TV on Tap: It’s a Final Caper for “Leverage,” “Jersey Shore” Ends with a Ratings Whimper and Be Sure to Enunciate on “Wheel of Fortune”

Animanicas is back on TV where they belong, thank you HUB.

Since everyday is likely to be a slow news day this week, I’m giving you the full listings for Christmas week. (Be sure to note that Christmas isn’t enough to get in the way of snicks following Days of Our Lives with liveblogs on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday!) I hope you all have a safe, happy and delicious holiday!


Over the weekend, TNT cancelled Leverage, making Tuesday’s season finale, the series’ swan song. On the bright side, fans had a couple weeks to prepare for the bad news as producer Dean Devlin wrote that, foreseeing this cancellation, the episode was written to work as a season or series finale.

The next season of The Walking Dead won’t have Glenn Mazzara as showrunner any more. This prompted Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter and The Shield creator Shawn Ryan (Mazzara, Sutter and Ryan all worked on The Shield) to publicly complain about the change. “With FX, Showtime, HBO, Starz, Cinemax, A&E, TNT and others to sell to, it’s a real question now why good show runners should sell to AMC?” asked Ryan. Meanwhile, somehow The Killing had the same showrunner for two critically-reviled seasons.

E! is developing a drama set in a small South Carolina town that’s changed when a TV drama begins filming there, according to Deadline. As the classic soap trope goes, there’s a class divide in the town — between the rich stars and the producers of the show and the working class locals, who are often employed by the show.

Ad Age and social-media research firm Trendrr have declared the year’s “most social” TV shows. SpongeBob SquarePants takes the top prize, with The X-Factor coming in second. Meanwhile, Pretty Little Liars is the only scripted drama in the top ten.

Steven Root has joined the cast of USA’s Elmore Leonard pilot, TVLine reports. The series follows a marriage of convenience between a Miami politician and a Colombian woman, with Root joining the series as a local power broker and campaign manager. Justified fans should know this isn’t Root’s first series to be based on one of Leonard’s short stories.

Now, that’s just ridiculous.

In ratings news, the series finale of Jersey Shore landed with a thud drawing 3.1 million viewers. That’s the smallest number of people who’ve tuned in for a Jersey Shore finale.

Listings for Monday December 24

Charlie’s Angels Marathon (Universal HD) starting at 6:00 AM ET
I spent a moment wondering about why the Universal HD channel is airing a show that predates HD TV but I can overlook that to watch the Angels take on various undercover identities for a mix of camp, glamor and just being generally badass. Sadly, I don’t see the rejected backdoor pilot “Toni’s Boys” on the schedule. Someday.

Dead Like Me Marathon (Chiller) starting at 6:00 AM ET
Chiller’s kicking off the holiday by spending the day with George Glass, Rube and the reapers in Bryan Fuller’s gone-too-soon (can Hannibal be an exception to the marriage of Bryan Fuller and gone-too-soon? Please?) dramedy. The marathon focuses on the first, more focused season and feel free to sleep in since the marathon oddly begins with the season’s last two episodes before airing the pilot.

Firefly Marathon (Science) starting at 7:00 AM ET
I’m sure someday we’ll look back and think of Firefly as the show that signaled the beginning of the end of Science programming on The Science Channel, much like Ice Road Truckers on History, Trading Spaces on TLC and… okay, its been too long since A&E left the arts and entertainment behind for me to remember where that began. At least the road down the slippery slope is staring with a show that is arguably better than Star Wars.

Animaniacs Marathon (HUB) starting at 4:00 PM ET ET
HUB’s schedule has given new life to animated classics from the 80s like Jem and now it brings back a series from the 90s with the lunacy (loonacy?) of Yakko, Wakko and Dot. The episodes selected focus on Christmas-themed stories, which means I’ll have to wait to hear the international friendship song.

Raising Hope Marathon (Fox) starting at 8:00 PM ET
Fox is giving its Tuesday-night comedies a chance to shine this week starting with the adventures of the Chance family. If you’ve never given a chance to Raising Hope, it’s one of TV more overlooked comedies, with a solid mix of sweet and cynical, a stellar cast and a solid sense of the absurd.

Are you ready to meet the new Doctor Who companion?

Listings for Tuesday, Christmas Day, December 25

Pop Up Video Marathon (VH1) starting at 4:30 AM ET
Do you want to unwrap your presents to the sound of factoids appearing over music videos? Thanks to this five-and-a-half hour marathon, you can.

Days of Our Lives (NBC) Check local listings
It’s time for Will and Sonny’s first Christmas together — will they be able to manage the big fights that come with every Christmas like tinsel or icicles? popcorn or cranberry strings? twinkling or blinking lights? Join us for a debate as we watch with the first for three Christmas week liveblogs!

The Secret Circle Marathon (Chiller) starting at 6:00 AM ET
Chiller’s follow-up to the greatness of Dead Like Me is the downward spiral that was The Secret Circle, so if you feel like spending Christmas day watching a supernatural drama go from compelling to a show with bland and poorly-defined villains (and then there’s the way “Kill Cassie” became the default way people dealt with problems), now’s your chance.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch Marathon (HUB) starting at 7:00 AM ET
After giving us Christmas Eve with the Warners, HUB brings us six hours of the closest ABC’s TGiF lineup got to being as faboo as Bewitched.

Fringe Marathon (Science) starting at 8:00 AM ET
Following on Monday’s Firefly marathon, Science spends Christmas day with the Fringe team. Too bad, it’s a marathon of the second season, or I’d take this as a chance to sample the series.

The Match Game Marathon (GSN) starting at 8:00 AM ET
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic celebrity panel show, GSN is kicking off its 8-hour marathon with two episodes that have never aired until now — the original pilot and the pilot for the CBS revival. The marathon will also feature the first episode with non-human panelists, puppets Kukla and Ollie (yeah, I feel younger when I had to look that up).

Doctor Who Christmas Special Marathon starting at 8:00 AM ET
Unwrap your presents to the annual sight of a Timelord saving the earth (or just a few people in need of the Christmas spirit). It begins with “A Christmas Carol” (Matt Smith’s first special) before a look back at “The Best of the Christmas Specials” that leads to the David Tennant era at 10AM with “The Christmas Invasion,” Catherine Tate’s Who debut “The Runaway Bride,” Kylie Minogue’s turn as a companion “The Voyage of the Damned” and the tearjerker that is “The Next Doctor” (so far the last appearances of all the great characters introduced during Russell T. Davies era). Finally, at 3PM it’s time for last year’s special, “The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe”.

The Match Game Marathon (GSN) starting at 8:00 AM ET
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic celebrity panel show, GSN is kicking off its 8-hour marathon with two episodes that have never aired until now — the orignal pilot and the pilot for the CBS revival. The marathon will also feature the first episode with non-human panelists, puppets Kukla and Ollie (yeah, I feel younger when I had to look that up).

K-9 Marathon starting at 10:00 AM ET
Syfy’s letting viewers spend the day with the adorable little robot dog from Doctor Who, airing all 26 episodes (which are getting repeated tomorrow). Then again, once you’ve spent 13 hours watching an adorable robot dog, you’re probably going to make an addition to your next Christmas wish list, something no one will be able to buy you.

Monty Python: Almost the Truth (Lawyer’s Cut) (IFC) starting at 8:30 AM ET
For its Christmas miracle, IFC is reairing the entire six-hour documentary about the iconic comedy troupe, an overall solid history of the group, just as long as you ignore all the parts where Russell Brand is speaking.

Doctor Who Marathon (BBC America) stating at 4:00 PM ET
Before we get to this year’s special, BBC America is giving you a chance to catch up on the current season so far. No matter how you feel about Daleks, make sure to catch the first episode, “Asylum of the Daleks” which looks like it might have set up some of the drama for tonight’s drama.

New Girl Marathon (Fox) starting at 8:00 PM ET
The yuletide spotlight turns to Jess and her roommates that begins with both Christmas episodes (compare and contrast Matt Long vs. David Walton) and ends with Jess’ struggle to deal with a bullying student.

Doctor Who (BBC America) 9:00 PM ET
Not only does this year’s special bring back Madame Vastra and Jenny, the Who team has kept us hanging since September when new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman made her debut as Oswin. What does Oswin have to do with the new companion? That is a question that almost distracted me from all the drama that came with Amy and Rory’s big goodbye.

South Park Christmas Marathon (Comedy Central) starting at 9:00 PM ET
Since there’s a good chance your Christmas spirit will be worn out by 9PM, Comedy Central’s heading to South Park to spend the last three hours of the holiday there.

Leverage (TNT) 10:00 PM ET
It’s a “Long Goodbye Job” for the Leverage team’s final heist that includes one last confrontation with Jim Sterling (Mark Sheppard) and facing the death of Nate’s son. I’d like to say I’m going to miss these characters, but the past two episodes have been a reminder that Leverage has run out of steam.

The Graham Norton Show (BBC America) 10:20 PM ET
Sure, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a Doctor Who special — or a special follow-up episode of The Graham Norton Show. This year’s show brings together Matt Smith, Dustin Hoffman, Billy Connolly and Amy Macdonald.

The characters of Call the Midwife get to celebrate the holidays in December.
Downton Abbey folk will have to wait until February.

Listings for Wednesday December 26

Days of Our Lives (NBC) Check local listings
Sonny, Gabi and Nick want to continue to spend the holiday fighting but Will breaks out into a chorus of “Don’t Be a Jerk, It’s Christmas” to make everything better. Does Will sing it better than SpongeBob? Join us for a liveblog as we debate the topic.

Friday the 13th: The series Marathon (Chiller) starting at 9:00 AM ET
George Glass and 8 hours of Robey chasing down cursed objects in a single weekend? Now I’m disappointed Chiller isn’t part of my cable line-up.

Castle Marathon (TNT) starting at Noon ET
TNT hopes you want to spend the day after Christmas listening to witty banter and watching murders solved for eleven hours. I have to admit, that doesn’t sound so bad.

Ben & Kate Marathon (Fox) starting at 8:00 PM ET
Fox’s new comedies get the spotlight starting tonight with this show that’s earned praise from the critics and a lot of you like but I ended up deleting within 15 minutes. I keep meaning to give it a second chance to see if its stopped setting off my allergy to manchild characters who are supposed to come off as lovable. (Otherwise known as Will Ferrell aversion syndrome.)

The 35th Annual Kennedy Award Center Honors (CBS) 9:00 PM ET
This year’s honorees are Dustin Hoffman, Buddy Guy, Latalia Markarova, Led Zeppelin and David Letterman. As always, resist the urge to ask, “Are those pride ribbons?”

Hot in Cleveland (TV Land) 10:00 PM ET
Joy suddenly becomes obsessed with the idea of guys with pets — a fascination that’s encouraged by a hot fireman (Eddie Cibrian), the episode description doesn’t mention it, but isn’t the firehouse hedgehog an adorable and long-standing tradition? No, wait that’s just the firehouse that exists in the happy place in my head. They also have a firehouse koala and a couple of red pandas.

The Soup (E!) 10:00 PM ET
We’re almost at the end of the year, so its time for The Soup’s year-end clipdown special. I’d wonder if a year’s worth of clips can compare to last week’s end-of-the-world retrospective, which could pick clips from The Soup’s entire history, but that special somehow managed to lack the bite it should have had. Hopefully, the Soup writers will have more snark ready when it comes to looking back at the year.

Happily Divorced (TV Land) 10:30 PM ET
Okay, I love Fran and her voice. You know who else has a voice that reliably makes me smile? Cyndi Lauper, who is this week’s special guest-star as Fran’s childhood friend. Until I get that Simpsons episode about Lenny striking a friendship with Cyndi, Fran and a doozer from Fraggle Rock, this will make me pretty happy.

Listings for Thursday December 27

The Mindy Project Marathon (Fox) starting at 8:00 PM ET
Fox’s holiday comedy showcase wraps with the show that looked like the most promising on paper (and had a great pilot) but still hasn’t quite found its voice. There are glimmers of potential in every episode, so I guess Fox is hoping that those hints of greatness will get viewers to tune in. Me, I can’t wait until I don’t have to choose between Mindy, the B—- in Apartment 23 and The New Normal.

Project Runway All Stars (Lifetime) 9:00 PM ET
At the Project Runway mothership, it’s a compelling test to watch the designers try to work with a retail budget, will it be as compelling when the all-stars — who probably should have some experience with retail budgets by now — have to create high-fashion looks meant to sell at a retail store?

Wives with Beehives (TLC) 10:00 PM ET
Is “Wives with things that rhyme with wives” the new thing at TLC? Following the Wives with Knives, TLC looks at women who live like its the 1950s, complete with repressed gender role expectations, midcentury styling and beehive hairdos. I look forward to the eventual debut about women who run rough-and-tumble bars (Wives with Dives), women who work in radio communications (Wives with Five-by-Fives) and women who golf (Wives with Drives).

Listings for Friday December 28

Days of Our Lives (NBC) Check local listings
It’s almost time to celebrate the New Year in Salem which seems to be making Will worried about whether or not he’ll have a future with his child. I’m sure it doesn’t help for Will to be talking with Kate and all her… er, trust issues. Don’t miss the last liveblog of 2012!

Listings for Saturday December 29

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Marathon (Logo) starting at 6:00 AM ET
I know, a Buffy marathon on Logo isn’t news but this 12-hour marathon does include some of my favorite episodes including “Restless” (which, admittedly, is also the episode where The WB wouldn’t let Willow and Tara be shown kissing), “Hush,” “Once More with Feeling” and the ultimate Buffy double-feature “The Wish” followed by “Doppelgangland”.

She Made Them Do It (Lifetime) 8:00 PM ET
Lifetime’s breaking up your after-Christmas glow with Jenna Dewan Tatum and Mackenzie Phillips, by telling the story of Sarah Pender, a woman who topped the America’s Most Wanted list for escaping prison after being convincted for the murder of her two roommates. If they want to live up to the dangerous-women-on-the-run genre, they’d better at least drive next to a cliff.

Listings for Sunday December 30

Call the Midwife (PBS) Check local listings
What’s this? A holiday special from the UK airing on PBS during the holidays? Either Call the Midwife is a special series or PBS is quickly delivering results in its promise to shorten the time it takes to air one of its imported series. This one sees Chummy and Jenny Lee celebrate their first Christmas in Nonnatus House with a nativity play. Naturally, the kind crazy mishaps you’d expect to happen when a Miranda Hart character makes big plans happens. Unfortunately, it looks like in my area, those mishaps include not getting onto the airwaves.

The Shahs of Sunset (Bravo) 10:00 PM ET
MJ’s birthday party ties together a number of this season’s storylines. It revisits her personal issues since she ends up throwing her own party, it brings up the tension between her and Reza, and it creates a new spin on how everyone’s distancing themselves from GG since MJ can’t decide if she wants to hear a verse from “It’s My Party (And GG Will Get Blackout Drunk If She Wants to)”.

What are you planning to watch over the holiday week? Let’s discuss it in the comments!

Lyle Masaki is a fan of obscure superheroes, video games, adorkable guys and that show you loved that got cancelled way too soon.