What’s Worth Watching: ‘Scandal’, ‘American Idol’, ‘Portlandia’ and more for Thursday, March 24

Scandal, Kerry Washington
Kelsey McNeal/ABC
SCANDAL - "Pencils Down" - When Mellie makes a very public faux pas, Olivia must decide how far she'll go to fix it. Meanwhile, the Gladiators learn valuable intel about Jake's new love interest, and David Rosen seeks advice about his love triangle with Liz North and Susan Ross, on an all-new "Scandal," THURSDAY, MARCH 24 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Kelsey McNeal) KERRY WASHINGTON

Scandal (9/8c, ABC): My new favorite relationship on this berserk series is a somewhat professional one: between former love rivals Olivia (Kerry Washington) and Mellie (Bellamy Young), who’ve somehow teamed up to steer the former First Lady’s presidential campaign. Which hits a major speed bump when Mellie makes a public faux pas that veteran fixer Olivia has to decide whether and how to handle. The episode is directed by American Crime‘s Regina King.

American Idol (8/7c, Fox): I’m still at a loss to understand why Fox has rushed this final season so much that there’s only two more episodes left after this week, with no sense of event. (An early April finale? How anticlimactic.) At least they’re only eliminating one singer a week now. The Top Five will sing twice: once from the catalog of Sia, who guests as mentor and also performs; and once from the classic rock songbook, with the E Street Band’s Stevie Van Zandt (The Sopranos) as mentor. To round out the two hours, Season 5 runner-up Katharine McPhee (Scorpion) returns with a classic Idol reprise of Over the Rainbow.

Portlandia (10/9c, IFC): The quirkiest town on TV runs afoul of a Very Ramen Nightmare in the hilarious sixth-season finale, when a typically confused Peter and Nance (Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein) inadvertently create a Godzilla-like “noodle monster” by not following the instructions on how to assemble their ramen meal, “like a tea ceremony for food.” As the giant pasta beast leaves stains on its victims, unsettling prospective investors from Nokia, the daffy Mayor (Kyle MacLachlan) takes action—although it would help if the local NPR anchors would pause their pledge drive.

Inside Thursday TV: TLC’s international style competition Global Beauty Masters (6/5c) gets serious when the contestants are challenged to do makeovers on cancer survivors. … Jackson (Jesse Williams) finally learns about ex-wife April’s (Sarah Drew) pregnancy on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy (8/7c)—but the big headline is that Seattle’s least merry widow, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), may start dating again. … Louie Anderson as a droll Mom is the best reason to watch FX’s Baskets, and in the first-season finale (10/9c), she learns to live as a diabetic, while Chip (Zach Galifianakis) hits rock bottom, which you’d think he’d be used to by now.