Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Wednesday, July 18. All times are Eastern.
Carnivàle (1 p.m.): There were only two seasons of this series, and after all of you so resolutely ignored our coverage of season one, it seemed we might have to cancel the series even sooner than HBO did. Instead, you managed to rally as the season ended, and now, Todd VanDerWerff returns to the Great Depression, all the better to shake some dust, confront the end of the age of magic, and hang out with a bunch of weird carnies who travel around and get embroiled in battles with mystical forces of darkness. Or, as Todd would have it, just another day at the office. (Todd, incidentally, is the avatar of darkness, much as he’d rather not be.)
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox, 8 p.m.): The top 20 perform for a second time, but this time, one woman and one man will be eliminated. We’d find this a lot more shocking if it weren’t, y’know, the premise of the show. Oliver Sava is getting tired of the way we overuse italics to indicate ironic meaning.
Dallas (TNT, 9 p.m.): Phil Dyess-Nugent doesn’t understand why this should would actually send J.R. off on some weird business trip. Sure, we’ve made lots of jokes about Larry Hagman’s eyebrows, but those were jokes made out of love. None of us actually care about the young people on this show, TNT!
Damages (DirecTV’s Audience Network, 9 p.m.): Last week, we talked a lot about Ryan Phillippe when discussing the final season of this show, and we totally neglected to mention Judd Hirsch. Joshua Alston, who runs the Judd Hirsch fansite, Hirsch Heaven, chastised us at length for forgetting the great one.
The Franchise (Showtime, 10 p.m.): We’d tell you what was going to happen on tonight’s episode, but TV Guide doesn’t have the summary just yet. We’ll assume, since it involves the Miami Marlins, that we’ll care for a brief amount of time, then forget it ever happened. Claire Zulkey can get behind that.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.): Amy and Leela take part in a sport called Butterfly Derby, only to get addicted to a supplement named Nectar, because this show is nothing else if not timely. Zack Handlen hopes the show can come up with something as clever as the “Multiball!” gag from season one.
Inside Men (BBC America, 10 p.m.): “The plotters try to savor their old lives before everything changes,” says the summary, and Meredith Blake is intrigued to see how this all plays out as the show reaches its rousing climax. Have you been keeping up? Probably not. Well, you should have been. You messed up!
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Arrested Development (11 a.m.): After a two-week hiatus, Noel Murray is back to the ol’ Bluth grindstone, but he’s reached “Ready, Aim, Marry Me,” which many fans single out as the worst episode the show ever produced. Can you stand Martin Short as Uncle Jack? Bring your defensive positions!
Sports Night (3 p.m.): Here comes Teri Polo as Rebecca, the woman Dan thinks was flirting with him, mostly because Dan always thinks a woman is flirting with him. Donna Bowman is intrigued to see if this story arc holds up. Well, we assume she is, since she’s reviewing the show. But we don’t actually know.
WHAT ELSE IS ON
Freaky Eaters (Discovery Fitness & Health, 8 p.m.): Having trouble finding something to watch tonight? Well, we’d like to recommend you watch this marathon of Freaky Eaters, which should probably make you feel really good about all of the chips and other junk you’ll be eating while you watch it.
America’s Most Desperate Landscape (Do It Yourself, 9 p.m.): Just what is America’s most desperate landscape? Was it a landscape that felt especially at wit’s end because of money problems? Or was it a landscape that had been backed into a corner and couldn’t find a way out? Find out tonight!
Virgin Diaries (TLC, 10 p.m.): TLC had such “success” with the first installment of this occasional series of specials that it ordered a second one, and it features a guy named “Skippy.” Does it surprise you that Skippy is a virgin? It surprised us. Every Skippy we’ve known has been incredibly sexually proficient.
Mama Drama (VH1, 11 p.m.): Five over-the-top mother-daughter pairs are forced to live together in Las Vegas, as if that’s some sort of crazy thing to force mothers and daughters to do. Anyway, we’re sure there will be some sort of competition or something? Honestly, this series seems poorly thought out.
A Face In The Crowd (TCM, 8 p.m.): Missing the great Andy Griffith? Check out what’s likely his best film role tonight, with Elia Kazan’s scathing satire of both media and political circuses, as a self-obsessed entertainer who rides a folksy demeanor from jail all the way to the national stage. Terrific stuff.
Ghost World (Sundance, 8 p.m.): Or if you have an allergy to films made before you were born, you can definitely check out this wry, indie comedy, based on the Daniel Clowes graphic novel, about two teenage girls who spend their last summer together falling into increasingly troubled adventures.
Tour de France: Stage 16 (NBC Sports, 8 p.m.): Have you been following the world’s greatest bicycle race? Well, we haven’t, but we assume that it’s been enthralling. Actually, the only thing we know about it is that a couple of guys crashed into each other a while back, and it was a pretty big deal. Bicyling!
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The L.A. Complex (Tuesday): The CW picked up season two of this Canadian drama, and, dammit, it was going to air it somewhere, even if America resolutely ignored season one back in the spring. Phil Dyess-Nugent doesn’t care about the Nielsens, because he likes this show and doesn’t care who knows it.