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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Barack Obama was sworn in as president. King of Pop Michael Jackson passed away. The second-greatest film in cinematic history, Crank 2: High Voltage, was released. Now-decade-old 2009 was an auspicious AF year.

TV had a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good 2009 as well. Here are nine iconic-to-obscure shows that debuted 10 years ago to stream while pondering what in the hell you’ve done with your life.

Parks and Recreation (Seasons 1-7 on Prime Video and Hulu): Community—which also premiered on NBC in 2009—may carry more cred with smug culture nerds, but Parks and Recreation is as warm and timeless as a Li’l Sebastian snuggie. Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson and the rest of Pawnee, Indiana’s finest created a bottomless pit of quotable memes over 125 perfect episodes, which are best enjoyed with a chilled tumbler of Snake Juice.

Archer (Seasons 1-8 on Hulu): There’s no tighter animation voice cast than that of Archer—though star H. Jon Benjamin’s other cartoon, Bob’s Burgers, is close. As international super-spy Sterling Archer, HJB has swaggered/drunkenly stumbled through the hilariously profane and shit-talking series with no lessons learned, except for maybe phrasing (wait, are we still doing that?). Better than Bond.

The League (Seasons 1-7 on Hulu): Fantasy football leagues are monumentally stoopid—and addictively bonding. The League illustrated this over seven hysterical seasons, following a group of pals who’ll stop at nothing to win The Shiva, the league’s trophy. Sportsball knowledge isn’t required; The League is all about pranks, one-upsmanship and brazenly un-PC insult tsunamis. Could not be made in 2019.

Dollhouse (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): An underground company rents out the services of persona-imprinted “Dolls” whose brains are wiped clean after every escort/mission … or are they? Creator Joss Whedon and star Eliza Dushku never quite found a clear path for Dollhouse, but it’s fun to watch them sell complex identity sci-fi on TV nearly a decade before Westworld. Somebody give Dushku a new show now.

Eastbound and Down (Seasons 1-4 on HBO Go): Washout former Major League Baseball pitcher Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) plots a comeback on the diamond—rules, logic and fashion be damned. Eastbound and Down rides on the glorious mullet of Kenny Fucking Powers (full name), whose narcissistic journey back to glory is as quasi-inspiring as it is profanely funny. Could the roots of #MAGA be traced to E&D?

Nurse Jackie (Seasons 1-7 on Netflix): During the heyday of the male antihero (think Breaking Bad, Californication, Rescue Me, etc.), ex-Sopranos star Edie Falco came out of nowhere as a pill-popping, adulterating, morally ambiguous New York City nurse spinning more sketchy webs than Tony Soprano. It’s a tense drama, but Nurse Jackie also delivers laughs (thanks to breakout co-star Merritt Wever).

Hung (Seasons 1-3 on Prime Video and HBO Go): Down-and-out high-school basketball coach Ray (Thomas Jane) needs a second job—and fortunately, what he lacks in luck (his ex-wife is Anne Heche; ’nuff said), he makes up for in dick. Soon, well-endowed male escort Ray, and his pimpstress Tanya (Jane Adams), are in business, and Hung turns out to be a surprisingly heartwarming comedy—with mucho banging, or course.

United States of Tara (Seasons 1-3 on Hulu): Writer Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body) took a swing at TV with 2009 Showtime dramedy United States of Tara, starring international treasure Toni Collette. Tara (Collette) is a suburban mom with dissociative identity disorder, a condition that leaves her randomly switching between four wildly different personalities. One of the kids: future Captain Marvel Brie Larson.

Party Down (Seasons 1-2 on Hulu): It’s a cult favorite today, but comedy Party Down, about a group of nobody L.A. actors and writers (including Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott and Jane Lynch) working for a catering biz, was an initial fail. Starz, the “Is Pepsi OK?” of cable, canceled Party Down after 20 episodes, but it holds up far better today than its polar Hollywood opposite, Entourage. Seriously—fuck Entourage.

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Prison Break (Tuesday, April 4, Fox), return: Make that Prison Break: Resurrection, because the “dead” Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) is actually alive in another prison—this time in Yemen, like that matters. The original 2005-2009 run of Fox’s Prison Break was a cultural phenomenon for a hot minute, but the story of blueprint-tattooed Michael springing his wrongfully convicted brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) from jail held up surprisingly well over four seasons, thanks to a colorful supporting cast and ri-dic-u-lous plot twists. Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies), Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar) and the unforgettable T-Bag (Robert Knepper) rejoin the Buzzcut Bros. for this nine-episode international Break-out event; it’s best if you don’t think too hard.

New Girl (Tuesday, April 4, Fox), season finale: Is Season 6 the end for New Girl? Fox yet to come to a decision, and tonight’s season finale could easily serve as a series finale for the comedy. Zooey Deschanel (who plays “New Girl” Jess) could not be reached for comment, as she was busy plucking turn-of-the-century tunes on a ukulele at a nearby farmer’s market. With well more than 100 episodes of reruns available on TBS and MTV, as well as Netflix, Hulu and whatever else you kids are watching “content” on, we probably have enough New Girl. The quality of laughs remained consistent to the end, and has even delivered some late-run surprises: Megan Fox can be funny; Cece (Hannah Simone) has an endless cache of eye-rolls; Schmidt (Max Greenfield) … still works.

Schitt’s Creek (Wednesday, April 5, Pop), season finale: Speaking of you kids and your viewing habits: Schitt’s Creek is not a Netflix show! It’s been originating from Pop since 2015; since no one knows what or where the hell Pop is, however, this can be forgiven. Three seasons in, it’s cool to see comedy veterans like Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Chris Elliott on a successful series, no matter how it’s being found. Like Arrested Development writ Canadian, Schitt’s Creek pits dumb ex-wealthy folk against small-town not-quite-hicks with hilarious results, even if the plot doesn’t add up: Johnnie and Moira Rose (Levy and O’Hara) are now forced to live in a hotel in the town of Schitt’s Creek, which they purchased as an impulsive joke decades ago. Ever tried to buy a town? Not easy.

Archer (Wednesday, April 5, FXX), season premiere: You may recall that, at the end of Season 7 last year, Sterling Archer (the voice of H. Jon Benjamin) was full of bullets, face-down in a swimming pool and presumed dead. But! In cartoons and Prison Break, death fake-outs are a thing: Archer’s now in a coma, and Season 8 is a 1940s Hollywood-noir-themed dream—it’s also only eight episodes long, and relocated from FX to FXX (which isn’t the literal TV death sentence it used to be, so relax). Only Archer could top the ultimate crime-noir comedy, 1982’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Steve Martin’s greatest achievement, BTW); just don’t expect much deviation from the series’ usual abusive banter (thankfully).

Brockmire (Wednesday, April 5, IFC), series debut: Like Kenny Fucking Powers in the late Eastbound and Down, Jim Brockmire (Hank Azaria) yearns to return to Major League Baseball after a spectacular career meltdown. Unlike KFP, he’s on the other side of the announcer’s booth. In Brockmire, Azaria has found a cartoonish character to rival the 800 he voices on The Simpsons; he plays an old-school sportscaster full of hysterically dark asides (“I don’t drink … hard liquor … between the hours of 6 and 11 a.m.”), now reduced to calling minor-league ball for the Morristown Frackers. The team’s owner, Jules (Amanda Peet), is no ray of sober sunshine, either—hence, adversarial love interest. Brockmire has all the markings of a one-season-and-done oddity (as do most IFC shows not set in Portland), but it’s a … oh, the hackery! … home run.

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Archer (Thursday, Jan. 8, FX), season premiere: After last season’s cocaine ’n’ country detour, Sterling Archer (the voice of H. Jon Benjamin) and crew are back in the spy game—but no longer as ISIS, since that name’s been, uh, compromised. After he’s done wallowing in “cobra whiskey and lady-boy hookers,” the new father (congrats, Archer and Lana, even though only one of you was aware of it) will be freelancing for the CIA. Other than that, it’s business—and deliciously crass hilarity—as usual. Favorite line of the new season (so far): “Eat a buffet of dicks.”

Banshee (Friday, Jan. 9, Cinemax), season premiere: The strangest action-thriller you keep missing opens Season 3 with a one-two punch of bloody violence and steamy sex—Cinemax hasn’t gone completely straight. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore that Banshee, Penn., “sheriff” Lucas Hood (Antony Starr) is a fraud; apparently, only a criminal can dispense justice in this town (while making felonious bank on the side). But it does, and he’ll face as much hell from his girlfriend/deputy as he will enemies old (the local Amish mob) and new (an Indian tribe out for his blood). How many times do I have to tell you to just watch Banshee already?

Shameless (Sunday, Jan. 11, Showtime), season premiere (pictured below): No longer knockin’ on heaven’s door, professional alcoholic Frank (William H. Macy) has a new liver (which he wastes no time road-testing), and Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is pushing her own bad-boy limits by juggling four men (including the back-from-the-not-dead Jimmy/Steve/Jack, who only counts as one). But of all the troubles the family has in Season 5—and there are plenty, as usual—none are more terrifying than the creeping coffee-shop gentrification of their craphole Chicago ’hood: The Gallaghers vs. Hipsters war is on!

Parks and Recreation (Tuesday, Jan. 13, NBC), season premiere: NBC is burning through Parks and Recreation’s final episodes back-to-back on Tuesdays for seven weeks—damn, that’s some cold Jerry Gergich treatment. While the perfect Parks and Rec finale actually aired a year ago (“Ann and Chris,” the one in which Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe left the show), at least we’ll have a little more time with these characters—now fast-forwarded to the year 2017, because why not? All I want is for Andy (Chris Pratt) to reunite with MouseRat, or at least for Ron (Nick Offerman) to reunite with the Meat Tornado.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Wednesday, Jan. 14, FXX), season premiere: A decade?! It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is kicking off Season 10?! And is renewed for two more?! Suck on that, Friends. In typically random Sunny fashion, the first episode finds the Gang on a flight from Philly to Los Angeles, attempting to break baseball legend Wade Boggs’ record of downing over 50 beers each (save for Mac, who’s acting as “commissioner”) before they reach California. Lessons learned: Boggs’ cross-country chug-a-thon record is a real thing, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is still bringing it. Hard.

Man Seeking Woman (Wednesday, Jan. 14, FXX), series debut: When he splits from his girlfriend, Josh (Jay Baruchel) walks away—followed by a literal raincloud. His first post-breakup blind date is with an actual troll. Man Seeking Woman is full of such absurdist visual gags, punching up what’s essentially just a comedy about a put-upon Jay Baruchel-type looking for love, aided/wildly misdirected by his far-cooler bud (Eric Andre—yeah, a stretch), who drops such romantic wisdom as “Tinder is like Facebook, but it’s just like, straight to smashing.” Man Seeking Woman is cute with the potential to wear thin fast—proceed with caution.

Also premiering this week: Portlandia (IFC, Jan. 8); Glee (Fox, Jan. 9); Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO, Jan. 9); Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC, Jan. 9); Girls, Togetherness, Looking (HBO, Jan. 11); House of Lies, Episodes (Showtime, Jan. 11); Workaholics, Broad City (Comedy Central, Jan. 14).

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True Detective (HBO): Creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto probably screwed himself by launching this mesmerizing crime anthology with stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson at the top of their respective games. Good luck following up these eight near-perfect episodes.

Banshee (Cinemax): This left-field, visceral mashup of Justified, Twin Peaks and Fight Club went pulp-gonzo harder in Season 2, expanding the world of Banshee, Penn., just enough to introduce even more Amish mobster/Ukrainian thug mayhem. It’s that weird, and that cool.

Shameless (Showtime): Things somehow got worse as they got better for the Gallagher clan in Season 4, with William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum delivering alternately heartbreaking and hilarious performances. This is America’s family.

Justified (FX): Star Timothy Olyphant put his boot down and rescued Justified from becoming entirely the show of Boyd (Walton Goggins) in its fifth and penultimate season, and brought some new colorful characters along for the ride.

Broad City (Comedy Central): Few comedies arrive as fully-realized as Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City (though it did have a head-start as a Web series); their broke Brooklynites are the female flipside of Workaholics, only smarter, funnier and occasionally grosser.

Helix (Syfy): This Arctic Andromeda Strain/Walking Dead hybrid from Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) crept up with no big splash, but it did earn a second season for 2015—catch up on Netflix now.

The Americans (FX): Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys continued to out-spy Homeland while still stuck in Cold War 1981, facing down more danger (and wigs) than Carrie and Brody could ever imagine.

Archer (FX): Meanwhile, Archer (code-named Archer Vice) blew up its spy premise and dove face-first into cocaine and country music. Literally.

House of Cards (Netflix): Vice president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) delivered a shocking twist in the first episode of Season 2, and the train didn’t stop a-rollin’ from there. As with actual D.C. politics, it’s best not to think too hard about the machinations en route to the presidency

Fargo (FX): Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton), Lester (Martin Freeman) and Deputy Molly (Allison Tolman) shut down the “You can’t touch that movie” doubters from frame one with this dark, funny adaptation that faltered fewer times than True Detective. Oh, you bet’cha.

From Dusk Till Dawn (El Rey): Another film-to-TV transition that defied the haters, From Dusk Till Dawn expanded the 1996 cult classic into an even crazier, racier 10-episode ride where the definition of “the good guys” is subjective.

Game of Thrones (HBO): Like anyone’s going to make a list without Game of Thrones. Get real.

Silicon Valley (HBO): Mike Judge finally, if not intentionally, created the sequel to Office Space with Silicon Valley, a hysterically profane (and tech-jargoned, at least at first) saga about programmers in waaay over their heads. If only Halt and Catch Fire had been half this much fun.

Veep (HBO): Speaking of profane: VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her team continued to fail upward in Season 3, from WTF? to the brink of POTUS. Pray for your country.

Bates Motel (A&E): Murder, drugs, love triangles, commercial zoning disputes—Bates Motel has it all! Norman (Freddie Highmore) became as intriguing as mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) in Season 2, no small feat, as did some of the supporting players. Why wait for Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival? It’s already here.

Mad Men (AMC): Splitting the final season in half was a lousy idea (the Mad Men buzz is pretty much nil at this point), but those first seven episodes provided a course-correcting jolt that should make for a hell of a 2015 finale, whenever that happens (hopefully, not in the ’70s).

Orphan Black (BBC America): See Game of Thrones.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO): Sure, it’s a Daily Show knock-off with F-bombs—but those rants! Corporations, media, condiments—suck it! Everything the overblown Newsroom attempted over three seasons, Oliver nailed in 30 minutes.

Legit (FXX): Poor Jim Jefferies. His Louie-like Legit finally got good by the end of its first season, then FX exiled it to the untested FXX for Season 2: no promotion, no viewers, just yelling into a vast, empty room. See what you missed on Netflix (along with Jeffries’ stand-up specials).

Playing House (USA): Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham as almost-uncomfortably close BFFs failed on network TV, but found a niche on cable with Playing House, which could be the first series ever to make pregnancy play funny and inclusive.

Parks and Recreation (NBC): While as excellent as ever, Season 6 probably should have been the last (maybe even halfway through), but at least we’ll get a proper sendoff for NBC’s last great Must-See comedy in 2015.

Rick and Morty (Adult Swim): Few “get” Community, but Dan Harmon’s other TV project, the animated, and simultaneously brainy and crude Rick and Morty—imagine Back to the Future with more universes, booze and malicious aliens—clicked immediately on Adult Swim.

Louie (FX): Louis C.K. made us wait two years for a new season, then delivered 14 arty-if-not-always-funny installments of Louie, which were rightfully hailed as “brave,” “experimental” and “mostly free of black T-shirts.”

Maron (IFC): Marc Maron didn’t stray too far from the formula of his debut season in his second go-round—regarding how difficult it is to be Marc Maron, specifically, and a middle-aged white dude with a podcast in general. Still brilliant.

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix): Season 2 leaned more dramatic than comedic, and pulled killer performances from everyone in (and out) of Litchfield Penitentiary. Creator Jenji Kohan is well on her way to achieving the heretofore-thought impossible: Topping her previous series, Weeds.

The Leftovers (HBO): Life sucks when you’re not Raptured, and The Leftovers was the ultimate summer-bummer wallow, not to mention the vehicle that finally made Justin Theroux matter.

Rectify (Sundance): And while we’re on the topic of dramas filmed in Depress-o-Vision … damn.

Longmire (A&E): In its third season, Longmire fully broke away from its Justified Out West trappings and became a gripping, dusty crime drama in its own right. A&E rewarded this creative triumph—and high ratings—with a cancellation notice in order to make way for more Duck Dynasty. Fortunately, Netflix came to the rescue, and Season 4 will be streaming by late 2015. I’m beginning to understand you cable-cutters …

Coming next week: Part 2—even more shows!

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Banshee (Friday, Jan. 10, Cinemax), season premiere: If you haven’t yet seen the first season of Banshee, do so—it’s a 10-episode rush of gonzo-pulp mayhem that defies reason, and yet it somehow still works, like a visceral mash-up of Justified, Twin Peaks, Fight Club and some sexy number you’d see much later in the night on Cinemax. You’d sprain something if you jumped in on Season 2 tonight. Go ahead; The Only TV Column That Matters™ will be here, waiting.

Shameless (Sunday, Jan. 12, Showtime), season premiere: Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and her job may finally have the family “creeping up on the poverty line,” but all is not yet well in Gallagher world: Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is finding college tougher than he thought; Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) and Debbie (Emma Kenney) have become hormonal-teen assholes; Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is still missing; and, even worse, Frank (William H. Macy) has been found and returned—and he’s learned a few … new ways … to get alcohol into his body now that he can’t drink. Four seasons in, Shameless has yet to run out of ways to simultaneously delight and disgust. Once more: Forget Modern Familythis is America’s family.

True Detective (Sunday, Jan. 12, HBO), series debut: Show creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto has set up True Detective as an anthology series that would introduce a new setting and cast every season—so he probably screwed himself by producing such an incredible first run, with stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson turning in some of their most intense performances to date. The pair play disparate detectives (Harrelson’s Martin Hart is a linear-thinking traditionalist; McConaughey’s Rust Cohle is hyper-smart profiler with a penchant for unsettling spiels about the futility of existence) investigating an occult-style murder in 1995 Louisiana. The twist is, the two are telling the story from their own viewpoints in 2012, being interviewed by police about a similar recent killing. Even with the time shifts, True Detective is seamless and riveting, more of an extended indie film than a crime series. If you see only one TV show this year, 1. Why are you on this page, snobby? And, 2. Make it True Detective.

Bitten (Monday, Jan. 13, Syfy), series debut: Welcome back to Gorgeous Supernatural Creatures Just Trying to Fit in Mondays, with returning series Lost Girl and Being Human, and new Syfy entry Bitten—for those keeping score, that’s a succubus, a vampire, a ghost and now three werewolves. Bitten stars Laura Vandervoort (Smallville) as a werewolf who’s split acrimoniously from her beardy-man pack to live the “normal” life of an urbanite—who has to strip down and wolf-out in the woods on occasion. Like Lost Girl and Being Human, Bitten looks like it was shot for $1,000 over the weekend in Vancouver, but it doesn’t achieve the deft humor/drama mix of either—so it piles on the sex scenes. Prediction: Hit.

Archer, Chozen (Monday, Jan. 13, FX), season premiere, series debut: As we—and they—learn in the first episode of Season 5, Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin) and the International Secret Intelligence Service have been causing global havoc for years without the sanction of the U.S. government, thus setting up a season-long arc with the on-the-lam spy gang attempting to unload a ton of cocaine before Pam (Amber Nash) ingests it all, because, you know, Archer. Moving the show to Mondays seems like an equally suicidal mission, but at least FX finally has a semi-worthy animated companion in Chozen, the story of a gay white ex-con rapper on a mission; it’s from the minds behind Archer and Eastbound and Down. It’s half-baked, but Chozen is at least good enough to beat off the competition … phrasing.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR JAN. 14!

Army of the Damned

Followed by reality-TV cameras, a police chief (Sully Erna—yes, the singer of Godsmack) and his men battle a small-town zombie outbreak. Also starring rassler Tommy Dreamer, porn star Jasmin St. Claire and … Joey Fatone?! (Screen Media)

Carrie

An outcast high-schooler (Chloë Grace Moretz) with telekinetic powers gets revenge-y at her prom, and the Liberal Media blames it on her religious mother (Julianne Moore). Based on a book, movie and first-person shooter. (MGM)

Riddick

In the third and final (?) installment of the series, Riddick (Vin Diesel) finally decides to get the hell off of the stupid desert planet (good call) and sends a signal to the mercenaries out to capture/kill him (bad call). Oh, and now he has a pet! (Universal)

You’re Next

A gang of ax-wielding killers take a rich family hostage in their home, and it’s up to a 98-pound houseguest (Sharni Vinson) to save everyone from the animal-masked assailants. Surprise! They all die. (Lionsgate)

More New DVD Releases (Jan. 14)

A.C.O.D., Big Sur, Enough Said, Fresh Meat, Fruitvale Station, Gasland Part II, Getting That Girl, How to Make Money Selling Drugs, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Short Term 12, A Single Shot, The Spectacular Now, 20 Feet From Stardom, Voodoo Possession.

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Arrow (The CW): The comic-book superhero series that got it right in its first year has been on fire in Season 2, jacking up the action to thrillingly visceral levels, as well as giving both our hero’s allies (love that Felicity) and enemies (hate that Malcolm) generous chunks of screen time. Oh, and the Flash!

Justified (FX): Despite the guns, guns, guns promos, Justified is all about the consequences and the dialogue, and Season 4—which had to follow a landmark “just try and top that” season—had plenty for Marshal Raylan, Boyd and anyone unlucky enough to be attached to them. FX’s best drama, period.

Banshee (Cinemax): This gritty-weird series about an ex-con assuming the identity of a small-town sheriff to reunite with his former lover/partner—and their loot—should have been a pulp-crime mess, but the deepening story (and the hyper-violent action) can’t be denied.

Shameless (Showtime): The Gallaghers continued their grimy reign as America’s Family, and Season 3 injected all-too-real drama and fallout for their many, many questionable actions. No other series can match Shameless for sheer volume of yeah-it’s-cable-but-they-can-get-away-with-that?! situations.

Bates Motel (A&E): Sure, it seemed a like terrible idea at first, but the subtle, creeping terror of Psycho: The Wonder Years worked, thanks to Vera Farmiga’s sympathetic but wildly unpredictable Norma Bates. We know where it’s all going, but the ride so far is addictive.

Archer (FX): Season 4 kicked off with a hysterically blatant nod to star voice H. Jon Benjamin’s other series, Bob’s Burgers, and ended with a tribute to obscure Adult Swim series Sealab 2021. The characters are idiots, but Archer’s scripting is stoopid-smart.

Veep (HBO): Speaking of hapless dumbasses guided by comedic genius, Veep’s second season stayed the course of Vice President Selina Meyer’s slog through deflating beltway politics and worse PR. It’s funny, profane and probably closer to the truth than C-SPAN.

Breaking Bad (AMC): Obviously. Breaking Bad’s final season may have tied up more neatly than logically, but a drama this perfectly executed over five years earned more than a few last Wile E. Coyote outs. Go back and re-watch the whole series without the weekly critical media over-over-analysis; you’ll enjoy it even more.

The League (FXX): Even a gonzo throwaway episode dedicated entirely to peripheral characters Rafi and Dirty Randy couldn’t distract from the scarily consistent and ruthless comedy of The League’s fifth season. It’s finally a viable heir to the Sunny in Philadelphia crown—or Shiva.

Ray Donovan (Showtime): Gigantically-noggin-ed Liev Schreiber is an unlikely leading man, but his portrayal of Ray Donovan, a Hollywood “fixer” with a family from hell (Bah-ston, actually), kills. Even better is Jon Voight’s giddy, nothing-to-lose performance.

The Blacklist (NBC) After two years of empty talk, NBC finally made good on the idea to produce “cable-quality” programming, first with Hannibal, then the superior crime serial The Blacklist. The series doesn’t shy from intensity and violence, and James Spader is, well, James Spader.

Parks and Recreation (NBC): On the flipside, now that NBC has discovered the ratings gold of ineptly staged musicals, smart underperformers like Parks and Recreation are likely doomed. Too bad; Seasons 5 and 6 have been the comedy’s strongest yet, even with the impending losses of Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe.

Masters of Sex (Showtime): A semi-factual ’50s period piece with the warm look (and contentiously slow pace) of Mad Men, Masters of Sex delivered on the years-building Lizzy Caplan hype and, even though it’s as much soap opera as historical document, radiated raw humanity. The (purely clinical) nudity and sex didn’t hurt, either.

13 Runners-Up: The Americans, American Horror Story: Coven, Bob’s Burgers, Eastbound and Down, Grimm, House of Cards, Maron, New Girl, Orange Is the New Black, Raising Hope, Rectify, Sons of Anarchy, Trophy Wife.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR DEC. 31!

CBGB

The story of Hilly Kristal (played by Alan Rickman) and the legendary ’70s punk club that launched thousands of bands. Also starring Taylor Hawkins as the worst Iggy Pop ever, and Opie from Sons of Anarchy as, natch, a biker. (Xlrator)

Don Jon

Porn aficionado Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and rom-com lover Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) try to make a relationship work despite unrealistic expectations on both sides and the fact that she’s Scarlett Goddamn Johansson. (Relativity)

Hell Baby

When an expectant couple (Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb) moves into a cursed house, it’s up to a pair of Vatican exorcists (Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon) to vanquish the evil. It’s Reno 911! meets The Exorcist meets House Hunters. (Millennium)

InAPPropriate Comedy

A tablet full of offensive apps becomes the excuse for a random series of comedy sketches starring Adrien Brody, Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan and others. Directed by the ShamWow guy, so you know it’s funny. (Freestyle)

Sweetwater

An ex-prostitute (January Jones) makes a new life for herself and her husband in 1800s New Mexico, only to have it ripped away; bloody, horrific vengeance and Jones’ bloody horrific acting ensue. Yet it’s still better than The Lone Ranger. (Arc)

More New DVD Releases (Dec. 31)

Angel of the Skies, Black Angel, Cassadaga, Last Love, Love Marilyn, Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, Percentage, Sanitarium, Shaolin Warrior, Sister, When Calls the Heart, Zombie Hamlet.

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December—and 2013, really—is pretty much D-U-N done. Here’s what The Only TV Column That Matters™ recommends you look forward to in January 2014:

Community (NBC; Thursday, Jan. 2), season 5 premiere: The Greendale gang returns to save NBC Thursdays. And while we’re being overly optimistic: Six seasons and a movie!

Sex Sent Me to the E.R. (Discovery Fit and Health; Friday, Jan. 3), series debut: Fine. You win, Discovery. Repeats will air on TLC, too.

Killer Women (ABC; Tuesday, Jan 7), series debut: Tricia Helfer stars as a tall ’n’ troubled Texas Ranger who has a “sixth sense” about why the ladies sometimes murder. It usually involves a man. Or Zappos.

Intelligence (CBS; Tuesday, Jan. 7), series debut: Lost’s Josh Holloway is a hunky/stubbly U.S. intelligence operative with a Wi-Fi chip in his brain that allows him to hack online data. Insert virus joke here.

Justified (FX; Tuesday, Jan. 7), season 5 premiere: Marshal Raylan goes up against a new crime family from the Florida swamps, while Boyd gets in deeper with the Detroit mob. Whatever happened to Local First?

Cougar Town (TBS; Tuesday, Jan. 7), season 5 premiere: They’re back. They’re drunk. They’re still pretty damned funny.

American Horror Story: Coven (FX; Wednesday, Jan. 8), winter premiere: An unexpected visit from Stevie Nicks flusters obsessed witch-fan Misty. Aren’t all visits from Stevie Nicks unexpected?

Parks and Recreation (NBC; Thursday, Jan. 9), winter premiere/100th episode: That dozen-viewer bump from Community should get P&R right back on track.

The Spoils of Babylon (IFC; Thursday, Jan. 9), miniseries debut: Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer, Tobey Maguire, Haley Joel Osment, Tim Robbins, Michael Sheen and others star in this epic, sweeping comedy of sweeping epic-ness.

Helix (Syfy; Friday, Jan. 10), series debut: The new sci-fi drama from Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) is about a disease outbreak that could wipe out mankind—and the deeper conspiracy behind it, because the mankind-wiping-out disease wasn’t enough.

Banshee (Cinemax; Friday, Jan. 10), season 2 premiere: The weirdest series on premium cable (sorry, True Blood) returns with more violence, sex, Amish politics and Ukrainian mob intrigue than ever. See? Weird.

Shameless, House of Lies, Episodes (Showtime; Sunday, Jan. 12), season premieres: The Gallagher clan, the Kaan consultants and Matt LeBlanc are back for Seasons 4, 3 and 3, respectively. Pity the Home Box Office shows that have to go up against this killer lineup.

True Detective (HBO; Sunday, Jan. 12), series debut: OK, well-played, HBO: Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson star as Louisiana detectives who run up against one another over the course of a 17-year murder investigation. It’s followed by the one-hour Season 3 premiere of Girls—game on, Showtime.

Bitten (Syfy; Monday, Jan. 13), series debut: A ridiculously hot werewolf (ridiculously hot Laura Vandervoort) struggles to choose between her new big-city Earth life and her dumb ol’ ancestral world; it follows the season premieres of the equally-conflicted Lost Girl and Being Human.

Archer (FX; Monday, Jan. 13), season 5 premiere: New night, same … Danger Zone!

Chozen (FX; Monday, Jan. 13), series debut: An animated comedy about an ex-con gay white rapper, produced by the Eastbound and Down team. Need I even go on?

The Following (Fox; Sunday, Jan. 19), season 2 premiere: Bereaved Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is on the mend—but will he continue his hunt for presumed-dead serial killer Carroll (James Purefoy)? Well, it’s either that, or 15 episodes of AA meetings.

Wahlburgers (A&E; Wednesday, Jan. 22), series debut: Mark and Donnie Wahlberg help out with their brother Paul’s hamburger joint back home in Boston. This already sounds better than an Entourage movie.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR DEC. 24!

Adventures in the Sin Bin

A shy teen virgin (Michael Seater) lends out his van, the “Sin Bin,” to his pals for sex, all the while dreaming of being with Suzie (Emily Meade). Meanwhile, the director dreams of being Wes Anderson, and Jeff Garlin just hangs out. (Phase 4; released on Dec. 27)

Insidious: Chapter 2

The Lamberts (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson) are still haunted by evil spirits, as well as a film studio bent on making at least another billion bucks. Not to be confused with The Conjuring, the director’s other identical 2013 movie. (Sony)

Una Noche

A Havana teen must choose between helping his wrongly accused friend escape the country and reach Miami, more than 90 miles away across the ocean, and staying to protect his sister. This one was definitely filmed in Instagram. (MPI)

More New DVD Releases (Dec. 24)

The Berlin File, Caesar Must Die, Frontline: Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria, Humanity Has Declined: The Complete Collection, More Than Honey, WWE Survivor Series 2013.

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