The Tuesday Playlist: State of the Union, Justified Goes Footloose
Timothy Olyphant | Photo Credits: Prashant Gupta/FX
Most of television does its civic duty and turns to Washington, D.C. for State of the Union coverage (9/8c), as President Obama presents his first address of his second term. (As a curtain raiser, PBS' Frontline — check tvguide.com listings — relives those fun times when the White House sparred with the opposition over the deficit, taking the nation to the brink of the "fiscal cliff" in an installment appropriately titled "Cliffhanger.")
A different sort of dog-and-pony show — emphasis on dogs as show ponies — unfolds on USA Network at the conclusion of the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (8/7c), with David Frei and the erstwhile Mary Carillo providing commentary as the judges declare a Best of Show from Madison Square Garden.
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Most of the new action is on cable, most notably with FX's Justified (10/9c), in a harrowing but witty episode that made me cringe and laugh in equal measure. "Oh great, it's the man in the hat" — not a bad alternate title for this terrific show — which is what one of the stooges groans as Raylan pursues a treacherous trail, including a severed foot, that he hopes will lead him to the elusive Drew Thompson. Said appendage, which doesn't take long to inspire a "game's afoot" pun, belongs (or belonged, rather) to Gerald McRaney's Josiah, who's in the clutches of hapless kidnappers literally stumped about how to keep their maimed captive alive.
Every subplot crackles with pungently funny dialogue and taut pacing, including a rare storyline for Deputy Tim, but Boyd and Ava steal this episode as they weasel their way into Harlan's upper crust in their own search for Drew, then enjoy a memorable romantic interlude. Hard not to love even the villains in this show (well, maybe not Boyd's right-hand muscle Colt, who's becoming more monstrous by the week).
MODEL BEHAVIOR: "I'm not showering with nobody. This ain't the Bad Girls Club." Sounds like at least one of the contestants of Oxygen's derivative supermodel competition The Face (9/8c) knows her target audience. It isn't only the model wannabes doing the trash-talking. The Face pits three celebrity coach-judges against each other, in the increasingly tiresome tradition of The Voice and The X Factor, and with the notorious Naomi Campbell leading one of the teams of four through their photo-shoot challenges, Karolina Kurkova and Coco Rocha might want to watch their glamorous backs.
Now that the CW's America's Next Top Model has tweaked itself past the point of being watchable, maybe there's room for this show, sheepishly hosted by Top Model refugee Nigel Barker. The only significant twist involves bringing in guest judges each week to decide which team wins the "Campaign" challenge — in the premiere, an incoherent W magazine shoot. Each coach from the losing teams picks a candidate for elimination, and the winning coach takes it from there to make the cut. Not quite as riveting as some of Tyra Banks' Top Model panels, but the prospect of Naomi getting in her rivals' faces to save her girls should entice the Bad Girls audience to give it a look.
THE TUESDAY GUIDE: HBO's Emmy-winning Masterclass returns with four young singing prodigies being schooled in the art of improvisational riffing by a master of the craft in Bobby McFerrin: A YoungArts Masterclass (7:30/6:30c). Putting theory into practice, McFerrin takes his students with him to Germany to perform in a concert before an audience of 2,500. ... Taking a breather from covering this weekend's mighty storms, The Weather Channel is scheduled to launch a new reality series, Reef Wranglers (9/8c), tracking a family of divers and demolitionists in their environmental crusade to fight off erosion and pollution in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Alabama by sinking boats and planes to create artificial reefs. ... What, no Valentine's week tie-ins? TBS' Cougar Town (10/9c) chimes in with its usual irreverence, forcing Jules' sleepless neighbor Ellie into hiding when husband Andy decides to cash in his horde of sex coupons for the holiday. Doesn't he know love means never having to say you're horny?