The Monday Playlist: NBC Regains Its Voice, and a Bates Bro-mance?

TV Guide
Freddie Highmore | Photo Credits: A&E

This is the night NBC has been waiting for all year. A rough 2013 it has been, for sure, with prime time in freefall and even institutions like the Today and Tonight shows embattled by negative PR. You might begin to think Do No Harm isn't just a bad memory, but a motto the Peacock network somehow just can't seem to live up to.

If the tide is ever to start turning, it will be on Mondays, with the return of the game-changing The Voice (8/7c) and its irresistible, instantly iconic "Blind Audition" episodes. New to the hot seats: Shakira and Usher, filling in this cycle for Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera, with NBC hoping it doesn't matter who's sitting in those revolving chairs. The show's the thing, and this has always been the best part of The Voice.

In terms of keeping the lights on, NBC also has to hope that the long hiatus (since late November) hasn't stalled the momentum of its biggest scripted hit of the fall: Revolution (10:01/9:01c), which returns with an action-heavy episode of violent confrontations between the rebel heroes and the newly juiced-up forces of the power-crazed Monroe Republic, which now has helicopters, machine guns and RPGs at their disposal. "This is what war used to look like," laments Ninja Uncle Miles (Billy Burke) at a massacre site, as he and a remorseful Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell, who it's still hard to think of as anyone but Lost's Juliet) go in search of power of their own with which to fight back. Things go boom from start to finish, with occasionally startling and calamitous results, but this is still a show where people are known to ride to the rescue in a horse-drawn carriage. I wish I could say teenage heroine Charlie's (Tracy Spiridakos) gung-ho earnestness has grown on me, but she's still the weakest element, as if Nancy Drew had enlisted in The Hunger Games.

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CROWDED HOUSE: Three's not happy company in A&E's creepy Bates Motel (10/9c) when Norman Bates' half-brother Dylan (Max Theriot) - who knew? - shows up to rattle the family cage, adding a new wrinkle to the old mythology. Dylan upsets his mom by insisting on calling Norma by her first name; he has even worse names for her, which enrages sensitive young Norman to the point where Norma declares the interloper "toxic." If that's true, he'll fit right into the sinister town of White Pine Bay, where fiery retributions in a drug-fueled underworld appear to be the norm. In the latest nod to Psycho, Norman is heard wondering, "What's with all the stuffed animals?" when he spends quality time at the home of his new friend Emma (Olivia Cooke).

GUEST STAR ALERT: SCTV veteran Dave Thomas brightens Fox's Bones (8/7c) as a documentarian filming the Squints' latest investigation and catching the eye of a most unexpected admirer. The familiar film-within-a-film gimmick is made fresher by nearly everyone calling out Brennan for being too unlikable to be the protagonist of this story (i.e., show). ... Dallas welcomes back another blast from the past, Audrey Landers as the infamous Afton Cooper, who returns to care for her daughter, new-generation Pamela.

THE MONDAY GUIDE: CBS' long-running daytime hit The Young and the Restless marks its 40th anniversary on Tuesday, but cast members help toast the milestone a day early on the network's The Talk (check listings). ... Still reeling from the unexpected sacrifice on Sunday's The Walking Dead? AMC replays the entire first three seasons of the series, in a nightly "Zombie Apocalypse" marathon countdown to Sunday's season finale, starting at 8/7c. ... What were they thinking, adding contemporary routines to the very first episode of ABC's Dancing With the Stars? This week, as the celebs prepare for Tuesday's first elimination - D.L. Hughley is lucky they didn't just cut him after last Monday's show - they'll be dancing a jive, quickstep or jazz routine. ... While Lisa Vanderpump takes to the dance floor again, one hopes having gotten over her weird aversion to body contact with her partner, she's also center stage for the season finale of Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (8/7c). Gluttons for narcissism will stay tuned for "Reunion Part One" (9/8c), which Adrienne Maloof chooses not to attend, a decision that leads to what Bravo is touting as "a shocking announcement." ... Billy Zane is Barabbas in a two-part Reelz miniseries (9/8c, concludes Tuesday), a remake of the Biblical epic about the bandit who was spared when Jesus was crucified. ... Han fires Caroline for insulting the diner on CBS' 2 Broke Girls (9/8c). Before we celebrate her good (though likely temporary) fortune, we have to wonder: Has he never heard Max speak?

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