Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, October 19, 2011. All times are Eastern.
Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.): Have you ever noticed just how many Modern Family plots revolve around car accidents? Particularly in this season, where it seems like every episode not set on a dude ranch has featured someone getting rear-ended or nearly sideswiped. Did Steve Levitan or Christopher Lloyd suffer from a car accident at some point, and now, they’re just working out the trauma the only way they know how? Can Donna Bowman offer some therapy? It’s not your fault, Steve and Chris. It’s not your fault. (Unless you really did run that red light.)
The Middle (ABC, 8 p.m.): The Hecks think about selling their house when it requires repairs they might not be able to afford. Listen, guys: You, of all people, should know what this economy is like. You’re not gonna unload that house any time soon. Will Harris, however, can offer his financial planning services.
Survivor (CBS, 8 p.m.): Apparently, a game-changing secret will be revealed tonight. Guesses? We predict that Brandon Hantz gets in a boat and just keeps sailing until he realizes the horizon is a painting. Then Probst will speak to him from above and tell him he’s on a TV show and he’s “delighted” millions, a number not including Carrie Raisler.
Up All Night (NBC, 8 p.m.): NBC’s hit comedy (well, we’re being generous with the definition of hit to include “anything that airs on NBC that’s not football”) takes us back to the birth of Amy. At the same time this is happening, an unstuck-in-time Will Arnett from season five of this show will be lurking, remembering his one happy moment. Erik Adams will console him.
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Suburgatory (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): Sheila is robbed of her Shirley Temple dolls, and Tessa becomes excited that maybe, just maybe, the grit of the city will visit Chatswin. Tessa: You live in a live-action cartoon. Any robbers in the city wore black-and-white stripes and carried bags with dollar signs on them. Give this obsession up, for Ryan McGee’s sake.
America’s Next Top Model (The CW, 9 p.m.): Tonight’s episode description includes the phrase “flag football” and the sentence, “At the photo shoot, the girls pose in pairs with model Coco Rocha.” Really, what more do you need? Those are all items on Margaret Eby’s “recipe for good television.”
Work Of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo, 9 p.m.): Have you ever thought about how if this show really did live up to its title and find the next great artist, then it would be forced to keep besting itself with every new season? Wouldn’t that eventually lead to it finding the greatest artist of all time? For John Teti’s sake, we hope so.
Happy Endings (ABC, 9:30 p.m.): After we expressed bafflement last week that none of you were watching this show, the ratings ticked upward. We have to assume that this was directly because of us, and we now understand the great power we wield. David Sims promises to use it wisely.
American Horror Story (FX, 10 p.m.): This show can’t be cheap to produce. We’re hoping that the producers run out of money, and the finale is just Brad Falchuk rattling metal sheets, Connie Britton screaming, and Ryan Murphy standing off to the side, yelling, “LOUD NOISES!” Todd VanDerWerff would watch the shit outta that.
Luther (BBC America, 10 p.m.): What? It’s already time for another series of Luther to come to a close? Ah, British people and their wacky love of shows with “closure” and “tight plotting.” When will you learn that you can only make good TV if nothing makes any sense? Scott Tobias bids the series a fond farewell for now.
Psych (USA, 10 p.m.): You asked for regular Psych coverage, and we listened. Starting tonight, Kevin McFarland will be covering every episode of the show, beginning with what sounds like the umpteenth show to do a “hey, we blacked out last night and don’t remember what happened” episode.
Revenge (ABC, 10 p.m.): The producers swear they have a plan for this show that will make it realistically last past a season or two. We hope it’s not to have the characters make up their differences and become the best of friends, because it’s not as fun to yell, “FRIIIIIEEEENNNDDDSHIIIIIP!” is it, Carrie Raisler?
South Park (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.): Just last week, Suburgatory did a storyline about kids becoming the victims of gossip, thanks to a school publication. Now South Park is doing it. We’d assume this meant there was some wacky news story we hadn’t heard about, but more likely Trey Parker and Matt Stone have been reading a lot of TMZ. Ryan McGee loves TMZ too, guys.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
The Sopranos (1 p.m.): Todd VanDerWerff’s been waiting ever since he started this series to get to some of the good stuff in season five, and here we are at one of the series’ landmark episodes “Irregular Around The Margins.” Lives will be changed. People will brawl. Tony Soprano will wheeze. (Spoilers!)
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Nature (PBS, 8 p.m.): The title of this 30th season premiere of Nature is “Radioactive Wolves,” which just sounds like the greatest show ever, doesn’t it? We’re sure this tour through the area surrounding Chernobyl post-meltdown won’t involve wolf-ish grotesques sprouting wings, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it did? Phil Nugent thinks so.
The Will: Family Secrets Revealed (Investigation Discovery, 9 p.m.): Sadly, this is not a reality show about people getting together to hear the reading of a family patriarch’s will and realizing he left them $1 million… if they’ll walk on stilts for a year. It’s mostly just about crazy famous person wills. Tonight’s subject? Howard Hughes.
American Hoggers (A&E, 10 p.m.): Say what you will about A&E abandoning the “arts” part of its name, but it sure still knows how to do the “entertainment” part, because, man, this is a show about a Texas family that hunts down destructive wild boars, and Todd VanDerWerff thinks that sounds like the best show ever.
Top Chef: Just Desserts (Bravo, 10 p.m.): Here’s a reality show that’s gotten better in season two—at least in terms of the challenges being more or less enjoyable and the format of the show changing—but has also gotten worse, at least in terms of the contestants not constantly wanting to stab each other with butter knives. Better show, but less crazy. Kind of a wash, if you ask us.
Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (CNBC, 8 p.m.): CNBC, official network of corporate greed, decides to show one of the best documentaries of the last decade, which is… all about what happens when corporations get too greedy. If you’ve never seen the Oscar-nominated doc before, check it out, if only for the irony.
Wendy And Lucy (Sundance, 8 p.m.): We kind of want Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams to keep making movies together for the rest of time, and if you have a strong constitution and can handle depressing stuff, check out this film about a poor woman and her dog, where the partnership got its start.
Rangers at Cardinals (Fox, 7:30 p.m.): After we somehow doomed the Brewers and Tigers by writing about the Brewers winning in this space, we’re hesitant to declare a side in the World Series. The most interesting part will be the Rangers winking at Albert Pujols and passing him notes reading, “Would you like to join our team? Circle yes or no.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Sons Of Anarchy (Tuesday): There have been better seasons of Sons Of Anarchy, but it’s not immediately clear there have been seasons where quite as much has been up in the air as there is this season (which suggests it could all wrap up spectacularly). Zack Handlen walks us through another exciting episode.