Tonight marks the end of Jay Leno's run on "The Tonight Show" (NBC, 11:30 p.m.) Leno's final guest will be his replacement, Conan O'Brien, who kicks off his run beginning Monday night.
Leno won't be gone very long. Soon, he'll be occupying all of NBC's 10 p.m. slots.
Tonight's episode won't really rival Johnny Carson's farewell, since that was a television event. It actually ran two nights, the first with final guests including Bette Midler; the second, a quiet retrospective between Carson and his audience.
Leno has had a solid run on "The Tonight Show." He managed to stay consistent with his ratings, but never really distinguished himself among the bevy of late-night hosts out there. Though he lacks the edgy humor of Conan, Dave Letterman or even someone like Jimmy Kimmel, his middle-of-the-road style appeals well to the older-skewing Carson crowd.
Of course, it's a telling statement when NBC prez Ben Silverman said recently that he'll be happy if Leno simply maintains his current numbers -- about 5 million viewers -- at 10 p.m. That's a far cry from the glory days when NBC ruled the 10 p.m. hour with shows like "Law & Order" and "ER," routinely getting audiences three times that amount.
It will be interesting to assess Leno in the 10 p.m. slot and figure out if NBC has connected on a Hail Mary pass or simply waved the white flag for good.
WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Considering it's a summer weekend, there's actually quite a bit of decent TV on.
ABC airs the special "Unbroke: What You Need To Know About Money" at 9 p.m., in which the financial guru to the stars gives you tips on how to earn money wisely. Considering the guru's clientele, I suspect the advice includes getting a job as an actor and earning millions.
Fox airs "Don't Forget The Lyrics" at 8 p.m., followed by a rerun of the "Mental" pilot at 9 p.m., for those who missed it Tuesday.
On Saturday, ABC finally FINALLY brings back "Pushing Daisies" at 10 p.m. It will use the timeslot to burn off the remaining episodes of that series, plus "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Eli Stone" over the summer weeks. Better late than never.
"Primeval" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) is also brand-new.
Meanwhile, Lifetime airs the original movie "Maneater" starring Sarah Chalke at 9 p.m. It's based on the books of the same author who wrote "The Starter Wife."
On Sunday, it's the season finale of TV's best show right now, "Breaking Bad" (AMC, 10 p.m.)
Also notable is the HBO movie, "Into The Storm," (HBO, 9 p.m.) starring Brendan Gleeson as Winston Churchill, my dad's favorite historical figure. (Mine is Horatio Nelson, by the way). The movie details the WWII years.
On a different note, there's the debut of "Jesse James Is A Dead Man" (Spike, 10 p.m.), in which the daredevil does something death-defying each week.
"Masterpiece Mystery" (PBS, 9 p.m.) airs a new "Wallander" with Kenneth Branagh as the Scandanavian sleuth.
Finally, USA has new episodes of "Law & Order: CI" at 9 p.m. and "In Plain Sight" at 10 p.m.