Here's a fearless (and rather obvious) prediction for what could be a pivotal week on Fox's American Idol. Regardless of what happens on the next performance show (Wednesday, 8/7c), if America's vote endangers any of the girls — none of whom have been sent home yet (sorry, guys, especially Burnell) — the judges will almost certainly use their season's one "save." But if Lazaro Arbos ends up at the bottom, as he should — his performances have degenerated lately into a national epidemic of flop sweat — the judges will graciously thank this sweet but out-of-his-league kid and send him on his way before he further damages the reputation of this aging, past-its-prime singing competition. The challenge for the Top 6 this week is to wow the audience with two songs, including "A Song I Wish I Had Written" — or maybe in Angie Miller's case, she'll get to sing her own original song again (wouldn't that please Mariah!) — and the suspense will kick in as we wait to see if Lazaro can make it through two entire performances without forgetting the words or otherwise choking.
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On a happier note, ABC's best comedies are welcoming some promising guest stars. On The Middle (8/7c), 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer sheds the page's blazer for a dentist's smock, interviewing dental-school graduate Frankie for a job, while Jim Beaver — a long-time mainstay on Supernatural who just completed a career-high arc as a fugitive on Justified — appears as Brick's new scoutmaster, when Mike is corralled into leading Brick's troop on a camping trip. ... Benjamin Bratt swaggers back onto Modern Family (9/8c) as Gloria's ex Javier, bringing along his new girlfriend (Paget Brewster, returning to her forte in comedy) when he visits Manny. Gloria, as you might expect, is less than welcoming.
SPY VS SPY: The tension keeps mounting on FX's exceptional The Americans (10/9c), and not just among those fearing the DVR will once again cut off the end of a can't-miss episode like last week's game-changer, in which both Philip (inadvertently killing Stan's FBI partner) and Stan (executing a KGB flunkie in retaliation) escalated the deadly cat-and-mouse game between the U.S. government and the deeply embedded Russian spies. This week, the fallout from those events hits close to home for the estranged Philip and Elizabeth's spy ops. Stan is told by his boss, "We have to fight like soldiers now," and as the quietly grieving agent takes this directive to heart, Stan's mission points him toward Gregory, Elizabeth's first (and most amorous) recruit, forcing some tough decisions that remind us that no matter which side of the Cold War you're fighting for, it may be impossible to get out clean. Such messy baggage these spies are saddled with.
Nothing new in that, as we're reminded in the eventful conclusion of BBC America's Spies of Warsawminiseries (9/8c), set during the build-up toward World War II, as French operative Mercier (David Tennant) juggles dangerous assignments and romantic assignations, risking being trapped in Poland as German and Russian forces converge while his craven bosses ignore his warnings.
A COUNTRY CONUNDRUM: Maybe the ratings would improve — see the big numbers for last week's Academy of Country Music shindig on CBS — if ABC's Nashville (10/9c) started giving out awards every week. It's not as if the story hasn't kicked into high gear lately. Pick your favorite triangle, as Juliette and her barely recovering-alcoholic mom square off over mom's hot sober coach Dante (Jay Hernandez), while Scarlett brings along hunky new neighbor Will (Chris Carmack) when Gunnar sets aside a day to celebrate Scarlett's new record deal. And what about last week's climactic twist, when Rayna's Big Bad dad seemed to be suffering a heart attack (if he actually has a heart)? That crisis sends her back to Nashville from Manhattan, but look who's joining the tour: new roadie Avery.
THE WEDNESDAY GUIDE: What do you get when you cross Duck Dynasty (bearded redneck yahoos with big personalities) with Ghost Hunters? Maybe something like Syfy's latest reality sideshow, Deep South Paranomal (10/9c). ... Could it be two blindsides in a row for CBS' Survivor (8/7c)? Depends on if the castaways can get their act together, because they can't seem to decide whether to target an easy mark or go after one of the game's big guns (please let it be the end of Phillip, though I'm not getting my hopes up). ... CBS' Criminal Minds (9/8c) unearths a cold case with present-day implications when a 25-year-old time capsule is opened. The reason I bring this up: As if stepping out of a time capsule herself, the local newspaper editor is played by Pamela Bellwood, who you might remember as Dynasty's put-upon Claudia. ... Anticipating next month's high-profile welterweight world championship prizefight in Las Vegas, Showtime goes inside the training regimen and life stories of the combatants in the five-part All Access: Mayweather vs. Guerrero (10/9c). ... Using the Australian continent as a microcosm of the Earth's natural history and evolution,PBS' Nova launches a four-part series, Australia's First 4 Billion Years (check tvguide.com listings), with Dr. Richard Smith exploring the local geology for clues about the planet's and its inhabitants' origins. Yes, there will be dinosaurs.
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