Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, April 26. All times are Eastern.
30 Rock (NBC, 8:30): In the spring, a young NBC executive’s fancy turns to generating robust ratings while the Nielsen people peer through the windows. And thus passes the first rite of the May sweeps period: 30 Rock’s second live episode, a gambit which paid lopsided, botched-line dividends last season, even as it added another clip to Jon Hamm’s stellar commercial-parody portfolio. Meredith Blake is standing by to track every mishap, intentional or otherwise.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8 p.m.): Wil Wheaton (Hey, did we mention it’s sweeps?) returns as his evil Big Bang Theory alter ego, presumably to ruin Wolowitz’s bachelor party. Wheaton has already bribed Oliver Sava to shout “Don’t blame Wesley!” when the dead hooker falls out of the cake.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8 p.m.): Kids and vampires alike will be doing the Charleston, sitting on flagpoles, and exclaiming “23 skidoo!” as they shake their gams at a totally jake 1920s-themed dance. Should the show’s slow procession through the 20th century continue—it did the 1910s a few weeks back—Carrie Raisler looks forward to the ’30s episode set in a Depression-era Hooverville.
American Idol (Fox, 8 p.m.): Tonight’s special guest: The Queen Extravaganza, not Queen but an incredible simulation produced by the band’s drummer, Roger Taylor. And also Katy Perry, but Claire Zulkey is too busy prepping her own arrangement of “Somebody To Love” to care.
Community (NBC, 8 p.m.): The return of Michael K. Williams’ Professor Kane could be occasion for a full-episode homage to The Wire, but this Community installment’s going after one of the 10 other series that have featured Richard Belzer’s Detective John Munch: Law & Order. In the television-review system, the people are represented by Todd VanDerWerff.
The Secret Circle (The CW, 9 p.m.): Like the Wu-Tang Clan, the leads on The Secret Circle live by the credo “C.R.E.A.M.”—only, in this case, its an acronym for “crystals rule everything around me.” And whoever’s stealing those crystals best protect their neck. From now on, Katherine Miller would like you to refer to her as “Big Baby Jesus.” (And thus the chamber of easy Wu-Tang jokes was emptied.)
The Office (NBC, 9 p.m.): This week’s episode synopsis is out to ruin all the fun, so we’ll just say this: Things go awry at a fundraiser for Angela’s husband, the (state) senator. Myles McNutt knows exactly which things, but he’s keeping mum for the time being as well.
Parks And Recreation (NBC, 9:30 p.m.): Infinite threat—actor, improviser, writer, director, dancer, funnylady, mother of the world’s most potentially hilarious child, probably a blast at parties, the list goes on—Amy Poehler is responsible for the script and direction of “The Debate.” So you know exactly whom to credit if you like it, and whom to blame if you don’t. Steve Heisler doesn’t think you’ll have to worry much about the latter.
Awake (NBC, 10 p.m.): Britten’s dual realities provide alternate endings to a pivotal football game—which could come in handy if he ever quits the police force. Why run computer simulation to predict a sporting event’s outcome when you can have a guy do it in his dreams? Zack Handlen is ready for some (dire consequences stemming from some) football!
Eagleheart (Cartoon Network, midnight): What if an organ-trafficking plot on Eagleheart leads to the one time the show isn’t spattered head to toe in fake blood? Yeah, that doesn’t seem likely to us either. Kevin McFarland takes a seat in the splash zone for “Silly Sammy.”
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (11 a.m.): There hasn’t been this much Quark on your TV screen since Richard Benjamin played the titular character of Quark, Buck Henry’s short-lived Get Smart-in-space comedy from the 1970s. DS9’s most lovable Ferengi takes center stage in this week’s double-header, and Zack Handlen’s donning his bumpy-forehead-and-big-ears getup in tribute.
Cheers (3 p.m.): It was only a matter of time before something jostled the explosive cargo aboard the S.S. Sam And Diane, and that something is a flashy artiste played by Christopher Lloyd. If our Cheers reviewers’ calculations are correct, at the end of this two-part season finale, you’re gonna see some serious shit.
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
The Great American Manhunt (National Geographic, 9 p.m.): Like the Great American Novel and Great American Cookies before it, The Great American Manhunt is the arbitrarily aggrandized pinnacle in its field. And what is that field, exactly? Documentary series about task forces tracking down suspects with ludicrously paltry leads, of course. In terms of the Great American “Great Americans,” it rates somewhere between The Great Gatsby and a personalized cookie cake.
Don't Be Tardy For The Wedding (Bravo, 9 p.m.): The callback to Kim Kolciak’s Auto-Tune-drenched vanity single, “Tardy For The Party,” is obvious—but the blatant disregard of rhyme scheme in the title of this series covering the Real Housewife’s second marriage is inexcusable. Especially when “Do Be Punctual For The Nuptials” is just sitting there!
7 Days Of Sex (Lifetime, 10 p.m.): Seven days of sex makes one weak, areweright ladies and gentleman? Hoo boy. The Lifetime cameras follow two couples as they try to reignite the passion in their relationship by doing the deed for a whole calendar week. Uninterrupted? Well, that would make one weak.
The Conversation With Amanda Cadanet (Lifetime, 11 p.m.): After the Television For Women network rumples its satin sheets, it lies down for some pillow talk with British TV personality Amanda De Cadenet. Make sure you ask De Cadenet about herself and don’t just make the whole conversation about her husband, Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi.
Apocalypse Now: Redux (AMC, 8 p.m.): 49 additional minutes of footage added to the Joseph Conrad update that nearly drove Francis Ford Coppola as mad as his Colonel Kurtz: It’s either “The horror, the horror”—or the exact opposite.
The Magnificent Seven (TCM, 10:15 p.m.): On the subject of titanic adaptations of seemingly unrelated source material: In 1960, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai was recast in a Mexican village, its hired ronin replaced by the gunslingers who come to save the village’s harvest from marauding bandits. It turned out to be one of the greatest Westerns ever made, proving that not all U.S. translations of Japanese cinema turn out to be Dark Water.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Total Blackout: We dared Will Harris to stick his hand into this Syfy series, a Fear Factor variant conducted in the dark that earned the affectionate nickname Urkel Says “Touch This Gross Thing” around The A.V. Club offices.