Monk Friday, Aug. 7 (USA)
Season Premieres: It’s the last roundup for Adrian Monk; despite remaining a solid hit for USA, Tony Shaloub & Co. are going out on their own terms before the series begins wobbling and gets euthanized like Matlock or Diagnosis Murder (Monk’s spiritual copshow kin). The first episode of the final 16, “Mr. Monk’s Favorite Show,” is particularly funny, thanks to a guest shot by Elizabeth Perkins (who’s been far too underutilized on Weeds of late) as a former child star, but it’ll be several months before the return of Bitty Schram as Monk’s long-departed assistant Sharona. Pass it along to grandma.
Defying Gravity Sundays (ABC)
New Series: The ratings for last weekend’s semi-hyped debut? Defying Gravity was stomped by CBS’ Big Brother and Family Guy repeats on Fox; the second outing should do even worse, likely to also be beaten by NBC’s Sunday Night Football and whatever’s on The CW these Sundays (Supermarket Sweep reruns? A test pattern? I have no idea). Defying Gravity is nothing more than a sci-fi-lite twist on Grey’s Anatomy, with good-lookin’ astronauts getting it on while hurtling through the void, but The Only TV Column That Matters™ has an idea to perk up ratings: Add a Deep Purple remake as a theme song (perhaps by Paramore, or a good band) and re-title it Space Fuckin’.
Z Rock Sunday, Aug. 9 (IFC)
Season Finale: The least-missed element of Curb Your Spinal Tap this season? The kids’ parties. It’s the major hook of Z Rock—metal by night, nursery rhymes by day—but the show has concentrated almost entirely on the interactions between the ZO2 band (Paulie Z, David Z and Joey), manager Dina (Lynne Koplitz), club owner Neal (Jay Oakerson) and an impressive array of guest stars (including Dave Navarro, Constantine Maroulis, John Popper and over a dozen others) in Season 2. The result has been more hys terically profane than most anything on HBO or Showtime; the episode with ZO2 taking on mock-rock foes Steel Panther alone was as funny as an entire season of Metalocalypse (Z Rock’s closest TV comparison point, even though it’s a cartoon). The finale is guaranteed to offend fans of hip-hop, Broadway and Judaism—top that, Dethklok.
Dinner: Impossible Wednesday, Aug. 12 (Food Network)
Season Premiere: Chef Robert Irvine is challenged to whip up creative dinners for small gatherings and large crowds, on-thefly and on location; this is the beginning of Dinner: Impossible’s seventh season. Why have I never written about it before now? Because Irvine has never cooked for a roller-derby league—that’s how you get my attention. In the season opener, he has eight hours to prepare a meal for Philadelphia’s PennJersey She Devils, one of the original East Coast leagues of the sport’s revival. There’s only 250 of ’em (!) and, at least going by my experience, whatever Irvine makes will have to pair well with Pabst Blue Ribbon.