Return: Now that the canceled Pushing Daisies has been given the Saturday night shove-off treatment, it’s time to run out the clock on Eli Stone, which joins Kings (NBC) and Harper’s Island (CBS) in Burn-Off Theater. Unlike ABC’s Daises and Dirty Sexy Money (which begins burning off its final four episodes on July 18), Eli Stone had no clear vision, just some vague notion of spiritual awakening and the occasional excuse to slip George Michael into a scene—it’s Ally McBeal with less sex and more Jesus (or the imaginary deity of your choice). Enjoy the Final Four, Stone-ers!
The Only TV Column That Matters™ was fully prepared to recommend the third annual edition of Spike TV’s dumb-fun awards show, but after looking over the winners’ list (as voted on by Spike viewers, who apparently can’t be trusted with more choices than A and B), not so much. Sure, Megan Fox over Bar Rephaeli for “Hottest Girl on the Planet” makes sense, as does Jason Statham over Daniel Craig for “Biggest Ass Kicker.” But Russell Brand over Denis Leary for “Outstanding Literary Achievement”? Kate Winslet over Marisa Tomei for “Best Unsupported Role” (nee: topless scene)? The Ikkis over anyone for “Hottest Twins”? These aggressively stupid votes will not stand, man. Mitigating factor: Mickey Rourke beats Barack Obama for “Guy of the Year.”
New Season: I’m sorry, but this bitch is still funny—and will never win a Guys Choice award. The fifth season of The D-List follows Kathy’s quest for a Grammy for her comedy album (she doesn’t win—damned dead George Carlin), as well as a slew of cameos by A-listers seemingly designed to make her not look like the battiest broad in the room. Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin have already unleashed a whole lotta crazy on the show; Suzanne Somers and Paula Deen (Food Network) are yet to come. Sadly, assistant Jessica is gone this season, reportedly quit because she just couldn’t stand Kathy anymore … I know, hard to believe.
Return: Along with the renewals of Dollhouse and Chuck, ABC’s decision to not cancel Better Off Ted was almost a bigger surprise than their mercy killing of According to Jim … yes, we’re all still coming to grips with the sudden Belushi void. Better Off Ted, centered around an R&D drone who works for amoral multinational company Veridian Dynamics (who are “100 percent confident that nothing is impossible some of the time”), began shakily in March, but soon Ted’s boss (a perfectly icy Portia de Rossi) was stealing the show and the corporate situations became more uncomfortably/hysterically real (if you’ve ever been “deleted” from the company system, you know). Catch it now; that second season won’t premiere until 2010.
Season Premiere: Somehow, Benjamin Bratt’s overwrought “true-life” series about a former drug addict who helps others get clean through extreme measures (like annoying the hell out of them with his goatee) was renewed over Patrick Swayze’s tolerable Shield-lite cop show The Beast—way to kick a dude when he’s down, A&E. On the upside, The Cleaner’s supporting cast almost makes up for Bratt’s Hey-I’m-acting-over-here! omnipresence, particularly Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) as his tough-chick sidekick. It ain’t easy out there for a Cylon.
Series Debut: Imagine a drama about Bruce Wayne—no Batman. The Philanthropist sucks 354 times harder than that.