Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for January 20. All times are Eastern.
Enlightened (HBO, 9:30 p.m.): As a prelude to Super Bowl Sunday’s all-consuming hunger, the game deciding who represents the American Football Conference in New Orleans has crowded everything else off of the TV grid. Not Enlightened, however, HBO’s plucky little corporate satire that could, which follows its heroine’s lead and stands strong in the face of overwhelming opposing forces. Brandon Nowalk still has $100 on the Pats, though, so if his review reads distracted, that’s why.
Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8 p.m.): Of course, ABC sees the AFC Championship as a boon to its Sunday night shows—not because its mostly female audience doesn’t watch football, but because the Almost-Big Game distracts from an episode where Storybrooke residents call for the death of a stranger. That’s not a good look for the show, and Oliver Sava thinks it could use the diversion.
Revenge (ABC, 9 p.m.): The episode synopsis for this week’s Revenge tells of a “menacing transformation,” which has Carrie Raisler’s Vampire Diaries senses tingling. Of course, the transformation will probably be figurative, and Carrie will have to go to bed tonight without seeing a Hamptonite get bit in the neck.
Downton Abbey (PBS, 9 p.m.): Not wanting Boardwalk Empire to be TV’s only period drama with serious things to say about the rights of and changing mores among its female characters, Downton Abbey turns into Suffragette City after Edith publishes a letter in support of the women’s suffrage movement. Sonia Saraiya takes notes on the episode with her Susan B. Anthony 19th Amendment Commemorative pen.
Girls (HBO, 9 p.m.): Adam’s posting some deeply creepy musical tributes to Hannah on the Internet—like “Hannah should probably sleep with one eye opened” creepy. In response, Todd VanDerWerff will write his review in the form of a vlog in which he shouts offscreen at his cats for 45 minutes.
Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.): Good news, everyone: Frank’s back from Mexico! Bad news, everyone: Frank’s an increasingly useless presence on this show! Joshua Alston reconsiders throwing the character a “welcome home” party.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Doctor Who (Classic) (11 a.m.): The Doctor and his companions are menaced by what look like outer-space janitors in “Warriors’ Gate.” In the not too distant future, Christopher Bahn considers slotting this serial into some Mystery Science Theater 3000/Doctor Who fan fiction.
The Simpsons (Classic) (3 p.m.): Last night, Nathan Rabin drank an all-syrup Super Squishee. When last seen, he was on whirlwind, show-tune-powered tour of Chicago—when he calms down, we assure you he’ll weigh in on “Boy Scoutz ’N The Hood.”
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Amish Mafia (TLC, 8 p.m.): This special two-hour installment of the show about the shadowy forces “protecting” the Amish population of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is titled “The Book Of Merlin”—so hopefully, by episode’s end, it’s revealed that the Amish are protected from the outside world by ancient magic. (If not, hopefully we hear some toe-tapping songs!)
Kourtney & Kim Take Miami (E!, 9 p.m.): Usually, your What’s On Tonight correspondent would recommend ignoring the season premiere of a Kardashian show, but since Kim’s having a baby with Kanye West, that means Kanye could show up at any time and, say, perform My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in its entirety. And would you want to miss that? Of course not. (That’s how E! gets ya!)
American Dad (Fox, 9:30 p.m.): With the Animation Domination bloc in a temporary holding pattern, it’s trotting out some lesser efforts to eat up the airtime while everyone else watches football. “Ricky Spanish” is the least objectionable of the reruns, and that’s saying a lot for an installment that revolves around Roger’s most detestable alter ego.
Chasing The Saturdays (E!, 10 p.m.): U.K. girl group The Saturdays land on American soil, planning to take the United States by storm. But if their efforts don’t resemble Spice World (or, at the very least, feature a cameo from Dominic West), it ain’t worth it.
The Transporter (AMC, 8 p.m.): This is the crucial, epoch-defining meeting of director Luc Besson and star Jason Statham, the broadcast of which we feel the strange compulsion to label “NOT OPTIONAL.” Weird—maybe it’s because Zodiac is also on tonight…
Ghostbusters (Encore, 9:45 p.m.): When you have tomorrow off / ’Cuz of MLK / Whatcha gonna watch? / Ghostbusters! At 9:45!
NFC Championship Game: 49ers at Falcons (Fox, 3 p.m.): Sure, it’s not technically on tonight, but here’s a friendly reminder that the Patriots and the Ravens aren’t the only teams vying for a Super Bowl spot today. (And if you don’t want a crabby Girls review, you should root for Todd VanDerWerff’s 49ers.)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Fringe (Friday): No spoilers here, but Noel Murray will say that the final image of Fringe’s series finale is “so perfect and poignant that I think it’s going to be pretty easy for Fringe fans to forgive some of the unevenness that precedes it.” Unless that counts as a spoiler, in which case: Blame it on your Parallel Universe What’s On Tonight correspondent.