If it feels like a month of Tuesdays since Fox aired new episodes of freshman breakout comedy New Girl (as well as Glee and Raising Hope), you're not far off. Between the onslaught of bloated X Factor episodes and baseball's post-season — which was much more thrilling than the singing contest has been so far — Fox's regular Tuesday lineup has been benched since Oct. 4.
Things return to (relatively) normal tonight, and the best news is that New Girl (9:01/8:01c) hasn't lost a giddy step. Zooey Deschanel as Jess reminds us she's still the season's most infectiously lovable new character, starting with the cold open of tonight's episode, when she crashes the guys' scary-movie couch party, burbling on to her peeved roomies about "Have you guys ever seen Fame?" until they've had enough. Personally, I can't get enough of her or the guys — even Winston, the rather undefined post-pilot replacement character played by Lamorne Morris, has his moments, getting a crash course in American pop culture from Schmidt to fill in the blanks from his years in Latvia. This episode is a better showcase for Jake Johnson as insecure and romance-starved roomie Nick, whose date with an inscrutably ironic but gorgeous co-worker (Lake Bell) is threatened when Jess walks in on him naked and has an inappropriate response. Just watching Jess try to say the word "penis" without singing or otherwise mangling it is somehow crazily funny, a bundle of so-annoying-it's-endearing affectations. Let's hope absence has just made the audience's heart grow fonder.
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The big news on Glee (8/7c) is the arrival of this summer's charming The Glee Project co-champ Damian McGinty for a multi-episode arc as foreign exchange student Rory Flanagan, who moves in with Brittany — who naturally mistakes him for a leprechaun. ... Could adorable little baby Hope be following in her birth mother's serial-killer footsteps? That's the family's fear on the raucous Raising Hope (9:31/8:31c) after the tyke hits a boy in day care, prompting the Chances to cool it on the arguing so as not to spur on her bad behavior.
Also returning from a long break, USA Network's enjoyable spy drama Covert Affairs (10/9c) resumes its second season with the first of six episodes, featuring one of the most ridiculously attractive casts on TV. Annie (Piper Perabo) is in a funk, "on a bit of a losing streak" after a failed mission, at her wits' end between assignments and still smarting from her sister having tossed her out of the house upon learning about her real job at the CIA. Setting up in new digs, she drowns her sorrows at a nearby D.C. restaurant — and wouldn't you know the chef is a hottie (Santiago Cabrera) with family ties to Basque-separatist terrorists. That ought to keep her busy for at least an hour of our time.
Blast from the past: One of the greatest miniseries of all time, 1981's exquisitely acted and meticulously produced Brideshead Revisited, arrives on Blu-ray and a new DVD 30th-anniversary edition from Acorn Media. It was a breakthrough role for Jeremy Irons as the soulful Charles Ryder, who looks back on his youth spent at the country estate of Brideshead, where he is transfixed by dissolute Oxford classmate Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews) and his sister Julia (Diana Quick), members of a Catholic aristocracy. Laurence Olivier won an Emmy as the exiled Lord Marchmain, with Claire Bloom as the Lady of the family. This is TV as literature and has rarely been equaled.
Blast from the present: There will be fallout on FX's Sons of Anarchy (10/9c) — from Clay's shocking murder last week of Old Piney the Rebellious (over those letters from the late J.T.), from Juice's suicide attempt after getting caught up in the feds' RICO investigation, and most explosively tonight, from the club's dealings with the volatile cartel, which now has its violent sights set on the Niners. Jax and Tara (who could well be Clay's next target) want out, and who can blame them?
So what else is on? ... Melinda McGraw, a terrifically sultry actress who has stirred things up on Men of a Certain Age and Mad Men in recent years, appears on CBS' NCIS (8/7c) as Diane Sterling, the ex-wife of both Gibbs and his FBI buddy Fornell (Joe Spano). When her latest husband is kidnapped, she calls her exes into action. ... The reveals are coming slowly but surely on the CW's Ringer (9/8c), and now it's finally time for Bridget-as-Siobhan to tell her sister's husband and secret lover that there's a twin in the picture. They just don't know which twin they're talking to yet. ... On the Dancing With the Stars results show (ABC, 9/8c), while we wait for the latest elimination — the jive was not kind to Nancy Grace is all we're saying (though given this season's track record, it will probably be Hope Solo's turn to go) — consider this a warning: Justin Bieber will perform twice, once with Boyz II Men from Bieber's Christmas album (already?). For actual fans of the dance, front-running pro Derek Hough teams with So You Think You Can Dance veteran Allison Holker, and that could actually be memorable.
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