The Wire Sunday, March 9 (HBO)
Series Finale: After last year’s ill-received Sopranos finale (we all know someone who’s still bitching about it), the last stand of The Wire had better deliver—no loose ends, no blackouts, no damned Journey. Anyone who’s followed all five seasons of David Simon’s bleak-but-addictive series about inner-city cops, drug dealers and everyone in their orbit (given a couple of more seasons, the cast might have grown to equal the actual population of Baltimore) knows compromise isn’t an option: The previous 59 dead-solid episodes are capped with a perfect, if not out-with-a-bang-flashy, No. 60. Some characters are punished and rewarded, others stay static, and no Wire fan is going to agree that everyone got what they “deserved” in the end—just like real life. No banging the “greatest cop drama in the history of television” gong here: Only the devoted are reading this and they already know. Fearless prediction: The Wire will ultimately be recognized as a higher artistic achievement than The Sopranos. Even the Baltimore Sun would have to admit it.
Canterbury’s Law Monday, March 10 (Fox)
Series Debut: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Elizabeth Canterbury (Julianna Margulies) is a tough, plays-by-her-own-rules attorney for unpopular, “unwinnable” cases whose own personal life is a mess. She’ll do anything, legal or not, to win; she’s a boozer; she’s cheating on her husband (Aiden Quinn); she’s surrounded herself with a team of equally brilliant-but-troubled lawyers. Sounds like the awkward mating of Shark and The Closer you never wanted to picture—until you notice (or I tell you) that Rescue Me’s Denis Leary and Jim Serpico are onboard as producers. Now we’re talkin’! But this isn’t cable. Dr. House is probably the only flawed antihero Fox can handle, and he’s a man; women this dark and effedup aren’t usually accepted by network primetime unless they’re sitting between Simon and Randy. Canterbury’s Law is more of cable show—cancel Damages and plug this in, FX.
Human Giant Tuesday, March 11 (MTV)
Season Premiere: Like IFC’s Whitest Kids U’Know, MTV’s Human Giant is a rightful heir to the Kids in the Hall/Mr. Show mantle of smart, absurdist sketch comedy that doesn’t need to use “edgy” in quotes. Unlike the Whitest Kids, Human Giant never drags a bit out too long—if it doesn’t fly as an Internet video, it doesn’t fly on television. Good rule of thumb … unless you’re Quarterlife (canceled last week by NBC after one airing—I know, shocking). Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer don’t belong on MTV, but neither does anyone over the age/IQ of 20, which makes Human Giant seem even more subversive. Is MTV evil/cunning enough to have planned this?
Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels Tuesday, March 11 (A&E)
Season Premiere: For two seasons, the real star of Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels has been hysterically self-aware son Nick; nonwife Shannon and daughter Sophie are duller than a Paul Stanley solo album; Gene is … Gene. Who knows what the Bat Lizard would be doing if reality TV—the ultimate vehicle for insufferable assclowns to become paid insufferable assclowns—hadn’t been invented by the same world-domination-bent scientists who wrote all of the Beatles’ songs and Larry the Cable Guy’s jokes (the Committee of 300—look it up, kids)? Anyway, Nick’s ascent will continue in Season 3 … it has been ordained.
Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil Wednesday, March 12 (Comedy Central)
Series Debut: Rant-prone comedian Lewis Black and guest comics debate the inherent evil-osity of two subjects per show (first up: Oprah vs. the Catholic Church), then Black delivers the final verdict. Future face-offs: Donald Trump vs. Viagra, Paris Hilton vs. Dick Cheney, Beer vs. Weed, YouTube vs. Porn, Kim Jong Il vs. Tila Tequila, American Idol vs. High School and Las Vegas vs. the Human Body. I want this show to be on 24 hours a day …