Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, February 22. All times are Eastern.
Suburgatory (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): The fortunes of reality-TV juggernaut Jersey Shore appear are fading: MTV’s continuing saga of seven sentient bottles of vodka-scented tanning oil debuted to series-low numbers in January, and its audience continues to contract. (It’s still one of the biggest show’s on cable—just not the phenomenon it was two years ago.) Perhaps realizing that his 15 minutes have nearly expired, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino booked a DJ gig in Chatwin for tonight’s Suburgatory, overshadowing an appearance by the episode’s other guest, Wilmer Valderrama. Don’t cry for “The Situation” (really, don’t)—Brandon Nowalk points to Valderama’s upcoming role on Awake as proof that TV always offers a second act.
Survivor (CBS, 8 p.m.): “One tribe becomes dysfunctional” reads tonight’s episode synopsis. Given the “battle of the sexes” theme of this season, a bunch of you just jumped to conclusions, and Carrie Raisler is very disappointed in you.
American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.): The pre-live show gauntlet seems ludicrously long this year, and Claire Zulkey, for one, is glad that it’s almost finished. After the semifinalists are selected, it’s all 90-minute performance episodes and two-hour results shows through the spring. So totally smooth sailing!
The Middle (ABC, 8 p.m.): The kids on The Middle already act like they’re beyond the bounds of parental supervision, so we can’t imagine it’ll be much different when Ma and Pa Heck loosen the reins tonight. Real-life dad Will Harris, on the other hand, sees a lawless, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome scenario on the horizon.
Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.): If you’ve been waiting to watch Ty Burrell sweat and stammer through the revelation that one of the Dunphy daughters has known a boy in the biblical sense, you’re in luck. If this is the case, you may also be a creep. Meredith Blake eyes you suspiciously.
Happy Endings (ABC, 9:30 p.m.): Eagle-eyed Happy Endings viewers may have spotted Max’s “3rd Annual Spring Smackdown” T-shirt in last week’s episode and wondered “What’s that about?” They’ll get their answer tonight, as David Sims starts looking for other clues in Max’s wardrobe. From what he’s already gathered, the show is supposed to take place in Chicago.
Top Chef (Bravo, 10 p.m.): Bravo’s Top Chef website posted a slideshow of its “30 Favorite Canadians” this week, confirming that the show has officially disavowed this season’s Texas setting. In response, Emily Withrow likes to think she’s watching a previous, better season of the show.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Carnivàle (1 p.m.): Of all the foreboding, mysterious elements of Carnivàle, do any sound more mysterious or foreboding than “carnival justice?” Todd VanDerWerff doesn’t think so, and he eagerly awaits finding out what it means all over again.
Alias (3 p.m.): Last week’s Alias doubleheader acted as something of a reset button for the series—and what a reset it was. With the series’ focus shifting to Sydney assembling pieces of the Rambaldi puzzle, Ryan McGee is hoping Syd’s search might also shed some light other TV mysteries—carnival justice and spring smackdown, specifically.
WHAT ELSE IS ON
One Tree Hill (The CW, 8 p.m.): From the looks of the previews running on the The CW, Chad Michael Murray has spent his time away from One Tree Hill cultivating a horrendous hairdo. Legend has it that if he cuts that hair, however, One Tree Hill will be renewed for a surprise final final season.
Are You There, Chelsea? (NBC, 8:30 p.m.): In case you were wondering, straight women and gay men born in the 1970s and ’80s: Yes, TV has been reading your old journals, and yes, it really wants you to remember how hard you once crushed on Wilmer Valderrama, Chad Michael Murray, and tonight’s Are You There, Chelsea? interloper, Mario Lopez. This is further indication that nostalgia can lead to very dark places.
Nature (PBS, 8 p.m.): Nature’s pulling out all the stops tonight, presenting three hours of whales and dolphins. That’s right: One hundred eighty minutes of aquatic mammals. Ten thousand, eight hundred seconds of baleen and echo location. Fourteen minutes shorter than Titanic—only, you know, with whales and dolphins instead of a giant boat.
American Weed (National Geographic, 10 p.m.): The latest docudrama about the legalized marijuana trade focuses on those who grow and those who make sure that those who grow are doing after filing the proper paperwork. More like rolling paperwork, arewerite?
Camp (FLIX, 8 p.m.): Todd Graff’s theater-camp comedy was a Sundance darling, but it was also six years too early to hitch itself to Glee’s “talented band of outsiders” wagon (and 23 years too late to get a boost from residual goodwill toward Fame). But it did provide a launching pad for Anna Kendrick, so, hey—sometimes dreams do come true.
Strangers On A Train (TCM, 8 p.m.): Raymond Chandler. Alfred Hitchcock. When their powers combine (with screenplay assistance from Whitfield Cook and Cznenzi Ormonde), you get a suspense thriller with a hard-boiled core, a twisty “criss-cross” picture that also features cinema’s finest carousel brawl.
College Basketball: Kansas at Texas A&M (ESPN, 9 p.m.): When do the Aggies wish they chose an earlier date to defect to the SEC? Hosting No. 4 Kansas for the final time as a member of the Big 12 seems like as good a time as any. (Not that conference play would be any easier against the likes of Kentucky or Florida… )
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
White Collar: USA’s best-dressed crime caper busted into Yankee Stadium, and it brought Kenny Herzog a neat Curtis Granderson souvenir bat—and the laughable insinuation that Tim DeKay could’ve been a relief pitcher.