Say it ain't so, George. T.R. Knight, once upon a time the beatific BFF of all the Grey's Anatomy gals, is this week's guest rapist on Law & Order: SVU? He can't believe it either, and in this week's episode (NBC, 10/9c), which provides new cast members Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino with their best showcase yet, Knight is thoroughly convincing as a family man who never stops protesting his innocence, though the evidence is damning. Told that DNA doesn't lie, he sputters, "Neither do I!" as he literally sweats out this ordeal. But never forget this is SVU, known for the outlandish twist, so when the DA declares, "You have got to be kidding me!" at a critical juncture, you wonder if she's ever watched this show. Bravo to Knight for his bravura work here. He has been missed.
Another always welcome talent, Megan Mullally, takes a break from playing one of Parks and Recreation's Tammys — and not even the most notorious one anymore — to appear on ABC's Happy Endings (9:31/8:31c) as Penny's perky mother Dana, a nomadic cabaret singer so upbeat "she even makes Columbus Day sound cool." She's a delight, though the episode strains for laughs even more than usual, with running gags about couples improv (never funny even when they call it out for being unfunny) and fake tour-guiding, among other dead-end subplots too silly to be amusing. But when Mullally and Casey Wilson perform together, at one point singing their feelings so as not to confront more unpleasant realities, they could make you believe happy endings are possible.
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Other guests of note: The Practice's Emmy-winning Camryn Manheim returns to David E. Kelley territory as a DA on NBC's Harry's Law (9/8c). She squares off against Kathy Bates' Harry in the topical case of a teenage "snark queen" cyberbully charged with negligent homicide when one of her targets, a closeted lesbian, commits suicide. ... In the reality circus arena, the Kardashian sisters (Kim, Khloe, Kourtney) attend a runway challenge promoting their fashion line on the CW's America's Next Top Model All-Stars (9/8c). Then things get ghoulish as the models pose as various incarnations of Michael Jackson for a photo shoot, under the supervision of shame-free guest judge LaToya Jackson.
The only thing on TV tonight that could possibly be creepier is a new "Home Invasion" episode of FX's nutsy-cuckoo American Horror Story (10/9c), which finds Vivien and Violet in danger when left alone, as Ben goes back to Boston to deal with some unpleasant personal business. ... An even more unnerving evil is at work in the third episode of BBC America's unhinged Luther (9/8c), where a new menace is terrorizing London, his actions dictated by a roll of the dice. Luther is on the case, though distracted by the thugs who are threatening young Jenny and have the copper "over a barrel," doing their bidding at the risk of his job and his colleagues' trust.
How fitting that the second-season premiere of Bravo's stimulating reality competition Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (9/8c) challenges the eclectic new cast — including one who goes by the name "The Sucklord" — to transform pieces of cringeworthy kitsch into gallery-ready art. Not unlike how Work of Art itself manages to elevate this often schlocky genre into an entertaining celebration of the process of creation, with some startling and visionary (and occasionally disturbing) pieces produced under intense pressure. As one contestant memorably puts it: "I haven't been this nervous since I got tested for STD's." Don't be surprised if that ends up on a canvas eventually.
So what else is on? ... Fox's The X Factor (8/7c) enters the "judges' homes" portion of the competition, with the top 32 acts now split in four categories, each assigned to a different judge/mentor. This twist has prompted Fox to expand tonight's and all successive episodes in this round to two hours. ... I can't promise this week's episode of ABC's The Middle (8/7c) will be on par with the last hilarious outing — in which Frankie's horrific encounter with Axl's clipped toenails sent her crying off to her own mother. But Poor Sue Heck (the brilliant Eden Sher) is trying out for cheerleading, and we can't imagine that ending well. ... On the enjoyable show that follows, Suburgatory (8:30/7:30c), Tessa's dad George joins the PTA, rendering him even more like catnip to the school's mom brigade. ... Profiling Britain's favorite sister act, E!'s THS: Kate and Pippa (10/9c) looks at the lives of the commoner whose royal wedding transfixed the nation earlier this year, and her younger spitfire of a sibling.
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