Ashley Rickards, Brett Davern
How did any of us survive high school? Forget grades. We're talking insecurities, anxieties and social terrors, which have rarely found such vivid comic voice as in MTV's wonderful comedy Awkward, which begins a third season of emotionally harrowing hilarity with back-to-back episodes (Tuesday, 10/9c).
It's junior year (or "the beginning of the end") for the show's self-consciously angsty narrator/blogger Jenna (the terrific Ashley Rickards), who you'd think might be in a happier place having spent the summer cocooned with full-time no-longer-secret boyfriend Matty (Beau Mirchoff). No such luck. With other friends having spent their off time in Europe, hooking up and changing their looks without keeping her in the loop, Jenna worries she's being sidelined, left behind, forgotten. It doesn't help that her sadistic tyrant of a new creative-writing teacher, the heartless Mr. Hart (Anthony Michael Hall), burrows into her fragile psyche with the very first assignment: "Write about your greatest fear." Where to begin?
Matt Lauria, Jason Clarke
The Chicago Code (Monday, 9/8c, Fox)
As often happens in the best crime dramas, the bad guy often gets some of the meatiest material. And Ronin Gibbons, the Chicago Alderman played so deliciously by Delroy Lindo, is no ordinary adversary. We get a better sense of what makes him tick in this episode, when the powerful politician is confronted by an armed teenage robber, causing Gibbons to look back on his own upbringing, back before he became so cynical about the city's corrupt ways. In another storyline, a bomber blows up a city building and promises more mayhem, putting a ticking clock on Jarek and Caleb's efforts to track down the culprit. This situation is not unlike the dilemma on ABC's Castle an hour later (10/9c), in the conclusion of a tense two-parter that finds Beckett and Castle teaming up with a fed (Adrian Pasdar) to avert a terrorist calamity....
A fast-paced world calls for cutting-edge technology, but as far as Claire is concerned, all the electronic devices at the Dunphys' disposal have rendered face-to-face household communication obsolete. So she decides to get the family in touch with their inner Luddites by declaring a one-week moratorium on texting, IMing and Internet use, which the kids find nothing to LOL about. Meanwhile, Cameron and Mitchell hit the demographic jackpot when they try to get Lily into the best preschool. — Joe Friedrich
Read on for previews of Criminal Minds, Survivor, America's Next Top Model, Law & Order: Los Angeles, A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Inside Story, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and In Performance at the White House.
As a Beatle, Paul McCartney famously performed everywhere from Shea Stadium in New York to a rooftop in London. But it's as the recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song that Sir Paul finally headlines the White House, playing his hits for President Obama and the First Family on In Performance at the White House (tonight, 8/7c, PBS). "Paul fills arenas and stadiums, so to transfer that electricity to the intimate setting of the East Room was a challenge," says executive producer Peter Kaminsky...
In a heatedly divided Washington, D.C., our culinary power players have rocked the vote. Thus far, Season 7 has tasked the chefs to whip up kid fare, a classic picnic, hotel room service and cold entrées, and they also got crabby picking through an Eastern Shore delicacy — the blue crab. Now the focus turns to bite-size fare that one can spear with a toothpick. Later, in the elimination challenge, the culinarians craft a power lunch at an upscale eatery. The council of taste testers includes chef Art Smith; politicos Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.); pundit Joe Scarborough; and journalists Mika Brzezinski and Savannah Guthrie.
Read on for previews of Plain Jane, Psych, In Performance at the White House, the MLS Soccer All-Star Game, Real World and The Middle.
Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains
The granddaddy of reality shows, which debuted on May 31, 2000, celebrates its 20th edition with 20 former players who became famous either for their heroic efforts or villainous ways. They first arrive in Samoa via helicopters and are divided into their respective "good" and "evil" tribes before taking part in the initial immunity challenge and attending the first tribal council, where one player's attempt at revenge or redemption will come to an abrupt end. Among the castaways are previous game winners Tom Westman, Parvati Shallow and J.T. Thomas, and last season's breakout personality and runner-up to the title, Russell Hantz.
Read on for previews of Grey's Anatomy, The Office, In Performance at the White House and Sarah Silverman Program.
The financial meltdown hits the cast and crew of the fictional sketch-comedy program The Girlie Show in the fourth-season premiere of the Emmy-winning sitcom. Corporate overlord Jack Donaghy is scrambling to cut costs at NBC as well as raise the popularity of Liz Lemon's show. Jenna uses this as an opportunity to treat herself to a complete makeover, while Tracy decides it's time to reach out to the public. Meanwhile, Liz and Pete search for new talent, and Kenneth finds the courage to act as a leader in a strike of the NBC pages. Steve Buscemi returns in his recurring role of Jack's sleazy, low-budget private eye, Lenny.
Read on for previews of the MLB Playoff, FlashForward, In Peformance at the White House and Grey's Anatomy.
Jeffrey Donovan, Burn Notice
8 pm/ET FOX
Idol certainly isn't idle — the talent show is hitting its stride with the second results show tonight. Last week, 24 million votes were cast (almost 10 million more than this time last year, according to FOX), and America advanced Alexis Grace (her rendering of "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You" sizzled and smoked), big Texan Michael Sarver and likable Danny Gokey to the finals. Tonight's second set of semifinalists hope for similar good fate. Alas, only three finalists will be chosen — and nine hopefuls will be cut.
Read on for previews of The Black List: Volume Two, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Chris Isaak Hour, Burn Notice and In Performance at the White House.