American Idol is back, and it demands all other networks make sacrifices to its glory

American Idol is back, and it demands all other networks make sacrifices to its glory

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, Jan. 18. All times are Eastern.

TOP PICK
American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.): Well, it was nice having nice things there for a while. Because now American Idol is back, and it’s going to set out to kill everything you love by being a gargantuan hit. And as if that weren’t enough, we’re not going to get any good music out of it either. Have you heard the latest song by last season’s runner-up, Lauren Alaina? Doesn’t it sound like the buzzing of thousands of hornet-like demons, of the sort unleashed upon the Earth in the book of Revelation? Claire Zulkey is watching this again because she's grown immune to it over time. Everybody else should run away as quickly as possible.


REGULAR COVERAGE
The Middle (ABC, 8 p.m.): The Super Bowl is in Indiana this year, so here’s an episode in which the Hecks get Super Bowl fever, right down to Frankie getting a job as a volunteer at the big game. Will Harris actually was named MVP of Super Bowl II.

Suburgatory (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): George and pals head down to Atlantic City, where they bump into a certain someone who’s supposed to be out of the country. Brandon Nowalk was supposed to be in Luxembourg, but he had to review this damn show.

Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.): Lily learns her first bad word in a plot that sounded pretty amusing when co-creator and showrunner Steve Levitan talked about it recently. Meredith Blake wonders why he doesn’t go by Steve Leviathan. Awesome.

Happy Endings (ABC, 9:30 p.m.): The title of this episode is “Makin’ Changes!” and in honor of it, David Sims is making some changes to TV Club. He’s going to knock out that back wall, and then maybe he can put in a breakfast nook or something.

Revenge (ABC, 10 p.m.): Did you know Charlotte on this show is the same girl who played Lil’ Jennifer Garner in 13 Going On 30? Well, she is. We’re not sure what that proves, but we hope Carrie Raisler works her feelings on the film into her review.

Top Chef (Bravo, 10 p.m.): This episode features what sounds like the goofiest challenge ever, with the contestants having to create a dish fit for a queen that’s also the embodiment of evil. Emily Withrow recommends some fried mac ‘n’ cheese.


TV CLUB CLASSIC
Survivor (Classic) (11 a.m.): The end is nigh, and the Tagi alliance is splintering. Meredith Blake can hardly contain her tears, as she watches to see if Richard and Rudy can make it through this thing and remain best friends forever or not.

Carnivàle (1 p.m.): Todd VanDerWerff picks this one up for his between Sopranos seasons series, and he spent way too much time in the writing of the first article trying to figure out how to make the little a with the accent mark over it.

Alias (3 p.m.): It just might turn out that Sydney Bristow ending up in the CIA wasn’t an accident after all, if revelations in this week’s episode hold up. It also turns out that Ryan McGee was bred deep beneath the Earth to review J.J. Abrams shows.


WHAT ELSE IS ON?
State Fair Foods (Travel, 8 p.m.): The Travel Channel decides to travel the country and show you all of the many things that can be fried at the nation’s state fairs. We’re most excited for something that apparently involves maggots. Yummers.

Harry’s Law (NBC, 9 p.m.): Among the sacrificial lambs the networks will offer up to the mighty American Idol god will be this Kathy Bates-starring legal procedural, which wasn’t our favorite show in the world but deserves better than this, certainly.

Mistresses (BBC America, 10 p.m.): Apparently, BBC America has aired two seasons of whatever this is, and we didn’t even notice. Anyway, here’s the start of season three, if you’ve been keeping up with it without our knowing about it.

Royal Pains (USA, 10 p.m.): When this show popped up on Donna Bowman’s ballot for our best TV of 2011 list, we were intrigued. “Show your work!” we said, so here are her thoughts on why the show’s so fun, just in time for the midseason premiere.

Boys Don’t Cry (Lifetime Movie Network, 8 p.m.): Hillary Swank won an Oscar for playing transgendered teenager Brandon Teena, while Chloe Sevigny was nominated for an Oscar for playing his girlfriend in this good, depressing movie.

The Invention Of Lying (ABC Family, 9 p.m.): We’ve said plenty about this movie—and how it often doesn’t really work—at this here website, but can we all just agree that the fact that it’s now airing on ABC Family is really, really weird?

NBA Basketball: Trail Blazers at Hawks/Mavericks at Clippers (ESPN, 8 p.m.): An NBA doubleheader features two of the West Coast teams that aren’t the Lakers. And isn’t it kind of dumb that they don’t spell “Trail Blazers” as one word?


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
White Collar (Tuesday): Kenny Herzog is back, covering one of TV’s most stylish, most escapist hours. What will those crazy kids get up to this half season? We don’t know, but we’re betting it will involve lots of wacky schemes that almost fail.