TV column for Wednesday, April 18

“Riverdale,” 8 p.m., CW.

In the midst of a
dark series, filled with betrayal and despair, it's time for ...
well, the high school musical. Really. Fortunately, this one is
“Carrie,” a dark tale of teen vengeance.

Kevin, the director,
goes with typecasting. Veronica plays the mean girl, Betty the nice
one, Cheryl the vengeful one, Archie the great friend; that matches
real life ... or did, until the show started inexplicably having
Archie go bad. The songs are blended into the hour, via rehearsals
and the show. The result? Musically, it's first rate, with talented
young performers; storywise, it remains a rather shrill soap opera.

“The Originals” (9 p.m. CW) and “Krypton” (10 p.m., Syfy).

This is a great time
for fantasy fans, with filmmakers able to deliver stunning scenes.
“Krypton” continues to deliver epic visuals, even when the
stories (including tonight's) are quite brutal.

And “The
Originals” opens its season with its own visual splendor and
personal pain. Klaus is causing chaos in Paris (where his brother
Elijah is a piano player with no memories). Hayley is in New Orleans
where (jumping ahead in time), there's been seven years of peace.
Their teen daughter –a terrific addition to the show – is in
boarding school. Soon, the peace is broken and the drama starts to

ALTERNATIVE: “POV: Bill Nye, Science Guy,” 10-11:30 p.m., PBS.

Nye has shown a
knack for re-invention. An engineering grad from Cornell, he became
the science guy on daytime TV, with a goofy sense of humor. A
kid-show star, he turned to serious debates and now argues
passionately that an “anti-science” bias has crippled our war on
climate change.

There have been
detours. This interesting documentary points to Nye's fear of ataxia
(an ailment that struck the rest of his family, but spared him) ...
his “trust issues” ... and his desire for the spotlight. When Nye
agreed to debate a creationist, the tape helped fuel the man's
massive fundraising burst.

Other choices

“Lord of the
Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), 6:59 to 10:23 p.m., Starz.
It's a night for great movies. There's this Oscar-winner plus (8 p.m.
ET on Turner Classic Movies) “Casablanca” (1942) – which is No.
3 (behind “Citizen Kane” and “Godfather”) on the American
Film Institute's all-time list.

“Nova,” 8-10
p.m., PBS. Leading up to Earth Day on Sunday, PBS has shows for kids
– daily “Cyberchase” episodes -- and grown-ups. “Nova”
follows scientists' efforts to grasp weather details.

“Empire,” 8
p.m., Fox. Even after last week's heart attack, Cookie refuses to
slow down. It's a busy time for everyone, as Lucious and Andre try to
upend Eddie's scheme to take over the company.

“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. For Take 3 -- three young women with talent and determination –
things are never easy. Now they're battling Noah Brooks for a coveted
track from a hot producer; also, Alex (of Take 3) and Noah revisit
their time together. And Carlotta re-opens her salon after a fire
nearly destroyed it.

“Criminal Minds”
season-finale, 9 and 10 p.m.,, CBS. After two hours tonight, things
still won't be settled. There's a cliffhanger, CBS says, to be
settled in the 14th season. Before that, someone is
targets part of people's brains; also, a former FBI agent has a story
that puts his credibility in doubt.

“Modern Family, 9
p.m., ABC. In a rerun, Shorty is visiting from Costa Rica. He ends up
paying more attention to Gloria than he does to his friend Jay.

Survivor,” 10 p.m., ABC. In this fictional White House, the hacking
is getting more serious: Now a therapist's private tape have been
leaked, raising doubts about the president's fitness. That launches a
five-week stay for Michael J. Fox, in a story that quickly defies