(*-Who can tell me where the title comes from? Answer later today in the comments section.)
Tonight marks the season finale of "Fringe" (Fox, 9 p.m.), the JJ Abrams-produced sci-fi series, with special guest star Leonard Nimoy.
Nimoy, who most recently starred in a little movie that did pretty well over the weekend, will play Dr. William Bell, founder of a conglomerate apparently doing all sorts of nasty things the "Fringe" team has been investigating all season. He's also the former lab partner of Walter Bishop (John Noble), the quirky scientist and resident genius for the team whose early work is being co-opted.
Before the season started, Fox had two sci-fi style shows drawing a lot of attention, "Fringe" and "Dollhouse." Both were created by two of the most popular producers of the genre on TV, Abrams and Joss Whedon.
Both shows started out a little slow from a critical standpoint before finding their legs about four episodes in. Viewers who stuck with both shows got paid off with very strong episodes the rest of the way.
The difference, though, is Fox heavily promoted "Fringe," put it on one of its strongest nights and paired it with either "House" or "American Idol," the network's two strongest shows in the ratings.
"Dollhouse," on the other hand, was pushed back to midseason, not heavily promoted and stuck on a weak night with weak lead-ins ("Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and "Prison Break"). The network suits interefered with Whedon's writing, dictating changes to the pilot.
"Fringe" has posted solid numbers and has already earned a renewal for next season. "Dollhouse," which does very well among shows that are timeshifted, has weak ratings and is likely done (though no official word yet).
It's kind of a shame that Fox didn't give equal treatment to both shows. A "Fringe-Dollhouse" pairing might have proven successful. Whedon and "Dollhouse" at least deserved the same level of respect Fox showed Abrams and "Fringe."
So, while I'm looking forward to tonight's finale (especially with Nimoy, who will appear in at least two episodes next season), it's a little frustrating that "Dollhouse" never got the same chance.
TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: "NCIS" (CBS, 8 p.m.) airs its penultimate episode tonight as Ziva must choose between her Mossad agent lover and Tony. You know, if the Mossad guy has Tony's love of movies and makes fun of McGee, it might make for an easy choice for her. It's followed by the new episodes of "The Mentalist," which ends the year as TV's top-rated new scripted series, and "Without A Trace."
"Fringe" will be preceded by "American Idol," (Fox, 8 p.m.), now down to three contestants.
ABC inflicts two more episodes of "According To Jim" upon us before "Dancing With The Stars" and "Cupid."
NBC expands "Biggest Loser" to three hours tonight for its finale.
CW wraps up the seasons of "Reaper" and "90210."
On cable, there's a new "Rescue Me" (FX, 10 p.m.) and "My Boys" (TBS, 10 p.m.)