A bunch of fairy tale characters are stranded in modern day America, and... stop us if you've heard this one before

A bunch of fairy tale characters are stranded in modern day America, and... stop us if you've heard this one before

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, October 23, 2011. All times are Eastern.

TOP PICK
Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8 p.m.): Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A bunch of fairy tale characters have been ripped from their world to our world. There, they’ve all come to live in the same place, and they frequently cross paths in ways that ironically comment on their storybook roots. You’d be forgiven for thinking that someone had finally figured out how to turn Bill Willingham’s Fables into a TV series, but, no. It’s just ABC’s take on the same general idea—from Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two of the guys who worked on Lost. Not only does this series bear similarities to Fables, but it also bears similarities to the short-lived 1980s sitcom The Charmings. So, yes, there’s an uphill battle for this one, but, on the plus side, Ginnifer Goodwin! Oliver Sava and Erik Adams let you know how the pilot is.


REGULAR COVERAGE
The Amazing Race (CBS, 8 p.m.): The title of tonight’s episode is “I Feel Like I’m In The Circus,” which can mean only one thing: All of the contestants are forced to transform into sad, middle-aged elephants who’ve been trained to perform one or two minor tricks, their eyes always full of inhuman sorrow, Phil Keoghan made into their Merlin in elephant form. Or, y’know, not. Scott Von Doviak lets us know if it’s all just a figure of speech.

Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 9 p.m.): Every time we say we like this show, we get a variety of horrified looks, but that’s all going to change with tonight’s episode because tonight’s episode features the word “Bunkum” in the title, and if there’s one thing American television needs more of, it’s bunkum. Noel Murray, renowned bunkum specialist, gives us all a tour of the bunkum factory.

Dexter (Showtime, 9 p.m.): Last week’s episode concluded with a pretty horrifying, bloody scene, so, naturally, Dexter and all of his pals are going to have to figure out just what’s up with that. Meanwhile, Dexter’s examining his relationship with God, and in true Dexter fashion, the producers are casting about for a well-known actor who’s not above doing TV to play the part. We’re hoping for Don Johnson! Joshua Alston lets us know who gets the role.

The Good Wife (CBS, 9 p.m.): Dylan Baker pops up tonight as a convicted killer, because when you’re bringing in Dylan Baker to play someone, the list pretty much begins and ends with “creepy dude.” We know that Baker’s done other, worthy work, but every time he turns up anywhere, we’re waiting for him to dispense with the pretenses and start killing people with his tongue or something. David Sims is just waiting for the worst.

The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.): Most people who don’t like The Walking Dead don’t like it because the characters, well, they’re a little thin (to put it mildly). But there are some who find the whole enterprise too grim, and we have to assume that last week’s cliffhanger—involving a kid getting shot—made them retreat into closets and clutch at anything warm, weeping. Zack Handlen’s special object is an old, fluffy towel.

Homeland (Showtime, 10 p.m.): Brody's erratic behavior threatens his national image, while Carrie and Saul search for evidence to link him to terrorists. We hope that erratic behavior involves launching into "Hello, My Baby!" when Carrie's watching him and refusing to perform it whenever anybody else, like Todd VanDerWerff, is looking in. That stupid frog!

Hung (HBO, 10 p.m.): Last week, Ray hooked up with one of his former students, who claimed to have spent a lot of time in high school studying his hands and seemed incredibly non-surprised by the size of his penis. This week’s episode title includes the phrase “Fuck Me, Mr. Drecker,” so we can only assume things are going well for the two lovebirds. Will Harris wishes them all the best and reminds you they’re registered at Williams & Sonoma.

Pan Am (ABC, 10 p.m.): ABC’s been pushing this episode hard, which means two things: 1.) They think it’s better than last week’s (which wouldn’t be hard). 2.) They really would like pretty much anybody to watch, after its shed half of its debut audience. And, yes, you probably should watch. It’s a good show with lots of promise. And Kelli Garner! You don’t want to make Kelli Garner sad, do you? Erik Adams sure doesn’t.

How To Make It In America (HBO, 10:30 p.m.): Joe Pantoliano is in this episode, which can mean only one thing: Somebody’s head is getting stuck in a bowling bag, and then the other characters are going to carry it around and show it to people. Anybody want to place bets? We’d say Luis Guzman would be the headless one, but he’d probably just grow a new one. Kenny Herzog investigates.


TV CLUB CLASSIC
Doctor Who (11 a.m., Sunday): Christopher Bahn treks back to the Tom Baker era to enjoy “The Talons Of Weng Chiang,” which involves the Doctor heading back to Victorian London to pretty much just hang out and then just “happening” to get involved in an elaborate storyline involving all manner of intrigue, including Chinese stage magicians, a ventriloquist’s dummy that kills, and giant sewer rats. Just another day for ol’ Tom Baker!


WHAT ELSE IS ON
Cupcake Confidential (Cooking, 8 p.m.): And, lo, Cooking Channel looked out over the wastes of its schedule and saw that it had no pointless cupcake shows, and it spake, and it said, “Let there be a cupcake show,” and it was good, and now we have to pretend to care about the exploits of cupcake makers in three different cities because there is a boundless appetite for this shit, apparently.

Glam Fairy (Style, 8 p.m.): It’s always weird to check out shows on these tiny cable channels that all have weird hooks into each other. Take this one, which is a pseudo-spinoff of something called Jerseylicious and involves the titular fairy and her team of glam fairies giving makeovers to frumpy moms about to go out for a night on the town. Coincidentally, this is also the plot of tonight’s Walking Dead, so this series debut will probably be ignored.

Masterpiece Mystery: Case Histories (PBS, 9 p.m.): Hopefully you’re already watching this three-part adaptation of Kate Atkinson’s excellent mystery novel (starring Jason Isaacs as Atkinson’s unflappable hero, Jackson Brodie), which started last week, because we didn’t get time to check in last week or this week, so we’re going to have to join you all for the climax next week. Still, expect something good with this program and that source material.

Robot Chicken (Cartoon Network, 11:30 p.m.): Tonight’s season premiere is entitled “Beastmaster And Commander,” which makes us think that Russell Crowe would be far more awesome if he always wandered around with a bunch of bloodthirsty animals in his wake. Or if he didn’t wear a shirt and grew his hair out really long and dressed in a loincloth. Actually, we’d just laugh at him then. Unless he had a cougar.

Coraline (ABC Family, 8 p.m.): A couple of weeks ago, in our Inventory about movies that make the case for 3-D being more than a gimmick, somebody in comments said that we’ll take any opportunity we can to flog the terrific 2009 animated film Coraline (based on the Neil Gaiman story). Commenter? Consider your thesis proved!

The Exorcist (BBC America, 8 p.m.): Most people quote movies that can be repeated in polite company. You know what we mean. “Play it, Sam” or “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse” or some other non-swear-y line. We, however, have always been a little socially maladjusted, which means that any time we can work it in, we make a point of saying “Your mother sucks cocks in hell!” in polite conversation because this movie is awesome.

World Series: Game 4: Cardinals at Rangers (Fox, 7:30 p.m.): As we write this, the Cardinals are ahead 14-6, so they either ultimately triumphed or the Rangers made them and their fans feel really, really bad. Also, fun trivia: The St. Louis Rams are in Dallas to play the Cowboys at the same time their baseball counterparts are in town to play the Rangers. Really makes you think! (About what, we don’t know.)


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Supernatural (Friday): The CW, apparently checking the struggling ratings for Ringer and, nonetheless, putting all of its chips on “People sure do love Buffy and Angel,” aired a goofily comedic episode starring former Whedon stars James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter as a not-so-happily married couple. Did Zack Handlen like it? He did!