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A select viewing guide for Wednesday, Oct. 24
DOCUMENTARY: Nature (PBS, 8 p.m.) Take note, Harry Potter fans: Tonight’s edition of the venerable science series focuses exclusively on the majestic snowy owl, famous for being the same breed as Harry’s loyal companion, Hedwig. Filmed in the rugged climes of of Alaska, the program chronicles the life cycle of a winged predator that has learned to survive and thrive in one the most unforgiving environments on the planet. Watch and be amazed as a snowy owl sets its sights on a luckless lemming and zooms in to tear it to pieces with its razor-sharp talons. Then be touched as the winged predator brings home the bits and pieces to feed its baby owlets. It’s the circle of life.
COMEDY: The Neighbors (ABC, 8:30 p.m.) For those viewers looking for something a little different on Wednesday night, this is the show for you. The offbeat sitcom is set in suburban New Jersey, where Marty Weaver (Lenny Venito) and wife Debbie (Jamie Gertz) have recently moved into a new development with their three kids. Soon after arriving, they discover the entire community is populated by residents from another planet who have inexplicably adopted the names of sports celebrities like Larry Bird and Mary Lou Retton. Although panned by most reviewers, the show has earned solid U.S. ratings since its debut last month, which bodes well for a full-season renewal. Tonight’s new episode takes place at Halloween, which the alien visitors irrationally regard as a terrifying occasion. As seems to happen in every episode of the series, the task of explaining human behaviour to the alien visitors falls to the woebegone Marty.
COMEDY: Modern Family (ABC, Citytv, 9 p.m.) In other neighbourhoods, meanwhile, All Hallow’s Eve is practically a sacred event. Tonight’s annual Halloween episode finds the adorable wife and mother Claire (Julie Bowen) frustrated when her neighbours ask her to tone down her usual shock-fest celebrations. Her hubby Phil’s solution: Hold a kid-friendly open house! Elsewhere, the fabulous gay couple Mitch (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) throw a lavish costume party that has their adopted daughter Lily more confused than ever about who wears the pants in the family, while the pregnant Gloria (Sofia Vergara) scares the daylights out of everyone when her hormones shift into high gear.
DRAMA: CSI (CBS, CTV, 10 p.m.) The CSI fans are still out there. The show recently returned for its 13th season and still registers among CBS’s most-watched drama programs, ranking particularly high with viewers over 40. In tonight’s new episode, CSI chief D.B. Russell (Ted Danson) and his team investigate the death of a popular music historian who was killed and stuffed into a piano. The case resonates strongly with the lab rat Sanders (Eric Szmanda), who was a personal friend of the deceased. To appease older viewers, the episode is driven entirely by music from Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack era.
MOVIE: The Black Cat (TCM, 11 p.m. ET; 8 p.m. PT) Want to see something really scary? One of the biggest box-office hits of 1934, this chilling film marks the first pairing of horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, who went on to make eight movies together. Bearing no connection to the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name, the plot follows the young American couple Peter (David Manners) and Joan (Julie Bishop) honeymooning in Hungary, where they share a train compartment with the courtly Dr. Verdegast, played by Lugosi. When the train crashes, the trio are taken into the ominous castle of the architect Poelzig (Karloff), a madman and Satan-worshipper with a creepy haircut. The closing scenes rank among the most terrifying in cinema history.