'Raymond' signs off for season

"Everybody Loves Raymond" (8 p.m., CBS) ends its eighth season with an episode that may be remembered as one of the best of the year, if not the series. While waiting overnight for a highly coveted tee-time at Long Island's most famous public golf course, Ray and Robert get into an argument over who will take care of Marie once Frank expires. The scene is shot with a single camera, showing just the two Barone boys in Ray's minivan, as they hash out a lifetime of resentment.

Not to give too much away here, but at one point Robert argues that he has always loved Marie more and that her stingy dollops of affection made him appreciate every drop, while he compares Ray, the favored son, to a "fat kid in candy factory with his mouth open at the end of a conveyor belt." The humor ranges from the profound to the pathetic to the downright infantile, often all at the same time. Now that Frasier and Niles have entered rerun Valhalla, Ray and Robert assume the responsibility of primetime's silliest sibling rivalry. Fans of "Raymond" and good TV comedy should not miss this.

  • Popular dramas such as "CSI" and "Six Feet Under" have made mortuary science a topic of water-cooler conversation. But these shows are a day at the beach compared to the grimly fascinating documentary "A Certain Kind of Death" (8 p.m., Sundance). Understated, respectful and shocking in its probing, graphic inquisitiveness, "Death" ponders that saddest of questions: What happens to the remains of people without family or friends? Filmmakers Blue Hadaegh and Grover Babcock invite viewers to tag along with workers for the Los Angeles County Coroner's department as they dispose of the bodies and personal effects from cases that fall into the "no next of kin" category.

Tonight's other highlights

  • The pageant of the transformed on "The Swan" (7 p.m., Fox).
  • A gifted mathematician (Russell Crowe) endures decades of mental illness in the 2001 drama "A Beautiful Mind" (7 p.m., ABC).
  • Rocco and his patron, Jeffrey, continue to spar on the two-hour season finale of "The Restaurant" (8 p.m., NBC).
  • Death stalks the adult film circuit on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).

Late night

Nicole Kidman and Avril Lavigne appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Snoop Dogg and Ashlee Simpson on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) ... Trish Schneider and Keane appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC).


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