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TV: Five shows worth watching tonight: January 23

A select viewing guide for Wednesday, January 23

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SCIENCE Nature (PBS, 8 p.m.) Sir David Attenborough is not a man to mince words. The veteran British broadcaster made headlines earlier this week with his comment describing the human race as “a plague on the Earth.” Perhaps not coincidentally, PBS places the spotlight squarely on the famous naturalist with this new three-part series documenting his illustrious wildlife filmmaking career. In tonight’s opener, he reflects back upon his most memorable expeditions, which includes swimming with the dolphins and capturing a live komodo dragon (don’t try this at home). The highlight: Sir David returns to a former shooting location in Borneo, where he recalls the challenges of filming bats while trying to find his footing on a seething pile of bat guano. It’s a living.

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COMEDYModern Family (ABC, Citytv, 9 p.m.) And you thought Pritchett family patriarch Jay (Ed O’Neill) was stressed out before? Watch his face sink in tonight’s new episode when his very pregnant trophy wife Gloria (Sofia Vergara) opens the doors for a visit from her mom Pilar (Elizabeth Pena) and sister Sonia (Stephanie Beatriz), who come bearing a long list of baby names and all manner of emotional baggage. In other news, adorable life-partners Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) try to curb adopted daughter Lily of a nasty new habit, while the befuddled dad Phil (Ty Burrell) tries to impart his own inimitable wisdom to his own three dysfunctional kids. Still the funniest half-hour on network television.

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DRAMA White Collar (Bravo!, 9 p.m.) Back tonight for a fourth season, this low-key drama from the USA Network puts a new spin on the old odd-couple scenario. In this instance, it’s the buttoned-down FBI agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay) enlisting the assistance of shifty con man Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomber) to catch bad guys. In tonight’s new season opener, Neal has gone missing and his partner and several other government agencies are scrambling to find him. The search naturally intensifies when a mysterious individual offers a $500,000 bounty on Neal’s head–dead or alive. Viewer note: The episode is followed by the return of Suits (Bravo!, 10 p.m.)

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REALITY King of the Nerds (Slice, 10 p.m.) Hey, if The Big Bang Theory can draw an audience of more than four-million people each week, it’s a safe bet viewers will flock to this new show. Hailing from the TBS cable network, the series is hosted by actors Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong (they were in the Revenge of the Nerds film franchise back in the eighties), who run a gaggle of pocket-protector types through the wringer in pursuit of the dubious honour of being crowned the penultimate geek. Events in tonight’s opener include playing Rock-Paper-Scissors and chess with life-size players. May the best nerd win.

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MOVIE An Ideal Husband (Vision, midnight) On a cold winter’s night, a frothy Brit period piece makes for ideal viewing. Based on the play by Oscar Wilde, this splendid drama takes place in turn-of-the-century London and stars the reliable Jeremy Northam as Sir Robert Chiltern, a respected member of Parliament with a peerless reputation and a loving and supportive wife (Cate Blanchett). Enter the devious Mrs. Chevely (Julianne Moore), who threatens to reveal a dark secret from Sir Robert’s past that could derail his privileged existence. Mrs. Chevely will destroy the evidence of his misdeed, but only if he supports a controversial government bill. With his political career and marriage at stake, Sir Robert calls in his wily friend Lord Goring (Rupert Everett).

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