By Tom Gliatto
May 17, 2010 12:00 PM

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

NBC, weeknights, 11:35 p.m. ET |


CBS Late Show host David Letterman, in a small eruption of venting to guest Dr. Phil, recently called rival Jay Leno “a complete boob.” Well, since reclaiming his slot from Conan O’Brien in March, Leno has reversed Tonight’s ratings decline and put the show back on top-simply by being the same complete boob he’s always been. Longtime band director Kevin Eubanks will be leaving, with American Idol’s Rickey Minor replacing him, but Leno’s new Tonight is all about embracing the old Tonight (and tiptoeing away from the smoldering ruins of his bizarre 10 p.m. experiment, The Jay Leno Show). He seems thrilled simply to be back delivering the opening monologue. He rocks on his heels and inhales deeply, as if breathing in once more the pure oxygen of an enormous audience.

Into the Deep

PBS, check local listings |


It’s no exaggeration to call this one whale of a tale. Narrated by Willem Dafoe, Deep is a sprawling but precise history of the American whaling industry and its decisive role (up until the Civil War) in the nation’s growth. The central incident here, one that rippled across decades and even inspired Moby-Dick, is the disaster of the Nantucket ship Essex, rammed to bits by an irate sperm whale in 1820. Even as Deep traces the grim changes in the industry-the boats became floating slaughterhouses-it never loses the primordial terror and fascination of man-against-sea.

Jesse Stone: No Remorse

CBS, May 9, 9 p.m. ET/PT |


Tom Selleck obviously gets a kick out of his repeat performances-this is his sixth-as detective Stone, a cranky, crime-solving lump created by the late Robert B. Parker. Suspended from the police force, Stone wanders around in a funk, just as gloomy whether sipping coffee or whiskey, until he’s called in to help crack a string of parking-garage murders. The mystery itself isn’t terribly intricate, although there’s an unusual scene in which Stone tries-very tactfully-to get a mobster to admit being gay. What matters is a fine cast that includes Kathy Baker as a cop. In the middle of a divorce, she’s not so chipper either. But she smiles wearily from time to time.

World’s Toughest Fixes

National Geographic, Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET |


Back for a third season, World’s Toughest Fixes is like playing with a giant’s tool kit. Host Sean Riley goes on-site to explain the vast infrastructural repairs of everything from London’s Tower Bridge to the tilt-a-whirl stage of Cirque du Soleil’s Vegas show KA. It’s great fun if you wonder about the glue holding together the modern world-less fun if you suffer from vertigo.