Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Tuesday, October 18, 2011. All times are Eastern.
The X Factor (Fox, 8 p.m.): Fox hasn’t gotten quite the bang for its buck it had hoped for from The X Factor, but it’s still a solid hit. Still: Doesn’t it seem like there’s virtually no discussion of this show anywhere? There’s certainly not the discussion for it that there was for American Idol or that there was for even The Voice. Now that the show has banished New Girl and Glee for a few weeks, to the horror of… some, and now that it’s finally getting down to the “singing competition” part of its singing competition, it might be time to get caught up with Emily Yoshida’s very amusing recaps. That way, you don’t even have to watch!
Last Man Standing (ABC, 8 p.m.): The new Tim Allen sitcom got good ratings in its first week, so now we wait to see if the whole “men used to rule the world, and now women do, bah!” thing was just something to get the show on the air or what Todd VanDerWerff is going to have to put up with going forward. (Probably the latter, sadly.)
Frontline (PBS, 9 p.m.): Here are some things that are difficult to make jokes about: genocide, sexual assault, class warfare, the government’s increased efforts to round up and deport illegal immigrants. Sadly, Frontline’s stock in trade is making shows about these “important” topics, so we will only nod respectfully as Meredith Blake checks out an hour on immigration.
Ringer (The CW, 9 p.m.): Is Ringer finally living up to the promise of its batshit insane premise? Or was last week’s perking up in the action a one-off, with everybody going back to acting whatever way the plot requires them to? Carrie Raisler, who could use a good primetime soap, is pulling for the former.
Parenthood (NBC, 10 p.m.): America’s finest dramatic thespian, Cee Lo Green, known for his work as a musician and a singing hot tub, turns up to play himself, as Adam and Crosby embark on a venture to open a recording studio that would almost certainly fail in reality but will almost certainly succeed on TV. Todd VanDerWerff still loves you, though, Parenthood.
Sons Of Anarchy (FX, 10 p.m.): A death threat against Tara? A death threat against Tara?! Well, we have to assume that won’t stand. We have to imagine that SAMCRO will have something to say about that. In fact, look at this episode description: “SAMCRO deals with the fallout from a death threat against Tara.” There you go! Zack Handlen lets us know where the chips fall.
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
Charismatic (ESPN, 8 p.m.): The latest in ESPN’s line of sports documentaries looks at the remarkable run of near-Triple Crown winner Charismatic. As with all stories involving horses, expect some sadness along the way. Also, there will probably be a majestic soundtrack and lots of footage of hooves tearing up ground.
CNN-WRLC Republican Debate (CNN, 8 p.m.): Doesn’t it seem like they have a new one of these every week? Are these just turning into the modern-day Dynasty for the cable news set? In that vein, this week, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann fall into a muddy hole and tear out each other’s hair. Exciting!
Man Up! (ABC, 8:30 p.m.): Todd VanDerWerff thinks this new ABC comedy is one of the worst new shows of the fall. Phil Nugent thinks it’s a very funny comedy. Who’s right? You could tune in tonight, or you could do something better with your time and force them to decide via fistfight. We know which solution you’ll prefer!
Downsized (WE, 9 p.m.): This reality show about a large family trying to navigate the recession has improbably turned into one of the best reality shows on TV in its second season, digging into just how hard it is out there for families that are stretched to the breaking point, even if they’re reality TV stars. The finale airs tonight.
Women, War, And Peace (PBS, 10 p.m.): Brandon Nowalk takes a look at a new PBS series, now in its second week, that’s all about, well, women, war, and peace. What does it conclude? That’s for him to know and you to find out. But we’re guessing it will be vaguely soothing.
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (CMT, 8 p.m.): Already?!
127 Hours (HBO Signature, 9 p.m.): Was this Best Picture nominee one of the best films of last year and an intense tribute to living life to its fullest? Or was it a bombastic, over-hyped mess that tried too hard to turn a traumatic experience into a weird action movie? You can weigh in on the debate by watching tonight.
Penguins at Wild (Versus, 7:30 p.m.): Baseball’s almost over. Football’s only on the weekends. Basketball probably won’t ever get started. That means it’s time for all good sports fans to get invested in hockey again and earnestly discuss such matters as whether Sidney Crosby will be back up to full speed. (We’ve done our research.)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
How I Met Your Mother (Monday): Is it better to know what you’re getting into or allow for a little mystery? That’s the question both this sitcom and Donna Bowman ponder when looking back at Monday’s episode, which answers the most important question the show has left open: Will Lily and Marshall have a boy or girl? (Oh, c’mon. It’s never answering that one.)