LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (NBC) It must be the first law of “Law & Order” thermodynamics: As the original show has improved over the last two years, “SVU” has declined. The only idea the writers seem to have left is to put Elliot (Christopher Meloni) or Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) in danger, preferably in a situation that includes serious injury or torture. Returns Wednesday, with back-to-back episodes featuring the noted thespians Kathy Griffin (as a lesbian-rights activist) and Mischa Barton (as a prostitute).
Speaking of TV, our new favorite cable show is TNT's Men of a Certain Age starring Scott Bakula, Andre Braugher, and Ray Romano, a well-written slice-of-life about three childhood friends as they approach the big 5-0, created by Romano. Also in the running is HBO's The Ricky Gervais Show, the animated version of the hilarious, world famous podcast featuring The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant and the incomparable Karl Pilkington. Also, a special mention mention to another HBO show: Bored to Death, a Jonathan Aames-created, Brooklyn-based comedy nugget starring Jason Schwartzman and Ted Danson.