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Archive for Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Texas chefs, nothing much and the animal house

November 2, 2011

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Everything is bigger in the Lone Star State. Even the cast of “Top Chef: Texas” (9 p.m., Bravo). For the first time, 29 kitchen professionals will compete for the title of Top Chef in locations including Austin, San Antonio and Dallas. The list gets cut to 16 hopefuls rather quickly, so pay close attention!

Emeril Lagasse, no stranger to cable television, will appear as a guest judge this season, as will Hugh Acheson. Returning taste arbiters include Tom Colicchio, Gail Simmons and Padma Lakshmi. The “Top Chef” worthies will also prepare meals for a number of notables, from Charlize Theron to Patti LaBelle and Pee-wee Herman. Scream real loud!

• “Seinfeld” claimed to be a show about nothing, but this is the real deal. “NOVA” (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presents “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” a mind- bending contemplation of space itself. Not the space you think of when you see a sky full of stars, but empty space, the entity devoid of matter entirely.

Host and physicist Brian Greene explains that this space may not contain anything, but it defines the shape and behavior of the universe. He also tells us how scientists have been thinking about the nature of empty space ever since Isaac Newton. A challenging and thought- provoking hour for those who are up to it.

• “Nature” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presents a more accessible science show titled “The Animal House,” a look at the elaborate and amazing shelters built by animals and insects for millions of years. We’re shown how beavers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., can chew up whole forests for their enormous dams and lodges that protect them from fierce winters. We also visit with prairie dogs, which have underground warrens that even include little bathrooms that keep waste separate from their living quarters.

But no building critter has anything on the ants, which, we are shown, really put themselves into their work, using their own bodies as construction material!

Building prowess respects no evolutionary hierarchy. Bugs and bats have become masters of manipulating their shelters, but some higher primates — close cousins to human beings — don’t have enough sense to get out of the rain.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Styx performs live on “The Rosie Show” (6 p.m., OWN).

• Finalists perform on a two-hour “X Factor” (7 p.m., Fox).

• Harry tangles with her former boss on “Harry’s Law” (8 p.m., NBC).

• Salsa on the side on “Modern Family” (8 p.m., ABC).

• Tonight’s “MythBusters” (8 p.m., Discovery) is a matter of location.

• A homicidal sideshow on “CSI” (9 p.m., CBS).

• An accused rapist’s lawyer shreds police testimony on “Law & Order: SVU” (9 p.m., NBC).

• Too much publicity for the Graysons on “Revenge” (9 p.m., ABC).

• A new guest haunts the house on “American Horror Story” (9 p.m., FX).

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