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Television is a metaphor for Siberia

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, February 13. All times are Eastern.

The 2014 Winter Olympics (NBC, 8 p.m):
Yes, we’re still held in the grip of Russia’s cold fist. Television, much like Siberia, is an icy wasteland—of reruns, repeats, and reality television. There is precious little new television on tonight—and figure skating is only taking up part of NBC’s primetime proceedings. But in this featureless hellscape, a hero emerges—far in the distance, but coming towards us—indeed, coming to save us. What’s On Tonight’s own Todd VanDerWerff covers the Olympics tonight, as the Sochi Games bring us the men’s short program in figure skating, women’s speedskating, and men’s freestyle skiing. This is literally one of two reviews that we’re running tonight. So if you don’t like it, I don’t know, leave some more comments here.

Rake (Fox, 9 p.m.): Handsome Greg Kinnear defends an economist accused of killing and eating a young accountant. Cannibals! What will they think of next, Handsome Greg Kinnear? Scott Von Doviak is pouring out some for his fallen homies, the Donner party.

[Insert Siberian wasteland here]

Joshua Alston explores the catch-22 of competition-based reality TV after last week’s controversial finale of Top Chef. Do shows like this risk alienating their viewership when they make a choice based on narrative instead of on merit? And if so, how do they achieve the balance between keeping viewers with drama and losing them from distrust?

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (10 a.m.): 
Zack Handlen’s Fictional Space Station Support Group will be meeting at the usual time and place. In honor of the Olympics, there is some luge racing planned. As soon as someone explains to us what luge is.


Tundra in Siberia, Wikimedia Commons

American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.): In this final Hollywood round, the judges choose the top contestants to move into the semifinals. Yippee.

The Taste (ABC, 8 p.m.): The six remaining contestants have to both cook with and pair with beer.

The This Old House Hour (PBS, 8 p.m.): This episode is titled: “Arlington Heights; Fitting A Mattress Up A Narrow Staircase; Repairing A Light-Switch In Seattle.”

Dirty Dancing (TVGN, 8 p.m.): It’s not ice dancing, but we’ll take it. Nobody puts baby in the corner in this modern classic starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze—which is perhaps the gold standard for dance movies.

Silver Linings Playbook (Showtime Too, 8 p.m.): Jennifer Lawrence won an Academy Award last year for her portrayal of a character that TV Guide affectionately refers to as the “promiscuous widow.”Anupam Kher and ballet slippers also feature prominently. That’s right, both films featured in What’s On Tonight are dance movies. What of it? Oh dude hang on—

Step Up Revolution (Showtime Too, 8:20 p.m.): ANOTHER DANCE MOVIE

Enchanted (Disney, 8 p.m.): Not exactly a dance movie but WE CAN ATTEST TO DANCE OCCURRING IN THIS MOVIE

Les Misérables (HBO2, 6:15 p.m.): ALSO THIS ONE (wait is there dancing in this movie? Maybe sad French dancing? We can’t remember! OH WELL! Vive la dance!)

Broad City: This show is rapidly becoming must-watch for us here at What’s On Tonight, and that’s not just because they gave a few of us t-shirts that say BROAD FUCKING CITY. Caroline Framke has the lowdown on last night’s episode, in which Ilana and Abbie get locked out and fleetingly brush with homelessness.