Several weeks into the new season, NBC finally puts its Thursday-night lineup in order with the season premiere of "Scrubs" (8:30 p.m., NBC). The return of this past-its-prime comedy may not be a reason for celebration, but its inclusion in the schedule allows "The Office" to return to a half-hour format after three "supersized" one-hour episodes that did not reflect "The Office" at its best. Its brand of improvisational comedy works better in short doses. But I must admit that last week's "Office" argument about the proper use of "whomever" and "whoever" may have been the funniest battle over grammar ever seen on television.
As "Scrubs" kicks off, J.D. (Zack Braff) and Elliot (Sarah Chalke) appear to be on the verge of another sexual encounter that may or may not be meaningful. Of course, it would be meaningful to Elliot's devoted fiance, Keith (Travis Schuldt), and J.D.'s abundantly pregnant girlfriend, Kim (Elizabeth Banks). Both characters spend the rest of the episode agonizing over their feelings with the goofy, juvenile self-absorption that has become this series' signature.
¢ "Iconoclasts" (9 p.m., Sundance) opens its third season. Each episode asks two notable figures to spend time together and create a profile of the other. Tonight, mutual admiration meets film promotion as actor/filmmaker Sean Penn and author/adventurer Jon Krakauer recall the doomed backpacker Chris McCandless and the motives that drove him into the wilderness and beyond rescue. His story inspired Krakauer's book "Into the Wild." Penn and Krakauer transformed the book into a script for the recently released film, directed by Penn.
Other pairings and profiles on this season's "Iconoclasts" include singer Alicia Keys and actress Ruby Dee; businessman Howard Schultz and TV producer Norman Lear; actor Mike Myers and author Deepak Chopra; jazz trumpeter Wynton Marselis and chef John Besh; and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and actress Ashley Judd.
¢ The Versus network (formerly Outdoor Life and home to NHL Hockey and the Tour de France) spotlights America's "Greatest High School Football Rivalries" (7 p.m., Versus). Over the next six weeks, "Rivalries" kicks off with Oklahoma's Union and Jenks high schools, heated rivals since 1946.
¢ Singing hopefuls have been whittled down to 15 talents who enter a musical boot camp on the new reality-talent contest "Making Menudo" (9:30 p.m., MTV). Over the next 10 episodes, the bilingual lads will hope to reform Menudo, a pioneering boy band and 1980s pop culture phenomenon from Puerto Rico. Look for special appearances by Wilmer Valderrama, Frankie J and Backstreet Boys member Howie D.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ While Earl has problems on visitation day, Joy and Catalina come to blows on "My Name is Earl" (7 p.m., NBC).
¢ The Boston Red Sox host the Colorado Rockies in Game 2 of the World Series (7 p.m., Fox), live from Fenway Park.
¢ Betty gives Internet dating a shot on "Ugly Betty" (7 p.m., ABC).
¢ Carrie Fisher (as herself) becomes a guest writer on the show on "30 Rock" (7:30 p.m.).
¢ Michael gives some local advertising his own personal flair on "The Office" (8 p.m., NBC).
¢ A washed-up boxer finds his place on the slab on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).
¢ The obligatory Halloween episode on "Grey's Anatomy" (8 p.m., ABC).