Only four days left until the big game, but there's more meat left on that giant Super Bowl tie-in buffalo wing. Top Chef takes a bite tonight, but we're hoping Crusoe gets a nibble.
Top Chef: New York [10 PM, Bravo] - The NBC Universal Super Bowl synergy train rolls along with this supersized 75-minute "Super Bowl Chef Showdown." Contestants compete against Top Chef contestants of old in a football-themed cook-off. Last night's Biggest Loser involved a gameday snack calorie guessing game (who knew buffalo wings were bad for you?), but this contest should at least raise our pulses a little.
Late Show With David Letterman [11:35, CBS] - Lauren Graham promotes her Broadway turn in Guys and Dolls (starts previews next month) and will hopefully stay true to her history of entertaining Letterman appearances. Food Network frat boy Guy Fieri takes a break from hazing the spring pledge to make something greasy and use the descriptor "money" a lot. Canadian rockers MENEW round out a solid Wednesday show, but we'd rather hear Lauren Graham do a number.
United States of Tara [10 PM, Showtime] - This show is getting good ratings, but that was expected. Steven Spielberg could have Diablo Cody write about a moldy half-sandwich he found in the trunk of his car and get a million people to tune in, but there is something wrong with this show. It's not so much in the actual dialogue, but in other aspects of the show. For example, Tara's son Marshall (Keir Gilchrist, pictured) is meticulous and loves jazz and early cinema classics (obscure to anyone who didn't attend film school), which is fine on the page but is window dressing on the screen. After two episodes (the new ones air on Sundays), we still don't have much of a character here, someone we can connect with the way we connected with Juno or (especially) her parents. Our test is whether we want someone on-screen more, and other than Patton Oswalt's underachieving landscaper, no one is missed. Cody set the bar high for her fans with the snark-schmaltz cocktail that was Juno and we hope she can find that recipe again.
The other thing that annoys us is the way the personality transitions are handled. For the two episodes that have aired so far, whenever Tara is in normal mode and talking to people about something other than the nitty-gritty of her alternate identities, it's just a matter of time until her face goes blank, the camera tracks in and a small music cue alights to show us that something has changed. It's way too Incredible Hulk ("Don't make me stressed about my family. You wouldn't like me when I'm stressed about my family!"). Juno's success was as much about Jason Reitman's subtle direction as it was the writing, so maybe that is what's missing here. On tonight's repeat of Sunday's episode, Tara (Toni Collette) transforms into Alice while browsing wigs at a mall kiosk. As the perfect housewife alter, Alice plays peacemaker between Marshall (Keir Gilchrist) and his English teacher (Tony Hale) before disciplining Kate (Brie Larson) after her grotesque sexual rant in a public restroom. There's an actual real emotional moment outside the restaurant, but it ends as quickly as it began. Give it 30 minutes, see what you think.
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric [8 PM, CBS] - Here's an experiment that we might see again: CBS throws a Katie Couric newscast into primetime to see if they can lure people away from Idol. We doubt it will be a successful experiment, but it will show some people that the Couric news is markedly better than when it began in 2006. We're not hating on Katie, we're just scared about the lack of original scripted programming in primetime. This is another encroachment in that direction.