Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 (Netflix; 26 episodes): Before she was Jessica Jones, and after she was a Breaking Bad casualty, Krysten Ritter was the funniest bitch ABC ever dared to cancel. Besides Elisabeth Hasselbeck, anyway.

Gravity (Hulu, 10 episodes): But, before she was the B, Ritter starred in this mopey-but-magnetic Starz dramedy about a suicide-survivors group. The show is occasionally as dark-humored as Jessica Jones. Original title: Suicide for Dummies.

Penny Dreadful (Hulu, Netflix; 27 episodes): The just-ended Showtime steampunk soap opera is one part Victorian X-Files and 50 parts crazeepy (crazy + creepy), with Eva Green’s killer performance inducing all of the feels.

Better Off Ted (Netflix; 26 episodes): Ted Crisp (Jay Harrington) works for mega-corporation Veridian Dynamics, an obvious precursor to Mr. Robot’s Evil Corp., in yet another of ABC’s genius comedy cancellations.

Happyish (Hulu, Netflix; 10 episodes): Steve Coogan (stepping in for Philip Seymour Hoffman) seethes hilariously as an advertising man in waaay more midlife turmoil than Don Draper ever drank through. A 2015 one-season-wonder.

The Venture Bros. (Hulu; 26 of 75 episodes): Not just the best cartoon on Adult Swim, but the best—and most densely back-storied—animated series ever, with a richer character bench than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (Yeah, I said it.)

Birds of Prey (Amazon Prime; 13 episodes): In 2002, long before the DC Comics TV takeover, The WB gave us Batman’s daughter, Huntress, fighting crime and metahumans in Gotham. For DC completeists mostly … or only.

Human Target (Amazon Prime; 25 episodes): And another DC Comics property: a 2010 Fox take on a snarky bodyguard-for-hire (Mark Valley) action thriller. Also starring Jackie Earle Haley (Preacher) and Janet Montgomery (Salem).

The Good Guys (Netflix; 20 episodes): A criminally (ha!) overlooked 2010 Fox buddy-cop comedy starring Colin Hanks and an over-the-top-of-the-top Bradley Whitford as Dallas detectives. Not to be confused with the lesser The Other Guys.

The Riches (Amazon Prime, Netflix; 20 episodes): Killed off by the 2008 TV writers’ strike, The Riches, about a family of traveling grifters led by Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver, should have been an FX classic, not a footnote.

Invader Zim (Hulu; 27 episodes): Pint-sized alien Zim is dispatched to Earth to prep the planet for takeover, resulting in one of the smartest and funniest cartoons ever to somehow wind up on Nickelodeon. Seriously, how did that happen?

Nikita (Netflix; 73 episodes): Where La Femme Nikita was ponderously talky and (sigh) Canadian, The CW’s Nikita upped the action and intrigue, putting Maggie Q and Lyndsy Fonseca upfront as serious (if 98-pound) ass-kickers.

Boss (Netflix; 18 episodes): Cutthroat Chicago mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) keeps his degenerative dementia a secret and makes House of Cards’ Frank Underwood look like a pansy. Another Starz shoulda-been hit.

Lucky Louie (Amazon Prime; 13 episodes): Louis C.K.’s comedy experiment—a cheap ’70s-style sitcom with adult language and nudity—plays even better now than it did in 2006, removed from TV critics who don’t “get it.”

Huff (Crackle; 26 episodes): Hank Azaria starred as troubled psychiatrist Dr. Craig “Huff” Huffstodt in this overlooked 2004-2006 Showtime series, along with Paget Brewster and Oliver Platt. No, no one else has heard of it, either.

Secret Diary of a Call Girl (Hulu; 32 episodes): The professional misadventures of high-end London escort Belle (Billie Piper) are funny, sexy and even educational—and a lot more fun than The Girlfriend Experience.

Daria (Hulu; 66 episodes): Your old VH1 Classic channel has just been replaced with MTV Classic, a new ’90s rerun home for Beavis and Butt-head and its superior spinoff, the masterfully deadpan Daria. Watch it on Hulu instead.

Dead Like Me (Amazon Prime, Hulu; 29 episodes): The oft-forgotten link in the TV resume of creator/producer Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies), this is a Showtime dramedy about grim reapers living—and soul-collecting—among us.

Friday the 13th: The Series (Amazon Prime; 72 episodes): This late-’80s horror-cheese had nothing to do with Jason, just possibly incestuous cousins (John D. LeMay and the gloriously big-haired Robey) and cursed antiques.

Sheena (Crackle; 35 episodes): Ex-Baywatcher Gena Lee Nolin played barely clothed “Queen of the Jungle” Sheena in this early-2000s jigglefest that might be the dumbest series ever syndicated. No, definitely the dumbest.

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Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (Sunday, July 31, Syfy), movie: Who’s joining Ian Ziering and Tara Reid (apparently, the #AprilLives campaign from Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! worked) this time? David Hasselhoff (Baywatch), Gena Lee Nolin (also Baywatch), Alexandra Paul (again with the Baywatch), Gary Busey (snubbed Donald Trump VP candidate), Cheryl Tiegs (elderly model-shamer), Carrot Top (elderly prop comic), Stacey Dash (pretend Fox News “conservative”), Duane Chapman (“Dog” the Bounty Hunter), Vince Neil (Motley Crue), Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour), various “personalities” from Bravo reality shows, and more from the “Is Pepsi OK?” department of central casting. After chomping on Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C., the next logical (?) locale to be hit with a Sharknado is, of course, Las Vegas. (Don’t fret; Palm Springs will probably get its turn by Sharknado 16.) Now the story … doesn’t matter in the least, duh.

2016 Teen Choice Awards (Sunday, July 31, Fox), special: The Teen Choice Awards are voted by kiddies age 13-17, so can anyone explain the nomination of Jennifer Lopez’s barely-seen cop serial Shades of Blues for “Choice TV Drama”? Or geezers like Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton in the music categories? Or R-rated Deadpool for, oh, everything? Technically speaking, these are not “teen” choices, nor are any other nominations recognizable to the writers, and readers, of publications such as this one—if it can’t be experienced at an outdoor amphitheater in a $200 camping chair with pinot, brie and a golden retriever within reach, it doesn’t exist. The YouTube and Vine “Star” categories, however, make complete sense—expect Nash Grier to clean up at the 2028 Teen Choice Awards for his dramatic work in Chicago A/V, produced by Dick Wolf Jr.

Squidbillies (Sundays, Adult Swim), new season: Both Squidbillies and Duck Dynasty premiered for their respective 10th seasons this month, just a week before the 2016 Republican National Convention—coincidence? All three represent modern ’Merican (note, not necessarily American) values: god, guns, gumption, plus a general rejection of science, facts and reality. But while one is a tedious, worn-out, idea-depleted show about a crew of self-absorbed fakes who are only in it for the money, and so is Duck Dynasty, Squidbillies remains a vital, instructive window into the soul and “thoughts” of Redneckia, USA, whether it resides in the Deep South, at your neighborhood Walmart, or in those “Hussein Obama” emails your parents keep forwarding. These characters are among us …

Ghost Hunters (Wednesday, Aug. 3, Syfy), season premiere: … and they watch Ghost Hunters, guaranteed. This is the Season 11 premiere—11! More than a decade of finding no ghosts! Would you be able to keep your job if you produced zero results in that timespan? (No need to answer that, chiropractors and TV critics.) Like Finding Bigfoot (still not “found”) and Keeping Up With the Kardashians (nothing ever happens to “keep up with”), Ghost Hunters is an explicably long-running reality series that spawns even-worse imitators every year and … wait … did you hear that? I’m sensing something over there in the corner! Let me turn on my EMF meter … hmmm, it’s not picking up anything … BECAUSE GHOSTS DON’T EXIST! HUNT OVER! JUST! STAHP! Oh, this is the final season? I’m off to see my chiropractor then.

Stranger Things (Streaming, Netflix), new series: I could use the “There’s Too Many Shows” excuse yet again for letting the premiere of Stranger Things slip by me—but it stars Winona Ryder, so the whole incident is just unforgivable. This retro-creepy fright fest throws Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and a dizzyingly giddy amount of ’80s horror-flick references into a blender and hits “Puree,” becoming progressively scarier as episodes roll out. Ryder plays—and occasionally overplays, but NBD—a grief-stricken Indiana mom holding out hope that her missing teen son might be found, but Stranger Things isn’t just her story: There’s also a Goonies-worthy troupe of misfit kids, a telekinetic girl, a government conspiracy, a flesh-eating monster, a parallel dimension and … well, you should be all in, or completely out, by now. Note that this will be the one and only time I’ll ever recommend ’80s revivalism.

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BoJack Horseman (Friday, July 22, Netflix): Prior to the premiere of Season 3, Netflix released promo art that placed cartoon character BoJack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett) in the same league as troubled dramatic TV anti-heroes Tony Soprano, Don Draper and Frank Underwood. It’s no joke: They all struggled to find happiness within the American Dream (though it could be argued that House of Cards’ Frank Underwood is simply nuts—and still a better presidential choice than anyone running in reality), and so continues BoJack. He should be happy: He’s back in the public eye, doing press and Oscar (!) campaigning for his dream starring role in Secretariat … but it’s all meaningless, hollow crap. More so than depression and ennui—yes, a cartoon has forced me to break out the fancy words—BoJack Horseman is about the aggressive shallowness of Hollywood and celebrity, and Round 3 goes even deeper and darker than before. This might be a good time to mention that this show is also funny as hell. Really, it’s everything as hell. BoJack Horseman should win all of the awards, not just the handful of niche critical trophies it has already … but awards don’t bring joy or a sense of achievement … so … I don’t know what to think. Thanks, BoJack.

Looking: The Movie (Saturday, July 23, HBO), movie: Canceled more than a year ago by HBO, Looking was never a flashy “Gay!” series, but a low-key and honest, if occasionally over-talky, depiction of everyday (but, admittedly, ridiculously good-looking) gay men in San Francisco—which could be why it only lasted 18 episodes. Unlike those in the then-groundbreaking Queer as Folk more than a decade ago, the characters of Looking have nothing to prove or reveal; they’re already out and established, and just trying to get through this thing called life. Looking: The Movie is a 90-minute series wrap-up, and easily one of the more satisfying TV finales in recent memory. (At least it’s better than the unexpected ends of HBO’s Vinyl, Togetherness, The Brink, Enlightened, Bored to Death, etc.)

Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour (Sunday, July 24, History), series debut: Ozzy Osbourne and son Jack are back on reality TV—but this time, it’s educational-ish. The 10-episode Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour is a travelogue history lesson (on the History channel? GTFO) hitting such destinations as Mount Rushmore, Stonehenge, Roswell, the Jamestown Settlement, Sun Studios and even The Alamo, which Ozzy famously pissed on in the ’80s when he was chemically insane (as opposed to whatever strain of insane he is currently). World Detour has its share of funny, obviously scripted “reality” moments, but Ozzy’s indecipherable mutterings and Jack’s … what does he bring to the table again? … feel 10-years played-out.

MadTV (Tuesday, July 26, The CW), series re-debut: The CW’s recent 20th anniversary special for MadTV proved that there’s little from the 1995-2009 Fox sketch-comedy series that holds up today—so this must be the perfect time to revive it as summer filler. The “new” MadTV features an unknown cast of varyingly talented newbies who could have come up with something better if not stuck with an ancient brand name that means nada in 2016, as well as forced guest-appearances by original Mad cast members dredging up best-forgotten characters from the past. (Seriously, no one needs to endure “Mrs. Swan” and “Stuart” ever, ever again.) Even if Maya and Marty hadn’t just destroyed any possibility of sketch comedy working in modern primetime, MadTV would still be a tough (re)sell.

Wayward Pines (Wednesday, July 27, Fox), season finale: Well, that was a complete waste of time. It’s getting harder to remember how good Season 1—you know, the originally planned only season—of Wayward Pines was; I’d say the limp, unnecessary follow-up is the Speed 2: Cruise Control of sophomore TV seasons, but poor Jason Patric (who replaced Keanu Reeves in that movie, and Matt Dillon on Wayward Pines) has been through enough, and I can’t completely dismiss 1997 Sandra Bullock in a bikini. Anyway: I’m rooting sooo hard for the mutants outside the walls of Wayward Pines (the unfortunately named “Abbies”) to kill off all of the remaining humans on Earth and any chance of a third season. The only remaining question is … Is Speed 2 on Blu-ray?

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Vice Principals (Sunday, July 17, HBO), series debut: While I still contend that Eastbound and Down was one of the greatest TV comedies ever, I’ll also admit that it was long out of material by its fourth and final season, and that Danny McBride probably shouldn’t carry a series on his own—and, most importantly, that water jetpacks are cool AF. HBO’s new Vice Principals, which re-teams McBride and writer/producer Jody Hill, solves one problem right away by giving McBride’s “new” character—basically Kenny Powers minus the mullet—a foil in Walton Goggins (Justified). The pair play high school vice principals vying to replace the retiring principal (Bill Murray!)—until the school district hires an outsider (Kimberly Hebert Gregory), prompting them to take a break from pissing on each other in staggeringly escalating volleys of vulgarity and instead team up to bring her down. Vice Principals is E&D 2.0; it’s as familiar as it is funny (Kenny Powers haters, however, should stay far away), with the added bonus of Goggins in full-on comedic weirdo mode. There are no water jetpacks, but it is still worth checking out.

Ballers (Sunday, July 17, HBO), season premiere: This is back, huh? HBO canceled the Tim Robbins/Jack Black political comedy The Brink, but kept Dwayne Johnson’s Ballers … what-ever. I get that people like the sportsball and all, but Johnson still isn’t completely convincing in an “underdog” role, here as a Miami pro-footballer-turned-sports-finance-manager leading the hard-knock life of making millions while baby-sitting millionaires surrounded by hot models and hotter cars. Fortunately, the comic broship between Johnson and Rob Corddry saves Ballers from slipping entirely into the Entourage douche-abyss, but I’m still waiting for a little more … something … to justify Season 2.

BrainDead (Mondays, CBS), new series: Apparently, tagging BrainDead as “from the creators of The Good Wife” and placing insanely appealing star Mary Elizabeth Winstead upfront hasn’t been enough to get CBS viewers to buy into a political sci-fi thriller/comedy about brain-munching space bugs. (I know, right?) Too bad, because what initially looked to be nothing more than summer filler designed to at least pull the same numbers as NCIS: Los Angeles reruns (it hasn’t—not even close) is a smart, funny and subtly scathing commentary on Beltway bullshit … oh, that’s why it’s not working on CBS. BrainDead would have been better off on CBS cable cousin Showtime, and we’d all be better off if it followed Ray Donovan on Sundays instead of Roadies, peppering in some Veep-level F-bombing and more-graphic gore (though the brain-splattery is pretty impressive for a network series). I would recommend just waiting to binge BrainDead when it eventually winds up on CBS’ pay-streamer All Access … but nobody’s going to buy into that, either.

2016 Republican National Convention (July 18-21, most channels), convention coverage: Spinal Tap, Drew Carey … Donald Trump. The Holy Trinity of Cleveland comedy is now complete, thanks to what’s sure to be the most hilarious political debacle since Hunter S. Thompson hit Washington D.C. in 1971. (Wiki it, kids.) The 2016 Republican National Convention, being covered live from Cleveland by most broadcast and cable outlets—curiously, not Cartoon Network—will likely be the zenith of Trump’s Idiocracy rise, the moment when true believers and detractors alike finally come to the stark realization, “This is really happening … Fuuu … .” Not that the Democratic National Convention later in the week is going to offer much more hope for the nation (In my defense, I’ve said “Hillary Clinton will never be president” many times, but those statements were made back in reality!), but this particular RNC is going to be special. Or apocalyptic. But definitely entertaining.

Shooter (Tuesday, July 19, USA), series debut: For every great call USA makes (Mr. Robot, Colony, Queen of the South), there are a couple of “WTF?!” moments (the recent renewal of Chrisley Knows Best; moving WWE Smackdown to Tuesdays; the continued existence of Suits). I’m not sure where Shooter, based on the 2007 Mark Wahlberg flick, falls: It looks like an intriguing drama (ex-Marine sniper comes out of retirement to stop a presidential assassination, only to be framed for said assassination), but with caveats (the aggressively-meh Ryan Phillippe stars as “Bob Lee Swagger”—lamest porn name ever). Also, how did the producers not use the only non-loathsome song Robin Thicke ever recorded, “Oh, Shooter,” as the series’ theme? Missed opportunities, people.

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The Night Of (Sunday, July 10, HBO), series debut: One review has already beaten me to the punch in tagging HBO’s new crime miniseries The Night Of as “the longest, bleakest Law and Order episode ever,” but I’ll press on. Novelist/screenwriter Richard Price (Clockers, The Wire) and writer/filmmaker Steve Zaillian (A Civil Action) spend eight episodes chronicling eight bad, bad days in the life of Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed), a New York City college student who thinks he’s lucked into the Manhattan party of the year—until he wakes up covered in blood next to a girl who’s been stabbed to death. Much tense and ssslllooowww drama unfolds from there, with none-too-subtle call-outs to an overtaxed justice system, the constant state of surveillance in which we live, racial profiling and, of course, The Wire (Michael Kenneth Williams!). More so than True Detective, The Night Of is an intricately produced downer of an art flick for crime nerds—but it still Law and Orders so hard that you half expect Ice-T and Richard Belzer to cross in the background.

Running Wild With Bear Grylls (Monday, July 11, NBC), season premiere: The biggest surprise about Season 3 of “famed adventurer” Bear Grylls’ (not to be confused with “famed insurance adjuster” Bear Grylls) celebrities-in-wilderness-peril-but-not-really reality show? Actual celebrities: Courteney Cox! Vanessa Hudgens! Nick Jonas! Lindsey Vonn! That’s more bonafide stars than have been featured on 45 seasons of Dancing With the “Stars,” if not the Sharknado franchise. First up on tonight’s season premiere is Julianne Hough, a perfectly lovely dancer/singer who nonetheless deserves to be thrown off African cliffs and waterfalls, and threatened by elephants and snakes, because of the painful “acting” she’s inflicted upon the ’Merican public. (Ever seen Rock of Ages? Safe Haven? Grease: Live? She’s getting off easy here.)

Maya and Marty (Tuesday, July 12, NBC), season finale: When Maya and Marty first premiered, I told you that the stars and the setup instilled “more confidence than the network’s previous variety-show attempt, Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris.” If I strangled your toddler to death and then used the corpse to beat your grandmother into a coma while blasting some Florida Georgia Line jams from my Confederate-flag-and-TruckNutz-adorned Dodge Ram, I’d still feel more obligated to apologize for kinda-recommending Maya and Marty. Whereas Best Time Ever at least tried some new tricks (“new” meaning “stolen from James Corden and Jimmy Fallon”), M&M is just an undead collection of rejected Saturday Night Live sketches for Maya Rudolph and Martin Short to shamble though like The Walking Dead gang smeared in zombie guts, desperately trying to avoid attention. Again, sorry (to you too, NPH).

Difficult People (Tuesday, July 12, Hulu), season premiere: It defies all logic that Billy Eichner would be tolerable in larger “acting” doses than he was in brief Parks and Recreation bursts (his Billy on the Street series doesn’t count—he’s meant to be insufferable there), but Difficult People works, hilariously. Along with co-star Julie Klausner, Eichner makes the daily kinda-grind of being self-absorbed New Yorkers who hate everyone but each other sing like an off-Broadway musical about frustration, contempt and loathing that their characters would love to see, but getting to that part of town would be too much of a bother—because who cares, anyway? Eichner and Klausner are great here, but it’s James Urbaniak (The Venture Bros.) who steals the show. Don’t miss another season of Difficult People.

Mr. Robot (Wednesday, July 13, USA), season premiere: So that was a hell of a first season few expected from USA and Mr. Robot, a show I initially dismissed as just “Fight Club meets The Matrix in a Dilbert strip.” As Mr. Robot progressed over last summer, it became clear that this was game-changer for not only a previously sleepy network, but basic-cable-as-prestige-TV as a whole (and it’s also the first Christian Slater series to not be canceled on arrival, so that’s something). Elliot (Rami Malek) and hacker group fSociety finally brought down E(vil) Corp at conclusion of Season 1, but did it solve anything? Is the 99 Percent any better off? (No.) Is Elliot still nuts? (Yes.) Could Season 2 actually be darker than the first? (Going by the initial episodes, oh hell yes.). Mr. Robot is also getting its own live after-show, Hacking Robotnot hosted by Chris Hardwick, BTW.

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Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (Thursday, June 30, FX), season premiere: The debut of Denis Leary’s Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll last summer presaged two rock-centric dramas, HBO’s just-cancelled Vinyl and Showtime’s currently meh Roadies—and his occasionally haphazard, always-swaggering comedy still nails inter-band relationships better than either. As Season 2 opens, Johnny Rock (Leary) and his Assassins bandmates react to the death of a fellow musician—2016 is the year for it—as only rock narcissists would: We each gotta establish solo-career immortality! (Wiki “Kiss,” “1978” and “mountains of record-company cocaine,” kids.) As terrible/hilarious as that idea sounds, SDRR doubles-down with actor Campbell Scott (as himself) buying the Irish Potato Famine rock opera by bassist Rehab (John Ales) from Season 1 and remaking it as a Hamilton-esque Broadway musical. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is still gloriously ridiculous—rip off the knob, and turn it up.

Greatest Hits (Thursday, June 30, ABC), series debut: In 2015, a study circulated stating that the average person stops seeking out and listening to new music at the age of 33, settling into a one-ear-in-the-grave groove of just sticking with the tunes of their formative years. This is why all “classic rock” radio stations play the same 20 songs every day, as opposed to the same 10 songs spun into the ground hour after hour on younger-skewing “pop hits!” stations, broken up by regular 12-minute ad breaks on both. So, if you’re dead inside enough for commercial radio, Greatest Hits is probably for you: O.G.s (Original Geezers) and newer artists come together to perform the chart-toppers of yesteryear. Sound harmless? Tonight’s premiere episode features the union of REO Speedwagon and Pitbull. Think about what you’ve let happen, ’Merica.

Killjoys (Friday, July 1, Syfy), season premiere: Neither Killjoys, nor its Friday-night companion, Dark Matter, were ratings blowouts in their debut seasons last summer, both hovering at around 1 million viewers a week—but at least they got Syfy back into space (and, as observed in publications geek-thinkier than this one, projected a more realistically race- and gender-diverse future than most sci-fi series). Killjoys, about a trio of interplanetary bounty hunters (Hannah John-Kamen, Aaron Ashmore and Luke Macfarlane) working a quadrant seething with societal-class tensions (before Syfy’s pricier The Expanse did it), was more fun, balancing action, humor and clear stakes, and letting John-Kamen’s Dutch just be a badass heroine with none of the genre’s usual Strong Female Lead hype. A Season 1 Hulu binge here is a must, more so than with …

Dark Matter (Friday, July 1, Syfy), season premiere: Syfy seemingly thought Dark Matter would be last year’s insta-hit, promoting it heavily and leaving Killjoys to bat cleanup. But a really, really, really ridiculously good-looking cast didn’t make up for a muddled storyline (six people wake up on an adrift spaceship without memories, but with specific mercenary skills and bad attitudes) and a dreary, claustrophobic setting. (Their ship made the Battlestar Galactica look like a Carnival cruise.) Even though Season 2 opens with the gang entering an intergalactic prison in their undies—well-played, Syfy—the Sexy Six will see more of the outside world this time around before unleashing some vengeful ass-kickery onto the Corporate Warlords (which I’m trademarking as a band name as you read). In addition to more focused plotting, Dark Matters has scored a major get in casting Franka Potente as a galactic authority determined to bring the group down. Season 1 is on Netflix, but you might as well just jump in now.

Lady Dynamite (Streaming, Netflix), new series: Yeah, I missed this when it debuted—have I mentioned that There’s Too Many Shows? But there’s no better way to spend the Fourth of July weekend than watching all 12 episodes of Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite, a meta-comedy that does for bipolar disorder what Bojack Horseman did for depression, and Jessica Jones did for PTSD: Make entertaining, thoughtful art out of the usually “too heavy” to even talk about. Lady Dynamite’s time-jumping storytelling and fourth-wall-breaking asides would be overkill even in a less-surreal setting, but the long-underrated Bamford (and a boatload of guest stars) makes the weirdness of this semi-autobiographical story work seamlessly—and kudos to Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath for one of the most self-deprecating rock-star cameos of all time. Sounds good, feels right.

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Aquarius (Thursday, June 16, NBC), season premiere: When last we (meaning me; I’ve yet to meet anybody who watched Season 1) left Aquarius, it was spring of 1968; Det. Hodiak (David Duchovny) and the Los Angeles Police Department were possibly going under an internal affairs investigation; and milquetoast messiah Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) was finally starting to show some psycho-spunk. (Remember, it took Axl Rose a couple of albums to get there, too.) In keeping with history, the two-hour Season 2 premiere of Aquarius sees the Manson Family moving in with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau), as Hodiak becomes caught up in another missing-girls case while still making time to snark at hippies; and beat cop Tully (Claire Holt) gets in over her head in a dangerous case again because, you know, even the late ’60s still sucked for women. Aquarius may never achieve its five-season plan, but it has more swagger and grit than most current cop dramas, and features as much sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll as, well, FX’s Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. (Seriously, the ’60s music rights and oregano budgets must be staggering.)

Orange Is the New Black (Friday, June 17, Netflix), season premiere: Netflix has put so many “No Spoilers!” review restrictions on Season 4 of Orange Is the New Black that there’s not much left to say besides: There’s a busload of new characters (literally); Piper (Taylor Schilling) has less screen time than ever; Alex (Laura Prepon) has more troubles than ever; there’s darkness; there’s light; there’s more darkness; and creator/writer Jenji Kohan is still maintaining an impressive level of dramatic quality. (Then again, her previous series, Weeds, began to run off the rails around Season 4, so … .) Besides, you’ll have binged all 13 episodes by the time you get around to reading this, anyway.

The Jim Gaffigan Show (Sunday, June 19, TV Land), season premiere: TV Land has rebranded, dumping Baby Boomers in favor of Gen-Xers (can’t keep catering to a demo that’s almost extinct—unless you're a newspaper … uh …). Laugh tracks and cheap sets are being replaced with single-camera film and a scrappier attitude, and The Jim Gaffigan Show is the flagship for the new TV Land. If you’ve seen Gaffigan’s standup, you know this sitcom: tubby white guy, wife and kids, junk food. Despite a few critical nags about the series being a pale—nope, not going for the easy pasty-Jim joke here—imitation of Louie and Curb Your Enthusiasm, TJGS rose above its anticipated blandness with sharp writing and a sharper supporting. Fun fact (unless you’re an NBC Universal exec): Like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Lip Sync Battle, The Jim Gaffigan Show was rejected by NBC (which stands for Now Bereft of Comedy).

American Gothic (Wednesday, June 22, CBS), series debut: Compared to the long-lost 1995 also-CBS American Gothic drama about a supernaturally evil small-town sheriff menacing the locals—YouTube it; Gary Cole was almost as menacing in it as he is now on Veep—the new American Gothic (posh Boston family has a secret serial killer among them) seems like a snooze. It is—with a recycled title, no less. Not only does this iteration add to the glut of shows with “American” in the title (which all suck, with the lone exception of American Dad); it also wastes actors like Virginia Madsen, Antony Starr (Banshee) and Justin Chatwin (Shameless) on what CBS is now calling “A 13-Part Murder Mystery” (which really means, “We’re sure as hell not getting any more seasons out of this”). Now, American Gothic as a reality-challenge show about goths competing American Ninja-style … there’s a winner!

Murder in the First (Sunday, June 26, TNT), season premiere: Cop-show vet Steven Bochco is still hanging in there with Murder in the First, a reduced redux of his 1995 network series Murder One (a single case investigated over a season—and on cable, that means 10 episodes instead of 22). Season 3 involves the homicide of that most precious of ’Merican celebrities: a pro football player (nooo!), with San Francisco detectives English (Taye Diggs) and Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) just as gorgeous and troubled as ever. And it’s all … whatever. If the new Animal Kingdom doesn’t break the network’s meh streak (and it probably won’t), TNT is serious danger of becoming USA. No one wants that. (The premiere was scheduled for June 19, but was pushed back a week.)

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Preacher (Sunday, May 22, AMC), series debut: The uninitiated have no idea what the hell Preacher is, while the fanboys are convinced that the 1995-2000 Vertigo comic-book series can’t be adapted for any screen, let alone basic-cable TV. And then there are the concerns about stoner-comedy duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg as exec-producers, as well as how an epic heaven-and-hell struggle will be received as a weekly series (even though The CW’s Supernatural has already been mining that territory for a decade). While I can’t speak to the fanboys’ worries—I’ve only skimmed the comics—Preacher will definitely blow some newbies’ minds with its 90-minute premiere, a violent and funny explosion of sharply written characters (including Dominic Cooper in the title role, nearly obliterating his beloved Howard Stark from the Marvel Universe) and slow-burn exposition (Breaking Bad vet Sam Catlin is running the show here, not Rogen and Goldberg). Is the story of a touched-by-God boozehound Texas minister, his berserk ex-girlfriend, his sarcastic vampire pal and a kid named “Arseface” the Next Big Thing for AMC? Let’s pray it is—we don’t need another Walking Dead spin-off.

The Bachelorette (Monday, May 23, ABC), season premiere: You do realize that you’ve been watching the same show for 12 seasons now, right? “Bachelorette _____ gets a second chance at true love after her shocking rejection by _____ on the previous season of The Bachelor. With 20 new men (and one quickly ejected psychopath) to choose from, this (blonde/brunette/redhead/vaguely ethnic) beauty is ready find her soul mate and write her own happily-after-after!” ABC has been using this stock press release form since 2003.

Wayward Pines (Wednesday, May 25, Fox), season premiere: Fox Under the Dome-d us. Wayward Pines was supposed to be a one-and-done, closed-end story told in a single season last summer—but then you all actually watched it, probably because I told you to, so this all-powerful TV column is at least partially to blame. Anyway: Season 2 picks up where the first left off, with the residents of small mountain town Wayward Pines now aware that they’re the last people on planet (but has anyone heard from Phil, Fox’s other Last Man on Earth?); flesh-hungry mutants roam the wasteland beyond the forest; and sketchy scientists run their lives—naturally, they’re pissed. Jason Patric takes over the Earnest Newcomer role from Matt Dillon; dead Piners Carla Gugino and Terrence Howard appear in flashbacks; and Hope Davis continues to shape/manipulate the upcoming generation with a Master Race-ish bent. As with all things connected to Idaho, proceed with caution.

Powers (Tuesday, May 31, PSN), season premiere: Yes, errybody’s in the original-programming game—even your PlayStation. Powers, which debuted in 2015 (Season 1 is currently available on freebie-streaming Sony cousin Crackle), was the first offering from the PlayStation Network (PSN), and it’s based on the graphic novel of the same name. The “Powers” are superheroes, though not all them are heroic, hence the need for detectives to investigate crimes and murders associated with them. (This universe’s superheroes parallel professional athletes and celebrities who think they’re above—waaay above—the law.) Sharlto Copely, Eddie Izzard and Michelle Forbes return from the first season; Tricia Helfer, Michael Madsen and Wil Wheaton join for S2—that’s some serious actor-ly weight for a series streaming through a game console. Now Powers needs to step-up its scripting and action games to match.

Maya and Marty in Manhattan (Tuesday, May 31, NBC), series debut: Remember The Maya Rudolph Show from 2014? A one-off sketch/variety hour that did surprisingly well with viewers and critics alike? Naturally, the geniuses at NBC said, “People liked it, so let’s do more of that … in two years, with a couple of co-hosts, because we can’t trust a woman to carry this thing, even though she’s already proven she can. How’s that Taxi Brooklyn show coming along?” Maya and Marty in Manhattan adds fellow Saturday Night Live-rs Martin Short and an unbilled Keenan Thompson to the mix, so it already instills more confidence than the network’s previous brain-dead-on-arrival variety attempt, Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris. Like SNL, Maya and Marty will air live; unlike SNL, there won’t be an extra 30 minutes of filler no one can explain or justify.

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Penny Dreadful (Sunday, May 1, Showtime), season premiere: Showtime’s supernatural steampunk soap … whew … returns for Season 3 with Ethan (Josh Hartnett), Sir Malcolm (Timothy Dalton) and Dr. Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) scattered about the globe, leaving a broken Vanessa (Eva Green) back in dreary old London with no one to confide in but an unorthodox therapist (Patti LuPone) and a sexy zoologist (Christian Camargo). For a dark fantasy series filled with vampires, witches and monsters, Penny Dreadful spools out plenty of deep character development and rich drama for players—particularly Vanessa (Green should be up for all of the awards)—who could easily fall flat and camp-ridiculous. It’s also still in a dead heat for the title of Creepiest Period Show on TV with Salem. (Netflix it, if you never want to sleep again.)

Keeping Up With the Kardashians (Sunday, May 1, E!), season premiere: Achievements in human intelligence since 2007, the year Keeping Up With the Kardashians launched its 12-season (!) run: the iPhone; space probes to Mercury and Pluto; the Large Hadron Collider; the discovery of exoplanets; artificial polymer arteries; the detection of water on the moon; the creation of robotic nano-spiders; the introduction of the hydrogen-powered car; the lab-grown human heart; driverless cars; drones; wearable fitness trackers; the commercial 3-D printer; lab-grown hamburger meat (unrelated to the aforementioned heart … ?); major breakthroughs in quantum computing; hashtags … #KardashianLivesDontMatter.

Houdini and Doyle (Monday, May 2, Fox), series debut: Back to the steampunking, would you believe … a 1900s buddy-caper British-Canadian mystery series about Harry Houdini (Michael Weston) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Stephan Mangan)? On primetime network television? Like Sleepy Hollow, Second Chance and Lucifer before it, Fox takes an intriguingly weird setup and turns it into yet another cop procedural, albeit one with a supernatural twist and an impressive budget for suspenders and mustache wax. Mangan and Weston are engagingly lively actors, and Houdini and Doyle’s run will be relatively short at just 10 episodes (the compromise point between British and ’Merican sensibilities), but Fox’s audience typically doesn’t go for shows that seem borrowed from PBS. (See: Cosmos.)

Person of Interest (Tuesday, May 3, CBS), final-season premiere: I’ll admit it: Years ago, I unfairly labeled Person of Interest as just another CBS crime procedural involving vague terrorist threats, high-tech intrigue and gun-waving speeches in dark alleys. But come on—with a dead-dull name like Person of Interest, what else could it be? Turns out it’s an unusually dark and canny (for CBS) treatise on the grey areas of profiling, surveillance and overreaching tech, headlined by the hyper-odd pairing of Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson (as a former CIA agent and a software supergenius, respectively). Ensuing seasons ratcheted up the tension, and the additions of Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi attracted a few more eyeballs, but Person of Interest was ultimately too smart to last; this shortened fifth season will be the series’ end, blowing out two episodes a week through June. Another excellent candidate for Netflixing—just be prepared to go deep.

Maron (Wednesday, May 4, IFC), season premiere: It’s not official, but Season 4 could be the last for Maron as well—IFC moving it from Thursdays to Wednesdays doesn’t exactly instill confidence, either. After settling into an amusingly cranky groove for a couple of seasons, Marc Maron blew up Maron last year, breaking hard from the this-is-kinda-my-daily-life format by getting sober “Marc” hooked on Oxycontin. Now Marc’s disheveled and destitute, having lost his house, cats and podcast. (Drugged, disheveled and destitute are prerequisites only for amateur podcasters, apparently.) Next stop: rehab—or, “a resort for people with no self-control.” If anyone can pull comedy from addiction recovery, it’s Maron, and he can’t fare any worse than Will Arnett did recently with the lazily downcast Flaked … can he? Damn, this might really be the end for Maron.

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The Catch (Thursday, March 24, ABC), series debut: A Shonda Rhimes production is batting cleanup on ABC’s hottest night, which she essentially owns (Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Grey’s Anatomy, you know ’em)? Do I even need to continue here? Yes, because The Catch is, and isn’t, typical Shondaland TV. Sure, the cast is beautiful and diverse-ish, but the tone is less life-and-death-and-sex-and-tears, and more comedic caper with lower stakes. (Rich, gorgeous people stealing from other rich, gorgeous people—who to side with?) When a successful Los Angeles private investigator (Mireille Enos, The Killing) is conned out of millions by the man she thought to be her fiancé (Peter Krause, Parenthood), she sets out on a seek-and-destroy mission for payback against the international “Mr. X,” who’s always one step ahead of her, even though his disguise repertoire seems only to consist of Handsome Rogue and Handsome Rogue With Glasses. The Catch is waaay more fun than the rest of TGIT; set up those Pinterest pages now.

Flaked (Streaming, Netflix), new series: In the deluge of Too Much TV, this one slipped by me a couple of weeks ago, in part because Netflix has done little, if any, promotion for Will Arnett’s Flaked. There’s a reason: This eight-episode series about recovering Venice Beach alcoholic Chip (Arnett) goes nowhere even faster (slower?) than Netflix’s previous downbeat dramedy, Love, and contains even fewer laughs. See, drunk-driver Chip killed someone years ago, so now he’s a sad-sack cyclist-about-town who passive-aggressively lords his AA-guru status over everyone and merely “exists” when he’s not banging women half his age. Flaked can be funny, but is more often just “funny,” and only starts revealing semi-interesting plot twists by the time anyone would reasonably be sick of Chip. Arnett nailed the Tortured Manchild/Lovable Loser role far better, and funnier, in his previous Netflix series, the animated BoJack Horseman. Cue that up instead.

Carpool Karaoke (Tuesday, March 29, CBS), special: The only viable counter late-night CBS has to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show Celebrity Photobomb is James Corden’s Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke … but that doesn’t mean either works outside of Internet or insomniac circles. But, since it’s a filler month, here’s The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, an exhaustingly titled hour—yes, hour—of Corden’s “greatest hits,” previously aired clips of him driving around with celebs and wailing tunes, because apparently that’s entertainment to CBS’ non-NCIS-geezer audience. But! It’s not all dusty content you can already view at your leisure on YouTube instead of watching live TV like a damned caveman—there’s a new segment with Jennifer Lopez! Which you’ll be able to see tomorrow on YouTube.

The Path (Wednesday, March 30, Hulu), series debut: Hulu’s recent 11.22.63 wasn’t quite the prestige-drama breakthrough they were hoping for (no one wants to watch James Franco time-travel unless he’s doing it with Seth Rogen, OK?), but The Path should get the streamer back on track. Set inside an upstate New York religious-movement-but-really-cult, this 10-episode series features a heavy-hitter cast (including Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, True Detective’s Michelle Monaghan, Hannibal’s Hugh Dancy and Son of Anarchy’s Rockmond Dunbar), and the showrunner team behind Parenthood (which was a more intricate drama than it gets credit for), so expectations are high—and The Path delivers. Married cult couple Eddie (Paul) and Sarah (Monaghan) are at different levels of losing their religion; interim leader Cal (Dancy) is all-in and increasingly power-drunk; and an FBI agent (Dunbar) is thisclose to bringing it all down. Bottom line: If The Path were on HBO or FX, you wouldn’t be able to escape the hype.

Lopez (Wednesday, March 30, TV Land), series debut: This is the fourth TV series to sport the name Lopez or George, following George Lopez (ABC, 2002-07), Lopez Tonight (TBS, 2009-11), and Saint George (FX, 2014), but Lopez is the first to forgo the laugh track, either authentic (the first two were shot in front of live audiences) or canned (the last was so radioactively awful, no humans were allowed within 10 miles of the studio). It’s also another in the growing line of day-in-the-comic’s-life half-hours that trace back to Curb Your Enthusiasm, à la Louie, Maron and The Jim Gaffigan Show (let’s pretend Rob Schneider’s Real Rob never happened), and the “real” touch suits Lopez perhaps better than any of his previous series. Another TV Land score … this is getting weird.

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