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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

TV

21 Jun 2017
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If you think adapting Stephen King’s The Mist (series debut Thursday, June 22, Spike) for TV is bad idea, know that ABC is launching a reboot of The Gong Show and a boy-band reality-competition show on the same night as the premiere of The Mist to compete with the summer filler stinking up Fox and NBC—there’s nothin’ else on. King’s Under the Dome, which was essentially the same story—a small town is isolated by a supernatural event—ran for three whole seasons on CBS, one of which didn’t suck. The Mist doesn’t have the luxury of known actors, just a crew of nobodies with zero lead-in assist from Lip Sync Battle, the only thing anyone ever watches on Spike besides Bar Rescue and off-brand MMA. But, as I said, there’s nothin’ else on. Alison Brie has had memorable supporting roles on Community and Mad Men, but GLOW (series debut Friday, June…
14 Jun 2017
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Now that Netflix is addressing the Too Many Shows epidemic and just canceling stuff for the sake of canceling stuff—buh-bye Sense8, The Get Down and Marco Polo—let’s get on with killing off The Ranch (Season 3 premiere Friday, June 16, Netflix). This laugh-tracked cowpie’s initial novelty of reuniting That ’70s Show stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson wore off quickly, leaving just a hacky sitcom with painfully slumming costars (Sam Elliott and Debra Winger—WTF?). Much like Tim Allen’s recently deceased Last Man Standing, The Ranch is red-state bait that thinks it’s cleverly poking P.C. culture, but ultimately just comes off as lazy. Netflix’s F Is for Family does it better—try that. Was anyone aware that Turn: Washington’s Spies (Season 4 premiere Saturday, June 17, AMC) was still a thing? Only me? The Revolutionary War drama’s fourth season will also be its last, and we all know how it ends (’Merica…
07 Jun 2017
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Syfy will be “rebranded” as a—get this—science-fiction channel on June 19; never mind that it was once upon a time actually called the Sci-Fi Channel. If you think that’s confusing, get ready for the return of Dark Matter (Season 3 premiere Friday, June 9, Syfy), everyone’s favorite show about amnesiac intergalactic criminals/models. The hook of the series is the gradual unveiling of each Raza crew member’s true identities as they hurtle through space, alternately solving and causing crises. The story doesn’t always make sense, but the actors (particularly Melissa O’Neil—2005 winner of Canadian Idol!) sell the drama and the action like there’s no tomorrow (not a cliffhanger spoiler … as far as you know). Back on Earth in the supernatural tsunami of Purgatory (lovely name for a town), Wynonna Earp (Season 2 premiere Friday, June 9, Syfy) finds the demon-hunting great-great-granddaughter of Wyatt facing a whole new set of threats:…
31 May 2017
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Somebody must have watched the first season of Will Arnett’s Flaked (Season 2 premiere Friday, June 2; Netflix), right? I mean, I did, but I get paid to watch shows … at least I think I still do. Arnett’s recovering-but-not-really alcoholic Chip wasn’t exactly 2016’s most sympathetic character—a 40-something Venice Beach emotional leech who lied to his friends, sold out his community and routinely slept with women half his age. But! Late in Season 1, a satisfying-ish payoff finally arrived, which might explain why Season 2 is six episodes instead of eight—Netflix’s way of saying, “Get to the damned point,” maybe. Flaked is about Chip’s redemption this time around, and the show is asking for a second chance as well. Plus, it’s all just visually gorgeous; more TV series should be filmed through Instagram filters. Meanwhile, would you believe that it’s already time for Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3…
24 May 2017
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After a fall-winter-spring blur of Too Many Shows, you’re thinking to yourself, “Summer is finally here—I can take a break from TV. Praise the Lord!” Sorry. Your god has abandoned you: Here are 32 new and returning series you’re going to have to watch this summer, because peak TV knows no season. In the unexpected return of Flaked (Season 2 premiere; Friday, June 2; Netflix), Chip (Will Arnett) heads back to Venice to rehab his ruined Local Hero status, if not his booze problem. Matters are even more dire for the gang on Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3 premiere; Sunday, June 4; AMC), as vigilante Build the Zombie Wall border patrollers won’t allow them to cross back over from Mexico. It could be worse; they could be struggling comedians in 1970s Hollywood—which is the setting for I’m Dying Up Here (series debut; Sunday, June 4; Showtime). Tim Heidecker re-ups…
17 May 2017
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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Friday, May 19, Netflix), season premiere: Where will the perkiest TV character ever created (cartoons included) go in Season 3? Now that she has her post-doomsday-cult-imprisonment GED, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is entering higher education: “After high school, most white girls go to college,” explains Kimmy’s landlady, Lillian (Carol Kane). Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will also welcome back everybody’s favorite cult leader and No. 1 draft pick for his own spinoff series, Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), as well as guest stars like Ray Liotta, Laura Dern, jinx killer Robert Durst (actually, Fred Armisen) and Beyonce (actually, Titus Burgess). We’ll also learn that Jaqueline (Jane Krakowski) attended Trump University, which makes sooo much sense. Still full of heart, Kimmy is as weird, warm and hilarious as ever. 12 Monkeys (Friday, May 19, Syfy), season premiere: Before the 2016-17 TV season’s onslaught of time-travel shows (Timeless, Time After Time,…
10 May 2017
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I Love Dick (Friday, May 12, Amazon Prime), series debut: Much has been think-pieced about Transparent showrunner Jill Soloway’s follow-up Amazon Prime series, I Love Dick: It’s a showcase for the rarely dramatized “female gaze”; it’s upending standard methods of linear storytelling; it has “Dick” in the title, etc. But … is it funny and/or moving? The first episode, launched last year in Amazon’s up-voting Pilot Season, answered with a hard “duh.” I Love Dick tells the story of New Yorkers Chris (Kathryn Hahn) and Sylvere (Griffin Dunne), who’ve relocated to a Texas artist town; she’s a struggling indie filmmaker, while he’s a writer-in-residency, and they’re both obsessed with local cowboy artist Dick (Kevin Bacon), a rugged bastard who couldn’t care less. If you loved the pilot, you’ll want to spend a whole season with Dick. Get Me Roger Stone (Friday, May 12, Netflix), documentary: Listeners of Alex Jones and…
03 May 2017
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Live PD (Fridays and Saturdays, A&E), new series: Well, new-ish. A&E (the “Anything & Everything” network) has aired Live PD, which is essentially Cops meets Facebook Live in hell, since October 2016, much to the delight of slackjawed homebodies who can no longer get it up for Duck Dynasty. The “action” unfolds as a real-time ride-along, with ex-cops providing stilted commentary from a studio desk like a low-rent SportsCenter; “action” is in quotes, because Live PD captures a whole lotta nothin’ for hours on end—except for that one time when they scored footage of a guy who’d just been shot and killed over a drug deal, and A&E execs probably scored a quarterly bonus. I’m not saying that viewers of Live PD are immoral, brainless dirtbags for watching shakedowns of drunk college coeds. I am heavily implying it, though. 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards (Sunday, May 7, MTV), special:…
26 Apr 2017
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Dear White People (Friday, April 28, Netflix), series debut: A few white people were angry about the mere title of creator/director Justin Simien’s 2014 film Dear White People, and even more got pissed when Netflix dropped a trailer for his new 10-episode series of the same name. They’ve never seen more than a minute of either, but said whiteys waged futile YouTube downvote campaigns and “cancel Netflix” drives to stop this reverse oppression … or whatever the hell was perceived as happening. Too bad, because Dear White People is a ferociously funny look at “post-racial” relations, PC college culture and misconceptions from both ends of the color spectrum. Could it maybe change some minds? Nah, probably not. But! For everyone else, DWP features some killer performances and nimble comical/political scripting. What’s in a name? Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (Saturday, April 29, TBS), special: In the name of Serious…
19 Apr 2017
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Mary Kills People (Sunday, April 23, Lifetime), series debut: Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas has starred in left-of-center American series like Wonderfalls and Hannibal, but Mary Kills People is probably the first to fully realize her oddly chilly-sexy potential. (It’s also a Canadian production, so no U.S. credit earned.) As the title bluntly spells out, Dr. Mary Harris (Dhavernas) kills people—terminally ill patients who want to go out on their own terms, specifically. Her secret Angel of Death gig threatens to spill over into every other aspect of her life, echoing dark-side classics like Weeds and Dexter, and Dhavernas’ complex Mary is an easy equal to Nancy Botwin and Dexter Morgan. The first season of Mary Kills People is only six episodes, but it’s an addictive taste of what should be more to come. Make it happen, Canada! Silicon Valley (Sunday, April 23, HBO), season premiere: Another season, another seemingly insurmountable…

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