No directions home for floundering NBC OTHER FEATURES CRITIC'S CHOICE SERIES NOTES LATE NIGHT BY KEVIN McDONOUGH,
"Gold Rush" (8 p.m., Discovery, TV-PG) ends its third season with the three teams finding (spoiler alert!) gold. The end of moose season does not end quite so successfully on "Yukon Men" (9 p.m., Discovery, TV-PG). But the moose might be OK with that. The antics on "Bering Sea Gold" (10 p.m., Discovery, TV-14) include a joke gone awry and the need for a new dredger.
It's no secret that shows like these are among the most popular on cable, often outdrawing network series. Their success is due to the distractive quality of extreme workplace shenanigans. But cable networks also are free to air these series repeatedly, allowing viewers to catch them at random and then make a habit of watching them.
Networks are charged with finding the largest audiences, but don't have the flexibility of their rivals. Tonight, A&E offers viewers all of prime time to get hooked on "Duck Dynasty" (8 to 11 p.m., TV-PG, r). There are three "American Pickers" (8, 9 and 10 p.m., TV-PG) on History. MTV unscrambles three installments of "Ridiculousness" (8:30, 9, TV-PG, and 9:30 p.m., TV-14). That's a lot of the same, again and again.
It's easy to decry the repetitive nature of these schedules, but they represent the way people watch television. In contrast, NBC spends a bundle on a show like "Smash," only to have people dismiss it as a failure after a few outings in its second season.
Perhaps it's time for NBC to take a page from cable. Nobody's watching its current lineup anyway. NBC came in fifth in the February sweeps, losing to CBS, Fox, ABC and Univision. So why not shake things up? As Bob Dylan once warbled, "When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose."
Would anybody really miss "Dateline NBC" or "Rock Center With Brian Williams" tonight if the network rolled out three helpings of "Smash" instead? Is it a great show? No. Is it better than "Duck Dynasty"? Give the people a chance to decide.
Back when "Project Runway" first aired on Bravo, its ratings weren't so hot. It only picked up when Bravo aired nothing but "Runway" for a solid weekend. Seriously, NBC, if you showed nothing but "Smash" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, would your ratings really go down?
The CW has become a bit of a niche network. But if it has one minor success story, it's "The Vampire Diaries." A few years back, the CW aired nothing but "Diaries" for a solid week.
Come on, NBC, you're No. 5. It's time to try harder. Pick a show, any show: "Smash," "Grimm," "Revolution." Give the people what they want. And if cable has taught us anything, it's that the people want marathons, repeats and a chance to pick up a new habit.
n Oceanographer Bob Ballard explains how his search to find the Titanic became a cover story to throw off the Soviet Union on "Titanic: Ballard's Secret Mission: Revealed" (9 p.m., National Geographic).
n The documentary series "Vanguard" (9 p.m., Current TV) presents "Showdown in Klan Town," about a group of residents in Harrison, a small Arkansas community, who chose to speak up and challenge their town's lingering reputation for bigotry.
Ramsay encounters an arrogant restaurant owner on "Kitchen Nightmares" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
Reba's brother (Blake Shelton) wants to market a barbecue sauce with a secret ingredient on "Malibu Country" (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
The numbers point toward a reunion on "Touch" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
Backstabbing on "Spartacus" (9 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).
Gordon sets out to blow Carrie's cover on "Banshee" (10 p.m., Cinemax, TV-MA).
Charlie Chaplin's 1947 black comedy "Monsieur Verdoux" (8 p.m., TCM), about a serial killing banker, was unpopular upon its release, but has gained a cult following since then.
A sporting chance on "Undercover Boss" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) ... "Dateline NBC" (8 p.m.) ... A curfew broken on "Last Man Standing" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) ... Ari is located on "Nikita" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14).
On two episodes of "Blue Bloods" (CBS, r, TV-14): Thanksgiving (9 p.m.), a family friend is slain (10 p.m.) ... A wristband cure for nausea gets the once over on "Shark Tank" (9 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) ... Worries about Elena on "The Vampire Diaries" (9 p.m., CW, r, TV-14) ... "Rock Center With Brian Williams" (10 p.m., NBC) ... "20/20" (10 p.m., ABC).
John Caparulo, Loni Love and Gary Valentine appear on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!, r) ... Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Grohl and the Sound City Players with Stevie Nicks appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS, r) ... Jay Leno welcomes Bill O'Reilly and the Mavericks on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) ... "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC) glances back at the past week.
Mariah Carey appears on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" (12:35 a.m., NBC) ... Craig Ferguson hosts Trace Adkins on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
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