TV column for Wednesday, Dec. 6

“Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist” opener, 9 p.m., National
Geographic, rerunning at midnight.

Fossey grew up in
California, with a step-father who was rich and distant. Shy with
people, she was warm with animals; at 35, she found her role in life
– studying mountain gorillas in Rwanda.

This three-week
documentary follows the controversies surrounding her life and her
murder. It mixes new footage (beautifully shot) and film from her own
cameraman. It interviews many of the key people and makes ample use
of Fossey's own writing – read by Sigourney Weaver, who played her
in “Gorillas in the Midst” (1989) ... which will rerun at 7 p.m.
and midnight ET Thursday on NatGeo Wild.

“Modern Family,” 9 p.m., ABC.

For nine years,
we've seen Phil grasp for success in real estate. Now he's ready to
take a big chance, starting his own firm. To get in the mood, he's
trying a solo camping trip in the wild.

Meanwhile, Mitchell
decides he's going to teach Cam a lesson in gullibility and Lily a
lesson in responsibility. Naturally, this soon backfires.

ALTERNATIVE: “Happy” (Syfy) or “Knightfall” (History) debuts,
both 10 p.m.

Two ambitious cable
hours start simultaneously. In one, don't let the title fool you.

“Happy” is
roughly the least-happy show ever. Happy is the imaginary friend of a
little girl who's soon kidnapped. He pursues a possible rescuer – a
bitter and violent chap, played by Chris Meloni; the result is loud
and frantic and not much fun. By elimination, we might try History's
series; it follows knights in the Christian-Crusade era, after the
Holy Grail has been lost in battle.

Other choices

“A Very Pentatonix
Christmas,” 8 p.m., NBC. Here's a quick rerun of the Nov. 27
special, with guest stars including Jennifer Hudson, Jay Leno and
“America's Got Talent” winner Darci Lynne Farmer.

“Riverdale,” 8
p.m., CW. Jughead and Betty plan a welcome-home party for his dad,
who's getting out of prison. That leaves Archie and Veronica to take
over the Black Hood investigation.

“Empire,” 8
p.m., Fox. The master plan of Diana DuBois (Phylicia Rashad) is
starting to unfold. Cookie and Lucious try to take things into their
own hands, but their son Andre spirals out of control, worrying about
what's ahead for him. Also, Jamal's sobriety is put to the test.

“Star,” 9 p.m.,
Fox. There are relationship complications everywhere: Noah is in a
triangle with Star and her bandmate, Alexandra ... Elliott is eager
to advance his relationship with Cotton ... And Carlotta is happy
with Maurice – but keeps her focus on her family.

“Dynasty,” 9
p.m., CW. We're reminded that Fallon is a bad daughter (she co-opts
her dad's Christmas presents as her own) and a worse ex-lover –
leaving a naked couple locked outside the fire escape. Then again,
there are few good people here, as Cristal lies to her husband and
Steven confronts a fatal error from his past. With lots of evil, but
few skilled actors, “Dynasty” becomes a chore to watch.

Survivor,” 10 p.m., ABC. After sifting through thousands of letters
to the president, the staff chooses three to answer -- one of which
may involve saving a life.

“Chicago P.D.,”
10 p.m., NBC. When the daughter of a judge (John Pankow) dies, the
team probes a pill mill that's spreading into the subutbs. Also,
Voight learns who's been leaking information.