WASHINGTON, February 13, 2013 — Between the State of the Union Address and the unexpected eruption of live, genuine reality TV as California cops closed in on Christopher Dorner, Tuesday night’s TV lineup suddenly became wildly ad lib.
Tonight, thankfully, we get back to what resembles TV normalcy these days when the big daddy of all manufactured reality shows—Survivor—returns for its 13th year.
Before Jersey Shore and before Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, the concept of following ordinary people around with cameras was first introduced in 2000 by the creators of Survivor. Who knew then that Survivor, as the first highly rated and profitiable reality show, would set the future standard for a whole new type of TV programming?
I don’t know whether to applaud the show for its original concept or condemn it for the lack of originality of so many reality shows that followed in its footsteps. I do know that the “Gorillas in the Mist” concept of peeking in at the contestants as they interact with each other has never been done as completely or as well as Survivor.
The exotic locales of Survivor may be part of the reason for its success. But the show’s real entertainment value lies in the diversity of its contestants. Where else on TV do an English professor from Utah and an Iraq war veteran from Brooklyn get thrown together to survive the machinations of a group of people bent on winning a million bucks? The fact that these two people would never meet were it not for Survivor is the real formula for this show’s success, and the main reason I like it.
After all, 13 years and 26 seasons of anything on TV is an amazing feat in itself.
Elsewhere tonight, American Idol continues the search for its next champion in Hollywood, while ABC comedies celebrate Valentine’s Day. On Modern Family, Cam and Mitch host a wild party that leads to hangovers and a new house guest. This little tease has my interest piqued and will make choosing between it and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit a viewer’s dilemma. Watching SVU is always a good choice, and having Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden as a guest star makes it an even better choice.
SVU is known for writing great roles for guest stars like Harden, so don’t be surprised if her appearance on the show leads to an Emmy nomination.
The viewing choices for wrapping up hump day are as varied as they are excellent. After making sure you have something to give your sweetheart tomorrow, relax and enjoy a great night of TV.
For all you last-minute Valentine’s Day shoppers, don’t say you weren’t reminded.
All times are EST:
ABC: The Middle: (New) Axl and his friends, Darrin and Sean, offer to help guys break up with their girlfriends; Sue’s ex-boyfriend, Matt, invites her to a Valentine’s Day dance at school; Mike accidentally sends a romantic text to a co-worker instead of to Frankie.
CBS: Survivor: Caramoan-Fans vs. Favorites: (New) Ten ultra-fans of the show compete against 10 former castaways on the Caramoan Islands. The fans comprise the Gota tribe, while the favorites make up the Bikal tribe.
FOX: American Idol: (New) The ultimate singing stage test resumes in Hollywood as the contestants vie for a coveted spot in the semifinals.
NBC: Whitney: (New) Alex’s brother and sister-in-law visit and Whitney has a tough time adjusting. Ken Marino guest stars.
CW: Arrow: (New) After Oliver is shot he turns to a surprising person for help – Felicity. Diggle is stunned when he sees Felicity walk through the front door of the lair dragging a dying Oliver behind her, and the two team up to save Oliver’s life.
PBS: Nature: (New) The ancient rite of wolves hunting buffalo is chronicled at Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park, which straddles Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Aerial cameras help document the tactics employed by a wolf pack and the buffalo’s evasive maneuvers.
ABC: The Neighbors: (New) Debbie and Jackie go to a hip new club in hope of feeling more desirable; Marty and Larry Bird come to Amber for makeovers.
NBC: Guys With Kids: (New) Gary has a money-making brainstorm; Chris finds a new passion in life.
ABC: Modern Family: (New) Claire and Phil’s Valentine’s Day romp ends with Claire in the hospital; Jay and Gloria’s attempts at romance are interrupted by the kids; after hosting a wild party, Cam and Mitch are left with hangovers and a new housemate.
NBC: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: (New) Detectives Benson and Amaro travel to Miami in pursuit of a serial rapist. Marcia Gay Harden guest stars.
CW: Supernatural: (New) Kevin (guest star Osric Chau) deciphers the tablet and figures out how to close the gates of Hell. He tells Sam and Dean that according to the tablet one person must face a series of three tests designed by God.
PBS: Nova: (New) Satellite data is transformed into visual sequences that detail the interwoven forces that sustain life on Earth. Included: how dust from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon; how a vast underwater “waterfall” off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents.
ABC: Suburgatory: (New) Tessa brings Ryan to an art house movie on Valentine’s Day; a visit from Sheila’s mother creates friction; when Dallas has a bad reaction to a cosmetic procedure, George is left solo during an 18-course dinner.
CBS: The Big Bang Theory: (Repeat) The new Mrs. Wolowitz wants her husband to move out of old Mrs. Wolowitz’s house, while Amy and Wil Wheaton (as himself) get into a dispute, and Sheldon gets caught smack dab in the middle.
ABC: Nashville: (New) Rayna is comforted by an old friend after telling Maddie and Daphne about her plans to divorce; Juliette reinvents herself; Avery considers an attractive offer.
CBS: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: (New) The CSIs investigate the demise of a famous Cuban singer’s sister who’s in town as part of a U.S. tour. Meanwhile, Hodges begins to get cold feet at the prospect of marrying his Italian bombshell girlfriend.
NBC: Chicago Fire: (New) Dawson tracks down Antonio’s informant, while Antonio’s life hangs in the balance. Meanwhile, Severide reaches out to his ex-fiancée.
New episodes of:
Ghost Hunters at 8 p.m. on Syfy
Inside the Actors Studio at 8 p.m. on BRAVO
Lords of War at 9 p.m. on NGC
Ghost Mine at 9 p.m. on Syfy
Hoarding: Buried Alive at 9 p.m. on TLC
Baggage Battles at 9 p.m. on Travel Channel
Full Throttle Saloon at 9 p.m. on truTV
Property Brothers at 9 p.m. on HGTV
Barter Kings at 10 p.m. on A&E
Top Chef at 10 p.m. on Food Channel
Moonshiners at 10 p.m. on DSC
Bobby’s Dinner Battle at 10 p.m. on Food Channel
House Hunters at 10 p.m. on HGTV
Highway Thru Hell at 10 p.m. on NGC
Southland at 10 p.m. on TNT
Street Eats at 10 p.m. on Travel Channel
Hot in Cleveland at 10 p.m. on TVLAND
My Strange Addiction at 10 and 10:30 p.m. on TLC
House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV
The Americans at 10 p.m. on FX
For movie lovers:
Happy Gilmore on AMC
The Tourist on FX
Lethal Weapon 3 on IFC
Goldeneye on REELZ
She’s So Lovely on SUND
I Remember Mama on TCM
The Kingdom on ION
Die Hard on CINEMAX
Hall Pass on HBO
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 on STARZ
Our Idiot Brother at 9:35 p.m. on TMC
Dragon Eyes at 9:0 p.m. on MOMAX
Your Sister’s Sister at 10 p.m. on SHO
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon at 10:30 p.m. on TCM
Lethal Weapon 4 at 10:30 p.m. on IFC
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