TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The X Factor,”
8-10 p.m., Fox.
Bounced around by baseball, “X
Factor” can finally settle into its pattern. On Wednesdays, singers
perform and viewers vote; Thursdays bring ousters.
Last week, the judges trimmed from 17
people to the 12 finalists. Now the viewers take over.
TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE II: “Nature,” 8
p.m., PBS (check local listings).
Some animals – even sophisticated
chimps and apes – remain homeless. Others are awesome.
Beavers build 50-ton dams. Prairie dogs
create tunnel cities that go for miles,. Leaf-cutter ants move 40
tons of earth to create a home for 12 million.
All of this beautifully told and
wonderfully filmed. Watch the camera pull back to show the geometry
of cormorants, each with a plat that's an inch or so out of pecking
range from the others.
TONIGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: “Top Chef”
opener, 10 p.m., Bravo.
There are 29 chefs tonight, in a show
designed for 16. In the first two hours, almost half will be ousted.
There are plenty of strong choices.
Keith Rhodes is a North Carolina giant, 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds.
Dakota Weiss, 35 and outspoken, is one of several heavily tattooed
women. Tyler Stone is 22 and cocky; Laurent Quenious is 51, a
transplanted Frenchman. It's an interesting bunch and a strong start.
Other choices include:
– “The Middle,” 8 p.m., ABC.
After years of lax studies, Axl could still get into college via
football. Now his parents fret that he might blow his interview.
– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
Building a treehouse for his son, Phil meets a new friend (Kevin
Hart). Also, Gloria insists Jay take her salsa-dancing.
– Nova, 9 p.m., PBS. Brian Greene is
a clever chap who tries to explain elusive physics concepts in this
four-week “Fabric of the Cosmos.” Alas, this may be too distant
and wispy for most of us to grasp.
– “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,”
10 p.m., CBS: Here's a concept that has worked for “The X-Files”
and others: A murder is linked to a traveling sideshow that's
patterned after 19th-century shows.
– “American Horror Story,”10
p.m., FX. Halloween parties aren't a good idea for “the murder
Last week, one brought death and
despair; now the night continues, with more dead converging. One
scene – with a creepy-charismatic teen confronting misdeeds he
can't remember – is deeply jolting.
– “Whitechapel,” 10 p.m., BBC
America. In the second week of this six-part series, people realize
the killer is a modern Jack the Ripper copycat. “Whitechapel” is
acted and filmed with great skill; it also, alas, hits extremes with
the cliché of cops who are thick-headed and inflexible.
– “Born to Drive” debut, 10 p.m.,
GAC (Great American Country). Annabeth Barnes was 6 when she got her
first go-kart; she amassed 200 tropies and two national titles. Now
she's 15 and ready for the same stock-car track that launched Richard
Petty, Dale Earnhardt and more. With money tight, her dad is her
mechanic, her fund-raiser and more. This reality series follows
instantly likable people.