The Vampire Diaries lets you know that if you're ready for batshit insanity, it'll be there for you

The Vampire Diaries lets you know that if you're ready for batshit insanity, it'll be there for you

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, October 20, 2011. All times are Eastern.

TOP PICK
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8 p.m.): You know us, A.V. Club readers. We wouldn’t be joshin’ you. And we’re not joshin’ you when we tell you that The Vampire Diaries is having a kick-ass season, where the storytelling is moving like a damn freight train. It’s a show that burns through enough story for six episodes of most other shows in a single hour, and it somehow doesn’t ever seem to run out of crazy plot twists. So Carrie Raisler and the rest of us are going to make a deal with you: Check out tonight’s episode, since Community is in reruns. You probably won’t understand a damn thing that happens, but the show’s on Netflix now, so you can catch up after you see what you’re missing. (You should totally return for Community next week, though. Our support only goes so far, Carrie.)


REGULAR COVERAGE
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8 p.m.): Laurie Metcalf returns as Sheldon’s mother in tonight’s episode. One nice thing about Bernadette and Amy joining the main cast is that Chuck Lorre can bring in other actresses he formerly worked with to play their mothers. Oliver Sava is betting Lorre’s still got Brett Butler on speed-dial.

Person Of Interest (CBS, 9 p.m.): After being kind of a snooze for its first few episodes, this new J.J. Abrams-backed procedural detective show had a pretty great episode last week. Was it a sign of good things to come? Or will the show go back to mediocrity? Zack Handlen visits and reports back.

Project Runway (Lifetime, 9 p.m.): Hey, you remember that image that was going around in the early fall of 2008, and it was Barack Obama talking at the convention, and it said, “Everybody calm the fuck down; I got this” or something? Anya on this show is starting to exude the same smug superiority, and that makes for kinda boring TV. Is all we’re saying. You with us, John Teti?

The Secret Circle (The CW, 9 p.m.): Hey, you remember the fall of 2008, when Barack Obama bought up all that time on all those networks to air a half-hour infomercial about himself and he revealed he was a 25th-level warlock, but nobody was watching, so everybody forgot about it? That’s totally a plot point on The Secret Circle, which you would know if you read Katherine Miller’s reviews.

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX, 10 p.m.): A giant storm is heading for Philadelphia, and that means it’s time for everybody to go nuts—and for the guys to become obsessed with a large-breasted weatherwoman on TV. Yeah, that sounds like Sunny, all right. Emily Yoshida lets you know if anyone dies tragically in the storm.

Jersey Shore (MTV, 10 p.m.): It’s season finale time, which means that the housemates are going to leave Italy and reflect on what they’ve learned, just like Charlie Brown did in the Peanuts film What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown, which totally should have been on that “kids learn about death” Inventory we did, right, Genevieve Koski?

The League (FX, 10:30 p.m.): Holy shit, you guys. Brie Larson, paragon of all that is good and right in this world today, is guest starring on tonight’s episode as an au pair. And, yeah, crack ensemble cast and great, great humor, but Brie Larson! Guest starring! Hooray! Hopefully Margaret Eby shares our enthusiasm.


TV CLUB CLASSIC
Star Trek: The Next Generation (11 a.m.): In this week’s first episode, “Parallels,” Worf starts shifting between alternate realities, probably because he had to roll a die to determine which person on the Enterprise’s bridge would have to go get the pizza. (HOW COULD YOU TAKE IT AWAY FROM US, NBC? HOW?!) Zack Handlen’s favorite reality is the one where he’s a badger.

Seinfeld (1 p.m.): The seventh season finale of Seinfeld—which David Sims covers this week—contains one of the darkest, most controversial plot twists in the show’s entire run. But when you look at it today, it no longer seems all that shocking, particularly in light of shows like Sunny, which have taken that groundwork and gone to truly dark places. Still, here’s a key, classic episode in TV sitcom evolution.


WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Murder In The Roman Empire (National Geographic 8 p.m.): In Latin, “murder” becomes “caedes,” which isn’t nearly as exciting to say by stretching the sounds out. “Murrrrrderrrr”? Awesome. “Caaaaaaedes”? That doesn’t work nearly as well. Anyway, tonight, you’ll find out all about murder in the Roman Empire. So that’s fun!

Rules Of Engagement (CBS, 8:30 p.m.): CBS renewed this show at the last minute, but tossed it on Saturdays. Then, How To Be A Gentleman bombed, and the show was moved to Thursdays abruptly. Also, did you know this show is starting its sixth season tonight and is on its 73rd episode? Todd VanDerWerff’s never seen an episode, so he’s dropping in, because why not?

Miss Representation (OWN, 9 p.m.): “Negative and sexual media depictions of women are assailed by an array of prominent women… and several men,” reads the program listing for this show. That sounds worthy and all, but is it really just talking heads saying, “NO. BAD MEDIA. NO.”? Because that would get boring.

Gigolos (Showtime, 11 p.m.): Showtime renewed this show because, hey, how else would you know it could show hardcore sex stuff in the middle of the night? Anyway, if American Horror Story hasn’t been giving you your requisite amount of man ass, this might be just the thing to get you back up to speed.

Black Swan (Cinemax, 8 p.m.): Here’s another Best Picture nominee from last year that some people thought was an ingenious masterpiece and other people thought was an overwrought mess. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, all you probably know is that the movie is all about Natalie Portman’s slow metamorphosis into a bird. Watch her Oscar-winning performance that consists mostly of squawking tonight.

Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (BBC America, 9 p.m.): Look, this movie is terrible, but when we saw it at a birthday party for a classmate back in the fall of ’91 over Hot Stuff pizza, it seemed like the most awesome movie ever. And the classic Bryan Adams track still makes a tear trickle down our withered cheeks.

World Series, game 2: Rangers at Cardinals (Fox, 7:30 p.m.): The Cardinals went up 1-0 after a classic first game, but the Rangers should never be counted out. Also, goofy ol’ Tim McCarver is calling the games again this year, and it’s not fall unless he’s pontificating about stupid bullshit on our televisions.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The Middle/Happy Endings (Wednesday): Unexpectedly, two of ABC’s comedies had some of their best episodes ever last night, and if you’re so inclined, you can check out Will Harris’ take on the financial difficulties of the Heck family and David Sims’ take on Penny’s all-too-amazing vision board.