Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Empire makes it safe to say the words “hip hopera” again


Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, January 7. All times are Eastern.

Top pick

Empire (Fox, 9 p.m.): The time has come for Fox’s newest nighttime soap, Lee Daniels’ (Of Lee Daniels’ The Butler Fame) Empire, to debut. For those unaware, the family drama set in the music world stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson in what we can neither confirm nor deny are reincarnated versions of their characters from Hustle & Flow. Molly Eichel’s pre-air review of the pilot stated that Empire “will either continue to be fun and splashy, while staying grounded and engaging, or it will flame out as so many primetime sudsers have before it, becoming too ridiculous for its own good.” (The latter is known as “pulling a Nashville.”) Joshua Alston will be providing weekly reviews of the series, so he’ll keep us all posted on whether or not this hip hop soap opera can live up to the legacy of the one and only Carmen: A Hip Hopera.


Regular coverage

The Middle (ABC, 8 p.m.) / The Goldbergs (ABC, 8:30 p.m.)

Modern Family (ABC, 9 p.m.)

Black-ish (ABC, 9:30 p.m)

Top Chef (Bravo, 10 p.m.)

American Horror Story: Freak Show (FX, 10 p.m.)

Elsewhere in TV Club

There is so much elsewhere in TV Club this Wednesday, starting with a New Year’s resolution guide to midseason TV. That’s right—it’s a month-by-month breakdown of upcoming 2015 midseason television, and no, it’s not just about Better Call Saul and nothing else. In addition to the look forward, there’s also an Inventory on the best of 2015 (so far).

Then, in part one of the latest edition of Survey Says, Chris Gethard, Adam Savage, Scott Aukerman, and more pick their most anticipated pop culture for 2015. Also, Phil Dyess-Nugent has a 100 Episodes piece on The Bob Newhart Show and its success as an ensemble sitcom at 10 a.m.

What else is on?

The Mentalist (CBS, 8 p.m.): The Mentalist has a new time slot, so if you’re a person who watches The Mentalist, now you’re aware that it’s on tonight. Have a good evening.


American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.): Funny story: American Idol is still a television program.

The Mysteries Of Laura (NBC, 8 p.m.): Laura is back, baby! And this week, Laura is off to prove that middle-aged women can have sexual desires, just like normal people! Of course, in true Laura fashion, she proves this by developing an “intense crush” on the one of the suspects in the murder case of the week. Classic Laura.


People’s Choice Awards 2015 (CBS, 9 p.m.): The People’s Choice Awards are on tonight, and after all these years, the awards show still hasn’t thought to get The People’s Champion, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to host. Instead, CBS has given the job to Mom co-stars Anna Faris and Allison Janney, two actresses who would most likely make solid hosts on any other award show, namely ones that doesn’t deserve The Rock’s hosting skills.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC, 9 p.m.): This sixteenth season episode of Law & Order: SVU is titled “Forgiving Rollins,” which can only mean one thing: NBC Universal synergy has led to the WWE/Law & Order crossover we’ve all been hoping for. Clearly, this episode is all about former Shield members, Dean Ambrose and Roman “The Human Sound Effect” Reigns—as well as each and every one of you, the WWE Universe—forgiving the undisputed future of sports entertainment, Seth Rollins, for turning his back on his brothers. Instead of the standard Law & Order: SVU theme song, there will simply be “You sold out!” chants on a loop. How does this have anything to do with sex crimes? We’re not the one writing this episode of television! (It’s actually about Kelli Giddish’s character.)


Donnie Loves Jenny (A&E, 10:30 p.m.): We here at What’s On Tonight love taking any opportunity we possibly can to mention Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica, so it’s only natural that we mention that Wahlburgers (which also returns for its third season premiere tonight) spin-off, Donnie Loves Jenny, can only dream to reach such great heights. Of course, if Donnie Loves Jenny goes the way of Newlyweds, be on the look out for New Kids On The Block’s inevitable depressing album all about the pain of the dissolution of a sham of a marriage.

I Know Who Killed Me (Logo, 8 p.m.): In theory, the How Did This Get Made? podcast episode works as the perfect replacement for watching this Lindsay Lohan bomb. But this is What’s On Tonight, not What’s On In Theory. So pop some popcorn and watch a movie that not even TV Guide Dude can judge.


Torque (Fuse, 9 p.m.): At least TV Guide Dude has something to say here, calling this movie starring U Talking U2 To Me? co-host Adam Scott out for not being up to the quality level of The Fast And The Furious. “From Neal H. Moritz, who produced the superior and similarly themed ‘The Fast and the Furious’.” That’s way harsh, TV Guide Dude.

NBA Basketball: Rockets at Cavaliers (ESPN, 7 p.m.) / NBA Basketball: Suns at Timberwolves (ESPN, 9:30 p.m.): While primetime television is finally back, sometimes all you really need in your life is sports with balls. Luckily, ESPN has you covered, with two back-to-back NBA Games. First up is Houston at Cleveland, with the Rockets hoping to get their fifth straight win of the season, over the Cavs. Then, it’s Phoenix at Minnesota, which means it’s time to bring back deciding winners based on the team name. In this instance, the sun is always going to beat a timberwolf. The sun is always going to beat any wolf. Those are words to live by.


Lucha Underground (El Rey, 8 p.m.): If you saw this week’s episode of WWE Monday Night RAW (which led your friendly, neighborhood What’s On Tonight correspondent to dub Roman Reigns “The Human Sound Effect”) then maybe you saw commercials for the new episode of Lucha Underground. If so, that was probably also your last bit of hope, as John Cena Appreciation Night (also known as “every night in WWE, except for on NXT”) kept going and going and going. Thank you, Lucha Underground.

Impact Wrestling (Destination America, 9 p.m.): According to the Impact Wrestling website, Kurt Angle has a “Major Announcement” planned for tonight, “LIVE” on Destination America. Sure, TNA has completely taken all meaning out of the words “major announcement,” and sure, it’s most likely just Kurt Angle announcing (even though everyone already knows) that he’s staying in TNA forever because WWE won’t have him, and sure… Assuming you can find Destination America on your television and it really is a channel that exists, there’s probably no harm in watching this.


In case you missed it

Cougar Town: is back!


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