The Wanda Sykes Show

FOX, Saturdays, 11 p.m. ET/PT |

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Lopez Tonight

TBS, Mondays-Thursdays, 11 p.m. ET/PT |

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TALK

Nothing in TV has been quite so volatile in the past year as the talk-show world. Wanda Sykes' attempt could be the strangest gamble of them all. The debut featured a segment on "green" sex toys (melon was put to perverse use), a bar where guests share drinks and a drag-queen assistant, Porsche. What came through was Sykes' potent sensibility: blunt, bawdy amusement at the world. Still, you've got your work cut out for you, ma'am. On the first few nights of his program, Lopez Tonight, George Lopez was thrilled by his achievement—a Latino star at the helm of his own national talk show. Lopez has proud, brash energy, but the jokes weren't taking off. Talk is cheap, but talk is hard.

Saturday Night Live

NBC, Saturdays, 11:30 p.m. ET/PT |

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COMEDY

In its 35th season, SNL remains relevant—a skit mocking Barack Obama was analyzed at CNN—but with presidential election fever long gone, the series has settled back into old form: a slackly paced professional showcase for talents who deserve better. That includes the entire current ensemble, especially MVPs Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. But there's no essential electricity jumping from performer to performer. Somehow, Taylor Swift managed to shake things up recently as host. Her comedy skills are, to put it politely, raw, but they also felt vital. The only sketch I've really loved this season was about birds attacking an outdoor cooking show, and it was the cheap prop crows that got the laughs.

>1 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS

SUN. 11/22 8 P.M.

ABC

Rihanna (right), Eminem and Lady Gaga will perform.

2 CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM

SUN. 11/22 9 P.M.

HBO

Season wrap: What are Larry David's chances of winning Cheryl? Pret-tay good?

3 HOUSE

MON. 11/23 8 P.M.

FOX

The team is baffled by a patient even smarter and more miserable than Dr. House (Hugh Laurie).

4 V

TUES. 11/24 8 P.M.

ABC

Elizabeth Mitchell snoops into the aliens' biohazardous plot aaand—the show's gone until March!

5 PUNKIN CHUNKIN

THURS. 11/26 9 P.M.

SCIENCE

Give thanks as pumpkins are blasted, flung and catapulted.

>• The Cincinnati native, 46, stars in both NCIS and its hit Los Angeles spin-off, but that doesn't get him out of chores at home.

WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING ON TWO SERIES?

It's surreal. I'll walk on set and Chris O'Donnell will say, "Here comes Mr. Double Dip!"

DOES THE POWER STATUS HOLD AT HOME?

Director Vance doesn't wield as much power with my wife [architect Gabrielle Bullock]. I've been married for 13 years. As long as I feed the dog and the garbage is taken out, that's what is important.

YOU BEGAN ACTING IN THE FOURTH GRADE.

I was a class clown. I realized early on feeling very comfortable in front of people. My first live performance was the lead in Peter Pan.

DO YOU COME FROM A SHOWBIZ FAMILY?

I'm the only one in the family who stumbled into acting. I have six siblings but grew up an only child. I was adopted by my aunt and uncle.

WILL YOUR DAUGHTER ELISSA, 8, ACT SOMEDAY?

She is not bitten by the entertainment bug yet. She gets bored quickly coming to the NCIS set. If I were on the Wizards of Waverly Place, she'd be more excited!

>• The Lost alum, 32, plays a quantum physicist who seems to have caused the show's worldwide blackout.

WHAT PROMPTED YOUR RETURN TO TV?

I'm playing a character that's drastically different from [Lost's] Charlie, which would be the only reason why I'd come back to TV.

WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO FLASH-FORWARD TO IN YOUR OWN LIFE?

I'd want to see if I was happy, if my kids were happy and healthy, and that my life was going well.

YOU DIED ON LOST. HOW LONG ARE YOU STICKING AROUND ON THIS SHOW?

For a while. They said I was going to be one of the characters that stuck around to the end of the show...so we'll see!

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT LOST ENDING THIS SEASON?

The fans have been hanging in there for five years, so I think it's worthwhile that they get to see it come to fruition.

>Among the unsung pleasures of FOX's ratings-challenged Fringe is Jasika Nicole as the beautifully named Astrid Farnsworth—the most unflappably cute lab assistant in sci-fi history. Week after week, Astrid faces the newest ectoplasmic horror with the calm of a doctor's receptionist exposed to flu. She steels our nerves.

>• The ventriloquist comic, 47, brings his controversial act to his hit Comedy Central show.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?

Growing up, I wasn't a ladies' man or a jock. This was my secret weapon to make fun of people and get laughs.

YOU GET FLACK FOR MAKING FUN OF ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE IN YOUR ACT.

If you aren't stepping on some toes, you probably aren't pushing things enough. I've been accused of all kinds of things, but I just want to make people laugh.

WHAT DO YOUR DAUGHTERS THINK?

They're 12, 14 and 18. I never in a million years thought I would be cool to my teenage daughters! It's every parent's dream.

>• The Memphis native, 13, beat out thousands of kids to become a Today correspondent.

ON BECOMING A JOURNALIST

When I was growing up, I saw how fun the job looked. I thought, this is something I have to do.

ON HER REPORTING EXPERIENCE

I used to report the news in front of my air conditioner at home. I would say, "I'm in a heavy storm and it's snowing."

ON MEETING THE TODAY HOSTS

Ann [Curry] always encouraged me. When I found out I won, I got teary-eyed and she hugged me. She's so cool!

ON HER DREAM INTERVIEW

Tyler Perry! He's funny but also serious with his comedy. It's a cool way to approach people about different things.

>1 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS

SUN. 11/22 8 P.M.

ABC

Rihanna (right), Eminem and Lady Gaga will perform.

2 CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM

SUN. 11/22 9 P.M.

HBO

Season wrap: What are Larry David's chances of winning Cheryl? Pret-tay good?

3 HOUSE

MON. 11/23 8 P.M.

FOX

The team is baffled by a patient even smarter and more miserable than Dr. House (Hugh Laurie).

4 V

TUES. 11/24 8 P.M.

ABC

Elizabeth Mitchell snoops into the aliens' biohazardous plot aaand—the show's gone until March!

5 PUNKIN CHUNKIN

THURS. 11/26 9 P.M.

SCIENCE

Give thanks as pumpkins are blasted, flung and catapulted.

>• The Cincinnati native, 46, stars in both NCIS and its hit Los Angeles spin-off, but that doesn't get him out of chores at home.

WHAT'S IT LIKE BEING ON TWO SERIES?

It's surreal. I'll walk on set and Chris O'Donnell will say, "Here comes Mr. Double Dip!"

DOES THE POWER STATUS HOLD AT HOME?

Director Vance doesn't wield as much power with my wife [architect Gabrielle Bullock]. I've been married for 13 years. As long as I feed the dog and the garbage is taken out, that's what is important.

YOU BEGAN ACTING IN THE FOURTH GRADE.

I was a class clown. I realized early on feeling very comfortable in front of people. My first live performance was the lead in Peter Pan.

DO YOU COME FROM A SHOWBIZ FAMILY?

I'm the only one in the family who stumbled into acting. I have six siblings but grew up an only child. I was adopted by my aunt and uncle.

WILL YOUR DAUGHTER ELISSA, 8, ACT SOMEDAY?

She is not bitten by the entertainment bug yet. She gets bored quickly coming to the NCIS set. If I were on the Wizards of Waverly Place, she'd be more excited!

>• The Lost alum, 32, plays a quantum physicist who seems to have caused the show's worldwide blackout.

WHAT PROMPTED YOUR RETURN TO TV?

I'm playing a character that's drastically different from [Lost's] Charlie, which would be the only reason why I'd come back to TV.

WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO FLASH-FORWARD TO IN YOUR OWN LIFE?

I'd want to see if I was happy, if my kids were happy and healthy, and that my life was going well.

YOU DIED ON LOST. HOW LONG ARE YOU STICKING AROUND ON THIS SHOW?

For a while. They said I was going to be one of the characters that stuck around to the end of the show...so we'll see!

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT LOST ENDING THIS SEASON?

The fans have been hanging in there for five years, so I think it's worthwhile that they get to see it come to fruition.

>Among the unsung pleasures of FOX's ratings-challenged Fringe is Jasika Nicole as the beautifully named Astrid Farnsworth—the most unflappably cute lab assistant in sci-fi history. Week after week, Astrid faces the newest ectoplasmic horror with the calm of a doctor's receptionist exposed to flu. She steels our nerves.

>• The ventriloquist comic, 47, brings his controversial act to his hit Comedy Central show.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?

Growing up, I wasn't a ladies' man or a jock. This was my secret weapon to make fun of people and get laughs.

YOU GET FLACK FOR MAKING FUN OF ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE IN YOUR ACT.

If you aren't stepping on some toes, you probably aren't pushing things enough. I've been accused of all kinds of things, but I just want to make people laugh.

WHAT DO YOUR DAUGHTERS THINK?

They're 12, 14 and 18. I never in a million years thought I would be cool to my teenage daughters! It's every parent's dream.

>• The Memphis native, 13, beat out thousands of kids to become a Today correspondent.

ON BECOMING A JOURNALIST

When I was growing up, I saw how fun the job looked. I thought, this is something I have to do.

ON HER REPORTING EXPERIENCE

I used to report the news in front of my air conditioner at home. I would say, "I'm in a heavy storm and it's snowing."

ON MEETING THE TODAY HOSTS

Ann [Curry] always encouraged me. When I found out I won, I got teary-eyed and she hugged me. She's so cool!

ON HER DREAM INTERVIEW

Tyler Perry! He's funny but also serious with his comedy. It's a cool way to approach people about different things.