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Saying goodbye to two series' stars this week

Courtesy photo
When "Glee" pays tribute to Finn (left) -- and the late Cory Monteith, who played him -- on Thursday's episode at 9 p.m., several old characters will return, including Puck (Mark Salling, right). Monteith died in July. (Carin Baer/Fox)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's kind of a sad week in TV land. Within the next seven days, we'll say goodbye to two beloved characters.

The first is Finn Hudson on Fox's "Glee." At 9 p.m. Thursday, the show airs its tribute to the character and his portrayer, the late Cory Monteith, who died after an accidental drug and alcohol overdose in July.

Several former characters will be returning (including Puck, Mercedes and Mike Chang) in part because it makes sense in the context of the episode that Finn's friends would be coming to his funeral, but more so, because many of the former actors wanted to be part of the tribute.

When speaking about the episode to reporters earlier this month, series creator Ryan Murphy said, "A lot of the actors contacted me and said, 'I just loved him so much. Can I just please be a part of it?'"

He also noted that the emotion you'll see is genuine as these people are mourning a friend and not just playing a role.

"Almost everything in that episode is from the first take of every performance because . . . the actors and the crew had a really hard time shooting it. I've never seen a crew that you can't continue shooting because they've left the room sobbing," he said. "I struggled even working on it because what you're seeing is what they felt about not just Finn, but Cory."

The second departure is Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer) on NBC's "Law & Order: SVU" at 10 p.m. Wednesday. According to the episode description, in its secondary plot, "Munch retires, and coworkers gather to wish him well."

This one is a bit more mysterious. I couldn't find any news of Belzer's departure other than the episode description, so I don't know why he's leaving or if it even is for good (though it certainly sounds that way).

Of course, fans of the show know he has been seen less and less frequently -- much to the disappointment of some of us -- in the past several seasons. However, he's still listed in the series' opening credits, which seems an odd choice if they knew they were going to cut him loose five episodes into the season.

If this is the end of Munch, it's the end of an era. With 21 seasons in television, he's surpassed Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammar) and Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness), as the longest running character on TV.

Munch first appeared in 1993 on "Homicide: Life on the Street." He moved to "SVU" after that show's cancellation, returning to TV just four months after "Homicide's" final episode aired. Since then, he's popped up on eight other shows, ranging from "Arrested Development" to "The Wire" to "The X-Files" to "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

If he is indeed gone for good, I sure am going to miss him, but with a track record like that, maybe if his time with "SVU" is done, he can find a new home in another precinct. I'll bet "Ironside" (and its abysmally low premiere ratings) could use his help.

•••

Speaking of goodbyes, the fall has said sayonara to its first new shows of the season.

As it turns out, ABC's "Lucky 7" wasn't so lucky after all, getting the axe last Friday after just two episodes. (I'll admit I hadn't watched either when I heard the news.) Reruns of "Scandal" will replace it in the 10 p.m. Tuesday timeslot beginning immediately. 

And CBS' dreadful "We Are Men" was canceled Wednesday, also after only two episodes. "2 Broke Girls" will move up a half hour into the timeslot starting Monday, and reruns of "The Big Bang Theory" will air in the vacated 9 p.m. timeslot until "Mike & Molly" returns Nov. 4. 

•••

Series premieres: "Once Upon a Time in Wonderland": 8 p.m. Thursday, ABC ("Once Upon a Time" spin-off); "Alaska Gold Diggers," 8 p.m. Thursday, Animal Planet (California women run gold mines in Alaska); "Million Dollar Shoppers," 10:30 p.m. Thursday, Lifetime (personal shoppers for the rich); "Criss Angel BeLIEve," 10 p.m. Tuesday, Spike (magic stunts).

Season premieres: "Pawn Stars," 9 p.m. Thursday, History; "The Walking Dead," 9 p.m., and "Talking Dead," 10 p.m. Sunday, AMC; "Giuliana & Bill," 8 p.m., and "Tia & Tamera," 9 p.m. Tuesday, E! (relocated from the now-defunct Style Network); "The Biggest Loser," 8 p.m. Tuesday, NBC (delayed a week); "Real Husbands of Hollywood," 10 p.m. Tuesday, BET; "Nature," 8 p.m. Wednesday, PBS (premiere features Monterey Bay Aquarium's Sea Otter Research and Conservation program).

Season finales: "Project Runway," 9 p.m. Thursday, Lifetime (part one of two); "Cedar Cove," 8 p.m. Saturday, Hallmark; "Last Tango in Halifax," 8 p.m. Sunday, PBS; "T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle," 9 p.m. Monday, VH1.

Documentaries: "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis," 7 p.m. Thursday, PBS2; "Pearl Jam Twenty," 10 p.m. Saturday, VH1; "Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle," 8 p.m. Tuesday, PBS (the comic book genre and its legacy).

Specials: "Man vs. YouTube," 10 p.m. Friday, National Geographic (an engineer and a stuntman explore the science behind viral videos); "BET Hip-Hop Awards," 8 p.m. Tuesday, BET; "Toy Story OF TERROR," 8 p.m. Wednesday, ABC.

Of note: Jorge Garcia guest stars on "Hawaii Five-0," 9 p.m. Friday, CBS; "Glory 11" live kickboxing begins on Spike, 9 p.m. Saturday; the battle rounds begin on "The Voice," 8 p.m. Monday, NBC.

Online: CBS has put its rejected pilot "Super Clyde" online. It stars Rupert Grint ("Harry Potter") as a comic book fan who inherits millions, using it to help others in need, and Stephen Fry ("Blackadder") as his butler. See it at www.cbs.com/shows/super-clyde.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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