As Fox takes a pause before the World Series moves back to St. Louis for the final game(s) starting Wednesday, tonight's main event is a supersized two-and-a-half hour live performance show of The X Factor (8/7c), begging the question: Is bigger actually better? (Don't count on it.) This makes time for all 17 acts: the good (including Melanie Amaro, Simon's disingenuous "save" from last week, who should never have been kicked while Simon favored his pet Tiah Tolliver); the bad (any of the groups, including the Justin Bieber-wannabe hair-tossing brothers and the ensembles the judges cobbled together, both of which Paula inexplicably let through) and the "oh please" contingent (led by weepy Dexter Haygood, who took the spot that should have gone to the dynamic wedding singer Elaine Gibbs). It seems the point of tonight's show is to further tighten the ranks to 12 in advance of letting America start to vote next week. Eliminating the entire group category might be a good way to start.
Top scripted option: a pivotal episode of FX's Sons of Anarchy (10/9c) that picks up right where we left Juice hanging as the club prepares to take a crucial leadership vote. It's like the Wild West when bullets start to fly, heads start to roll, and awful things end up in the soup — or should we say chili — as major characters reassess their place in the mess these latest misadventures in the drug trade have landed them in. "We all do damage. Character is determined by how we repair it," says one of the old-timers. Before it's over, more irreversible damage has been inflicted on this fractured "family."
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NBC's experiment in giving the struggling Prime Suspect prime exposure continues, with the show being "stripped" Monday-Thursday this week in the 10/9c time period each night, tonight replacing a scheduled Parenthood repeat. This is one of the show's best episodes to date, with plenty of mordant humor undercutting the workplace tension, which has been scaled back so there's now a grudging cooperation (if not exactly respect) between the fractious Jane Timoney (Maria Bello) and her prickly male co-workers. When they complain about her impossible personality, they're not being sexist, just observant. At least she has reason to be on edge and exhausted, having just been humiliated by an armed robber at her dad's bar, where she is caught off-duty without her firearm. And when she sees the guys fawning over the pretty young robbery detective (Tony nominee Elizabeth Rodriguez of The Mother****** in the Hat) assigned to her case, you just know it's going to get under her skin. If you haven't been able to catch Prime Suspect on Thursdays, give it a shot. It's got more teeth, if not legs (or in Poppy Montgomery's case, bare arms), than tonight's similarly female-driven crime-drama competition, CBS' negligible Unforgettable and ABC's routine Body of Proof.
So what else is on? ... ABC's Charlie's Angels may already be history (currently burning off its remaining episodes), but some Angels are eternal — including Cheryl Ladd, who shows up on CBS' top-rated NCIS (8/7c) as Duckie's new love interest. ... G4 presents a real-life version of The Hurt Locker in the new 10-part docu-series Bomb Patrol: Afghanistan (10/9c), narrated by Josh Duhamel, which follows the harrowing exploits of an elite Navy EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) platoon on a five-month mission to seek out and dismantle explosives with robotics and other high-tech devices. ... Also from the truth-is-more-colorful-than-fiction category: the latest ESPN Films documentary, which introduces us to The Real Rocky (8/7c). Chuck Wepner is a liquor salesman who's also a local boxing legend in Bayonne, N.J., whose encounters with Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali inspired Sylvester Stallone to write the Oscar-winning movie. ... President Obama makes his fourth appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (11:35/10:35c, NBC), his second since taking office. Doesn't he have something more productive to do? Because I know we do.
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