TV Picks: ‘Wayward Pines,’ ‘Mad Men’ finale, Letterman
“Wayward Pines”--In Fox’s tale of a spooky town nestled in a spookier forest, Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) is a Secret Service agent heading toward Wayward Pines, Idaho in search of two missing colleagues, one of whom happens to be his former partner, Kate (Carla Gugion), with whom he had an affair.
After he and his current partner are involved in a car accident, Burke finds himself in the town’s hospital attended to by a nurse so eccentric she is played by Melissa Leo.
The first four episodes follow Burke’s attempt to make sense, and then get out, of Wayward Pines, a community seemingly so perfect that you know it absolutely is not. Meanwhile, his wife (Shannyn Sossaman) and son become increasingly concerned about his inability to answer his cellphone and are soon heading Wayward Pines way themselves.
Echoing, or directly referencing “Twin Peaks,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Lost,” “The Prisoner,” “The Stepford Wives,” many works by Stephen King and many other works from the canon of Nightmare Reality, “Wayward Pines” traps Burke in a situation at once familiar (he finds Kate) and utterly bizarre (boy, is she different) forcing him to either surrender to the illusion or find the man behind the curtain. (Guess which one he chooses.) Fox, Thursdays, 9 p.m.
“The Late Show with David Letterman”--Bill Murray, Letterman’s first guest as a late-night host (all those years ago on NBC) will be among his last; Murray joins the throngs -- George Clooney! Oprah Winfrey! Tom Hanks! -- bidding farewell to the man who remade late-night hosting in his own image: prickly, skeptical, hilarious and refreshingly human. Wednesday, May 20, is the very last day. No guests have been announced, but miss it at your peril and don’t forget the Kleenex. CBS, weeknights, 11:30 p.m.
“Mad Men”--The series that helped kickstart the recent renaissance of American television comes to a close Sunday night and never has the fate of a single character meant more to the meaning and legacy of a series. As the many instantly iconic characters meet their fates for better (Go, Peggy!) and worse (RIP, Betty) all eyes are on Don Draper (Jon Hamm), creator Matthew Weiner’s symbol of American inspiration, desperation and reinvention. Where will the falling man of the opening credits land? And what does it say about Weiner’s vision and version of America’s Lost Generation? AMC, Sunday, 7 p.m.
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