Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl blots out the sun with its sheer massiveness
More What's On Tonight?
- Save Me was one of NBC’s most intriguing pilots of the season—so, naturally, it’s premièring after that season has ended
- Another TV season ends with the wacky antics of Modern Family sending us sailing toward summer
- Grimm uses some cold bodies in a season-finale attempt to regain some of its lost heat
- Rectify ends its haunting run just as it seems to get going
- Fox apologizes for canceling The Cleveland Show by letting Seth MacFarlane creep into the Simpsons finale
Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, November 18. All times are Eastern.
The Dust Bowl (PBS, 8 p.m.): This isn’t typical of all documentaries directed by perpetual filmmaking machine Ken Burns, but you may want to invest in some quality stereo equipment to enjoy Burns’ take on the ecological disaster that befell the Great Plains in the 1930s—you’ll really want to feel the apocalyptic rumbling of huge sand-and-soil clouds sweeping through the middle United States. You may also want to consider the fact that, under the right circumstances, such a widespread catastrophe could befall the country all over again—which is why Todd VanDerWerff is a tireless advocate for crop rotation.
The Simpsons (Fox, 8 p.m.): Steve Carell lives out a Michael Scott fantasy as he lends his voice to Fat Tony’s accountant. Meanwhile, Robert David Sullivan is trying to predict where the writers might slip in a “That’s what she said.”
Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 8:30 p.m.): The Rich Uncle Pennybags of the Bob’s Burgers universe, Mr. Fischoeder, hires the Belchers to play his family on Thanksgiving. For a small fee, we can throw in Rowan Kaiser in the guise of an eccentric cousin recently returned from a whirlwind tour of Southeast Asia.
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.): “Andrea and the Governor bond” begins the episode synopsis—so the latter can’t be a total bad guy, right? Like, maybe he’s less of a megalomaniacal psychopath and more the type of guy with whom Zack Handlen could have a good, long conversation about Gremlins.
The Good Wife (CBS, 9 p.m.): Concerned about his client of the week’s right to a fair trial, Will kicks off a game of judicial musical chairs. By the end of this ordeal, we could very well find David Sims presiding over the proceedings.
Family Guy (Fox, 9 p.m.): Revenge will not be seen tonight, so that ABC can present the American Music Awards. In place of your regularly scheduled “REEEEEEEEEVEEEEEENGE!,” Sonia Saraiya hopes you accept an animated tale of “REEEEVEEEEEEEEEENGE!” from Family Guy’s Joe Swanson. Or “Joooooooooooe Swaaaaaaaansoooooooon!,” if you’d still need a weekly dosage of screaming and elongated vowel sounds.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO, 9 p.m.): “A Man, A Plan… ,” an empty spot an on the boardwalk, Chalky White. Not quite a palindrome, but a laundry list that has Noel Murray mighty excited about the motivation behind Michael K. Williams’ return to Atlantic City.
Dexter (Showtime, 9 p.m.): “Argentina,” declares the title of tonight’s Dexter, as if to identify, incorrectly, the South American nation missing from the nifty linguistic oddity initiated above. Joshua Alston still appreciates the effort (and the cryptic geographical allusion), though.
American Dad (Fox, 9:30 p.m.): The Fast And The Furious plays a small role in tonight’s episode—and it has nothing to do Roger’s terrifyingly swift courtship of Stan’s mother. That happens so quickly, though, that Alasdair Wilkins is the only person available to officiate the wedding.
Treme (HBO, 10 p.m.): A conflict between Janette and her staff over a popular menu item is a storyline so low-stakes and so delightfully Treme that it deserves a plaque or something. Keith Phipps will gladly travel to New Orleans to confer such an honor.
Homeland (Showtime, 10 p.m.): Nicholas Brody is a man on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Carrie Mathison is an expert in those topics (Brody and breakdowns), and is therefore qualified to talk the congressman/terror asset off the ledge. Todd VanDerWerff is just glad he gets paid to witness such things.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
The Simpsons (3 p.m.): Weekend forecast calls for a “rake effect” blizzard of laughter from Nathan Rabin’s corner of The A.V. Club offices. See Sideshow Bob get his just deserts (and just deserts and just deserts) in “Cape Feare.”
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Sofia The First: Once Upon A Princess (Disney Channel, 7 p.m.): Look, it’s Disney’s first Latina princess! Or it isn’t. Of course, now that Disney has the ball rolling on Star Wars: Episode VII, the company could keep stirring shit up and suggest that little Sofia is actually Luke and Leia’s long-lost baby sister. “That’s not cannon or representative of real-world population demographics!” half of the Internet would cry in response.
The 40th Anniversary American Music Awards (ABC, 8 p.m): The music industry’s biggest night that’s not the Grammys puts on its first show without the aid of its late founder, Dick Clark—and we’re all the poorer for never getting to hear what America’s Oldest Teenager thought of “Gangnam Style.”
All-Star Family Cook-Off (Food Network, 10 p.m.): Four Food Network stars compete in the kitchen to demonstrate whose bond with and love for their family can be best represented through hastily thrown together meals.
Married To The Army: Alaska (OWN, 10 p.m.): Little known fact, illustrated by this documentary series: The entire United States Army was married to the great state of Alaska in a ceremony held shortly after the United States purchased the territory from Russia in 1867.
V For Vendetta (BBC America, 8 p.m.): “Remember, remember the—oh shit, Guy Fawkes Night is November 5, isn’t it? And the Wachowskis’ latest movie has been in the theater for several weeks? Well, at least dystpoia and Natalie Portman’s bald head have a certain timelessness to them… ”
It’s Christmas, Carol! (Hallmark Channel, 8 p.m.): Returning to the subject of the former princess of Alderaan: Carrie Fisher starts her holiday routine early in a made-for-TV movie that’s hopefully:
- Better than the The Star Wars Holiday Special, and
- the first in a series of similarly (and increasingly illogically) named special presentations, like It’s Halloween, Candy!, It’s Easter, Bunny, and It’s Fourth Of July, Firework!
Sunday Night Football: Ravens at Steelers (NBC, 8:20 p.m.): The AFC North-leading Ravens have allowed only 15 fewer points than last-place Cleveland—though a weakened Steelers offense (QB Ben Roethlisberger is sidelined by rib and shoulder injuries) means the Baltimore defense might be able to increase that difference this week.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
America’s Next Top Model (Friday): The 19th (19th!) cycle of the reality competition has decided which of its college-enrolled contestants will bear the honor of “last Next Top Model champion to not compete against dudes.” Margaret Eby is just impressed at the superhuman resilience of Tyra Banks.