With 22 seasons under its rustic belt, “Survivor” (7 p.m., CBS) offers a new wrinkle in the formula. For years, getting eliminated meant just that. It was Paradise Lost, a goodbye wave to media Eden as the acrid smoke of your extinguished tribal-council torch singed your nostrils and stung your tear-stained cheeks.
Now there’s “Survivor: Redemption Island.” That’s the adjacent domain where the recently rejected get the chance to return, restrategize and revive their chances for the $2 million prize. But it’s no picnic. Contestants doomed to Redemption Island must defeat those who arrive after them in a duel. So like the fate of any gladiator, victory only ensures the opportunity to fight again. And again.
For some, “Survivor” has always been a metaphor for a savagely Darwinian pop culture — survival of the fittest and all that. Now, under the thin veneer of “redemption,” they get to double the dose of desperation in each episode.
If this succeeds, you can only imagine further flung islands of purgatorial play. Will there be an Island of Third Chances? And is that anywhere near the Island of Misfit Toys?
The possibilities for spinoffs are endless.
While we’re on that subject, “Criminal Minds” has spawned “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” (9 p.m., CBS. Forest Whitaker heads up an impressive cast that includes Janeane Garofalo, Michael Kelly, Beau Garrett, Matt Ryan and Kirsten Vangsness. And look for “West Wing” star Richard Schiff (who also appears in the current PBS miniseries “Any Human Heart”) as FBI director Jack Fickler.
With “Suspect Behavior,” we have arrived at a juncture where seven hours of CBS prime-time programming is comprised of franchise series (three “CSIs,” two helpings of “NCIS” and twice the “Criminal Minds”) and their offshoots. That’s a full third a 21-hour weekly schedule. Actually more than a third, considering how Saturdays offers two hours of repeats.
Why stop there? Spin off the whole schedule. Can we envision “How I Met Your Grandmother” in our future? Or “(An Even Bigger) Big Bang Theory”? “The Good Second Wife”? “Hawaii 6-O”? And for reasons outside of their control, CBS may have to gear up for another sequel: “One and a Half Men.”
• If Anthony Bourdain can extol cuisine on the Travel Channel, why can’t Jamie Oliver travel on the Cooking Channel? The British kitchen star looks for interesting meals in Europe and Africa on “Jamie’s Food Escapes” (7 p.m., Cooking).
Tonight’s other highlights
• Now in Hollywood, contestants vie for the top 20 on “American Idol” (7 p.m., Fox).
• Clown time is over on “Modern Family” (8 p.m., ABC).
• Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”) guest stars as the host of a TV series dedicated to finding predators on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (9 p.m., NBC).
• Vandals trash the clinic on “Off the Map” (9 p.m., ABC).
• Raylan chases a pregnant suspect on “Justified” (9 p.m., FX).