is going to be a tough sell, especially for younger viewers. But it has plenty of zippy Kelley-like dialogue and Bates’ acting chops.

“Heavy” 10 p.m. A&E (new series) — Two obese people each episode learn to lose weight without “Biggest Loser”-style gimmicks.

TUESDAY

“NCIS” 8 p.m. CBS — Bob Newhart plays Ducky’s predecessor.
“Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern” 9 p.m. Travel (sixth season debut) — Zimmern checks out camel sausage in Syria.
“NCIS: Los Angeles” 9 p.m. CBS — A team seeks a hacker who has stolen Pentagon documents.
V” 9 p.m. ABC— Anna dispatches Ryan to find missing mole Agent Malik.
“The Game” 10 p.m. BET — Last week, the show drew a whopping 7.7 million viewers. Melanie comes clean to Derwin about his son.
“Glory Daze” 10 p.m. TBS (first season finale) — The boys host a mid-semester bash. Weak ratings don’t bode well for this show’s future.
Detroit 1-8-7” 10 p.m. ABC — Fitch is considered a murder suspect when a local philanthropist is killed.
“White Collar” 10 p.m. USA — Peter sets out to clear his name.
Southland” 10 p.m. TNT — Ben has revenge on his mind when his mother’s rapist leaves prison.
“The Good Wife” 10 p.m. CBS — Will hires a jury consultant to help him out on a case.

WEDNESDAY

“American Idol” 8 p.m. Fox (10th season debut) — No more Simon Cowell, Ellen DeGeneres or Kara DioGuardi. Say hi to Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.
“Live to Dance” 8 p.m. CBS — Paula Abdul competes head to head with her old employer “Idol.”
“Chase” 9 p.m. NBC (new time slot) — Last week’s episode was pre-empted by Pres. Obama’s Tuscon speech. The U.S. Marshals go after a drug kingpin’s wife, who killed a lead witness.
“Modern Family” 9 p.m. ABC — The  Dumphy kids present breakfast in bed for their parents. Cover your eyes!
“Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” 9:30 p.m. TBS (sixth season finale) — Tracee freezes Calvin’s bank account due to back child support.
Blue Bloods” 10 p.m. CBS — CBS is temporarily airing this Tom Selleck hit from Fridays until the “Criminal Minds” spinoff debuts Feb. 16.
Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” 10 p.m. VH1 (fourth season finale) — Atlanta’s Frankie Lons graduates after a long bout with alcoholism.
Hot in Cleveland” 10 p.m. TV Land (second season debut)  — Elka (Betty White) faces an ornery cellmate (Mary Tyler Moore) while in jail.
“Restaurant Impossible” 10 p.m. Food (new series)  — Basically a copy of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares” with Robert Irvine at the helm.
Top Chef: All Stars” 10 p.m. Bravo  — Ten left. Atlanta’s Richard Blais barely survived last week. It’s restaurant wars!
Retired at 3510:30 p.m. TV Land (new series) — A successful New York executive quits his job and moves in with his parents (George Segal, Jessica Walter).

THURSDAY
American Idol” 8 p.m. Fox — “Idol” has moved to Wednesday-Thursday from Tuesday-Wednesday.
The Big Bang Theory” 8 p.m. CBS — Insecure Howard gets jealous when Bernadette runs into her old boyfriend.
Perfect Couples” 8:30 p.m. NBC (new series) — Cannon fodder against “Idol.”
Bones” 9 p.m. Fox (new time slot) — Booth and Hannah discuss his relationship with Brennan.
“CSI” 9 p.m. CBS — The team finds a victim on the road who may have been killed in an electric chair.
“The Office” 9 p.m. NBC — Michael awaits news about Holly and her boyfriend.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” 9 p.m. Bravo (first season finale) — Kim and Kyle go after each other while Camille’s marriage hangs on the brink.
“Royal Pains” 9 p.m. USA (second season winter debut) — Hank and Evan learn more about Eddie after his heart attack.
Parks & Recreation” 9:30 p.m. NBC (third season debut) — Leslie tries to convince the auditors to give her department more money.
“Fairly Legal” 10 p.m. USA (new series) — Sarah Shahi plays a litigator who becomes a mediator. Shahi is a delight.

FRIDAY
Kitchen Nightmares” 8 p.m. Fox (third season debut) — Gordon Ramsay tries to fix up the Spanish Pavillion in Harrison, N.J.
“Medium” 8 p.m. NBC (series finale) — Allison begins a new career as a lawyer.
Supernanny” 8 p.m. ABC — A stay-at-home Florida mom can’t control her kids.
“Fringe” 9 p.m. Fox (new time slot) — Walter meets Roscoe Joyce (Christopher Lloyd), a keyboardist from his favorite band.
Onion News Network” 10 p.m. IFC (new series) — A very funny satire of the cable news networks.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” 10 p.m. Starz (new series) — A pre-Spartacus prequel about life in the House of Batiatus.
Portlandia” 10:30 p.m. IFC (new series) — Lame fictional vignettes about life in Portland.

WEEKEND
Backyard Wedding” 9 p.m. Saturday Hallmark — A med-school graduate comes to her home to set up a backyard wedding but an ex-husband complicates matters.
Pitbulls & Parolees” 10 p.m. Saturday Animal Planet (second season finale) — A best-of episode.
Mean Girls 2” 8 p.m. Sunday ABC Family — Similar concept as the original film minus Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey.
Californication” 9 p.m. Sunday Showtime — Showtime has given this drama a fifth season.
“What Chilli Wants” 9 p.m. Sunday VH1 — Tionna learns the truth about Chilli’s date that shocks Chilli.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta” 10 p.m. Sunday Bravo (75-minute episode) — You knew Kim and NeNe were going to clash at some point this season.
Top Gear” 10 p.m. Sunday History (first season finale) — Disappointing ratings leave a second season in doubt.

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By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

2 comments Add your comment

2nd Cup

January 17th, 2011
10:37 am

Maybe the new “judges” on Idol will finally be the nail in the coffin for the show. But seeing how undiscriminating most TV viewers are today and the masses of people with a pre-emptive thirst for stardom, it probably won’t be.

Freakshow Blue

January 17th, 2011
12:05 pm

Okay, Okay, Enough with the Betty White bit. Congrats Hollywood you have run another niche actress into the ground. Please no more Betty White, she’s as over as getting a tattoo is now.