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TV

19 Jul 2017
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There were sooo many questions at the end of 2015’s Descendants that Descendants 2 (movie, Friday, July 21, Disney) was inevitable … probably. Not being 12, I have no idea. Anyway: Descendants was about impossibly pretty teens who happened to be the offspring of Disney villains being liberated from the Isle of the Lost (aka Bad People Island) and given a chance to live straight in the United States of Auradon (aka Queen Belle and King Beast’s Socialist Utopia). In Descendants 2, one of the rainbow-haired kids (Dove Cameron) gets sick of being “good” and returns to the Isle of the Lost, only to find her old friends resentful for being left behind and/or left out of the Disney merchandising. Also: Singing! Of all shows, TBS’ Wrecked summed up Ballers (Season 3 premiere Sunday, July 23, HBO) best recently: “Game of Thrones? The best thing on HBO is Ballers! Who…
12 Jul 2017
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Friends From College (series debut Friday, July 14, Netflix), from Neighbors and Forgetting Sarah Marshall producer Nick Stoller, might have made a better movie than an eight-episode streamer. Or not: Who needs another outlet on any platform for pretty, well-off 30-somethings (the College was Harvard, and the Friends live in, of course, New York) to marinate on the hardships of adulting? Despite a killer cast (including Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Annie Parisse, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage and Jae Suh Park), Friends From College doesn’t make a case to give a shit about any of them—or its worst-of-the-’90s Spotify soundtrack. Yet again, HBO has decided that TV critics don’t need to see any of the new Game of Thrones (Season 7 premiere Sunday, July 16, HBO), and that’s cool with me. Anything that annoys tubby TV critics (who, despite the rise of Peak TV, still haven’t reached the level of self-grandeur…
05 Jul 2017
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Andy Samberg’s 2015 mockumentary, 7 Days in Hell, was all about tennis and ridiculous wigs; his latest sports-doc send-up, Tour de Pharmacy (movie, Saturday, July 8, HBO), is all about cycling and ridiculous wigs—at least he’s consistent. Set in 1982, “a dark and fictitious time in cycling history,” Tour de Pharmacy chronicles a doping scandal within a Tour de France-ish cycling competition, getting weird with a game array of guest stars: Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Julia Ormond, Dolph Lundgren, James Marsden, Kevin Bacon, Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Mike Tyson, J.J. Abrams and, of course, Lance Armstrong. Not all of it works, but there’s so much that it hardly matters. National Geographic already covered this three years ago with its The ’90s: The Last Great Decade miniseries, but leave it to a failing Fake News outlet to rip it off: The Nineties (series debut, Sunday, July 9,…
28 Jun 2017
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Two years ago, I actually typed the phrase “renegade zoologist” in reference to Jackson Oz (James Wolk), the protagonist of Zoo (Season 3 premiere Thursday, June 29, CBS). Surprisingly, both Wolk and I still have jobs in 2017, even though Zoo has now moved past the material of the original James Patterson novel, wherein animals had taken over the planet because humankind was too weak and dumb to stop it. (Sounds about right.) In Season 3, the sci-fi-ish series jumps ahead 10 years to 2027, when the world population is dwindling due to sterility, but at least animals are no longer a threat—well, except for the new, military-spawned lab creatures that are even more deadly. Way to go, humans! Nothing prompts me to cheer for a critter apocalypse like the major networks’ continued insistence on digging up long-dead “classics” and repositioning them as summer filler—the latest being Battle of the…
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,…

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