Also on Wednesday: ‘Survivor,’ ‘Empire’

Empire201_sc54pt_0138_hires2-350x300The most anticipated returning show tonight is second season start for “Empire” (Fox, 9 p.m.), with Lucious in bars trying to conduct business and Cookie naturally seeking to take over the company even while throwing him a benefit concert.

It’s one of the greatest nights of reality TV, when “Big Brother” (CBS, 9:30 p.m.) ends its season with an unlikely trio competing for its $500,000 prize.

The overly-emotional Vanessa Rousso, the professional poker player from Vegas, has been playing the game super hard all season, enough to turn many other houseguests off. Steve Moses, 22, the geeky student from New York, had been so meek for much of the season you’d think he was hiding under furniture, emerging only in recent weeks to actually play. And Liz Nolan, 23, of Miami is the last vestige of the trio that had been running the house most of the summer, with her twin sister (who played her for a time) and her main squeeze, a goony pro wrestler with a pony-tail beard like Lou Albano. Most will have to agree Vanessa worked hardest to win.

It follows the 31st (1)  season premiere of “Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance” (CBS, 8 p.m.) in which many of the 20 castaways will be familiar faces from past seasons. All were voted in by fans.

“Nashville” (ABC, 10 p.m.) is back, with Hayden Panettiere starring in a Patsy Cline bio pic — one so weird she sings “Crazy” with Steven Tyler. Also Deacon has to survive his liver transplant.

The seventh season starts for “Modern Family” (ABC, 9 p.m.) with Mitchell experiencing a midlife crisis.

It’s the crown on a night long of returning comedy including “The Middle” (ABC, 8 p.m.), with Sue moving into her college dorm; a “Risky Business” themed episode of “The Goldbergs” (ABC, 9:30 p.m.) and a second season start for “Black-ish” (ABC, 9:30 p.m.), whose racial issues are raised by the young son performing the uncensored version of a Kanye West hit at school.

The 17th season begins for “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC, 9 p.m.), the only surviving iteration of that once mighty franchise. It gets a two hour premiere

One show I can’t believe is actually back: “The Mysteries of Laura” (NBC, 9 p.m.). But it is, and she investigates an abducted boy.

The 34th season premiere of “Nature” (PBS, 8 p.m., check local listings) looks at rescue centers that help young animals who have been abandoned or hurt.

On “Nova” (PBS, 9 p.m., check local listings), Canadian explorers look for remnants of the Franklin Expedition, lost nearly 170 ago to chart the Northwest Passage.

There’s at least one cable premiere: “Road Spill” (TruTV, 10:30 p.m.), which attempts to capture actual conversations during long car rides, though prying phones and earbuds from kids to participate may be wishful thinking.

“A Wicked Offer” (The CW, 9 p.m.) has its first season finale in Cleveland, trying to win cash to go on a cross-country trip.

Rachael Ray and Anne Burrell round up another set of “Worst Cooks in America” (Food Network, 9 p.m.). It seems there are no shortage of them.

Turner Classic Movies salutes the actor Kerwin Mathews, who was in all manner of adventures, from playing Sinbad in “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” (8 p.m.), to Gulliver in “The 3 Worlds of Gulliver” (9:45 p.m.) and Jack in “Jack the Giant Killer” (11:30 p.m.). Also: “The Pirates of Blood River” (1:15 a.m.), “The Warrior Empress” (3 a.m.) and “The Garment Jungle” (4:45 a.m.).

Baseball includes Yankees at Toronto (ESPN, 7 p.m.) and Arizona at Dodgers (ESPN, 10 p.m.).

Daytime Talk

Kelly & Michael: Anne Hathaway, Trevor Noah. The View: Sofia Vergara, Anthony Anderson. The Talk: Lea Michele, Leona Lewis. Ellen DeGeneres: Portia de Rossi, Duran Duran, Janelle Monae. Wendy WIlliams: The Game. The Real: Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran. Meredith Vieira: Nat Wolff.

Late Talk

Stephen Colbert: Hugh Jackman, Hugh Evans, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Pearl Jam. Jimmy Kimmel: Don Johnson, James Taylor. Jimmy Fallon: James Spader, Andrew Rannells, Brian Regan. Seth Meyers: Will Forte, Natasha Lyonne, Stephen Perkins. James Corden: Brit Marling, Kunal Nayyar, Fifth Harmony. Carson Daly: Eli Roth, Waters, Judith Shekoni. Tavis Smiley: Thomas Friedman. Conan O’Brien: Tim Allen, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Gary Clark Jr.


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