Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, February 8. All times are Eastern.
Happy Endings (ABC, 9:30 p.m.): Everybody’s favorite “young people in the big city” sitcom returns for a string of all new episodes with a Valentine’s Day half-hour that apparently features one story for every single one of the characters, if the episode description is any indication. But why stop there? Why not bring back Brent Musberger and give him a story? And what about Jane and Brad’s maid? Why not give her a story? And why not bring back everybody’s parents? And that one guy played by Ryan Hansen? All we’re saying here is that David Sims would like if Happy Endings turned into a half-hour version of Robert Altman’s Short Cuts.
American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.): Breathe a sigh of relief, everybody! The auditions are over, and the Hollywood round has begun! Now, they’ve changed the rules, and we don’t really pay attention to this anymore, so we don’t know what that means, exactly, but Claire Zulkey can probably explain it to you.
The Middle (ABC, 8 p.m.): “Sue is puzzled by her boyfriend’s sudden lack of skill when it comes to kissing.” Ah, Sue. There are some things you need to know about your boyfriend. Namely, he’s pretty tall, so you should just accept that the angles will be problematic. Will Harris did so long ago!
Suburgatory (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): Remember how the premise of the show was that George moved Tessa to the ‘burbs because he found a condom in her drawer back in the city? Did he think the suburbs would make her suddenly cease to be a sexual being? Brandon Nowalk thinks the suburbs are even more sexy.
Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.): ABC is as good as anybody in recent years at those big holiday theme nights, which makes the fact that this episode apparently has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day even more puzzling. Meredith Blake can’t wait for April, when all four comedies offer a salute to Arbor Day.
Revenge (ABC, 10 p.m.): William Devane shows up in tonight’s episode, and if there’s anybody who could give Emily VanCamp a lesson or two in revenging, it seems like it would be him. Carrie Raisler can offer him pointers on the finer points of tilting one’s head to the sky and bellowing, “REVENNNNGE!”
Top Chef (Bravo, 10 p.m.): The chefs are challenged to use senses other than sight to gather the ingredients for their dish. We can tell you straight off that the eyeballs are just peeled grapes, and the brains are just cold spaghetti. Emily Withrow would advise against cold spaghetti and grape salad.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Carnivàle (1 p.m.): Who doesn’t love a good Dust Bowl episode? In today’s hour, everybody gets dirted in by a giant dust storm, so there’s plenty of time to pull out the photo albums and reminisce about how they’re all trapped in a weird, centuries-old struggle between good and evil. Just like Todd VanDerWerff!
Alias (3 p.m.): Ryan McGee lets you in on what Sloane’s been up to all season. Oh, we’ll just tell you now, because we know you want to know. The answers: Picking up his dry cleaning. Buying his wife a beautiful macaque. Completely missing that two of his spies are double agents. Nothing good.
WHAT ELSE IS ON
Nature (PBS, 8 p.m.): Tonight, PBS’ venerable wildlife documentary institution checks out the secret life of raccoons. Naturally enough, it mostly involves rooting around in your trash and making lots of noise, though it also involves the occasional soft-shoe number and some snappy Bob Fosse choreography.
Person To Person (CBS, 8 p.m.): CBS kills some time between Survivor seasons with a new show where its news personnel try valiantly to maintain interest as they interview assorted celebrities and other newsmakers in total puff pieces that are filmed at their homes or other private locations. Journalism!
Operation Repo (Tru TV, 9 p.m.): We don’t really know what’s happening on this show tonight or even what it’s all about, but we thought we’d put it here to see if you can remember what Tru TV was called before it became a network that cloned other networks’ hit reality shows. Give up? It was Court TV.
Restaurant: Impossible (Food, 10 p.m.): Sadly, this is just a low-rent cable version of Kitchen Nightmares and not a weird competition show where teams of investors compete to see who can build the best restaurant at the top of Mt. Everest or the bottom of the Mariana Trench. (It’s a fish and chips place.)
Hulk (Starz, 6:40 p.m.): Remember how in the build-up to this movie’s release, lots of people thought it might get a Best Picture nomination, just because Ang Lee was involved? And then it was just kind of fascinating and weird, like an Ang Lee superhero movie would be? 2003. We were all so young then.
X2 (MoMax, 9 p.m.): “Hey, why not watch some movies based on Marvel properties?” day continues with what’s easily the best movie inspired by the X-Men comics. Honestly, does it have any real competition? The first X-Men isn’t bad, and First Class was kind of fun. But the others? Yeesh.
College Basketball: Duke at North Carolina (ESPN, 9 p.m.): We have a friend who went to North Carolina, and she’s probably super excited to watch this game. We, who attended a college that will never be featured on ESPN, will mostly disdain her passion, but we will mock Duke. Readily and often.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Parenthood (Tuesday): A solid episode begins the show’s descent toward its finale at the end of the month, but Todd VanDerWerff knows that all you care about is the fact that Dawes is in this episode. No, not just their music. The actual band Dawes guest stars, and Peter Krause says “Dawes” 500 times.