Friday Night Lights, one of the best TV series ever, comes to a close with a special 90-minute episode (Friday, 7 p.m., NBC). As you'd expect, the Texas air is charged with drama. The East Dillon high school football team prepares for the state championship game the last one ever for the Lions, as the program is being merged with West Dillon's. Coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) has been offered a dream contract as the head of the combined teams, but his wife, Tami (Connie Britton), has also received a dream job offer from a Philadelphia college.
Whose dream will come true? And what will happen with lovebirds Matt (Zach Gilford) and Julie (Aimee Teegarden)? With troubled quarterback Vince (Michael B. Jordan) and his overbearing father (Cress Williams)? And with all the other characters who've become family to us?
Well, I'd love to tell you everything, but the bylaws of the TV Critics Association prevent me from indulging my almost unbearable desire to blab about the final plot twists. On the other hand, I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying that you will laugh, cry, hold your breath, and pray for an East Dillon championship. (Must not reveal outcome. Must not reveal outcome.) You will also be inconsolable as Friday Night Lights fades into the sunset.
I'll let team manager Jess (Jurnee Smollett) have the last word: "Being part of the Lions has been the greatest experience of my life."
Haven, Friday, 9 pm (SyFy)
Based on a Stephen King story, Haven is set in a Maine town infested with "cursed" citizens who have supernatural problems. At least, the local reverend believes they're cursed, declaring holy war on them. FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), on the other hand, considers them "troubled" and wants to help. Audrey has her own troubles, centering on her real identity.
If you thought things were freaky last season, hold onto your hat. In the season two premiere, biblical plagues descend on Haven in order blood, frogs, etc. and Audrey must find a way to stop them before the town suffers the final plague, "death of the first born son."
You might expect an hour's worth of spurting blood, flaming hail and swirling flies to be overwrought, but Haven has a knack for remaining low-key in the midst of apocalypse even droll.
I think most of us prefer our apocalypses droll, especially in the summer.
Masterpiece Mystery, Sunday, 9 pm (PBS)
The "Zen" series is set in Rome, where Det. Aurelio Zen (Rufus Sewell) solves standard-issue crimes in a corrupt Italian justice system. We know it's supposed to be Rome because everyone smokes and commits adultery, but the illusion is shattered every time the British actors open their mouths.
Americans expect English speakers who play Italians to use the normal showbiz Italian accent: "That's a spicy meat-a-BALL-a!" But the Brits all use their own accents, whether cockney, posh or northern. Thus, when a veddy British detective tells Zen that he's "heading for career oblivion in Sicily," we can't help but laugh.
After the debut episode, you'll feel less like eating a spicy meat-a-BALL-a than having a spot of Earl Grey tea.
Breaking Bad, Sunday, 9 pm (AMC)
I'm a big fan of this series, but the season premiere puts the "bad" in Breaking Bad. Our crystal-meth-dealing antihero, Walt (Bryan Cranston), is pleased when a rival dies, but a drug kingpin threatens to kill him in return. Walt and partner Jesse (Aaron Paul) are held captive in a gleaming meth lab, wondering what will happen to them. It's all pretty boring until a brutal murder gives the episode a shot of excitement.
But excitement at what cost? This might be the sickest murder I've ever seen on extended basic cable, staged bluntly in front of the unblinking camera. You know something's wrong with your series when you have to turn an episode into a snuff film to generate interest.
Hell's Kitchen, Monday, 7 pm (Fox)
Chef Gordon Ramsay has already pushed his reality cooking competition to dangerous extremes quite an achievement when the goal is simply to prepare tasty meat and vegetables. So how can Ramsay top himself in the season nine premiere? Simple push things to even more dangerous extremes. "It's the most volatile season yet!" the narrator promises. That means Ramsay has to spit out even more food, break even more plates, and belittle even more contestants.
The only problem with Hell's Kitchen is that it makes you associate food with fear and humiliation. If you suffer a panic attack the next time you eat salmon with basil cream sauce, blame Gordon Ramsay.