Thursday 8:30pm, NBC
This should be fun. My favorite comedy is putting on a live episode, and who better to conquer live television than that UVA alum and former “Saturday Night Live” head Tina Fey? I have no doubt that Fey, co-star Alec Baldwin, and Broadway vet Jane Krakowski can pull off a live show (actually, two: they’ll do one for the East Coast and then do it again for the West Coast). But I am concerned about Tracy Morgan. He will unquestionably be hilarious, as he always is on this show, but I give it five minutes before F-bombs start flying. The poor guy running the censor button is going to have Super Street Fighter II-style thumb blisters by the first commercial break.
Friday 9pm, Animal Planet
You know those stories in the paper about people who are attacked by their pet chimpanzees or mauled by a next-door neighbor’s tiger? Those situations aren’t as rare as you’d think, as demonstrated by the fact that Animal Planet has just started its second season of this documentary series that explores dangerous human/animal relationships. Not like bestiality (although some of the stories blur that line…), but like tonight’s episode, which focuses on snakes, including a spotlight on a man whose near-death experience at the fangs of one of the 40 venomous snakes kept in his home has not tempered his love of the reptile kind. Other episodes focus on people’s doomed “friendships” with bulls, bears and tigers.
Friday 10pm, Syfy
Sci-fi shows (and SyFy shows) are a mixed bag. With the right people behind them you can get a “Lost” or a “Battlestar Galactica”; with the wrong people behind them you can get a “FlashForward” or the remake of “Flash Gordon.” This series, which started out as webisodes, returns for its third season tonight. It has an interesting, if not particularly original concept, mixing elements of “X-Men,” “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and even a bit of vampire lore. Amanda Tapping (nerd favorite from her work on “Stargate SG-1”) plays Dr. Helen Magnus, an extremely long-lived scientist whose group tries to track down nonhuman “abnormals,” bring them back to their sanctuary, learn from and help them. Of course there’s a vast conspiracy out to get them and turn the abnormals against the human race, because someone always has to be an asshole.