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15 Feb 2017

True TV: 'Britney Ever After' Is Cheap and Unnecessary; 'Billions' Is Back

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Since Britney Spears’ entire life and career have been over-documented in the media, there are no new revelations in Britney Ever After other than a sad reminder that Kevin Federline was once a thing. Since Britney Spears’ entire life and career have been over-documented in the media, there are no new revelations in Britney Ever After other than a sad reminder that Kevin Federline was once a thing.

Britney Ever After (Saturday, Feb. 18, Lifetime), movie: Britney Spears is a decent pop icon. She barely contributed to the writing of her own music; her singing is at maybe a semi-pro karaoke level; and her attempts at being “edgy” and the perpetual “comebacks” are as laughable as they are tiresome. But! To a generation of young women, Spears is still as important as Madonna was a decade prior. (Side note: Madge, it’s time to give it up … seriously.) A Lifetime biopic was inevitable, so here’s Britney Ever After, a cheap flick that stinks of rush-job non-urgency and, blech, Canada. (Production began just five months ago in Vancouver.) Since Spears’ entire life and career have been over-documented in the media, there are no new revelations in Britney Ever After other than a sad reminder that Kevin Federline was once a thing.

The Good Fight (Sunday, Feb. 19, CBS), series debut: “Remember how great The Good Wife was? Wasn’t Julianna Margulies awesome? And Archie Panjabi, Alan Cumming, Josh Charles and Jeffrey Dean Morgan? So how about a spinoff with none of those stars, on a pay-per-stream platform you’ve never heard of? Here’s The Good Fight!” CBS’ $5.99/$9.99-per-month All Access streamer was supposed to be good ’n’ launched by now with Star Trek Discovery, but that’s been pushed back to a star date in a galaxy far, far away. The Good Fight finds Wife attorney Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) starting over at another Chicago law firm and … I’m already asleep. Regular TV is already clogged up with legal dramas and Chicago procedurals; no one needs to pay extra for another.

Big Little Lies (Sunday, Feb. 19, HBO), series debut: Writer/producer David E. Kelley came back hard last year with Amazon Prime’s Goliath, a standard legal drama juiced with tight scripting and star power. Big Little Lies doubles down on the big names (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley, among several others), if not the writing; this could have easily been condensed from a seven-hour nonsensical series into a 90-minute nonsensical movie. The pretty, rich white folk of pretty, rich Monterey and their pretty, rich white kids at pretty, rich Otter Bay Elementary are embroiled in a who-among-us-done-it? murder mystery, impacting their daily lives of back-biting, gossiping and screwing (the parents, not the kiddies), and … who cares? The actors work their tiny, toned asses off, but Kelley’s cliché-soaked plot devices can’t be overcome.

Billions (Sunday, Feb. 19, Showtime), season premiere: The battle between semi-shady New York hedge-fund billionaire Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and frothily dogged U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) continues—cue the all-caps ACTING! Billions is dropping its second season of Big Money v. Big Law in a real-life political climate with eerie mirrors, though Bobby may not be as untouchable as the Cheeto-in-Chief: Chuck now has a smarter game plan in mind, while Bobby’s longtime ally—and Chuck’s wife—Wendy (Maggie Siff) has walked away from the men’s Season 1 wreckage, and Bobby’s heretofore loyal wife, Lara (Malin Akerman), might be next. It’s a soapy, twisting power struggle that, while not quite as unpredictable as current reality, digs its hooks in hard.

The Detour (Tuesday, Feb. 21, TBS), season premiere: In its debut season last year, The Detour took its National Lampoon’s Vacation inspiration and exploded it into countless directions over 10 half-hours as new weirdness about harried couple Nate and Robin (Jason Jones and Natalie Zea) was revealed in every episode. The road trip may be over, but Season 2 builds on last year’s cliffhanger revelation about Robin’s mysterious past by moving the family to Manhattan and introducing a new crop of guest stars to clash against (including John Oliver, Laura Benanti, James Cromwell and Jones’ wife/Detour co-creator Samantha Bee). I’ve already repeatedly told you to Hulu Season 1 … and now I am again.

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