Revenge, Channel Seven, 8.45pm
CHARACTERS and plots may come and go with merry abandon, but one element of this potboiler remains reliably fixed: the dark, death-stare glare of vengeance-seeking protagonist Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp). If looks could kill, she would quickly be able to dispense with the myriad schemers, troublemakers and miscellaneous mercenaries who made her parents' lives hell and now conspire to do the same to her. But because things are not quite so simple in this soapy melodrama, she determinedly gets on with the business of making them pay. The plots, schemes, arguments and betrayals continue across the Hamptons. As always, things move fast: the dodgy dealings at Grayson Global take a new turn, Nolan (Gabriel Mann) discovers his company is being audited, the callow Declan (Connor Paolo) accepts a job he really should pass on, and Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) returns from the dead.
Raising Hope: season premiere, Channel Eleven, 8pm
WRITTEN and directed by series creator Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl), the first episode of the third season of this reliably funny domestic comedy offers more of its customary pleasures. There's the wonderfully astringent yet affectionate depiction of a family that elsewhere might be narrowly portrayed as white trash. There's the wacky humour, frequently focused on the Chance family's decidedly dubious habits in relation to food and personal hygiene - the sight of Cloris Leachman's magnificently dotty Maw Maw happily gobbling a stray meatball that has been retrieved from under a car seat comes to mind. And, amid it all, there's the question of how well-intentioned Jimmy (Lucas Neff) will manage to get his life in order and raise his angelic little daughter. Given the cheery energy with which the resilient Chances bounce through life and tackle its obstacles, there's ample cause for optimism about that. The opener features the mother-daughter duo of Melanie Griffith and Tippi Hedren as guest stars, with Griffith appearing as the wayward mother of Jimmy's beloved Sabrina (Shannon Woodward) and Hedren briefly glimpsed as her deceased mother.
American Horror Story, Channel Eleven, 9.30pm
PRODUCERS Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk might have overdosed on sweetness with Glee, but they certainly dive into the dark side with gleeful abandon in this grim chiller of a series. Its second season, ''Asylum'', is set in 1964 at Briarcliff, an institution for the criminally insane run by the Catholic Church. It's a place that's dark in every sense, full of inky shadows, menacing monsters and gruesome secrets. The fourth episode, ''I Am Anne Frank: Part 1'', stars the potent Franka Potente (Run Lola Run) as the new inmate of the title, a fierce and resourceful woman who claims the unspeakably evil Dr Arden (James Cromwell) has a hidden past involving a Nazi concentration camp. Macabre, spooky and often very nasty, AHS allows actors such as Cromwell and Jessica Lange, who plays Sister Jude, licence to cut loose. On the other hand, Sarah Paulson, as the incarcerated lesbian, Lana, injects some warmth. The scene in which Dr Oliver Thredson (Zachary Quinto) attempts his aversion-conversion therapy on Lana shows AHS in its trademark, wildly over-the-top form: unsettling, weirdly sexual and slightly gross.
Happy Endings, Channel Seven, 11.15pm
MAX (Adam Pally) has finally found his groove, making his mark as a bar mitzvah MC. He even has a signature move: the crowd-pleasing dreidel spin. Penny (Casey Wilson) is doing nicely managing his career but, predictably, things start to get wobbly when Max's pal Brad (Damon Wayans jnr) joins his act and they become Boyz II Menorah. Meanwhile, Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton) have to deal with the consequences of settling a little too comfortably back into their relationship. This frothy American sitcom has its moments, but it comes across like a patchier, raunchier version of Friends that's been tweaked for a new generation.