Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, January 9. All times are Eastern.
Nashville (ABC, 10 p.m.): There was a time when we were so excited about this show. The pilot promised something potentially great; the creator was Oscar winner Callie Khouri. It starred Connie Britton—Mrs. Coach herself! Yet here we are, several months later, and while we still respect and admire the show, it just hasn’t cohered for us quite yet. Maybe it will start to come together now that it’s had a month off to think about what it’s done. Todd VanDerWerff is still hobnobbing with the TV all-stars, so Nashville resident Carrie Raisler contemplates the country-western soapiness.
The Middle (ABC, 8 p.m.): We love every time this show pairs up Axl and Sue, because it so often leads to comic hilarity. Tonight, the two collaborate on a “life skills” project. Will Harris has to assume “life skills” means something about staring at your feet and mumbling to get out of awkward situations.
Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.): Donna Bowman’s ABC affiliate will no longer be carrying this show for a while, due to SEC basketball, which takes precedence over the weekly shenanigans of the Pritchett-Taylor-Dunphys. Ryan McGee steps in tonight to celebrate New Year’s Eve a little late with the gang.
Suburgatory (ABC, 9:30 p.m.): Tonight’s episode is called “Black Thai,” and even without consulting the episode summary on TV Guide, we’re going to guess that this will all have something to do with a formal event that’s derailed and forced to go to a Thai restaurant. Brandon Nowalk could use some spicy basil.
American Horror Story (FX, 10 p.m.): When last we left Sister Jude and the gang, everybody’s favorite ex-nun was singing her own version of “The Name Game” for the enjoyment of all the mental hospital’s patients. Todd VanDerWerff would enjoy it very much if this episode was just that over and over again.
Top Chef (Bravo, 10 p.m.): It’s time for restaurant wars, but not until the chefs compete in a Quickfire designed to impress Wolfgang Puck. We know Wolfgang pretty well—we’ve eaten at his restaurant in LAX—so we’re going to recommend everybody put weird stuff on a pizza. Emily Withrow likes it!
WHAT ELSE IS ON
Stars In Danger: The High Dive (Fox, 8 p.m.): Are these stars actually in danger? Will they plummet to their dooms in an empty pool because some enterprising Fox executive pulled the plug? TV Guide’s helpful color-coding system optimistically lists this as “sports.” Dennis Perkins is… somewhat skeptical.
The People’s Choice Awards (CBS, 9 p.m.): The people have spoken, and they have chosen the award winners we need, not the award winners we want. Those award winners will almost certainly include whichever nominees were the ones from things popular with teenagers, who spammed the voting.
Chicago Fire/Life On Fire (NBC/PBS, 10 p.m.): If you just feel a need to watch things burn, well, tonight has two options for you. You can watch firefighting shenanigans over on NBC’s scripted series, which is growing in the ratings, or you can watch volcanologists furrow their brows while staring at lava on PBS.
Washington Heights (MTV, 10 p.m.): MTV commanded Jersey Shore to go forth and multiply, and it resulted in the back-woods wackiness of Buckwild, as well as this new series, which attempts to bring a touch of racial diversity to the reality format. Sonia Saraiya will let you know if the network succeeds.
Bring It On (AMC, 8 p.m.): It seems like everybody we know is watching this movie and tweeting about it lately, so why don’t you join the crowd? It’s the cheerleading comedy that led to better things for Kirsten Dunst and should have marked director Peyton Reed as a major talent. Ah, well.
Grosse Pointe Blank (Cinemax, 8:10 p.m.): John Cusack stars in this charming romantic comedy is all about a hitman forced to go back home for his high school reunion—while also trying to carry out a job. That might sound like the highest of high concepts, but the cast and writing are able to carry it off.
NBA Basketball: Lakers at Spurs (ESPN, 8 p.m.): With many of the Lakers felled by a weirdly catastrophic injury thing, Steve Nash has been turned loose to do what he does best, and the results are still fun to watch. Will that be enough to overcome the mighty Spurs? We doubt it, but this could be a good one.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
New Girl (Tuesday): Hey, even as Justified and Cougar Town were starting all new seasons, Fox was bringing back its greatly enjoyable Tuesday night comedy bloc—perhaps the best on TV—and Erik Adams was there, as always, to see what was up with Jess, Nick, Schmidt, and all the rest.