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.