Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, March 22. All times are Eastern.
Archer (FX, 10 p.m.): After kicking things off with the dual, epic challenges of preparing ISIS agents for spaceflight and tricking Bryan Cranston into quoting Kenny Loggins, Archer wraps its third season with an all out battle for control of an international space station. And if you thought the show spent all its sci-fi devices on the first half-hour of “Space Race,” just wait until you catch Sterling Archer piloting an Aliens-style mech. Todd VanDerWerff is already scouring his thesaurus for synonyms for “awesome.”
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8 p.m.): Damon and Sage meet again in the followup to last week’s time warp—which sort of makes this like Somewhere In Time, only in reverse. And with vampires. If you know of a magical hotel room that will allow Carrie Raisler to hang out with vampires and Christopher Reeve, let her know.
American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.):The nature of this feature requires it to be written a day in advance—a stumbling block for previewing these Idol live shows. We’ll let Claire Zulkey fill in the blanks: So [contestant destined to fail] is going home, right? And what about when Steven Tyler said [intentionally humorous, actually horrifying statement]? Can you believe [the judge’s weird obsession with song choice]? Yeah, neither can we.
Community (NBC, 8 p.m.): While Jeff’s being prescribed anti-anxiety pills, Abed self-medicates with the help of celebrity impersonators. Hooah! Maybe Abed would like to say hello to Todd VanDerWerff’s little Pacino impression. If not, you’ll break his heart, Fredo. Hooah!
30 Rock (NBC, 8:30 and 9 p.m.): The jumbling of The Peacock Network’s Thursday night continues, with The Office sitting out a week so 30 Rock get further into its season and make some wiggle room for Parks And Recreation’s return in April. Nathan Rabin would gladly host these additional episodes on the other NBC, a.k.a. Nathan’s Broadcasting Corporation.
The Secret Circle (The CW, 9 p.m.): Cassie and Adam can’t be together because “their love is a curse”—because The Secret Circle is a bad love song you wrote during freshman year of high school. Katherine Miller reminds you that fire is a totally underutilized metaphor for an unrequited crush.
Project Runway All-Stars (Lifetime, 9 p.m.): Tommy Hilfiger leaves the handsome estate he shares with the multicultural cast of an unproduced Wes Anderson screenplay to help crown the winner of Project Runway All-Stars. If Austin Scarlett doesn’t win, he could move to Hilfiger Mansion. Genevieve Koski has it on good authority that the clan is looking to fill the role of a flashy toreador with a fixation on Civil War headwear.
Up All Night (NBC, 9:30 p.m.): Ava gets another rival, this time in the form of Sharon Osbourne. Are you getting the feeling we’re getting—that Ava is actually a superhero, and “rivals” like Osbourne and Megan Mullally’s Shayne are really her rogues’ gallery? Margaret Eby can’t wait until Ava finally faces off against Galactus.
Awake (NBC, 10 p.m.): NBC pulled an episode-order switcheroo on Awake this week, exchanging the cryptically titled “Oregon” for the punnier “Kate Is Enough,” where Britten deals with parallel versions of Rex’s former babysitter—each with a unique connection to different crimes. If at least one crime involves Dick Van Patten, Zack Handlen will approve.
Unsupervised (FX, 10:30 p.m.): The final three episodes of Unsupervised’s first season will air without the benefit of a lead-in from Archer, which hopefully won’t have too great an impact on the show. As Gary and Joel game the blood-donation system so they can save lives, Brandon Nowalk entreats you to help save a plucky, gleefully filthy cartoon.
Delocated (Cartoon Network, midnight): Ali Farahnakian’s been killing it this season as Jon’s latest bodyguard, TB—his hard work is rewarded tonight with an episode that centers around TB’s parents’ divorce. Sometimes a bodyguard’s mommy and daddy just grow apart from one another; Steve Heisler wants you to know it’s not your fault.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (11 a.m.): Tensions mount as the first season of DS9 comes to a close. There’s enough room, however, for a subplot where a Bajoran cleric disapproves of Keiko O’Brien teaching the children of Deep Space Nine that the wormhole is a creation of science, and not “the Temple of the Prophets.” Zack Handlen is disappointed that we’ll still have these of science-versus-religion debates in the 24th century.
Seinfeld (1 p.m.): “Some charlatan has stolen a Ziggy!” And with that exclamation from J. Peterman, Seinfeld made sure it would be forever mentioned in any news item regarding plagiarism and the funny pages. David Sims checks in at the complaint desk to protest that we’re stealing his ideas.
Cheers (3 p.m.): This week’s Cheers guests include the oh so 1980s pairing of Markie “Christine from Night Court” Post and George “The guy from Tootsie, Police Academy, and Punky Brewster” Gaynes. Our reviewers are pleased to report neither Post nor Gaynes makes any reference to timely news items the invasion of Grenada or Kiss appearing without makeup on MTV.
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Behind The Music: Game (VH1, 9 p.m.): Back in the day, you had to live through a few poorly selling records, a doomed romantic relationship with a bandmate, an addiction to coke, and/or crippling bankruptcy to receive the Behind The Music treatment. (Or be “Weird Al” Yankovic.) Of course, the mental anguish experienced by rapper Jayceon Terrell “‘Yes, I dropped the ‘The’’ Game” Taylor in the early years of his life accounts for twice the drama of anything detailed in REO Speedwagon’s BTM episode.
Braxton Family Values (WE, 9 p.m.): The reality-TV adventures of Toni Braxton and family are something of a phenomenon (by WE standards). Joshua Alston assures us the second season has been a fascinating look at the way a reality star (in this case, youngest Braxton sister Tamar) stops acting like a real person when their show’s a hit; that was enough for us to say “Write about that craziness, Joshua!”
House Hunters (HGTV, 10 p.m.): Every week, we scroll by the listing for a new episode of House Hunters with a hyperspecific title, and we scroll past it thinking, “Not this week. There’s probably something more interesting airing elsewhere.” Well, there isn’t something more interesting airing elsewhere, so now’s your time to shine, “Sisters With Opinions Search Atlanta”!
Swamp People (History, 10 p.m.): Then again, tonight’s Swamp People involves a fight with a giant alligator… which sounds like the most basic Swamp People episode ever, but still. Wish you knew right up front whether or not that gator is inflexible about what it wants from its Georgia real estate? Then you should stick with House Hunters.
Beauty And The Beast (Disney, 8 p.m.): Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: As a curse for his arrogance, a handsome prince is transformed into a hideous beast. The only person who can see past his fur and fangs is a woman who’s beautiful inside and out. What, you have heard this before? But did that version have an all-singing, all-dancing place settings? Yeah, that’s what we thought.
Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows (TCM, 8 p.m.): Generations clash as onetime Girl Friday Rosalind Russell shepherds a flock of Catholic schoolgirls across the country on a bus. Trouble follows in the form of squabbling nuns, rebellious teens, knife-wielding bikers, and a catchy-as-hell theme song by Boyce And Hart.
MLB Baseball: Red Sox vs. Yankees (ESPN, 7 p.m.): While the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament moves into the Sweet 16, ESPN would like to remind you that, hey, baseball’s starting up again, and while you might have a bunch of money tied up in Ohio upsetting UNC tonight, one of the greatest rivalries in professional sports is having a warmup match in Florida. March Madness is fleeting; the white-hot flame at the center of a Yankees-Red Sox game is eternal, even during spring training.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Bent (Wednesday): Yeah, NBC’s trying to get through the six episodes of this comedy’s first season in record—and no, that’s not the most auspicious start for a series. But the same thing happened to Happy Endings last spring, and look what happened there! Todd VanDerWerff says it’s fun, and you know how hard it is to get him to admit liking something that’s fun.