Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, March 14. All times are Eastern.
South Park (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.): Season 16 begins tonight, and it remains sort of remarkable to us that this show—which inspired so much controversy and so many thinkpieces on “what does it all mean?” when it debuted and was on seemingly every magazine cover in the space of about three months—has become an American institution that hasn’t really offended anyone in a while simply because it could do the most offensive thing ever, and we’d all just laugh and say, “Oh, those South Park boys. Doing their South Park things!” Tonight’s episode is called “Reverse Cowgirl,” and Ryan McGee is prepared to chuckle.
American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.): Special surprise: In every American Idol review, Claire Zulkey will curate her favorite TV Club reviews from the past week, and then you’ll be allowed to vote on which TV Club reviewers you’d like to see leave the show! No, we’re just kidding. None of us can sing! Ridiculous!
The Middle (ABC, 8 p.m.): “Frankie is shocked to learn that Mike hoards batteries.” We’ve been enjoying Will Harris’ frequent admissions about how this show parallels his own life, but if we learn that he’s a secret battery hoarder, we might just back away slowly. Because battery hoarding is weird. That’s why.
Survivor (CBS, 8 p.m.): CBS seems way too pleased with itself for unearthing yet another racist asshole to play the villain in a season of Survivor, but, hey, this Colton fellow just might end up being good for business. Carrie Raisler’s out of town, so Phil Dyess-Nugent will be taking a look at all the wackiness.
Suburgatory (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): Tonight’s episode is called “Independence Day,” and we hope it’s either a tribute to the Bruce Springsteen song or the Martina McBride song. Okay, maybe especially the Martina McBride song. Brandon Nowalk’s out, but he’s going to ask Kevin McFarland to duet on the McBride.
America’s Next Top Model (The CW, 9 p.m.): We’re still a little suspicious about having this many British people on a show that features the word “America” so prominently in its title. The presence of British person Cat Deeley in tonight’s episode does not assuage Margaret Eby’s fears on this front.
Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.): Some ratings analysis or other proved that this was actually TV’s most watched show—we’re not entirely sure how, but it probably involves adding up DVR replays or something—and Donna Bowman, returning tonight to the beat, guesses America could do worse.
Happy Endings (ABC, 9:30 p.m.): Tonight’s episode sounds like it just might work as this show’s homage to Seinfeld’s immortal “Chinese Restaurant,” though in this one, the gang visits many restaurants, instead of being stuck in just one. David Sims is still waiting for someone to call, “Sims! Four!”
Psych (USA, 10 p.m.): Psych tackles reality television, and we can’t exactly say that’s a new topic for a detective show, so instead, we’re going to ask you this: How pretty is Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games ads on the TVGuide.com sidebar? So pretty! Kevin McFarland better agree with us.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Avatar: The Last Airbender (11 a.m.): Not much happens in terms of action in this episode, but Hayden Childs likes to point out that a lot is happening in terms of psychology. Man, this show didn’t have a ton of kid viewers, but the ones who did watch it were sophisticated as hell. We like to think so, at least.
Carnivàle (1 p.m.): This week’s episode is all about Ben trying not to fall asleep, so he won’t have the insane dreams that are increasingly driving him a little bugnuts. Fittingly enough, Todd VanDerWerff will be watching it in the middle of the night, and he may have to force himself to stay awake to write it up.
Alias (3 p.m.): Season two ends, and it’s time for the immortal words we’ve been waiting for: “Francie doesn’t like coffee ice cream.” Then some wham and pow and bam and kicking and excitement and pretty girls hitting each other in the face! Ryan McGee doesn’t have enough exclamation marks.
WHAT ELSE IS ON
Untold Stories Of The E.R. (TLC, 9 p.m.): Tonight’s episode is entitled “Rottweiler In The E.R.” We assume it’s a spinoff of the most immortal One Tree Hill episode, and we like that the episode summary gravely intones, “A Rottweiler gets loose in the E.R.,” as if we couldn’t figure that out for ourselves.
Restaurant Stakeout (Food, 10 p.m.): We don’t really know what this show is about, but we’re going to assume that it’s a reality TV spinoff of the mid-80s action-comedy series of Stakeout films, only this time, it all has to do with two cops watching a restaurant to see if the food is fresh or canned.
Ugly Americans (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.): We know quite a few of you enjoy this animated series, which returns with a string of new episodes airing after the new season of South Park. Consider yourselves alerted to the presence of new episodes! We’ve done our job. Now you do yours.
Monster Man (Syfy, 11 p.m.): Syfy debuts its latest reality series, which follows around makeup artist Cleve Hall. We’ve been waiting for a workplace reality show set in the world of Hollywood’s big-budget makeup departments, and Kenny Herzog’s there to tell us if this one’s worth our time or not.
A Streetcar Named Desire (TCM, 8 p.m.): This classic adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play legitimately changed the art of film acting in the U.S., and if you don’t believe us, well, go out in the rain, turn your head to the sky, and start screaming “Stella!” until you go full Brando. We mean get super fat.
X-Men: First Class (MoMax, 9 p.m.): Speaking of how pretty Jennifer Lawrence is in the Hunger Games banner ads on TVGuide.com—and we remind you the proper answer is “So pretty!”—she’s also in this movie, and she’s painted blue. We presume she isn’t in Hunger Games, but stranger things.
NBA Basketball: 76ers at Pacers (ESPN, 7 p.m.): Andre Iguodala powered the 76ers over the Pacers in their last meeting, and we’re hoping the Philadelphia press has come up with some sort of fun shorthand for “Iguodala mania,” like “Iguo-mania!” We’re sure the Philadelphia press can do better.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Cougar Town (Tuesday): Was this the best episode of the show ever produced? Ryan McGee thinks you can make a good case for the episode being one of the show’s very best, and he’s also there to point out all of the completely and totally subtle way that the much of the cast of Scrubs got worked in at the end.