TONIGHT'S MUST-SEE: “The Middle," 8 p.m., ABC
For its first new episode in a month,
this show has three hilarious stories.
At home, the parents battle an
insurance company. That brings a grand Frankie meltdown.
At school, Brick has a life coach –
wonderfully played by Dave Foley of The Kids in the Hall – with no
life skills. And Axl is forced to do a project with his sister,
creating the ultimate mismatch.
TONIGHT'S ODDITY: “Stars in Danger:
The High Dive,” 8-10 p.m., Fox.
A week before “American Idol” takes
the time slot, Fox borrows a German idea: Have some stars – well,
semi-stars – take lessons and try the high dive.
You'll see actors (Antonio Sabato Jr.,
Alexandra Paul, David Chokachi) and athletes (Bethany Hamilton, who
returned to surfing after a shark took her arm, and Terrell Owens).
You'll see a dancer (Twitch), a reality star (JWoww) and people who
cross categories. Kim and Kyle Richard are sisters who were child
stars and now are in “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
TONGHT'S ALTERNATIVE: People's Choice
Awards, 9-11 p.m., CBS.
Here's the annual blend of genuine
talent and meaningless awards.
The talent? Kaley Cuoco (“Big Bang
Theory”) hosts; there's music by Alicia Keys, Jason Aldean and
Christina Aguilera – who wins a special “people's voice” award.
The awards? They include categories for
“favorite fan following” – Twihards, Gleeks, KatyCats and such
– in movies, TV and music. There's reality judge; Britney Spears is
nominated, Simon Cowell isn't. Among 11 nominees for “favorite new
drama,” four have been canceled for low ratings.
Other choices include:
– “The Pirates: Band of Misfits”
(2012), 7:20-9 p.m., Starz. American cartoons can be a tad frantic;
for counterpoint, there's the quietly clever British work of Peter
Lord (“Wallace & Gromit,” “Chicken Run”). Hugh Grant
voices a captain desperate to win Pirate of the Year. We soon meet
Charles Darwin, Queen Victoria, The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate
and The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens.
– “Nature,” 8 p.m., PBS. Cuba's
stagnant economy has brought one plus – an unspoiled wilderness.
This rerun – the 2010 season-opener – catches some of the
island's natural beauty.
– “The Neighbors,” 8:30, ABC.
These neighbors (aliens from another planet) are trying to help Marty
and Debbie with school projects. They're helpful with PTA politics,
not so good with soccer.
– “Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.
Jay plans a New Year's Eve in Palm Springs for the grown-ups. Things
go terribly wrong … until he meets actor Billy Dee Williams.
– “Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit,” 9 p.m., NBC. Two ambitious prosecutors (Jane Kaczmarek and
Raul Esparza) have different suspects for the same murder. The trials
are held simultaneously.
– “Chicago Fire,” 10 p.m,, NBC.
Severide finally admits to the injury that damages his work.
– “Nashville,” 10 p.m., ABC.
Neither singer is happy about it, but now Rayna and Juliette are set
to start their tour together. Then Juliette surprises everyone by
eloping with Sean.
– “Top Chef,” 10 p.m., Bravo.
Contestants must come up with new restaurant concepts.