WHAT2WATCH: Glee Reminds Us It Still Exists

Plots on Glee appear and disappear with crazy speed, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the life cycle of the series itself seems to be in overdrive. The show went from being a phenomenon in its first season to being increasingly griped about as its second season progressed. Executive producer Ryan Murphy spent the summer making a spectacle of himself by feuding with journalists and backtracking on the notion that much of the cast would have to “graduate” by May. Now, early in Season 3, Glee is not even the top-rated Tuesday show on Fox any longer.

There have been some signs in the early going that the brass has listened to the complaints, and that Glee might be ready to re-establish itself as a non-cartoon. This week’s post-baseball comeback episode (8 p.m.) is noteworthy for marking the debut of Damian McGinty, winner of this past summer’s The Glee Project reality show. He plays a foreign exchange student who gets on Brittany’s bad side, something I would have thought impossible. Shouldn’t someone from another planet be especially sensitive to a newcomer? There are also some developments in the Sue Sylvester congressional campaign, about which the less said the better. Glee will have several uninterrupted weeks now to rebuild its momentum, and only a slushie-throwing bully would root against it.

Also this week:

Monday: How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 8 p.m.): Ted reconnects with the long-lost Slutty Pumpkin (Katie Holmes) at a Halloween party. I’m assuming Holmes is too big a star -- er, too famous a name – to be the Mother, but let’s put her on the “maybe” list anyway.

Wednesday: Top Chef (Bravo, 10 p.m.): Bravo’s best series returns with a ridiculous total of 29 cheftestants – at least for this week. Only 16 will move on to the main body of the competition, which this season will take place in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. I expect to see chicken fried ceviche and salsa-drenched filet mignon at some point.

Thursday: Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, 9 p.m.): Here’s some news for everyone who misses T.R. Knight, and I know your numbers are legion: George’s mother pops in to her late son’s old workplace after another hospital screws up her surgery. Also, Alex is worried about competition, Teddy is puzzled by Henry’s plans, and Jackson is having girl problems. I feel bad for you, son.

Friday: Supernatural (CW, 9 p.m.): Sam and Dean head to the town renowned for having the most psychics per capita anywhere. One of them has apparently gone rogue and begun using occult forces to kill off the competition. The CW ought to try that with the other networks.

Saturday: Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m.): Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Horrible Bosses sorta-fame takes his first turn as guest host. Maybe he can teach the writers something about how to do bad taste well. Former rock band Maroon 5 provides the music.

Sunday: Hell On Wheels (AMC, 10 p.m.): AMC and HBO are conspiring to never give us any time off on Sunday nights. This new series covers some of the same territory as the late great Deadwood: in 1865, a former Confederate soldier (Anson Mount) heads west to where the transcontinental railroad is in progress, in a search for the Union soldiers who killed his wife.