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A select viewing guide for Monday, May 14
REALITY Canada's Got Talent CITY-TV, 7 p.m. ET/PT Make way for a new Canadian star. Wrapping its first season tonight, this homegrown edition of the talent-search franchise has been a pleasant surprise, and not just because Martin Short proved himself very astute as a celebrity judge. If anything, the program has given needed exposure to the wide diversity of talent that exists across the country. The 12 finalists in tonight's live finale: country singer Ivan Daigle (Petitcodiac, N.B.), rapper Matthew Cathcart (Hamilton), dancer Shale Wagman (Toronto), opera singer Emilio Fina (Petersburg, Ont.), rock quartet Angry Candy (Moncton), hip-hop dance group Freshh (Vancouver), Bollywood-style dance troupe Broken Dance, opera singer Julia Lafontaine (Montreal), traditional dance trio Sagkeeng's Finest (Fort Alexander, Man.), circus acrobat Aygul Memet and duelling Toronto beatboxers Scott Jackson and KRNFX.
REALITY America's Got Talent NBC, CITY-TV, 8 p.m. ET/PT Meanwhile, TV's gaudiest talent contest returns for its seventh season tonight, and with no small share of controversy. Last week, the advocacy group Parents Television Council (PTC) announced it had contacted nearly 100 U.S. corporations who have previously run commercials on the show asking them to place their ads elsewhere. The PTC object to the arrival of radio shock-jock Howard Stern as an AGT judge (replacing the departed Piers Morgan). The advance hubbub might cost NBC a few million in ad dollars but likely will create an upward spike in ratings since people will be expecting to see Stern bite the head off a pigeon or cuss up a storm. Either way, tonight's season-opener covers the audition process in Los Angeles and St. Louis, Mo.; watch and see if Stern doesn't tone down his act markedly.
REALITY The Bachelorette ABC, OMNI.2, 9:30 p.m. Let the silly season begin! Back tonight for its eighth edition, this summer TV perennial puts the spotlight squarely on Emily Maynard, a former contestant on The Bachelor. The first single mother to participate in the series, Maynard spends tonight¹s first episode telling viewers all about herself (and her six-year-old daughter, Ricki) before she meets the 25 suitors who naturally hail from all walks of American life. The group includes the mushroom farmer Alejandro, fitness model Jackson, rehab counselor Michael and "luxury brand consultant" Kalon, who immediately earns the scorn of his fellow bachelors by arriving in his own private helicopter. The path to true love is rarely smooth.
DRAMA Smash NBC, CTV, 10 p.m. ET/PT Breathe easy, Broadway buffs. NBC has already sanctioned a second season of this glossy drama set in the heady world of musical theatre, which in itself is almost a miracle. Despite boffo breakout ratings in January, Smash dropped close to half its U.S. audience in the first month, but has regained some ground in recent weeks. Tonight's finale takes place on opening night of the big musical “Bombshell,” based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Composer-lyricist team Julia (Debra Messing) and Tom (Christian Borle) are making last-minute tweaks. Producer Eileen (Anjelica Huston) is navigating creative overtures from the ambitious Ellis (Jaime Cepero). Meanwhile, the show director is pushed to finally make the call on who will play Marilyn: Is it the fresh face Karen (Katherine McPhee) or scheming stage veteran Ivy (Megan Hilty)?
MOVIE Gosford Park Vision, midnight ET; 9 p.m. PT Working off a brilliant script by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), director Robert Altman skewers the British class system in this brisk murder-mystery set in the English countryside of the thirties. The 2001 film stars Michael Gambon and Kristin Scott Thomas as priggish Brit socialites Sir William and his wife Lady Sylvia, who invite a gaggle of diverse guests to their sprawling country manor for a weekend of hunting. The guests include Sylvia's Aunt Constance (Maggie Smith), the vain actor Ivor (Jeremy Northam) and the Hollywood movie producer Morris (Bob Balaban). When the lord of the manse is unceremoniously murdered, the investigation by Inspector Thomson (Stephen Fry) reveals shocking secrets of the houseguests and also the expansive serving staff, played by the likes of Helen Mirren, Alan Bates, Clive Owens and Derek Jacobi.