TV history, and cable's History channel, will tell you: Never bet against the Bible. While History's greatest-hits approach to The Bible (airing Sundays through Easter) continues to reap blockbuster ratings, GSN launches a second season of The American Bible Challenge (9/8c), its highest-rated game show, which could just as easily be called Are You Smarter Than a Divinity Student?
The affable Jeff Foxworthy returns to host, with Kirk Franklin leading a gospel choir to cheer on the teams, which this year will include a trio of "Rockin' Rabbis" for much-needed diversity. An easy-going mix of biblical trivia and light physical challenges — who knew nuns were so divinely adept at flipping spoons into glasses? — Challenge may never rival Jeopardy! for sophistication and pacing. But it's doubtful any other show (save a Saturday Night Live parody, which this sometimes resembles) would be likely to feature a category like "Listings in This Week's TV God" with puns like "How I Met Your Mother Mary." Can we get an "Amen?" You'll likely hear one anyway.
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GOING TO THE DOGS: If snarky (or this week barking) irreverence is more your thing, you can't beat FX's raunchy animated fave Archer (10/9c), which sends its combatively star-crossed spies Archer and Lana to a mission in Morocco. Amid the profane bickering, they go on the hunt for an agent that needs extracting from Tangier, a place Archer reveres (according to Lana) for its "cheap hash and a repulsively low age of consent." What they find is a howl —though not Allen Ginsberg's, who Archer believes wrote his opus in their hotel suite — and a high ratio, even by this show's standards, of flatulence jokes, both human and animal.
STOP THE PRESSES: Exactly a month has passed since the last new episode of ABC's Scandal, which returns (10:02/9:02) with a typically busy agenda for Olivia (Kerry Washington). Her latest media firestorm involves a new CEO client (House's always-welcome Lisa Edelstein) who's romantically involved with President Fitz's nominee for the Supreme Court. Off hours, Olivia is still flirting with Navy Captain Jake Ballard (the equally always-welcome Scott Foley), but imagine the fireworks should she discover he's secretly keeping tabs on her for Fitz, or should Fitz discover Capt Jake is now romantically pursuing his target? Scandalous! ... In the other corner of Shondaland, Meredith begins to worry obsessively about her child-to-be on ABC's Grey's Anatomy (9/8c), because you knew this pregnancy wasn't going to come to term without a neurosis or two.
THE THURSDAY GUIDE: While CBS turns the night over to NCAA tournament coverage (also on TNT, TBS and TruTV; check tvguide.com listings), last season's American Idol runner-up, Jessica Sanchez, sings on Fox's live results show (8/7c), with Ne-Yo also performing as we wait to find out who's next to go home. ... Fox's Glee (9/8c) this week is all about musical guilty pleasures, which this show knows more about than most. ... The CW's The Vampire Diaries (8/7c) flashes back to Damon's debauched heyday in the New York City of the '70s — not hard to imagine him as a Studio 54 regular — as he spirits Elena away to the city that never sleeps, with Rebekah close behind. ... Joan Rivers narrates and is an executive producer of Showtime's documentary Why We Laugh: Funny Women (8/7c), with interviews and stand-up footage from comediennes including Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Griffin, Lily Tomlin and Holland Taylor (who I was lucky enough to have just seen on stage in Ann, brilliantly channeling the late, great Ann Richards). ... Having bombed with scripted shows in the 8/7c time period, ABC brings back Wife Swap for a sixth season, in the opener featuring a devout Michigan farm woman exchanging families with an "over-the-hill party girl" from Las Vegas.