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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

There may be a future version of this column that covers streaming content, and only streaming content, because that’s where we’re headed. (Some of you are already there; the Cord-Cutter Cabal constantly tells me, “But I don’t have regular TV anymore! What about meee?!”) There will be no networks, only on-demand platforms where everyone watches whatever at their own pace—it could be an HBO series from three years ago, or last week’s Bachelor in Paradise, or the latest TMZ report on Bachelor in Paradise STI stats; who knows? Anyway: Party Boat (movie premiere Thursday, Aug. 24, Crackle) is an ’80s-riffic movie about a party boat, on streamer Crackle. You’ll probably check it out in 2021.

A Netflix comedy starring Kathy Bates as a marijuana shop proprietor? How could this possibly suck? Easy: It’s created and produced by the king-daddy laugh-track-hack himself, Chuck Lorre. Disjointed (series debut Friday, Aug. 25, Netflix) stars Bates as a Los Angeles “weed legend” who opens her cannabis dispensary with her recently graduated son and sundry “budtenders”; lazy, outdated hippie yuks and mellow-harshing canned laughter ensue. Disjointed is no Weeds or High Maintenance—hell, it’s not even The Big Bang Theory, Lorre’s pinnacle achievement in co-opting a richly eccentric niche of society and dumbing it down for ’Merica. Bates bailed on American Horror Story for this?

This column reviewed the first live-action take on cartoon hero The Tick back in 2001, an initial Fox failure that’s now a beloved cult item for legions of fans (unlike this column, the continued existence of which is usually met with: “You still doing that?”). For The Tick (series debut Friday, Aug. 25, Amazon Prime), creator Ben Edlund is back onboard and determined to make it stick this time, delivering a darker and slightly more serious tone—more Christopher Nolan Batman, less Adam West Batman. The shift showed in the 2016 Amazon pilot, and carries through the new series; Peter Serafinowicz is no Patrick Warburton, but this isn’t the same Tick. We’ll get over the absence of Batmanuel.

Instead of my usual bitching about the Best “Rock” Video category (Coldplay and Fall Out Boy still in … I’m out), I’ll focus on the performers at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards (Sunday, Aug. 27, MTV). Host Katy Perry will obviously have to show up and lip sync, but will Miley Cyrus make it after bailing on the Teen Choice Awards? The closest thing to a rock band performing this year is 30 Seconds to Mars, which reminds me: Have you seen the 2012 documentary Artifact, about the band’s battle with the record company? It’s 10 percent valuable music-biz lesson, and 90 percent Jared Leto in ridiculous hats and scarves, which I believe to be a performance-art piece within the doc. Watch that instead.

Right about now is when the Thronies start losing their shit. Game of Thrones (Season 7 finale Sunday, Aug. 27, HBO) is closing its penultimate chapter, so cue the handwringing: “Why is this season only seven episodes long?!” Because that’s how many they made. “Why do we have to wait a whole year for the final season?!” Because that’s how long it’ll take to make it. “But why does Game of Thrones have to end?!” Because the show runners have to get to work on their brilliant, already-so-well-received idea for a series about a Confederate United States. “But what will I watch now?! There’s literally nothing else on!” If only there were a guide, perhaps in weekly written form, recommending good TV shows. If only.

In honor of the 100th episode of Suits (Wednesday, Aug. 30, USA), this column will attempt to answer the question, “So, what the hell is Suits?” The crux of the story is that a big-deal Manhattan lawyer (Gabriel Macht) hired a young law-school dropout (Patrick J. Adams) to work in his corporate law firm/apparent modeling agency … and 99 episodes later, here we are! A whole lotta posing, hair-tossing and exclamations of, “I’ll see you in court!” happened between then and now; fortunately, USA’s White Collar ceased to be a point of series confusion years ago. (White Collar was about beautiful FBI agents and a rogue outsider—totally different.) Happy 100th, Suits!

Published in TV

The Strain (Sunday, Aug. 28, FX), season premiere: The most disconcerting part of the Season 3 opener of The Strain, FX’s scariest series (sorry, American Horror Story)? Setrakian (David Bradley) reminding us that it’s only been 23—23!—days since the Euro-vampires landed in New York City. Dr. Eph (Corey Stoll) is boozing through the pain of his girlfriend’s death and his son’s kidnapping by his now-vamp wife, and his bio-weapon is losing its lethality against “the munchers”—all of this stress could explain why his hair won’t grow back. The locals believe they’re still “New York Strong,” but even the military, which has essentially given up on saving the city, is outmatched. (It does make for some great Call of Duty: Vamp Town action sequences, though.) New Yorkers are on their own to fight The Strain … but what’s a little vampire takeover after beating back a Sharknado?

2016 MTV Video Music Awards (Sunday, Aug. 28, MTV), special: In a twist this year for the MTV Video Music Awards, the Best “Rock” Video nominees—All Time Low, Coldplay (!), Fall Out Boy ft. Demi Lovato (!!), Panic! At the Disco and Twenty One Pilots—are nearly out-rocked by the Best Electronic Video Nominees—and I can’t even tell you who they are, because they all look and sound identical! Is there really a difference between Calvin Harris, Mike Posner and The Chainsmokers besides hoodie textures? And why is there a Best Collaboration Video category when practically every video in every category has a “Ft.” guest? (I’m guessing “Ft.” means “Featuring,” though it could just as well stand for “Filler twits.”) And why is elderly lady Britney Spears performing? And where’s my channel-clicker? I’ve gotta watch five hours of MTV Classic now.

You’re the Worst (Wednesday, Aug. 31, FXX), season premiere: TV’s funniest comedy took a decidedly unfunny turn last season to deal with the clinical depression of Gretchen (Aya Cash), and still managed to wring some laughs out of a downer detour. In Season 3, You’re the Worst gets back on track with not only Gretchen and Jimmy (Chris Geere) in a relationship (and hating it, and loving it, and being confounded by it), but also a pairing of Edgar (Desmin Borges) and Dorothy (Collette Wolfe) and, to a weirder extent, Lindsay (Kether Donohue) and Paul (Allan McLeod). History dictates, however, that at least one, if not all, of these couplings will devolve into a hot mess—and it’s going to be glorious (and, thanks to creator Stephen Falk’s masterful writing, painfully real). Seasons 1 and 2 of The Only Anti-Rom-Com That Matters are on Hulu; get on it now.

Marcella (Streaming, Netflix), new series: Yeah, it debuted back in July—don’t make me play the There’s Too Many Shows card! Marcella, a British series that’s made its way stateside via Netflix, comes from producer/writer/director Hans Rosenfeldt (FX’s late, great The Bridge), with Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies; the late, not-great American Odyssey) in the title role as a troubled London detective back on the case of a suddenly active-again serial killer. If the setup sounds a bit “been-there,” consider some of Marcella’s troubles: Her husband (Nicholas Pinnock) has just left her for a younger woman at his legal firm; said woman is among the killer’s latest victims; Marcella suffers from rage blackouts after which she occasionally awakens covered in blood. Is she a murderer? Or, at the very least, sane-ish? The answers don’t necessarily come, but Friel is fantastic, and Marcella is cooler than any new cop show arriving this fall on ’Merican TV.

Aquarius (Saturdays, NBC), the final episodes: This is how it ends, not with a bang but a Saturday-night burn-off. After being bumped from the NBC schedule for more than a month due to political conventions, the Summer Olympics and Season 2 ratings that have sunk lower than a 4 a.m. infomercial for a Charles Manson box set (“Charlie Don’t Surf: The Complete Manson Masterworks! Order now!”), Aquarius is (un)officially over. The final six episodes of David Duchovny’s historical-ish ’60s cop romp will be blown out two-a-night for the next three Saturdays, and thanks to the show’s delusional five-season plan, there’s likely no wrap-up here, and we’ll never find out if the LAPD ever caught Manson, damn it …

Published in TV

A growing segment of country music is going against the genre’s mainstream—and one of those rebels is Joe Buck (real name: Jim Finkley).

Buck has been playing obscure country music since the beginning of his music career as the guitarist for Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, and as the upright-bass player for Hank Williams III. Now he’s bringing his one man show, Joe Buck Yourself, to The Hood Bar and Pizza on Thursday, Oct. 10.

Joe Buck’s involvement with Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers and Hank Williams III included punk-rock attitude, outlaw country and even tinges of early Americana. Hank Williams III sounds more like his grandfather than his father—only with lyrics that are similar to those by David Allan Coe. Joe Buck brings a similar attitude and performance style to Joe Buck Yourself.

When asked about his music career, Joe Buck responded with a laugh.

“Have I had a career?” he asked. “I’ve been playing since I was a kid. I thought I could be an athlete when I was a kid, and I hurt my leg. I saw Eddie Van Halen in 1980, and I thought, ‘That looks like a good job.’ I got myself some gear, and I went to town.”

He joined Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers in 1998 as a founding member, but left in 2003 after meeting Hank Williams III in a bar in Nashville.

“It was a good time in my life,” he said. “I thought the music we were doing was important. I didn’t think ‘it’ so much or ‘us’ so much. For us, it was all about Southern kids having something that didn’t suck.”

Buck said mainstream country music has become somewhat of a sideshow act.

“I grew up with the old country guys, along with the punk-rock bands,” he said. “But the old country dudes … they were very strong, proud men and great writers. You listen to Hank Williams Sr., and there’s a reason why they call him ‘The Hillbilly Shakespeare,’ man, and we’re left to believe in our world today that these are illiterate hillbillies. Yet none of our kids going to public schools these days can fucking read or write.”

He also feels that the country music of today is largely missing the art aspect.

“It makes me physically ill,” he said. “I believe that art is important to our culture. If music is music, it’s art. If it’s not art, and it’s not music, it’s math, and that’s what (mainstream country musicians) got. It’s like giving a cancer patient a salt tablet: It doesn’t heal their soul, and it doesn’t do anything to them. … (Old music) is the reason why I dedicated my life to music—because it did something to me.”

The Independent spoke to buck shortly after Miley Cyrus’ infamous performance at the MTV Music Video Awards.

“I’ve been doing this my whole life, and playing thousands of shows—and I’m in the same business as THAT? I don’t know what that is with the Smurfs, or whatever the hell those things were, and the post-adolescent bit. Any time when goodness happens, it’s corrupted immediately and used in devious terms for commercial value.”

Buck said that he never sacrifices his independence or artistic vision.

“Yes, I need to make a living making music to go around and play shows. I have to put gas in my tank; I have to eat; and I have to buy T-shirts to sell. There’s an economy of this, but when it becomes strictly for-profit, then it has nothing to do with music.”

Buck is also working on a book, and he talked about his recovery from a near-fatal car accident.

“I had this car wreck that almost killed me,” he said. “My little hometown people at the hospital were great at putting me back together. My legs were crushed, along with one of my arms. They put me back together great, but they gave me Demerol during six days of being in an induced coma; when they got me off of that, they tried to give me an OxyContin—when I’m a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. I was mad at them. I got all this shit drilled into me and a halo in my leg. They’re really good at fixing you, but they wanted to send me to a psychiatrist, because I had a tour with Hank in three months, and they thought I was delusional about going back to work.”

During his recovery, he went to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville for physical therapy.

“I had to go to Vanderbilt for physical therapy, where everybody is an invalid. … Everybody has shit getting drilled into them; you have your own special wheelchair, and the whole thing. What they saw with me was dollar signs. They pushed dope harder on me than drug-dealers do. I’ve never been to medical school, and I just wanted to go back to work. I refused their dope, did it my way, worked out for eight hours a day, and went back to work in 3 1/2 months. Had I done it their way, I would have been on dope for the rest of my life; I would have made minimal progress; and I never would have gotten better.”

Joe Buck said that when it comes to making a living, he’s one of the fortunate ones.

“I’ve been lucky, and I’m pretty sure I know what I’m doing when I play,” he said. “I hear this every day about how I have inspired people. I know what they’re saying. I love what I do, and when they see people reveling in their jobs and doing what they’re supposed to be doing in life—they don’t see that very often.

“When I go to the store, I don’t see the people there reveling in their jobs. What I’m trying to do for people with my songs is convince everyone that they can do whatever the fuck they want. Lose the fear, and there’s nothing to be afraid of. Failure is how you learn your most valuable lessons.”

Joe Buck Yourself will play with Shawn Mafia and the 10-Cent Thrills at 10 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 10, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission to the 21-and-older show is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or track down the event page on Facebook.

Published in Previews

Ghost Shark (Thursday, Aug. 22, Syfy), movie: “Maybe all we gotta do is stay dry, and it’ll leave us alone,” says Victim No. 46 of Syfy’s Ghost Shark, injecting logic where it damned well doesn’t belong—but at least this is more plausible than Sharknado: “A great white shark is tortured and killed by a fisherman, then returns from the dead, exacting vengeance on all humans.” Well, all humans and Night Court’s Richard Moll, who plays a crazy lighthouse keeper (is there ever any other kind?) who teams up with some meddling kids (including 7th Heaven’s Mackenzie Rosman) to stop the spectral-chomping wrath. The only legitimately scary aspect of this flick is that I’m referencing Night Court and 7th Heaven in 2013.

America’s Next Top Model (Fridays, The CW), new season: Cycle 20 (!) started a few weeks ago, but somehow, The Only TV Column That Matters™ totally missed it—and there are guys competing this season! America’s Next Top Model needed something new to shake things up; introducing sausage into the fest is a waaay better idea than previous gimmicks, like using just short girls, or that one painfully dull season when all of the contestants were mentally and emotionally stable (zzz). True TV’s picks—plural, because it’s unlikely that smizeinator Tyra Banks will let just one gender take it—to win are Nina and Phil, who look more like contestants on Portlandia’s Next Top Model.

Escape From Polygamy (Saturday, Aug. 24, Lifetime), movie: A struggling single mom (Mary McCormack) and daughter (Haley Lu Richardson) move into a polygamist compound, because, hey, what ever goes wrong on a polygamist compound? Then the daughter falls in love with a son (Jack Falahee) of the compound’s resident prophet, “Ervil” (William Mapother), who decides to give his kid the “lost boys” treatment. (For those of you who aren’t Mormon-studies scholars, this means banishment, not vampires in mullets.) That way, he can add the teen girl to his own stable of wives and move the whole operation to Mexico, because, hey, what ever goes wrong in Mexico?

2013 MTV Video Music Awards (Sunday, Aug. 25, MTV), special: The nominees for “Best Rock Video” at the 30th annual MTV Video Music Awards? Fall Out Boy, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Vampire Weekend, Imagine Dragons and Mumford and Sons. Barring an aneurysm or stroke, a full version of Old Man Frost’s “None of This Shit Is Rock!” as an annotated rant should be available shortly.

Teen Mom 3 (Monday, Aug. 26, MTV), season premiere: Now this is what MTV does best: exploiting stupid, destitute, pregnant teens to feed the already-astronomical profits of a multinational media conglomerate. After all, exploiting stupid, destitute musicians to feed the already-astronomical profits of a multinational media conglomerate is so 2003. Now that the original Teen Moms have, thanks to MTV, moved onto better, richer lives in prison and porn, four new girls have been called up from the 16 and Pregnant farm league to continue the franchise. Dr. Drew, you’re on deck.

Joe Rogan Questions Everything (Wednesday, Aug. 28, Syfy), season finale: Joe Rogan has the smartest show on Syfy? Didn’t see that coming. In the initial episodes of Joe Rogan Questions Everything—an extension of his Experience podcast—Rogan explored the dangers of worldwide disease pandemics (could happen), chemtrails (conspiracy-nut crapola) and the melding of man and technology (on its way … or are we living in it now?); in the season finale, he takes on “Psychic Spies.” Maybe next season, he’ll get to Teen Moms and Ghost Sharks.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR AUG. 27!

Collision Course

An author (Tia Carrere!) and a flight attendant (David Chokachi!!) attempt to fly a commercial plane full of passengers after a solar flare kills the pilot and fries the electronics. Wouldn’t a movie about human-killing solar flares be better? (Marvista)

Elementary: Season 1

Modern-day Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) comes to New York City to stay sober, become even quirkier and solve crimes, with the help of sidekick Watson (Lucy Liu) and a dazzling plethora of thrift-store-chic ensembles. (Paramount)

The Great Gatsby

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan star in Baz Luhrmann’s splashy take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of decadence, excess and the evils of jazz in 1922 New York City. Or as close as you can get with a PG-13 rating. (Warner Bros.)

Pain and Gain

Three Miami personal trainers (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) try to extort money from a suspected crime boss (Tony Shaloub), only to have the plan blow up as only Michael Bay can explode it. (Paramount)

Sons of Anarchy: Season 5

Jax takes control of SAMCRO; Clay schemes to regain power; Opie has a bad night in prison; Gemma gets a new pimp boyfriend; Nero’s out for blood; Tara furrows her Muppet eyebrows; a tranny hooker saves the day; shit, in general, goes down. (Fox)

More New DVD Releases (Aug. 27)

Among Friends, At Any Price, Evil Inside, Grey’s Anatomy: Season 9, Meddling Mom, NYC Underground, Online, Pawn Shop Chronicles, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, A Resurrection, Ritual, Seattle Superstorm, Stranded, Tied, The Walking Dead: Season 3.

Published in TV