TV has had its share of good doctors, but The Middle (Wednesday, 8/7c, ABC) has a good dentist: Dr. Goodwin, novice hygienist Frankie Heck's new boss, played with gusto by 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer.
In the spy game, intelligence is the most precious commodity. And in the world of fictional espionage, few authors of historical suspense deliver thrills with the crisp and unsparing intelligence of Alan Furst. BBC America's Spies of Warsaw, a two-part miniseries adaptation (concluding Tuesday, April 10) of his 2008 novel, loses none of its twisty allure and passionate urgency in the translation from page to screen (9/8c). Tension comes with the territory of late-'30s Poland, a country harboring refugees and dissidents in a murky culture of political intrigue, as everyone nervously waits for the jackboot to drop as rumors spread of Nazi aggression.
The world is Sir David Attenborough's playground, which he has revealed on camera in all of its natural wonder with irrepressible enthusiasm for the last 60 years, forging a career that encompasses what he calls "the golden age of natural history filmmaking." His breakthrough TV programs include 1979's epic Life on Earth, which launched a series of "Life" specials, and such recent phenoms as Planet Earth and Frozen Planet (although Discovery Channel replaced his narration with American actors for U.S. broadcast).
PBS' Nature celebrates his astonishing milestones over the next three Wednesdays with a miniseries, Attenborough's Life Stories (check tvguide.com listings), which functions as a visual history of how this sort of nature programming has evolved with the help of technological breakthroughs.
Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn
While ABC's The Middle may not be the most popular, acclaimed or honored family comedy on TV, it is almost certainly the most relevant (and often the funniest). Especially in an election year when so much attention was focused on the financially strapped middle class, the travails of the down-but-not-out Hecks of Indiana resonate like no TV family since the Conners of Roseanne.
Hitting the 300-episode benchmark is an impressive achievement for any series, but by the standards of the Law & Order franchise, SVU still has a ways to go before it approaches, let alone overtakes, the longevity of the still-missed mothership, which clocked more than 450 hours before NBC's abrupt pulling of the plug two years ago.
Rose Byrne and Ryan Phillippe
When the ratings for tonight's TV are tabulated on Thursday, there's little doubt what will top the charts — and it won't be the doings in Charlotte on the second night of the Democratic National Convention. (It won't be Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, either, for which civilization can breathe a sigh of relief.)
One of TV's biggest draws returns with the official NFL Kickoff 2012 on NBC (coverage starts at 7:30/6:30c), with the opening game of the season a rematch of the Giants and Cowboys.
Bailey Buntain has landed a guest-starring role on the upcoming season of ABC's The Middle, Entertainment Weekly reports.
The Bunheads star will play...
What the heck? Has a TV family ever been more appropriately named than the Hecks of ABC's spectacularly funny, oh-so-relatable and woefully underappreciated The Middle? They can never catch a break or catch up with the frantic pace of chaotic family life. Always strapped for cash, too overwhelmed to keep their ramshackle house in order — "I'm too ashamed to even open the door for the UPS guy," whines the hilariously harried mom Frankie (Patricia Heaton) — they are a mess.
They are also a riot, mostly because they feel so real. Wrapping their third and best-yet season tonight (8/7c), with the Hecks scrambling to make the house fit for an impromptu family wedding, unflappable dad Mike (lovably gruff Neil Flynn) tries to calm his wife's hysteria: "We'll just do the bare minimum like always."
Megan Hilty and Jaime Cepero
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Question: I'm not sure what NBC is thinking with their recently announced decision to leave Smash off the fall schedule.
Who do you want you to be tomorrow? Because we kind of want to be Sue Heck.
Inspired by last night's episode — in which the misfit teen found her spirit animal in guest Whoopi Golberg's super-supportive guidance counselor — the Watercooler felt the need to address the joy of watching The Middle's Eden Sher kill it every week. As the Heck family member who's only real skill seems to be indefatigable optimism, we'd say that Sher has turned the character into a lovable loser, but she has always been a winner in that regard. Ever since the pilot, whether it's been barely registering in her high school's social scene or having to put up with her embarrassing brothers, she is the ultimate Jan Brady who thinks she's a Marcia.