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Critic’s Corner: What’s on TV Wednesday

Nick Briggs/HBO

Parade’s End 9 p.m., HBO

Benedict Cumberbatch — Cumby to some of his more loving fans — is top-notch in this smart five-hour adaptation of Ford Madox Ford by Tom Stoppard. Cumby is always good. But I was taken by surprise by Rebecca Hall (above, with Cumberbatch), who is a revelation as the bored, sadistic, confused Sylvia. She takes command of every scene she’s in. Think her character is superficial at your own risk. Tonight, in hours three and four, Sylvia acts out in a few big ways, including going to France to visit her husband.

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Chicago Fire 10 p.m., Channel 7

This may be a sleeper hit for NBC, since its ratings have stayed steady and risen on occasion. NBC is struggling, with the expensive “Smash” failing, maybe-hits such as “Go On” falling apart, and “Do No Harm” already gone after two episodes, but “Chicago Fire” has held onto its audience from week to week and is very likely to be renewed. It’s a decent show, by the way, a boilerplate but well-made action drama in the manner of “Third Watch.” If you’re looking for a “story,” try it. Plus: Gaga’s beau. Pictured: Taylor Kinney (left) and Treat Williams.

Top Chef 10 p.m., Bravo

Will Boston chef Kristen Kish have a stirring finale?

Modern Family 9 p.m., Channel 5

Gloria doesn’t trust her nanny. Needs another manny.

Law & Order: SVU 9 p.m., Channel 7

Rihanna and Chris Brown, ripped.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.
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