Double snaps to 30 Rock, as it has entered our pantheon (it's a storage locker in Atwater Village) of shows that are too dominant in their genre to recommend (along with American Idol and AC360°).
Grey's Anatomy & Private Practice [9 PM & 10 PM, ABC] - We teased it pretty hard last week, but tonight's Grey's Privates event gives us the full-on crossover action. During the first hour of this medical mash-up, Addison (Kate Walsh) returns to Seattle Grace in hopes that Derek (Patrick Dempsey) can operate on her brother Archer's (Grant Show) brain ish. Meanwhile, Owen (Kevin McKidd) is faced with someone from his past and Izzie (Katherine Heigl) enlists the other doctors in a game to help the interns. Then at 10, Addison helps Derek with his pregnant neuro patient while Archer recovers but then something goes wrong with Sam (Taye Diggs). The curtain is closing on the Heigl-Knight era so we're going to stick around for the death rattle.
Survivor: Tocantins [8 PM, CBS] - Is this really cycle 18 of Survivor? It seems like just two months ago we were saying goodbye to our friends from Survivor: Gabon. Sixteen castaways are dropped into the Brazilian Highlands to endure heat, torrential downpours, backstabbing and the the most diverse group of competitors yet. Among the contestants are a member of R&B group SWV, a cattle rancher, the requisite number of models, a bartender, a world-record setting kayaker, the former owner of Bare Naked Granola, and a 19-year old (youngest castaway yet) Survivor super-fan. A new wrinkle this season (cribbed from The Bachelor, albeit inversely) is an immediate vote-off based on first impressions. We can't keep up with all the people on Idol, Top Model and Lost, so we always reduce Survivor contestants to basic stereotypes in lieu of actual names. We're hoping whiny thick-thighs dude wins it all.
Animal Armageddon [9 PM, Animal Planet] - Tonight is the first of an eight-part series that seeks to explain why over the 99% of animal species scientist claim have existed on Earth are now extinct. This episode explores the gamma rays that may or may not have triggered this extinction 450 million years ago. It's everything that an Animal Planet joint should have: catchy title, lots of computer graphic simulations, weird old-school animals. This is the kind of thing we usually watch from 1-3 AM - after the talk shows but before the informercials.
Ace of Cakes [10 PM, Food Network] - Shows about cakes are, quite literally, comfort food for some viewers, but there's only so many ways to skin a cat - or bake a cake shaped like a tin of chaw (pictured). If you have ever watched a marathon of AoC, then you will know that Duff and his Charm City hipsters are paid lots of dough to make unique and wonderful cakes for big corporate events and strangely-themed weddings. We know television is inherently formulaic from Intro to Media Studies, but this show has become filler between competition shows (Chopped, Ultimate Recipe Showdown), actual chef shows and various Guy Fieri or Alton Brown programs.
Everyone at the bakery gets along well, the designs are always super cute, there is always DRAMA in getting the cake out of the car and at the end everyone smiles and takes a photo with the cake. Even the sad episodes - making a cake for a charity or war veteran - don't strum the heart strings any more than the skate cake for the roller derby chicks. Tonight, they make a cake for Macy's 150th anniversary and cowboy and skyline-themed cakes, and that's basically it. Even the little efforts to get people out of the bakery - e.g. one guy drove a Corvette around to get inspiration for the Corvette cake he was sculpting - would have been cut after the first editing session if we were on that Avid. For once, can a cake please get destroyed and then the client gets pissed and someone says a racial slur and then there's a power outage so that in the dark we are all the same race and everyone learns a lesson about humanity? Pleasey please?