What’s Worth Watching: ‘Law & Order: SVU’, ‘Lethal Weapon’, ‘Empire’, ‘Younger’, ‘Modern Family’, ‘black-ish’ and more for Wednesday, September 28

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Season 18
Michael Parmelee/NBC
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "Making a Rapist" Episode 1802 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson, Vice President Joe Biden --

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (9/8c, NBC): Using the power of the vice presidency while he still can, Joe Biden appears on SVU to shine light on the national backlog of untested rape kits, an issue dear to him and to series star Mariska Hargitay. It’s also a plot point, when a convicted rapist (Henry Thomas) is exonerated after 16 years when DNA from a rape kit is finally tested. Which, of course, isn’t the end of the story.

Lethal Weapon (8/7c, Fox): The better-than-you’d-expect remake has a solid second outing, with lots of meta jokes comparing the duo of Murtaugh and Riggs (Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford) to Crockett & Tubbs, Cash & Tango, Starsky & Hutch, you get the picture. While their captain (Kevin Rahm) tries to rein them in, things have a habit of going boom wherever they go, even when sent on a seemingly routine noise-complaint assignment. The ensuing investigation involves illegal weapons sales, which leads to Murtaugh quipping: “I’m taking Riggs to a gun factory. What could go wrong?” If you can’t spot the villain of this story almost instantly, you haven’t watched enough TV. In which case, you may enjoy Lethal Weapon even more.

Empire (9/8c, Fox): Terrence Howard is in especially fine and funny form this week as a smitten Lucious goes all out trying to woo Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), who’s having none of it—and same goes for the slick city councilman (Taye Diggs) who tangles with Mama Lyon as he tries to convince a traumatized Jamal (Jussie Smollett) to participate in an anti-gun-violence rally. The less said the better about grief-deranged Andre (Trai Byers) and his tangle with the cops, a storyline that is undoubtedly timely but the way it’s presented here smacks of cliché.

Subterfuge on TV Land: Two irreverent comedies return, each built upon a fraud that gets more complicated by the episode. As the third season of the zippy rom-com Younger begins (10/9c), 40-ish Liza (Sutton Foster) continues masquerading as a 20-something at work, and is torn between the young bohemian stud Josh (Nico Tortorella), who knows her secret and is “all in” anyway, and her swoon-worthy “grown-up” boss, Charles (Peter Hermann), who sees an “old soul” in Liza. The action in the season opener includes stops in two New York locales I know all too well: the Greenwich Village piano bar Marie’s Crisis, and the uptown bar at the Café Carlyle. This girl knows how to get around.

Younger is followed by the second-season opener of the even more outrageous dark comedy Impastor (10:30/9:30c), in which Buddy (Michael Rosenbaum), the fugitive pretending to be a small-town gay pastor, spins himself even further into his web of wacky lies as he tells bumbling local detectives that he’s actually an undercover fed. None of which is likely to save him from the deadly enforcers on his trail.

Inside Wednesday TV: Another barrier is broken when ABC’s Modern Family (9/8c) features what may be the first transgender child actor in a guest role, with 8-year-old Jackson Millarker as a playmate of Lily’s (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons), a fact that fills her dads with pride until they hear her insulting him. As Lily does. … Tony winner Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) starts a recurring role on ABC’s black-ish (9:30/8:30c) as Bow’s (Tracee Ellis Ross) brother Johan, returned from abroad to break bread with the Johnsons—and, inevitably, get under Dre’s (Anthony Anderson) thin skin. … Fresh from a comic triumph on The Grinder, Rob Lowe joins the cast of CBS’s medical drama Code Black (10/9c) in its second season, as Colonel Ethan Willis, whose combat experience proves invaluable as he introduces new techniques to the Angels Memorial trauma team.