Let’s get serious for a moment — one of our most beloved shows is losing one of its best-loved characters. We think this milestone is so momentous that we’ve elevated it to the top position in our Top Five this week — replacing the usual comedy we tend to lead with.
Who are we talking about? Read on, and you’ll find out!
1) It’s Catherine Willows: And if you have to ask, “Who’s she?” then maybe this item isn’t for you. But for the many, many millions who know exactly who she is, this past week’s episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” on CBS was Part One of a two-part heartbreaker. That’s because Willows — aka Marg Helgenberger — is leaving after 11-1/2 seasons. She’s one of this revered show’s original cast members and Helgenberger’s decision to call it quits is resulting in a special two-episode farewell story for Willows. And that’s not the only reason this storyline is two hours long. The other reason is: It’s pretty complicated. So, just in case you missed it . . .
2) Meanwhile, back at the ranch: Well, we don’t even know if Texan Rick Perry lives on a ranch or not, but wherever he lives in the Lone Star State, he’s heading back there after finally pulling the plug on his star-crossed candidacy for president. Of course, the tangled-tongued Texan’s withdrawal from the national political arena was the subject of much commentary on the late-night shows, but we thought Jimmy Kimmel’s “tribute” was especially eye-catching. It was an “American Idol”-style farewell seen on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Thursday night on ABC.
3) Offbeat denizens of a town whose name starts with “P,” Part 1: This one’s about “Portlandia,” IFC’s affectionate and savagely funny tribute to the lifestyles of Portland, Ore., as seen through the eyes of Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein and producer Jonathon Krisel. This show, which just began its second season earlier this month (and which we’re crazy about), has become so hip and so talked-about that it’s drawing A-list guest-stars. And among those who have done a great job on the show are Jack McBrayer of “30 Rock,” Jeff Goldblum (especially him) and Eddie Vedder (especially him too).
4) Offbeat denizens of a town whose name starts with “P,” Part 2: This one’s about Pawnee, the fictional Indiana town of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” Though this series doesn’t even attract 5 million viewers a week (the fate of so many NBC shows this season), we happen to really like it anyway — due mainly to star Amy Poehler, who we think is one of the funniest women alive today. The supporting denizens of Pawnee aren’t bad either — and this week, guest-star Paul Rudd joined their ranks as a wealthy town resident running for City council against plucky Leslie Knope (Poehler). We liked this episode so much, we put it in our Top Five.
5) A savior named Betty White: The 90-year-old superstar, whose career is soaring at the moment, singlehandedly gave NBC a second-place finish Monday night in the ratings (behind CBS) — and the best numbers NBC has seen on a Monday in heaven-knows-when. Ninety minutes of NBC’s two hours of Betty was devoted to a celebration of her 90th birthday. The final half-hour was a sneak peek at her new show, “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” in which oldsters play practical jokes on unsuspecting young people. “Rockers” drew 12 million people and yet, NBC hasn’t figured out when to schedule this series. Our advice: Get it on the air — fast.