"The Missing": On the heels of its first genuine hit, the crowd- and critic-pleasing "Outlander," Starz delivers an anguished, performance-driven mystery that is both a return to the conventional definition of cable drama and an elevation of it.
The always affecting James Nesbitt (I still miss "Jekyll") plays Tony Hughes, a man obsessed with finding his young son who was taken from him while he and wife Emily (Frances O'Connor) were vacationing in France.
I confess that, as a parent, I approached "The Missing" with great reluctance, only to find my fears unnecessary. Working in present time and flashback, "The Missing" carefully balances a compelling mystery with a post-personal-devastation character study and miraculously avoids gratuitous damage to the heartstrings in favor of a more measured approach. Tony is wrecked but desperately hopeful while Emily is wrecked but attempting to move on. Aiding in the continued search is retired French investigator Julien Baptiste, played by Tcheky Karyo, who is also excellent. Starz, Saturdays, 9 p.m.
"White Collar": Butch and Sundance met "To Catch A Thief" under the blue skies of USA when FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) recruited the dashing criminal and general man about town Neil Caffrey (Matt Bomer) to help solve high-profile thefts and scams.
Now, six seasons later, "White Collar" has entered its final, six-episode lap (and the sound you hear is the keening of Bomer/McKay fans everywhere.) Creator Jeff Eastin eschewed blood and gore for wit, style and a connoisseur's guide to the heist -- what Neil doesn't know, his buddy Mozzie (Willie Garson) does -- while, between them, his two leads covered most versions of the Ideal Man.
But after five years helping the feds, Neil is overdue his freedom; Burke agrees if his bosses don't. In last week's premiere, Neil offered one final deal: He'll catch a ring of uber thieves but the FBI must let him go. But is that possible? And has Neil truly reformed? Will Burke share the news that he's about to become a father? Will they still be friends when whatever is about to go down does.
And how will we ever replace "White Collar"? USA, Thursdays, 9 p.m.
"Getting On": From the team that brought us "Big Love," HBO's brutally funny hospice comedy shattered whatever rules remain in comedy: Death, dying and all their inevitable indignities can be not just funny but revelatory in an rigorously unsentimental way.
The staff of the Billy Barnes geriatric facility could not be more dysfunctional. Nurse Dawn (Alex Borstein) is neurotic, narcissistic and completely oblivious; her supervisor Jenna (Laurie Metcalf) a morbidly ambitious doctor stunted by her complete inability to communicate well with anyone. Running interference, and actually caring for the patients is DiDi (Neicy Nash), a single mother who understands that the patients, not the staff, are the main concern.
And those patients, oh those patients, a medley of spine and heart and hilarity (Betty Buckley makes an appearance this week!) whose situations, no matter how dire, are never quite as tragic as the inability of Jenna and Dawn to understand not just the real meaning of life, but how it actually works. HBO, Sunday, 10:30 p.m.