Nurse Jackie (Monday, 10/9c, Showtime)
Premium cable's finest (dark) comedy returns for a third season, with the pill-addicted nurse (Edie Falco) as stubbornly defiant as ever, even as the fabric of lies she has constructed between her family life and the hospital continues to shred. Jackie's desperation is as harrowing as it amusing, but there's plenty more going on as boss lady Mrs. A warns that "heads will roll" in this era of hospital closings if this quirky staff doesn't shape up. Following Nurse Jackie is a new season of the more uneven United States of Tara, as the heroine (Toni Collette) beset by multiple personalities decides to go back to college. But is a psychology course, even one taught by guest star Eddie Izzard, the best course of action?
The Good Wife (Tuesday, 10/9c, CBS)
Still reeling from last week's bombshell? It's unclear how quickly we'll see the fallout from the shocking news that Kalinda was yet another of the sexual conquests of Alicia's husband Peter — who helped her change her name and escape her past back when she worked for him. Fireworks ahead! All the network is teasing about this week's episode involves the return of America Ferrera as the embattled ex-nanny of Peter's political rival, whose legal problems a guilt-ridden Eli tries to remedy with the help of the firm. Sam Robards guests as a convicted murderer under fire for profiting from a song he wrote about the crime. In the same time period, ABC is trying yet again to launch a crime procedural, this time with a bona fide star attached: Dana Delany, playing a headstrong (and of course drop-dead gorgeous) medical examiner in Body of Proof. Not much new in this one, but it could just be mainstream enough to attract a crowd where its predecessors couldn't.
Law & Order: SVU (Wednesday, 10/9c, NBC)
One of the strongest guest performances this season was by Jeremy Irons as Captain Jackson, a sex therapist with a tortured past of addiction that was revealed in a case involving his daughter. That episode is repeated at 9/8c, followed by a new case in which Jackson is consulted by Benson and Stabler to help solve the murder of a young girl. The trail leads to the girl's piano teacher, played by Lost and V heroine Elizabeth Mitchell in a much more sinister light.
Grey's Anatomy (Thursday, 9/8c, ABC)
As risks go, the "Music Event" episode of Grey's qualifies as a doozy. This is either going to be a great experiment on the scale of the Buffy musical — or last season of American Idol bad. The music gimmick, which finds the cast interpreting some of the show's soundtrack staples (The Fray's "How to Save a Life" and Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars," to name a few), is built around Callie (Sara Ramirez, a Tony-winning Broadway veteran) seeing her doctor pals in a new light as a new crisis literally rocks their world. In other words: Bailey sings! And she's not the only one. At least no one can accuse the show of coasting.