The Casual Vacancy

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, April 30. All times are Eastern.

Top pick

The Casual Vacancy (HBO, 8 p.m.): The Casual Vacancy only premiered last night, but the three-part miniseries is already wrapping up its tale of local political intrigue. HBO and BBC One collaborated to produce this adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s first post-Potter novel. Unfortunately, even Dumbledore (aka Michael Gambon) isn’t enough to enliven its exploration of the dirty underbelly of an idyllic village. In his pre-air review Victor Beigelman wrote, “The show sets itself up with a lot of potential, but can’t keep all its plates spinning fast enough or long enough to result in a true spectacle.” However, Rowling devotees determined to see the series through can enjoy the exciting conclusion tonight.

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Also noted

The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8 p.m.): As The Big Bang Theory moves towards its season finale, two guest stars take center stage. Christine Baranski and Laurie Metcalf return as Leonard and Sheldon’s respective mothers. Though both women have appeared on the show before, they’ll be meeting for the first time in “The Maternal Combustion.” Kyle Fowle hopes they become a lesbian power couple.

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Elementary (CBS, 10 p.m.): A murder in the subway, a trophy in the shower, a spy at the police department: These things may not have appeared in the pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, but they do pop up on this week’s Elementary. Doyle probably didn’t write about an interstate manhunt for an escaped female convict either, but Myles McNutt needs to double check to be sure.

Louie (FX, 10:30 p.m.): Louie’s brother Robbie (Robert Kelly) makes his glorious return this week as he invites Louie over to his house. There’s no word on whether the boys are planning another “bang bang” double meal, but if that’s the case, Brandon Nowalk recommends a classic fast food combo: pizza and tacos (aka “Taco Hut”).

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Regular Coverage

Steven Universe (Cartoon Network, 5:30 p.m.)

Adventure Time (Cartoon Network, 7:30 p.m.)

The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8 p.m.)

Reign (The CW, 9 p.m.)

American Crime (ABC, 10 p.m.)

TV Club Classic

Futurama (10 a.m.): Bender tours with Beck in “Bendin’ In The Wind,” and time starts acting crazy during an intergalactic basketball game in “Time Keeps On Slipping.” Given that Kayne West’s views on Beck are already well documented, Zack Handlen also wants to know what Yeezus thinks about Professor Farnsworth’s “bad ass gravity pump.”

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Elsewhere in TV Club

Mom reaches its second season finale tonight (see “What Else Is On?”), and Noel Murray explains why it’s one of the best sitcoms of the decade in a brand new TV Review:

Mom’s dialogue is snappy, but derives from the characters’ self-flagellation, and their sense deep down that maybe they should feel lousy, given what they’ve done to their bodies and their families. That’s where the above-mentioned “joyous” quality comes in. It’s not just that [Anna Faris and Allison Janney] are having fun spitting harsh insults at each other (and at themselves), it’s that they grasp the motivation beneath the meanness. There’s real depth to these people they’re playing, which is all too rare in TV or movie comedy.

With all the (justified) attention being paid these days to series like Broad City and Inside Amy Schumer and how they’re redefining the images of women on television, it’s disappointing that so few cultural critics are engaging with Mom.

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Elsewhere Wheel Of Fortune winner Chad Mosher shares his game show experience (and some tips on spinning the Wheel) in a brand new Expert Witness.

What else is on?

NFL Draft (ESPN, 8 p.m.): Chicago has gone slightly crazy in preparation for the NFL draft, which starts its first round tonight. Tune in to learn which players you’ll feel deeply invested in by this time next year.

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Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 8 p.m.): For anyone living under a rock (spoiler alert here) the one and only Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd died in last week’s episode, leaving fans inconsolable. Tonight’s two-hour special centers on Derek’s funeral so expect the #TearsOfGreys hashtag to be very active again.

Mom (CBS, 9 p.m.): It’s the Mom second season finale tonight, which means it’s our last chance to remind you that this Anna Faris/Allison Janney vehicle is far better than you probably think it is. Let Noel Murray explain why.

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Backstrom (Fox, 9 p.m.): It’s also the Backstrom first season finale, which means it’s our last chance to remind you that this show is probably about as average as you think it is.

The Avengers (FX, 7 p.m.): The Avengers: Age Of Ultron premieres in theaters tonight at midnight (or more like 7 p.m.), but those fake geek boys who forgot to buy tickets can just enjoy the original from the comfort of their couches instead.

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Finding Nemo (Disney, 8 p.m.): Although it doesn’t always get the same love as Up or The Incredibles, Finding Nemo just happens to be your What’s On Tonight correspondent’s favorite Pixar film. Mostly because she thinks it’s funny when those little fish refer to a boat as “a butt.”

YOU GET A PLAYOFF! AND YOU GET A PLAYOFF!

Stanley Cup Playoff

  • Capitals at Rangers (NBC Sports, 7:30 p.m.)
  • Flames at Ducks (NBC Sports, 10 p.m.)

NBA Playoff

  • Bulls at Bucks (TNT, 7 p.m.)
  • Clippers at Spurs (TNT, 9:30 p.m.)

In case you missed it

Black-ish: This week, Dre and Bow clash over how to deal with Zoey’s teenage rebellion. He’s strict, she’s relaxed, and Joshua Alston is only a pratfall away from filling out his sitcom trope BINGO card.

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