The phrase “end of an era” is overused, but it certainly applies to a television finale we’re facing next week: the final episode of “The Late Show with David Letterman.” As someone who started watching Letterman as a kid in the 1970s when he made guest appearances on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and then on his short-lived morning show (1980), and later kept VHS tapes of favorite Letterman bits and appearances (anyone else remember the Letterman vs. Carson small claims case over a broken headlight mediated by Judge Wapner? I have it.), this one hurts. There have been a parade of superstars and favored guests coming through the Ed Sullivan Theater in recent weeks, but at this point, no hints as to what the actual final show will be like. I just know that when the Paul Schaffer Orchestra fires up the theme music for the last time at 11:35 p.m. Wednesday on CBS, I’ll be watching.
Another big series finale will be for the AMC period drama “Mad Men” (which actually uses the tagline “end of an era” to promote the last season). Even if you’ve felt disappointed with this last batch of episodes, I have faith that Matt Weiner will pull it together Sunday night (10 p.m.) and give us a finale we’ll be talking about for a long time. Last Sunday’s episode, which I’ve titled “Poor Betty,” was maybe the saddest of the whole series. I don’t need the finale to be that much of a downer, but I’d like to close with a clue about what’s going to happen to Don Draper. Don’t let us down, Weiner!
▪ Nat Geo Wild begins a new, three-part series Friday night featuring Dr. Brian Hare of Duke’s Dog Cognition Lab, who uses his groundbreaking research to help dog owners better understand their canine companions. In the opener of “Is Your Dog a Genius?” (10 p.m.), you can figure out if your dog was born a genius or if he learns from you. The second part airs Saturday at 10 and features a series of scientific tests that will help you figure out if your dog has strategies it uses to outsmart you. The series ends Sunday at 10 with a look at the special bond shared by humans and dogs and a test to see how your dog really feels about you.
▪ The 2015 Billboard Music Awards show airs live from Las Vegas Sunday (8 p.m., ABC).
For more on what to watch, visit nando.com/warmtv.