What's On: Nathan Lane Guests in 100th ‘Blacklist,’ Seeing Double on ‘X-Files,’ ‘American Crime Story’ on the Versace Murder
A selective critical checklist of notable Wednesday TV:
The Blacklist (8/7c, NBC): Seems fitting for the 100th episode of the popular crime drama to return to classic form, as Red (James Spader) clashes with a flamboyant adversary: very special guest star Nathan Lane as Abraham Stern, who shares Red’s zeal for seeking the hidden treasure represented by a very rare Lincoln penny. Liz (Megan Boone) keeps busy with a particularly gruesome body disposal, but the focus of the episode thankfully is on the more lighthearted caper.
The X-Files (8/7c, Fox): Chris Carter wrote this fabulously entertaining episode, one of the best of the current season. A classic stand-alone deals with creepy duality when people fall victim to deadly doppelgangers, and the trail leads an unusually affectionate Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, in fine bantering form) to a macabre pair of twins (played by Karin Konoval, who appeared in the infamous 1996 “Home” episode). Yes, that’s the Patty Duke Show theme (“Identical cousins,” etc.) you hear playing in the background in one playful moment. Watch and enjoy.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (10/9c, FX): The second edition of Ryan Murphy’s hit franchise (following the Emmy-winning The People v. O.J. Simpson) opens with an operatic flourish, with the shocking 1997 execution of the famed fashion designer (Edgar Ramirez) on the steps of his lavish South Beach mansion. But the focus quickly shifts to his deranged murderer, spree serial killer Andrew Cunanan (Glee’s Darren Criss in a breakthrough performance). As the nine-part series progresses in reverse chronological order, Crime Story reveals what drove the compulsive liar and toxic narcissist to this and other terrible acts.
Corporate (10/9c, Comedy Central): Making Dilbert look like a day at the races, this bleak workplace comedy goes very dark very quick, as cubicle-sharing junior executive drones Matt (Matt Ingebretson) and Jake (Jake Weisman) survey life at the “soulless corporate machine” of Hampton DeVille, whose titular boss (a bravura Lance Reddick) sets the mendacious everyone-for-him/herself tone from the top. In the opener, an offensive tweet endangers the launch of the company’s new super-sized Obelisk tablet, and Matt and Jake are proudly anointed as “tools,” given the privilege of firing the social-media culprit. But not until much cake is consumed, to fill “the void”—the episode title—as in “the emptiness that exists within us all.”
Inside Wednesday TV: Zoey (Zara Shahidi) makes a deal to tutor the college’s star basketball player on Freeform’s grown-ish (8/7c), but is there more behind this assignment than a promised letter of recommendation? … The CW’s Wednesday lineup returns from holiday hiatus, with Jughead (Cole Sprouse) and his fellow Serpents transferring to Riverdale High on Riverdale (8/7c), and Fallon (Elizabeth Gillies) gaining control of her trust on Dynasty (9/8c). … Campbell Scott narrates the story of an “Arctic Wolf Pack” on PBS’s Nature (8/7c, check local listings at pbs.org), with rare footage from Canada’s Ellesmere Island, where predatory white wolves roam in 40-below temps. … Streaming highlights include the third season of Hulu’s The Path, launching with the first two of 13 episodes, in which Eddie (Aaron Paul) is promoted to Guardian of the Light, but can he grow the Meyerism movement without becoming a cult leader? … Britbox premieres Funny Is Funny: A Conversation With Norman Lear, in which the fabled producer discusses the British roots and influences on his iconic 1970s comedy hits All in the Family and Sanford and Son.