What’s On: An Intense ‘SVU,’ a Marvelous ‘Mrs. Maisel,’ Return of ‘Vikings’

Michael Parmelee/NBC

A critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (9/8c, NBC): It’s gratifying to see a series still taking risks in its 19th year. In a compelling and psychologically intense change-of-page episode, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) spends nearly the entire hour in an interrogation room, trying to break through to a shattered rape victim (a raw, remarkable Melora Walters) to get her to remember what happened. As they bond while a storm rages outside, Benson shares details of her own traumatic past, and while it often seems that she has seen and heard it all, even she’s not prepared for the disturbing outcome of this case.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (streaming on Amazon): Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has found a new muse in Miriam (call her “Midge”) Maisel, played with pert, madcap intelligence by Rachel Brosnahan. The series, obviously inspired by comedy legends like Joan Rivers, follows Midge’s path from contented 1950s domesticity on the Upper West Side to a downtown world of comedy clubs, where she tries her hand at stand-up humor. Even Lenny Bruce (Luke Kirby) is impressed. You will be, too.

Vikings (9/8c, History): The fifth season of the violent historical drama opens with a two-hour episode, depicting the power struggles, alliances and betrayals in the wake of last season’s death of Ragnar Lothbrok. While Ivar the Boneless (Alex Hogh Andersen) takes control of the Great Heathen Army, he’ll have to content with Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), now Queen of Kattegat. May the best warrior win.

Inside Wednesday TV: CBS’s Survivor (8/7c) thins the merged herd, with back-to-back episodes meaning two eliminations. This is the point in the show where alliances tend to be tested, and those that emerge from the blindsides can begin to see the endgame. … NBC’s Christmas in Rockefeller Center (8/7c) gathers Jennifer Nettles, Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr., Brett Eldridge, Pentatonix, Gwen Stefani, Harry Connick Jr. and Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho (from the upcoming series Rise) to celebrate the lighting of the iconic tree, a Norway Spruce from State College, Penn. … For more music, CBS presents Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at the Apollo (10/9c) in his first prime-time special.