What's Worth Watching: Empire, Survivor, Arrow, Modern Family and more for Wednesday, October 5

Matt Roush
EMPIRE
Chuck Hodes/FOX

Empire (9/8c, Fox): Diva alert: Mariah Carey is in the Lyon house—or more accurately, the recording studio. Regardless of where she struts, she gives Cookie (Taraji P. Henson) some serious competition for most outlandishly dressed lady of the musical kingdom. As megastar Kitty, Carey is called into service to help Jamal (Jussie Smollett) out of his stage-fright funk, and if it helps drive up numbers for Lucious’s (Terrence Howard) streaming service, so much the better. If this stunt casting brings any lapsed viewers back to the musical melodrama, the scene they’ll probably remember most involves Lucious taking his spoiled and/or broken sons to the rough neighborhood from whence this family came, for a lesson in kill-or-be-killed self-preservation. Empire still has bite when it wants to.

Survivor (8/7c, CBS): It has already been an eventful season, with blindsides, a health scare and the most unlikely person finding an Immunity Idol. As the “Millennials vs. Gen X” competition continues, this week’s twist gives some of the castaways a chance to see how the other half lives. But what fans most likely want to see is how long the young-lust showmance of Taylor and Figgy will be allowed to continue.

Nova’s Great Human Odyssey (9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): After Survivor, consider taking an anthropological around-the-world voyage for an ultimate survival tale. With guide Dr. Niobe Thompson traveling the globe, from the Kalahari desert to the Siberian Arctic, TV’s premiere science program charts the migration of our human ancestors, speculating on early mankind’s origins and how they adapted to some of the harshest climates as they made all of Earth their home.

Inside Wednesday TV: Oliver is flying solo as the Green Arrow when The CW’s Arrow (8/7c) opens its fifth season. But once a fearsome new villain, Tobias Church (The Walking Dead’s Chad L. Coleman), takes on Star City, Oliver considers taking Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) advice to assemble a new band of heroes. … The political season is reflected in ABC’s top Wednesday comedies, as Luke (Nolan Gould) runs against Manny (Rico Rodriguez) for senior class president—how quickly they grow!—on Modern Family (9/8c), while Dre (Anthony Anderson) becomes Junior’s (Marcus Scribner) campaign manager in hopes of helping his son connect to the masses. … On ABC’s Designated Survivor (10/9c), recently picked up for a full first season, President Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) gives his first TV interview to ABC News’s Elizabeth Vargas—what, you were expecting another network’s news star?—while trying to keep a security breach top secret. … CBS’s Code Black (10/9c) takes a topical turn when a transgender patient (played by trans actress Alexandra Grey) is admitted, and her reluctance to reveal her gender identity makes it hard for the doctors to diagnose her abdominal pain.