MONDAY, OCT. 17:
"How I Met Your Mother" [CBS, 8 PM]
Must Factor: Ray Wise and Neil Patrick Harris' "Harold & Kumar" co-star Kal Penn both make return appearances on tonight's episode. This marks Wise's second time portraying Robin's (Cobie Smulders) delusional father Robin Sr. (a role originated by Eric Braeden, who dropped out of playing the part last year to a flurry of angry tweets from Harris) and Penn's third time out as Dr. Kevin, Robin's court-ordered therapist-turned-boyfriend.
"Sing Your Song" [HBO, 10 PM]
Must Factor: This documentary, picked up by HBO in March, centers on the fascinating life of singer/actor Harry Belafonte, focusing specifically on his political and social activism. The film details Belafonte's early advocacy during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s, during which time he was blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer and began a close friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr. The doc, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, includes interviews with such luminaries as Tony Bennett, Sidney Poitier and Nelson Mandela. Be sure to check out music writer Melinda Newman's Sundance interview with Belafonte here, and her review of the film here.
TUESDAY, OCT. 18:
"Batman: Arkham City" [Warner Bros. Interactive, Rocksteady Studios]
Must Factor: This hugely-anticipated sequel to the best-selling 2009 release "Arkham Asylum" pulls gamers into a world that is five times larger than that of its predecessor and boasts new and enhanced gameplay features. Newly-introduced villains include Two-Face, Penguin, Mr. Freeze and Catwoman. "Arkham City" is being released on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows and OnLive on Tuesday, followed by a PC version next month and a Wii U version in 2012.
Jane's Addiction, "The Great Escape Artist" [Capitol]
Must Factor: "The Great Escape Artist" is the fourth album from the legendary alternative band, featuring 3/4 of the original lineup (founding bassist Eric Avery departed the group prior to the start of studio recording sessions last year). The album features three tracks co-written by former Guns 'n' Roses bass player Duff McKagan, who left the band last September due to creative differences and was replaced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek. Though early reviews have been decidedly unenthusiastic, uber-fans of the '90s alt-rock gods will no doubt feel the need to snap this up, particularly given how long it took for the LP to come to fruition (their last studio effort was 2003's "Strays").
First single "End to the Lies" (read Katie Hasty's review of the track here):
M83, "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" [Mute]
Must Factor: This is the first double-album from M83, the French dream-pop/shoegaze act founded by Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau in 2001 (though Fromageau departed the group after touring behind their second LP, "Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts"). "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" follows 2008's lush, critically-acclaimed "Saturdays = Youth", and Gonzalez has described it as a cross between the pop sensibilities of that record and the more ambient sounds of 2005's "Before the Dawn Heals Us". In other words, M83 fans of both persuasions have something to look forward to.
Shelby Lynne, "Revelation Road" [Everso Records]
Must Factor: "Revelation Road" is the third Lynne album to be released on the alt-country singer-songwriter's own Everso Records, which she created after getting into a dispute with her old label Lost Highway. Lynne is calling this her "most personal album ever", which should be good news to fans who first sat up and took notice with 2000's intimate "I Am Shelby Lynne", which resulted in the singer being awarded a Grammy for Best New Artist.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 19:
"Luther" [BBC America, 10 PM]
Must Factor: Tonight is the second season finale of the British crime drama starring (future Bond?) Idris Elba as brilliant, tortured detective John Luther, though "season" may be an overstatement given the paltry four episodes that compose it. Nevertheless, fans should be sure to tune in to see how everything wraps up - and perhaps get a hint of where the recently-announced third season might go.
"American Hoggers" [A&E, 10 PM]
Must Factor: "American Hoggers" is a new reality series that follows the Campbell family of Texas - father Jerry, mom Katie, daughter Krystal and son Robert - who run a business that sees them hunting destructive wild boar for a living. PETA may not like it, but apparently these hogs cause millions of dollars of damage to the ranches that butt up against their habitat. Perhaps not for the animal-lover set, but could be worth checking out for those looking for a new reality obsession.
THURSDAY, OCT. 20:
"Rules of Engagement" [CBS, 8:30 PM]
Must Factor: The season six opener sees the David Spade series moving back to its Thursday timeslot after CBS previously announced it had been relegated to the dead zone of Saturday nights, a plan that held only as long as it took for the now-cancelled Kevin Dillon sitcom "How to Be a Gentleman" to implode. In other words: fans of "Engagement" can once again hold their heads high now that it's been spared the indignity of being marooned in no man's land.
"Miss Representation" [OWN, 9 PM]
Must Factor: Former actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom exploited husband Gavin Newsom's rolodex mighty well in putting together this documentary, which sees her interviewing such big names as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Rachel Maddow, Katie Couric, feminist trailblazer Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda as she explores the "under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America". While it didn't exactly set the world on fire when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, its lineup of heavy-hitting interviewees is nevertheless a tantalizing prospect.
"Gigolos" [Showtime, 11 PM]
Must Factor: Fuel your voyeuristic urges with the second-season premiere of this controversial Showtime series, which follows a stable of five male Vegas escorts in their daily lives and even into the bedroom as they sate the desires of their female clientele. The series is oddly produced by former "21 Jump Street" heartthrob Richard Grieco, who was previously quoted as saying: "I was sick and tired of seeing shows that were just about women. And women pleasing men. Gigolos are part of our pop culture. The only thing that has been done about it was 'American Gigolo'. It’s been taboo. To me it was like, why?" Why, indeed.
FRIDAY, OCT. 21:
"Paranormal Activity 3" [Paramount]
Must Factor: There's reason to be excited for this prequel-to-a-prequel, which establishes the origins of the malicious entity that has plagued sisters Katie and Kristi since childhood. The film premiered to a host of positive reviews following its surprise midnight premiere at Fantastic Fest late last month (Drew's review), meaning fans of the first two movies look to be in for a few good scares leading up to Halloween. Also be sure to listen to Drew's interview with the filmmakers on his earlier podcast from the Austin festival.
"Martha Marcy May Marlene" [Fox Searchlight]
Must Factor: Billed as new "It Girl" Elizabeth Olsen's (younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) breakthrough performance, "Martha Marcy May Marlene" received a glowing reception at January's Sundance Film Festival, which resulted in helmer Sean Durkin receiving the U.S. Directing Award for Best Drama and a pickup by Fox Searchlight. The psychological drama centers on a young woman named Martha (Olsen) who escapes from an abusive cult in the Catskills, only to be haunted by memories of her past life and the paranoia that comes with them. Also stars Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Hugh Dancy and Brady Corbet. Check out Drew's review here, and Gregory's opinion on the film here.
"Margin Call" [Roadside Attractions]
Must Factor: For those who can stomach a fictional account of the financial crisis that led to the U.S. economy's frightening collapse in 2008, "Margin Call" takes place during a 24-hour period at an investment bank in the early stages of the catastrophe, focusing on several of the institution's key players. The cast is an interesting mash-up of acting heavy-hitters (Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons), faded stars of yore (Demi Moore, Mary McDonnell) and young up-and-comers (Penn Bagdley, Zachary Quinto), and early reviews are surprisingly decent, too. You can read Katie Hasty's Sundance interview with the film's cast members here.
"Margin Call" Sundance Press Conference:
SATURDAY, OCT. 22:
"Oliver's Ghost" [Hallmark Channel, 9 PM]
Must Factor: Ok, so it's not your first choice, but you're a parent now, meaning you can't exactly seat the kids down for a viewing of "The Exorcist". Better to suffer through a night of family-friendly Halloween fare with "Oliver's Ghost", about a young boy who must help a wandering spirit (Martin Mull, who played Roseanne's gay boss Leon Carp for several seasons) move on to the afterlife. The made-for-TV film also co-stars Rhea Perlman, and I mean really, does it get any better? Oh, stop your griping and just go with it - you can watch "Carrie" once the little ones have hit the hay.
SUNDAY, OCT. 23:
"Once Upon a Time" [ABC, 8 PM]
Must Factor: This fantasy series is about a woman (Jennifer Morrison) who discovers she's the descendant of a magical fairytale land in which all the inhabitants - including her mother and father, Snow White and Prince Charming - were the victims of a terrible curse put down by an Evil Queen that caused them to forget their true origins and become frozen in time in the town of Storybrooke, Maine. The series has received some decent advance buzz (it made Dan Fienberg's list of the Top 10 shows of the 2011 fall season) and was created by "Lost" writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, so it's worth checking out - particularly if you're looking for an all-ages entertainment option on Sunday nights. You can read Liane Bonin Starr's coverage of the show's Comic Con Panel here, and Mr. Fienberg's "gut level reaction" to the pilot (which may or may not have changed since he watched it) here.
"The Good Wife" [CBS, 9 PM]
Must Factor: Season 1 player Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker) is back for this episode, in which Alicia's key witness in a case commits suicide and convicted killer Sweeney is the only person who can testify and save her case. "House"'s Lisa Edelstein also appears in her recurring role of attorney Celeste Serano, and political strategist Donna Brazile (Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign manager) portrays herself in a cameo.
"Halloween Wars" [Food Network, 9 PM]
Must Factor: If you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming holiday, look no further than the Food Network's "Halloween Wars", which ends its brief four-episode run tonight when the winner of the best Halloween display is crowned. This week, the remaining teams compete under the theme "Underworld". Just don't feel too bad when your own decorating scheme fails to live up to theirs; these folks are professionals.