Last year’s FX breakout American Horror Story surprised audiences while weaving sexy and scary storylines into one addicting series. A broken family moved into a true haunted house (unbeknownst to them), and each week we encountered a new murder that occurred in the home. Jessica Lange shined as the mysterious neighbor, Constance, and recently walked away with an Emmy for her role. So how do Ryan Murphy and his crew top such a sensational season? By creating a new frightening format altogether.
The premiere of American Horror Story: Asylum (10 p.m. Wednesdays, FX) opens with what some would consider the honeymoon from hell. But for two modern-day newlyweds, it’s their mission to get frisky in the 12 most haunted attractions in America. They break into the abandoned Briarcliff Manor, an East Coast tuberculosis ward built in 1908. The building was bought by the Catholic church and remodeled as an asylum for the criminally insane in 1962. After a few romps around the manor, the couple discovers a disturbing presence.
Much of the season will take place in the Manor’s heyday during the ’60s, with many actors returning from season one to portray completely different characters. Lange plays sadistic nun Sister Jude, Sarah Paulson trades in her role as a medium for a lesbian reporter, Evan Peters (formerly Tate) portrays a man locked up for allegedly murdering his missing wife. The list of intriguing characters goes on.
Death and ghosts aren’t the only horrors in this story — Nazis, aliens, scientific experiments with humans, the idea of having one’s sanity questioned and many other terrors are realized within the walls of Briarcliff.
WEDNESDAY OCT. 17
Modern Family (9 p.m., ABC) – Cam begins working as a music teacher at Manny and Luke’s school, giving Mitchell the chance to swap roles and play stay-at-home dad. Meanwhile, Gloria gets the preggo snores.
South Park (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – When Butters starts speaking up and acting out, his parents send him to Hawaii to learn about his heritage.
30 Rock (8 p.m., NBC) – Liz embarks on a mission to prove to Tracy (and the world) that women are funny. Jack tries a new dating strategy, which involves guest star Ryan Lochte as a “sex idiot.”
Project Runway (Season Finale, 9 p.m., Lifetime) – Christopher, Melissa, Fabio and Dmitry debut their full collections at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week; one winner will be selected.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (10 p.m., FX) – When Philly trash collectors go on strike, the gang tries to set up a lucrative gig. Dee reprises her role as the streetwise-n-sassy Martina Martinez.
The League (10:30 p.m., FX) – Jenny and Kevin must decide whether to have their son circumcised. The guys have their opinions, and even Shiva weighs in!
SATURDAY OCT. 20
The Girl (Premiere, 9 p.m., HBO) – Sienna Miller stars in this HBO film as Tippi Hedren, Alfred Hitchcock’s (Toby Jones) muse-turned-obsession and leading lady in The Birds.
Saturday Night Live (11:30 p.m., NBC) – Bruno Mars hosts and performs as musical guest.
SUNDAY OCT. 21
Dexter (9 p.m., Showtime) – Speltzer walks after his confession is thrown out of court and Dex becomes more involved with the Ukrainian mob.
The Walking Dead (9 p.m., AMC) – The group must deal with Hershel’s trauma as well as a group of not-dead (but still dangerous) inmates.
Boardwalk Empire (9 p.m., HBO) – Nucky lands in hot water in Washington, D.C., where Gaston Means offers him a proposition; Richard meets a fellow veteran; Ester Randolph is back!
Homeland (10 p.m., Showtime) – Saul brings Brody’s video confessional to the C.I.A; Carrie and Brody plot to reconnect for different, respective reasons.
MONDAY OCT. 22
The Final Presidential Debate (9 p.m., Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS) – Obama and Romney go at it one last time; this week, they discuss foreign policy. Tweet your thoughts to @CityBeatCincy and @CityBeat_News using the hashtag #cbdebate or join us at MOTR Pub for a watch party starting at 8 p.m.
TUESDAY OCT. 23
Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 (Season Premiere, 9:30 p.m., ABC) – James Van Der Beek tries to arrange a Dawson’s Creek reunion and ends up running into other ghosts of TV past like Frankie Muniz.
Parenthood (10 p.m., NBC) – Kristina’s surgery and Max’s student council speech land on the same day; Sarah moves in with Mark; that hunky vet Ryan asks Amber out.
Sons of Anarchy (10 p.m., FX) – Jax takes command and stands his ground when matters get complicated.
CONTACT JAC KERN: firstname.lastname@example.org or @jackern