Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, November 23. All times are Eastern.
Suburgatory (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): A surprising number of networks are giving this whole “programming the night before Thanksgiving” thing a shot, and Ryan McGee is pleased, because it’s made for the best Suburgatory in a while. After starting out fairly well, the suburban satire sank under the weight of caricatured characters and predictable gags, wasting its two central characters, who were frequently funny and interesting (and the subject of intense, creepy speculation about their true relationship). But the holiday seems to have brought out the best in the show, and if you’re at all interested in whether it has a future, this will be one to see.
The Middle (ABC, 8 p.m.): Molly Shannon returns as Frankie’s sister, even though she was playing the babysitter over on Up All Night just last week. Gasp! We pray Will Harris can suspend disbelief long enough to accept two Molly Shannons sharing one timeslot.
Survivor (CBS, 8 p.m.): The promos for this one have been promising a Survivor Thanksgiving feast, which can only mean the contestants will be forced to choke down some disgusting food they wouldn’t eat normally. Kind of like an actual Thanksgiving dinner, are we right? Carrie Raisler hates yams.
Up All Night (NBC, 8 p.m.): Reagan takes a week off from work to spend some time with Amy and disrupts both Chris’ routine with his daughter and his social life in the neighborhood. That Reagan! Always thinking she should be bonding with her child! Erik Adams doesn’t approve.
The X Factor (Fox, 8 p.m.): Another contestant will be eliminated, and the only thing we ask is that it not be LeRoy Bell, who inspires us by being really old but looking, instead, like he’s only in middle age. We, too, could look only slightly old when we’re really old. Emily Yoshida cheers him on.
Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.): Donna Bowman is out enjoying the company of her actual family, rather than a fictional one, so Claire Zulkey steps in to ascertain what happens when the many Pritchetts, Tuckers, and Dunphys try to settle their disputes via the time-honored practice of punkin chunkin.
Happy Endings (ABC, 9:30 p.m.): Todd VanDerWerff fills in for David Sims on an episode centered on Alex, which will hopefully make use of the fact that Elisha Cuthbert has randomly become really funny in recent weeks. Did you see that thing she did with the harmonica last week? Hilarious!
American Horror Story (FX, 10 p.m.): He doesn’t like to brag—he totally does—but Todd VanDerWerff knows who the Rubber Man is, and he’s wanting you to know that it’s probably time to start substantially ramping down your expectations in that regard.
Revenge (ABC, 10 p.m.): How did we not make this the top pick, when Thanksgiving is all about revenge? Well, we knew Suburgatory was good, and we also know Christmas is a time, Christmas is a time, Christmas is a time for revenge. Carrie Raisler got that ultra-obscure Psalty reference.
Top Chef (Bravo, 10 p.m.): It’s time for a red hot chili cookoff, yo. And Emily Withrow’s joining the parade of writers taking the night off (seriously, does their boss just let them walk all over him?),so Margaret Eby will be sampling the spicy concoctions.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Survivor (Classic) (11 a.m.): The survivors have to make an S.O.S. signal big enough and bright enough for Jeff Probst to see as he flies over in a plane. It’s nice to know that even in season one, Probst was enough of a dick to just fly over and not rescue anyone. Meredith Blake loves him anyway.
The Sopranos (1 p.m.): “Revenge is like serving cold cuts,” Tony Soprano says, and it’s hard to argue with him in that regard. Todd VanDerWerff checks out a beautifully directed episode (with one unfortunate freeze frame) that’s all about Tony being a huge, huge dick. Or, rather, “huge, huge Probst.”
WHAT ELSE IS ON
Level Up! (Cartoon Network, 7 p.m.): Every so often, something sounds so odd that we just have to say, “Fuck it! Let’s cover it!” and that’s the case with this one, where three gamers have to face down a video game villain who’s escaped into the real world. Simon Abrams lets us know if it’s agreeably stupid.
The Sound Of Mumbai (HBO2, 8 p.m.): HBO2 continues a month of generally enjoyable documentaries about modern India with the story of children from the slums of Mumbai who are tasked with performing songs from The Sound Of Music for some reason. (We're sure it makes sense in context.)
Mobbed (Fox, 9 p.m.): The debut of this flash mob-based reality show was one of the oddest things we saw this year on TV, so, naturally, Fox is bringing it back on one of the least-watched TV nights of the year. Which important pieces of news will Howie Mandel and his flash mobs deliver this week?
The American Chef (Biography, 10 p.m.): Biography debuts the first part of a two-part documentary about a chef entering into training to further his art. Well, if you’re going to talk about food, there are worse nights to be doing so. (God, we’re hungry.)
Gone With The Wind (AMC, 7 p.m.): It’ll take five hours to watch this one with commercials, and maybe it’s not as great as its reputation, but it’s still one that everybody should see at least once in their lives, even if you don’t particularly miss the antebellum South.
The Joneses (TMC, 8 p.m.): The movie so disappointing we built a whole Inventory around how its premise should have made for a much, much cleverer film. On the other hand, it’s now being developed as a TV show, so we suppose that should be counted as a plus on some level.
Women’s Volleyball: WAC Championship (ESPNU, 9 p.m.): We could look up who’s playing in the WAC Championship, but we have jury duty in the morning. We thought it started at 9, but our wife just informed us that—ever-living fuck—it starts at 7:45. So… Google it, we guess?
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Frontline (Tuesday): Meredith Blake outlines a terrific episode of the news documentary program about an American participant in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008. It’s harrowing, informative, and fascinating, which means it’s a great episode of Frontline.