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26 Oct 2016

True TV: 'The Great Indoors' Wastes Joel McHale; 'Stan Against Evil' Shakes Up Halloween

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The Great Indoors is just an excuse for hack gen-x sitcom writers to lazily mock millennials, and a waste of Joel McHale as a snarky shadow of his former Community self. The Great Indoors is just an excuse for hack gen-x sitcom writers to lazily mock millennials, and a waste of Joel McHale as a snarky shadow of his former Community self.

The Great Indoors (Thursday, Oct. 27, CBS), series debut: Well, this is uncomfortably familiar: Outdoor-adventure magazine editor Jack (Joel McHale) returns from—what else?—an adventure, only to find that the print arm of his company has been put out of its dwindling misery, and he’s now in charge of cranking out “web content” with the “digital daycare division.” Everybody knows that print is dead (pause for audible sigh from this tabloid’s publisher … and … moving on). The Great Indoors is just an excuse for hack gen-x sitcom writers to lazily mock millennials, and a waste of McHale as a snarky shadow of his former Community self. Besides, we gen-xers need to just lay off millennials and concentrate on making fun the real enemy: baby boomers.

Pure Genius (Thursday, Oct. 27, CBS), series debut: A tech billionaire (Augustus Prew) enlists a maverick doctor (Dermot Mulroney—not Dylan McDermott) for his cutting-edge Silicon Valley hospital to treat “incurable” patients for free—yes, it’s another medical drama, but with a Feel the Bern! twist. But as with Code Black and pretty much every other drama on its schedule, there’s no potentially “new” idea that CBS can’t turn into a snooze that’s demo-targeted at baby boomers. (Not a theme this week, just the truth, man.) Creator/writer/producer Jason Katims injects moments of his missed Parenthood heart and humor into this tech-healthcare wet dream, but can’t quite overpower Pure Genius’ preachiness and self-importance (not to mention Mulroney actually uttering the phrase “gadgets and gizmos”).

Tracey Ullman’s Show (Friday, Oct. 28, HBO), series debut: British comic actress Tracey Ullman headlined the then-brand-new Fox network’s second series in 1987 after Married … With Children, and birthed The Simpsons (not literally—short features from The Tracey Ullman Show were eventually spun off into the animated series). More than 30 years and dozens of TV projects later (including the should-been-bigger 2008-10 Showtime series Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union, the piss-take ’Merica could really use right now), Ullman is still as unstoppable of a comedic force as ever. Tracey Ullman’s Show is a BBC series that’s being rebroadcast by HBO, featuring a somewhat more serialized storyline than her previous strictly sketch shows, and a Euro-famous Angela Merkel impersonation that may be lost on Yanks.

The Fall (Saturday, Oct. 29, Netflix), season premiere: U.K. crime drama The Fall has smoldered, twisted and teased for two brief seasons, with Det. Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) tracking down serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) in Belfast, Ireland. Though Spector was—spoiler!—gunned down upon capture at the end of last season, it’s a no-brainer that the literal lady-killer (women looove him; Dornan’s carving out quite the career as Mr. Deadly Dreamboat) is back for Season 3, with a possible exoneration looming as The Fall heads to the courtroom. Tense-sexy (tensexy?) parries between cop and killer are standard psychological-thriller fare, but Anderson and Dornan sell Allan Cubitt’s tight, if occasionally slow, scripting brilliantly. In typical Brit fashion, The Fall’s six-episode third season may well be its last—you know what to do.

Stan Against Evil (Monday, Oct. 31, IFC), series debut: Comparisons to Starz’s bloody-fantastic Ash vs. Evil Dead (currently slaying in Season 2) are inevitable, but Stan Against Evil is a different middle-aged-dude-battling-hell animal. First of all, it’s less gory, because 1. IFC is basic-ish cable, and 2. Ash vs. Evil Dead has severely depleted the nation’s fake blood supplies. Also, Stan (John C. McGinley) is far less gonzo than Ash; he’s just the retired sheriff of a small New England town (which happens to be built on the site of a 17th century witch burning, of course) reluctantly dragged back into action to help fight a demon uprising alongside his replacement (Janet Varney). McGinley’s over-it delivery is deadpan perfect, putting Stan Against Evil more in-line with Shaun of the Dead than Evil Dead. Happy Halloween! Regular timeslot: Wednesdays, beginning Nov. 2.

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