Michelle Tauber and Patrick Gomez
November 11, 2013 12:00 PM

Modern Family

ABC, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

COMEDY

Five seasons in, the Emmy-winning juggernaut should be sailing deep into shark-infested waters, poised for an almighty jump. The kids have gotten older (Nolan Gould, as dim-witted Luke, has notably dropped an octave or three), the sets have become familiar and the actors have gotten much, much richer. And yet, in defiance of egos, inertia and historical precedent, Modern Family hasn’t just remained funny—it’s gotten even better. The rare series that debuted as beautifully set as a holiday Jell-O mold, it has built upon its cast’s chemistry and scripts that rate among television’s most consistent.

The season premiere perfectly nailed every parent’s desperation in the throes of sanity-killing summer. “Soldiers talk about that moment when they shut off, when the war finally wins,” intoned Dunphy family matriarch Claire (Julie Bowen, putting her sinewy tension to work). The upcoming wedding of Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) brings big-event anticipation, and the show has wisely underplayed the addition of new baby Joe. But in an ensemble of all-stars—the brilliant Ty Burrell reigns as my favorite beta male ever—Ed O’Neill has done the most nuanced, bighearted work of the season. He’s a TV dad for the ages.

The Tomorrow People

The CW, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT |

SCI-FI

As network formulas go, the CW has established a reliable one: beautiful young things plus teen alienation plus supernatural powers plus slim-fit leather jackets. It works again in this new series, in which a select number of (good-looking) humans have developed three powers: telepathy, teleportation and telekinesis. Robbie Amell stars as Stephen, a high schooler who discovers he is one of the “Tomorrow People” and joins up with a group of similarly evolved peers. Mad Men fans (do any of them watch the CW?) will recognize Roger’s ex-wife Jane (Peyton List) as a mutant with emotional baggage. Her clench-jawed beauty works well in any period.

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