'The Closer' Ends -- Sort Of

Tonight marks the end of "The Closer" (TNT, 9 p.m.) one of the shows that truly launched cable as a viable alternative for quality dramatic series not on the networks or HBO.

During its heyday, the show got star Kyra Sedgwick an Emmy and drew more than 7 million viewers -- at that time, unheard for a cable show (and a number that would beat most of NBC's lineup these days).

Still, for fans of the show, it's not really ending, since its spinoff, "Major Crimes," begins tonight at 10 p.m. It's an extension of "The Closer," with Mary McDonnell's character taking over as the top cop for Sedgwick's character, with most of the same supporting cast still in place.

Personally, I watched "The Closer" for the first half of its first season before giving up. For me, it was a very watered-down version of one of TV's all-time great mystery series, "Prime Suspect." But unlike that great British series, "The Closer" seemed much more lightweight, with Sedgwick's character of Dep. Chief Brenda Johnson seeming to be smarter than everyone simply because they made the male cops who worked for her so dumb and obstinate.

Maybe the writing and characters got better after I quit watching, but it just wasn't for me.

Anyway, there's no denying that "The Closer" was one of cable's most groundbreaking series during its prime.

MONDAY'S BEST BETS: NBC is hoping to gain some momentum from its Olympics ratings bump. After showing preview pilots for new, upcoming series "Go On" and "Animal Hospital," the network launches the so-called reality show "Stars Earn Stripes," in which C-listers undergo military training and missions under the tutelage of Gen. Wesley Clark. It's followed by the season premiere of "Grimm" at 10 p.m., now on its new night.

Fox airs "Hotel Hell" at 8 p.m., which extends the "Hell's Kitchen" model to an inn in Vermont (hopefully not the one run by Bob Newhart), where Gordon Ramsey tries to make it better. ABC has "Bachelor Pad" from 8-10 p.m., followed by "Glass House."

On cable, there's "Secret Life of an American Teenager" and "Bunheads" from 8-10 p.m., and "Warehouse 13" and "Alphas" from 9-11 p.m. on SyFy. "Teen Wolf" wraps up its second season on MTV at 10 p.m.