CVIndependent

Fri06232017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Bill Frost

If you think adapting Stephen King’s The Mist (series debut Thursday, June 22, Spike) for TV is bad idea, know that ABC is launching a reboot of The Gong Show and a boy-band reality-competition show on the same night as the premiere of The Mist to compete with the summer filler stinking up Fox and NBC—there’s nothin’ else on. King’s Under the Dome, which was essentially the same story—a small town is isolated by a supernatural event—ran for three whole seasons on CBS, one of which didn’t suck. The Mist doesn’t have the luxury of known actors, just a crew of nobodies with zero lead-in assist from Lip Sync Battle, the only thing anyone ever watches on Spike besides Bar Rescue and off-brand MMA. But, as I said, there’s nothin’ else on.

Alison Brie has had memorable supporting roles on Community and Mad Men, but GLOW (series debut Friday, June 23, Netflix) is her show, all the way. In GLOW, she plays Ruth Wilder, an unemployed actress in ’80s Los Angeles who’s desperate enough to try anything that isn’t porn—even a low-budget/high-cheese all-female pro-wrestling TV show, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (which was a real thing), being launched by a failed film producer (Marc Maron). Like a lighter Orange Is the New Black (Jenji Kohan is a producer here, and wrote one episode), GLOW is a tale of very different women bonding in a “man’s” world that does surprisingly emotional heavy lifting when it needs to. All this, and some of the worst ’80s fashions ev-er. Wooo!

The last of Playing House (Season 3 premiere Friday, June 23, USA)? Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham’s cozy comedy about almost-uncomfortably close girlfriends and a new baby has barely survived to see a third season on USA, a cable net that’s concentrating more on gritty hour-long dramas after failing to launch a string of smart half-hour comedies. Since USA is blowing out new episodes back-to-back on Friday nights, it’s obvious they’re done with the show, because it doesn’t appeal to the Chrisley Knows Best idiocracy. This could be your last chance to see a genuinely funny and sweet comedy that deserves a shot somewhere else. TV Land? Hulu? Netflix? Ugh … Crackle? Step up.

Like Into the Badlands, Preacher (Season 2 premiere Sunday, June 25, AMC) is an American Movie Classics (’member those cable days?) gem that just doesn’t get the buzz it deserves—the same could be said of Halt and Catch Fire and Humans, but they’re pretty much goners at this point. Preacher, on the other hand, is poised to blow up—in every sense—in its expanded second season, a wild ride that sees preacher Jesse (Dominic Cooper), badass Tulip (Ruth Negga) and vampire Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) hitting the highway in search of an absentee God, as ordained in the original Vertigo comic, only to find more trouble/violence/black comedy in New Orleans. Preacher: It’s hell-arious! (Quote me, AMC.)

Why networks continue to produce reality shows wherein horny fuckwits are herded together in front of cameras 24/7 and fed gallons of alcohol is beyond me—did we learn nothing from Rape Island, I mean, Bachelor in Paradise? Anyway: Summer staple Big Brother (Season 19 premiere Wednesday, June 28, CBS) introduces a new gaggle of vile stereotypes for your viewing … pleasure? … and tacks on the subtitle Over the Top because who knows/cares why. I also didn’t understand why a seemingly classy lady like Julie Chen continues to host this Axe-soaked cockfight year after year, but then I remembered that she’s a former homewrecker mistress now married to the president of CBS. Makes total sense.

When it debuted in 2015, Younger (Season 4 premiere Wednesday, June 28, TV Land) didn’t seem like a series with legs—unless you count the legs on star Sutton Foster, a fantastic set of stems that, as they say, go all the way to the ground. Forty-something Liza (Foster) posing as a 20-something to land a job in the cutthroat millennial world of book publishing (?) was a cute idea, but how long could she keep the secret? Three seasons, apparently; she finally revealed the truth to her co-worker BFF Kelsey (Hilary Duff), causing a shitstorm that will allow Younger to lean more heavily than ever on the drama side of dramedy. Meanwhile, I still want a spin-off series about power hipster Lauren (Molly Bernard).

Now that Netflix is addressing the Too Many Shows epidemic and just canceling stuff for the sake of canceling stuff—buh-bye Sense8, The Get Down and Marco Polo—let’s get on with killing off The Ranch (Season 3 premiere Friday, June 16, Netflix). This laugh-tracked cowpie’s initial novelty of reuniting That ’70s Show stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson wore off quickly, leaving just a hacky sitcom with painfully slumming costars (Sam Elliott and Debra Winger—WTF?). Much like Tim Allen’s recently deceased Last Man Standing, The Ranch is red-state bait that thinks it’s cleverly poking P.C. culture, but ultimately just comes off as lazy. Netflix’s F Is for Family does it better—try that.

Was anyone aware that Turn: Washington’s Spies (Season 4 premiere Saturday, June 17, AMC) was still a thing? Only me? The Revolutionary War drama’s fourth season will also be its last, and we all know how it ends (’Merica wins; the British get revenge centuries later by sending us Piers Morgan, etc.). The final chapter finds Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman) looking to take down George Washington (Ian Kahn)—but there’s a new player in the mix! Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell)! History-nerd boners are poppin’ now! Turn: Washington’s Spies has never been one of AMC’s sexiest properties, but it’s almost up there with John Adams in the RevWar TV canon, and certainly better than Fox’s Making History.

You’ve probably heard by now that Erlich Bachman is done with Silicon Valley—but T.J. Miller: Meticulously Ridiculous (standup special, Saturday, June 17, HBO) is proof that the guy who plays him isn’t done with HBO. According to Miller, his schedule is getting too crowded to continue on the series (true), and he’d rather get out now than become a one-note TV character overstaying his welcome (potential to become very true). As an actor, he’s been in damned near everything; as a standup comic, Miller only has one previous special to his credit, 2011’s No Real Reason. Meticulously Ridiculous is even more energetic, prop-happy and, yes, ridiculous, as Miller exits the stratosphere of Fucks Given.

Speaking of ridiculous, this weekend’s episode of Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly (Sundays, NBC) just might feature the un-Fox-ed anchor’s already-infamous interview with InfoWars’ Alex Jones, an initially friendly exchange that sent Jones into a tizzy about how he’d been duped by a “sociopath” who was “not feminine … cold, robotic, dead” before he delivered the ultimate insult: “I felt zero attraction to Megyn Kelly.” Damn—float like a chemtrail and sting like a black helicopter, Al. Kelly could use a ratings-grabber like an exposé on America’s favorite conspiracy-slinger/paint-huffing uncle; so far, her much-hyped new show is an airball in terms of presentation and ratings. Show ’em who’s a robot, Meg!

Another mild disappointment, Wrecked (Season 2 premiere Tuesday, June 20, TBS), is back for another round of Gilligan’s Island/Lost antics. The comedy about a plane-wrecked group of survivors stranded on a tropical island had a hit-and-miss debut season last year. Its likable crew of characters (which includes Flight of the Conchords scene-stealer Rhys Darby) and knowing winks at Lost lore were undercut by aimless subplots and weak gags. (Wrecked is the first production of a pair of Hollywood-outsider brothers from Kansas, so they should be afforded a little slack.) It’s no People of Earth or The Detour, or even Angie Tribeca, but Wrecked is a risk-taking TBS comedy that deserves a second look.

I gave The Carmichael Show (Season 2, Wednesdays, NBC) a second chance after the Television Critic Intelligentsia unleashed another blizzard of accolades for the laugh-tracked sitcom, and … I’m almost there. Comic Jerrod Carmichael and the show’s cast are solid (especially comedy vet David Alan Greer), but the weekly hammering home of Very Important Issues is tiresome—come for the laughs; get a lecture. Sitcoms can tackle controversial topics, but The Carmichael Show currently falls between CBS’ Mom (which continues to surprise) and Superior Donuts (which continues to suck): It’s almost there, too.

Syfy will be “rebranded” as a—get this—science-fiction channel on June 19; never mind that it was once upon a time actually called the Sci-Fi Channel. If you think that’s confusing, get ready for the return of Dark Matter (Season 3 premiere Friday, June 9, Syfy), everyone’s favorite show about amnesiac intergalactic criminals/models. The hook of the series is the gradual unveiling of each Raza crew member’s true identities as they hurtle through space, alternately solving and causing crises. The story doesn’t always make sense, but the actors (particularly Melissa O’Neil—2005 winner of Canadian Idol!) sell the drama and the action like there’s no tomorrow (not a cliffhanger spoiler … as far as you know).

Back on Earth in the supernatural tsunami of Purgatory (lovely name for a town), Wynonna Earp (Season 2 premiere Friday, June 9, Syfy) finds the demon-hunting great-great-granddaughter of Wyatt facing a whole new set of threats: Since no one built a wall to make Purgatory great again, the Ghost River Triangle is wide open and flooding the county with a fresh batch of demons, ghosts and lord knows what else. Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) exudes Jessica Jones-like swagger, but the IDW Comics-based series is less angsty and more Buffy—when the demonic terror and violence subside, Wynonna Earp is the funniest show on Syfy (sorry, Z Nation). All this, and a hot, immortal Doc Holliday? Watch, already.

Last year, Jillian Bell and Charlotte Newhouse debuted Idiotsitter (Season 2 premiere Saturday, June 10, Comedy Central), a hilarious, flipped-to-female Workaholics of sorts that looked like another Comedy Central one-and-done. But! Idiotsitter is back for a second season, and broke “baby sitter” Billie (Newhouse) and heiress “idiot” Gene (Bell) are now off to college. However! After mysteriously pulling the season premiere from its April schedule, Comedy Central has decided that Idiotsitter is a two-and-through and will be burning off all seven episodes over a couple of summer weekends. Sad! Guess having more than two female-fronted shows (Broad City, Another Period) was just too much for CC.

A whole lotta women chew scenery and buff cuticles in new Florida nail-salon dramedy Claws (series debut Sunday, June 11, TNT), another plain-folk-dabbling-in-crime tale with an impressive cast, including Niecy Nash (Scream Queens), Carrie Preston (True Blood), Jenn Lyon (Justified), Judy Reyes (Scrubs), Karrueche Tran (The Nice Guys), Harold Perrineau (Lost) and Dean Norris (Breaking Bad). Claws’ sheer volume of colorful characters (example: Norris plays “Uncle Daddy, a dangerous Dixie Mafia crime boss who is deeply Catholic and actively bisexual”) nearly overwhelms the nails-and-drugs-and-money-laundering narrative, but a surprisingly grounded Nash keeps the drama in check.

Following Fox’s “We’ve Given Up on Summer” lead that launched cheap-and-dumb reality fillers Beat Shazam and Love Connection, ABC cedes Sunday nights with a trifecta of tripe: Celebrity Family Feud, Steve Harvey’s Funderdome and The $100,000 Pyramid (premieres Sunday, June 11, ABC). You’re probably familiar with Celebrity Family Feud and The $100,000 Pyramid, as they’re just terrible ’70s game shows (barely) re-imagined for modern morons, but what the hell is Steve Harvey’s Funderdome? It’s Shark Tank, but with a live audience voting to fund useless inventions instead of actual business experts. Remember the memo: “Do NOT engage or make direct eye contact with Mr. Harvey!”

If, like me, you’ve been waiting for a Death Race 2000: The Series or a Grindhouse Cannonball Run, like, forever, rejoice! Blood Drive (series debut Wednesday, June 14, Syfy) is finally here! Even better, it’s a cross-country death race wherein the cars run on blood! “Soaked in high-octane chaos and just barely approved for television” (oh, Syfy), Blood Drive follows ex-cop Arthur (Alan Ritchson) and trigger-happy Grace (Christina Ochoa), who are forced to partner up in the race across an environmentally ravaged ’Merica in the “distant future” of 1999 (just go with it). In the summer of WTF TV (Twin Peaks, American Gods, etc.), Blood Drive is a pedal-to-the-metal standout. I just may buy into this “rebrand,” Syfy.

Somebody must have watched the first season of Will Arnett’s Flaked (Season 2 premiere Friday, June 2; Netflix), right? I mean, I did, but I get paid to watch shows … at least I think I still do. Arnett’s recovering-but-not-really alcoholic Chip wasn’t exactly 2016’s most sympathetic character—a 40-something Venice Beach emotional leech who lied to his friends, sold out his community and routinely slept with women half his age. But! Late in Season 1, a satisfying-ish payoff finally arrived, which might explain why Season 2 is six episodes instead of eight—Netflix’s way of saying, “Get to the damned point,” maybe. Flaked is about Chip’s redemption this time around, and the show is asking for a second chance as well. Plus, it’s all just visually gorgeous; more TV series should be filmed through Instagram filters.

Meanwhile, would you believe that it’s already time for Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3 premiere Sunday, June 4; AMC)? It seems like only yesterday that you were screaming, “I’m so done with The Walking Dead!” at your TV, and here’s another run of the AMC prequel that bears the impossible burden of not being Better Call Saul. Now that Madison, Travis and Alicia have been kicked out of the Hotel Zombiefornia, they’re trying to flee Mexico and cross back onto the U.S.—too bad a band of border patriots are there enforcing anti-immigration policy, as Ofelia has already learned the hard way. The most intriguing new development on FTWD is the addition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer wildcard Emma Caulfield to the cast in a still-mysterious role. As for Nick … yeah, no one cares about Nick.

Speaking of fighting for your life against impossible odds and split ends: I’m Dying Up Here (series debut Sunday, June 4; Showtime), based on William Knoedelseder’s nonfiction book of the same name, dramatizes the struggles of Sunset Strip comedians in the ’70s, bad hair and all. Even though the “it’s a hard-knock life being a comic” trope is everywhere—most recently, and most gently, portrayed in Pete Holmes’ Crashing—the cast of I’m Dying Up Here is impressive: Melissa Leo, Ari Graynor, Michael Angarano, Clark Duke, Andrew Santino, Erik Griffin, R.J. Cyler, Al Madrigal and Jake Lacy, with drop-ins from Jon Daly, Robert Forster, Alfred Molina, Sebastian Stan and others (but not exec producer Jim Carrey). It’s like Boogie Nights, but with dick jokes instead of actual dicks. Ba-dum-bump!

The shoot-first-don’t-bother-with-questions-later action hero ’Merica needs now more than ever returns in Decker: Unsealed (Season 2 premiere Sunday, June 4; Adult Swim), Tim Heidecker’s … tribute? … to Tom Clancy novels, Steven Seagal movies and the comedic power of utterly incompetent production. How incompetent? In last year’s debut TV season, the show was titled Decker: Unclassified; this time, it’s Decker: Unsealed—referring to secret government files, and it means the same damned thing! Anyway: Superspy Jack Decker (Heidecker) and his codebreaker sidekick Jonathan Kington (Gregg Turkington) face new threats national and personal, if not at all logical, with guest appearances from powerhouse Hollywood A-listers like Joey Travolta, Jimmy McNichol and Steve Railsback. What, no Scott Baio?

If you think that sounds stoopid, you’ve obviously never seen Stitchers (Season 3 premiere Monday, June 5; Freeform). Kirsten (Emma Ishta), a ridiculously good-looking 20-something with no discernable personality and “temporal dysplasia” (no sense of time—and no, this condition isn’t real), is recruited by a black-ops government outfit to have her consciousness “stitched” into the quickly-slipping-away minds of the recently dead to help solve crimes, because, science. After an initial season of misplaced grim seriousness, Stitchers lightened up and embraced the dumb, adding Allison Scagliotti (Warehouse 13) for comic relief and dropping hints as to why the Stitcher program even exists (which will finally be revealed this season). If it all sounds similar to the methodology of iZombie, you’re overthinking it.

No one at FX was overthinking the relocation of the late, great Legit to then-baby network FXX a couple of years ago, which essentially killed the potential-laden comedy, helmed by Jim Jefferies. Nevertheless, the Aussie comic persisted with a string of solid stand-up specials that have now led to The Jim Jefferies Show (series debut Tuesday, June 6; Comedy Central). His new not-quite-a-talk-show follows the format adopted by comedians like Chelsea Handler and Iliza Schlesinger, among others: some monologuing, some desk work, some man-on-the-street chatter, and some international flair, broken up with the kind of biting, scorched-earth political and cultural commentary that only Jefferies can deliver. If you think the other late-night hosts have been hard on the Cheeto in Chief, you might want to brace for Hurricane Jim.

After a fall-winter-spring blur of Too Many Shows, you’re thinking to yourself, “Summer is finally here—I can take a break from TV. Praise the Lord!”

Sorry. Your god has abandoned you: Here are 32 new and returning series you’re going to have to watch this summer, because peak TV knows no season.

In the unexpected return of Flaked (Season 2 premiere; Friday, June 2; Netflix), Chip (Will Arnett) heads back to Venice to rehab his ruined Local Hero status, if not his booze problem. Matters are even more dire for the gang on Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3 premiere; Sunday, June 4; AMC), as vigilante Build the Zombie Wall border patrollers won’t allow them to cross back over from Mexico. It could be worse; they could be struggling comedians in 1970s Hollywood—which is the setting for I’m Dying Up Here (series debut; Sunday, June 4; Showtime).

Tim Heidecker re-ups for more ultra-violent spy action in Decker: Unclassified (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, June 4; Adult Swim), while Aussie comic Jim Jefferies takes another stab at ’Merican TV with late-night talker The Jim Jefferies Show (series debut; Tuesday, June 6; Comedy Central). Latina heroine (?) Teresa (Alice Braga) continues her quest to rule the drug trade in Queen of the South (Season 2 premiere; Thursday, June 8; USA), and the ladies of Litchfield are still doing time in Orange Is the New Black (Season 5 premiere; Friday, June 9; Netflix), hackers be damned.

The ragtag crew of ridiculously good-looking intergalactic criminals remain lost in space in Dark Matter (Season 3 premiere; Friday, June 9; Syfy), and TV’s coolest demon hunter is back and gunning for souls in Wynonna Earp (Season 2 premiere; Friday, June 9; Syfy). Meanwhile, the end is near for the Clone Club in the final run of Orphan Black (Season 5 premiere; Saturday, June 10, BBC America), and even nearer for frenemies Billie and Gene in the two-weekend burn-off of Idiotsitter (Season 2 premiere; Saturday, June 10; Comedy Central).

An all-star cast chews scenery and buffs cuticles in new Florida nail-salon dramedy Claws (series debut; Sunday, June 11; TNT), and primetime goes grindhouse with Blood Drive (series debut; Wednesday, June 14, Syfy), about a cross-country death race where the cars run on—what else?—blood. The Mist (series debut; Thursday, June 22; Spike) rolls out more subtle Stephen King-y scares, and the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling finally get their ’80s-spandexed due in the Alison Brie-led docu-comedy GLOW (series debut; Friday, June 23; Netflix).

Fiddy Cent’s nightclubs ’n’ drugs drama Power (Season 4 premiere; Sunday, June 25; Starz) finds kingpin Ghost (Omari Hardwick) caught in the middle of a, yep, power struggle, while Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy finally hit the road looking for God in Preacher (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, June 25; AMC). Liza (Sutton Foster) deals with the fallout of her bestie Kelsey (Hilary Duff) learning her dark, old secret in Younger (Season 4 premiere; Wednesday, June 28; TV Land), and everybody’s favorite ragtag trio of ridiculously good-looking interplanetary bounty hunters gear up to fight the good-ish fight in Killjoys (Season 3 premiere; Friday, June 30; Syfy).

John Singleton’s Snowfall (series debut; Wednesday, July 5; FX) dramatizes the crack-cocaine epidemic of ’80s Los Angeles, while modernized period piece Will (series debut; Monday, July 10; TNT) juices the legend of a young William Shakespeare as he arrives in the, wait for it, “punk-rock theatre scene of 16th century London.” Back in the present, a pair of college eggheads break it to the White House that an asteroid is six months away from mercifully colliding with Earth in Salvation (series debut; Wednesday, July 12; CBS).

Game of Thrones … yeah, nothing more needs to be said here (Season 7 premiere; Sunday, July 16; HBO). In the final stretch of The Strain (Season 4 premiere; Sunday, July 16; FX), nuclear winter is in full effect; the Strigoi vampires have seized the planet; and our heroes are down for the count—but are they, really? Meanwhile, Ballers (Season 3 premiere; Sunday, July 23; HBO) and Insecure (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, July 23; HBO) are paired up for the most incongruent HBO hour ever, while Midnight, Texas (series debut; Monday, July 24; NBC) takes Charlaine Harris’ supernatural novels for a TV spin.

Would you believe … Sharknado 5 (movie premiere; Sunday, Aug. 6; Syfy)? Marvel’s The Defenders (series debut; Friday, Aug. 18; Netflix) finally brings together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist for a dysfunctional superhero team-up, while the 21st go-round of South Park (season 21 premiere; Wednesday, Aug. 23; Comedy Central) attempts to find the funny in Trump’s America—if he’s still in office at that point. Fortunately, Abbi and Ilana drop the long-long-long-awaited comeback of Broad City (Season 4 premiere; Wednesday, Aug. 23; Comedy Central), and the new take on The Tick (series debut; Friday, Aug. 25; Amazon Prime) may reunify the country, after all. Spoon!

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Friday, May 19, Netflix), season premiere: Where will the perkiest TV character ever created (cartoons included) go in Season 3? Now that she has her post-doomsday-cult-imprisonment GED, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is entering higher education: “After high school, most white girls go to college,” explains Kimmy’s landlady, Lillian (Carol Kane). Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt will also welcome back everybody’s favorite cult leader and No. 1 draft pick for his own spinoff series, Richard Wayne Gary Wayne (Jon Hamm), as well as guest stars like Ray Liotta, Laura Dern, jinx killer Robert Durst (actually, Fred Armisen) and Beyonce (actually, Titus Burgess). We’ll also learn that Jaqueline (Jane Krakowski) attended Trump University, which makes sooo much sense. Still full of heart, Kimmy is as weird, warm and hilarious as ever.

12 Monkeys (Friday, May 19, Syfy), season premiere: Before the 2016-17 TV season’s onslaught of time-travel shows (Timeless, Time After Time, Making History, all of which have been canceled), there was Syfy’s 12 Monkeys. There was also Doctor Who, but there’s always been Doctor Who. Anyway: 12 Monkeys, based on the 1995 movie of the same name, doesn’t so much replicate the Bruce Willis/Brad Pitt classic as warp the hell out of it, with Cole (Aaron Stanford) expanding on Willis’ stop-the-apocalypse tenacity, while Goines (show-stealer Emily Hampshire) takes Pitt’s mental patient to giddy new levels. Season 3 will be the final chapter for 12 Monkeys, and Syfy is blowing out all 10 episodes over three nights—I’d suggest a Hulu binge of the first two seasons before sending off the TV Time Travel Trend. Except Doctor Who, because, Doctor Who.

Twin Peaks (Sunday, May 21, Showtime), return: Sure, it seems like you’ve been reading/ignoring this TV column forever, but it didn’t even exist during the original 1990-91 run of Twin Peaks—no, really! David Lynch’s long-long-long-awaited Showtime revival takes place 25 years later, consists of 18 episodes, features 200 characters, and … that’s about all anyone knows. The new Twin Peaks hasn’t been shown to critics, and Lynch and co-creator Mark Frost have been tight with details beyond name-dropping guest stars (Laura Dern, Ashley Judd, Tim Roth, Naomi Watts and Robert Forster among them). This Pacific Northwest bizarre-noir was too much for ’90s television to handle, and even after dozens of subsequent rip-offs (sorry, “homages”), no one should doubt Lynch’s ability to push the envelope on Showtime. Now, where’s the pie?

Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter (Monday, May 22, Adult Swim), season premiere: Now that Neon Joe (Jon Glaser) has exacted revenge upon his father, defeated the evil Cybots and retired from the werewolf hunting game (see how much you missed in Season 1?), he can finally realize his lifelong dream: opening his own tiki bar, Oahu Joe’s. But, before you can say “Heyup!” Joe’s pulled back into supernatural danger to take on a rival werewolf hunter, billionaire playboy Plaid Jeff (Godfrey, Steven Universe). Glaser’s eye-patched mercenary with an incomprehensible Cajun accent may be one of the most ridiculous Adult Swim characters ever, but at least he’s concise: Neon Joe’s second season is only five episodes long, running nightly and wrapping up on Friday. Jason Sudeikis (R.I.P., Son of Zorn) shows up in the premiere, not that you needed to be sold harder.

The Fox News Specialists (Weekdays, Fox News), new series: Weird times at Fox News: Bill O’Reilly’s out; Tucker Carlson keeps failing upward; Jesse Watters somehow still has a job after dropping an Ivanka Trump blowjob joke; on and on. And now there’s The Fox News Specialists, a new weekday talker hosted by personality free stalk of celery Eric Bolling, too-smart-for-any-room-but-especially-this-one Eboni Williams, and my personal favorite Fox News floater, National Review reporter Katherine Timpf (also a regular on The Greg Gutfeld Show, the best thing to happen to Saturday nights since blackout bingeing). The trio are joined daily by two “specialists” on … something … making five—but not The Five, which is a different Fox News show. It all adds up to an even more pointless waste of airtime than Fox and Friends, bringing less to the news cycle than a waterskiing squirrel. Just lock down Tomi Lahren and Milo Yiannopoulos and launch Live! With Tomi and Milo! already.

I Love Dick (Friday, May 12, Amazon Prime), series debut: Much has been think-pieced about Transparent showrunner Jill Soloway’s follow-up Amazon Prime series, I Love Dick: It’s a showcase for the rarely dramatized “female gaze”; it’s upending standard methods of linear storytelling; it has “Dick” in the title, etc. But … is it funny and/or moving? The first episode, launched last year in Amazon’s up-voting Pilot Season, answered with a hard “duh.” I Love Dick tells the story of New Yorkers Chris (Kathryn Hahn) and Sylvere (Griffin Dunne), who’ve relocated to a Texas artist town; she’s a struggling indie filmmaker, while he’s a writer-in-residency, and they’re both obsessed with local cowboy artist Dick (Kevin Bacon), a rugged bastard who couldn’t care less. If you loved the pilot, you’ll want to spend a whole season with Dick.

Get Me Roger Stone (Friday, May 12, Netflix), documentary: Listeners of Alex Jones and InfoWars … sorry, failing Liberal Media outlet here, never mind … are familiar with Roger Stone, the veteran Republican adviser who first suggested that Donald Trump run for president, and then helped make it happen. He comes off like a dope, but, after 50 years of being a “malevolent Forrest Gump” figure in American politics, he’s proven to be an effective dope. Stone is also a little weirder than you might imagine: He was fired from Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign after being “outed” as a swinger; he’s marched in pride parades; and he’s the proud owner of more than one Richard Nixon bong. He and Trump share eerie similarities, but Stone is the more interesting character—maybe after the Cheeto flames out … Stone/Jones 2020?

Sinister Minister (Sunday, May 28, Lifetime; rescheduled from May 13), movie: No, this is not a reunited ’80s metal band playing the lido deck on that classic-rock cruise you’re booking this summer. Sinister Minister is “based on a true story,” about single mother Trish (Nikki Howard) being lulled into a sense of security for herself and teen daughter Siena (Angelica Briones) by—spot the red flags in this descriptor—“charismatic church minister D.J.” (Ryan Patrick Shanahan). Little does Trish know that D.J. is a “serial wife-murderer” who’s plotting to introduce her to Jesus so he can have Siena all to himself. Which means, if D.J. adheres to his “serial” code, he’ll kill off aged-out Sienna in Sinister Minister 2: Ingénue Boogaloo—and we’ve gotta franchise here!

Mike Tyson Mysteries (Sunday, May 14, Adult Swim), season premiere: Now entering Season 3—yes, really—Mike Tyson (voiced by Tyson as parody or with sincerity … no one knows) is still solving … ? … mysteries with the help of sidekicks Pigeon (Norm MacDonald), the Marquess of Queensbury's ghost (Jim Rash) and adopted Korean daughter Yung Hee (Rachel Ramras—who’s not even Asian; please alert the Cultural Appropriation Police). This time around, the now-homeless Team Tyson meets Mike’s nerdy brother, flashes back to their first mystery, hits the car wash, goes to dinner and, most controversially of all, returns to Adult Swim full-time before Rick and Morty. (Seriously, what the hell?) Is it too much to wish for a Mike Tyson Mysteries/Rick and Morty crossover event wherein Rick faces off against Pigeon?

Downward Dog (Wednesday, May 17, ABC), series debut: Allison Tolman was going to be a star after the first season of Fargo, they told ya, a star! But then what happened? A Drunk History episode here, an Archer voice there, a recurring role in Amazon Prime’s Mad Dogs (don’t worry, no one else saw it, either), and now there’s … this. In ABC midseason-shunted-to-summer filler Downward Dog, Tolman stars as an—everybody say it together—unlucky-in-love single career woman whose daily travails are observed and commented upon by her overly thinky dog, Martin (voiced by series creator/writer Samm Hodges). It may have worked as a one-minute YouTube series; as a half-hour TV dramedy, not so much. There’s no there there, and though she’s a charming relatable everywoman, Tolman can’t carry this dog, or Dog.

Live PD (Fridays and Saturdays, A&E), new series: Well, new-ish. A&E (the “Anything & Everything” network) has aired Live PD, which is essentially Cops meets Facebook Live in hell, since October 2016, much to the delight of slackjawed homebodies who can no longer get it up for Duck Dynasty. The “action” unfolds as a real-time ride-along, with ex-cops providing stilted commentary from a studio desk like a low-rent SportsCenter; “action” is in quotes, because Live PD captures a whole lotta nothin’ for hours on end—except for that one time when they scored footage of a guy who’d just been shot and killed over a drug deal, and A&E execs probably scored a quarterly bonus. I’m not saying that viewers of Live PD are immoral, brainless dirtbags for watching shakedowns of drunk college coeds. I am heavily implying it, though.

2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards (Sunday, May 7, MTV), special: TV critics are considered lesser lifeforms than film critics—just ask any film critic. Likewise, movie-awards shows are more highly vaunted than television-awards shows, even though TV programming is currently destroying film in terms of quality, quantity and viewership. This is why MTV has finally tacked TV onto its long-running Movie Awards, with small-screeners mixing it up with theatrical releases in categories such as Best Villain, Best Hero, Best Kiss, Best Fight Against the System (?) and Best American Story, which has TV sitcoms like Blackish and Fresh Off the Boat going up against heavy film drama Moonlight. (Confused voters will probably play it safe and vote Transparent.) At least the MTV Movie and TV Awards will be live; let’s hope host Adam DeVine takes full advantage of that.

Truth and Iliza (Tuesdays, Freeform), new series: Comedian Iliza Shlesinger won NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2008, which, like being an American Idol victor, was a consistent ticket to obscurity and/or the state fair. However, she’s built up a solid body of work since then, including three Netflix stand-up specials and, as required by current entertainment law, a podcast, Truth and Iliza. Now, Truth and Iliza is a weekly late-night talk show, making Shlesinger one of the few women in a bro-crowded field. (There’s Samantha Bee; there’s Chelsea Handler … and that’s about it.) Unlike TV Land’s recent crash-and-burn attempt to turn a pop-cultural podcast into a late-night cable series, Throwing Shade, Truth and Iliza is a smart mix of social commentary, conversational politics and Shlesinger’s “casual feminism”—it maybe too smart for Freeform, even.

Nobodies (Wednesdays, TV Land), new series: Oh, TV Land—what does it want to be? The Jim Gaffigan Show seemed like a perfect beacon, but Gaffigan canceled himself, leaving a hodgepodge of network sitcom reruns, edgy-adjacent originals (Younger, Teachers) and George Lopez’s latest in a long line of laughers. (More on him in a moment.) And then there’s Nobodies, the kind of behind-the-scenes Hollywood-biz comedy that Showtime couldn’t get enough of in a previous century. Comics Hugh Davidson, Larry Dorf and Rachel Ramras play versions of themselves, toiling as writers for a kids’ cartoon (The Fartlemans, yep) while pitching a script for a potential big-budget comedy for Melissa McCarthy (who appears, frequently and hilariously). Ramras’ borderline-filthy jokes hint that maybe this should have been on Showtime.

Lopez (Wednesdays, TV Land), new season: Now in Season 2, Lopez continues to be the funniest of all—what, 50?—George Lopez-related TV comedies, but not necessarily because of Lopez himself. Like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Louie, Maron and others before it, Lopez is about the daily life and career speed bumps (and severe social-media confusion) of a veteran stand-up comedian; more so than those did, Lopez makes great use of its supporting characters. George’s driver Manolo (Anthony “Citric” Campos), as well as comic friend/squatter Maronzio (Maronzio Vance), juice every scene they’re in, but it’s indefatigable 20-something manager Olly (Hayley Huntley) who’s arguably the real star of Lopez, a caffeinated firehose of positive-ish support and neon fashion sense. I’d like to pitch an Olly spin-off … to a different network.

Dear White People (Friday, April 28, Netflix), series debut: A few white people were angry about the mere title of creator/director Justin Simien’s 2014 film Dear White People, and even more got pissed when Netflix dropped a trailer for his new 10-episode series of the same name. They’ve never seen more than a minute of either, but said whiteys waged futile YouTube downvote campaigns and “cancel Netflix” drives to stop this reverse oppression … or whatever the hell was perceived as happening. Too bad, because Dear White People is a ferociously funny look at “post-racial” relations, PC college culture and misconceptions from both ends of the color spectrum. Could it maybe change some minds? Nah, probably not. But! For everyone else, DWP features some killer performances and nimble comical/political scripting. What’s in a name?

Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (Saturday, April 29, TBS), special: In the name of Serious Journalism, this column has never agreed to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a clique-y gathering wherein reporters and politicians mingle in a professionally suspect manner. (It should also be noted that this column has never been invited to attend the event, but whatever.) When our likely temporary Cheeto in Chief was elected bigly last November, the fate of future WHCDs was thrown into doubt—so Samantha Bee and her Full Frontal crew decided to hold their own alternative soiree, whether the other one will happen or not (and it is, tonight, with The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj hosting). Even though details are scarce, Bee’s affair is the better entertainment bet, and TBS is waaay easier to find than C-SPAN.

American Gods (Sunday, April 30, Starz), series debut: Producer extraordinaire Bryan Fuller is no longer attached to CBS All Access’ Star Trek Discovery; in other news, Star Trek Discovery is never going to happen. Anyway: Fuller’s previous TV work, even the darker-than-dark Hannibal, has always been constrained by the limits of broadcast “standards.” But his (and Logan writer Michael Green’s) American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman’s geek-grail 2001 novel, is on Starz, a premium-cable network on a roll with more to prove—no PG-13 compromises here. The fantastical, vivid and violent story of Old Gods ramping up for war against New Gods on Earth is impossible to sum up in a paragraph, but the performances of Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Orlando Jones, Gillian Anderson, Crispin Glover (!) and others are revelations. Get Starz now.

United Shades of America (Sunday, April 30, CNN), season premiere: Similar to the Dear White People situation, viewers of all colors took exception to comic W. Kamau Bell kicking off his CNN docu-series United Shades of America in 2016 with a behind-the-sheets look at the Ku Klux Klan, claiming that he was “normalizing” white supremacists. He wasn’t; they’re morons. Over eight episodes, Bell profiled prison life, Latino culture, police, survivalists, gentrification and more from a black perspective with a deft blend of humor and factuality—a task that won’t come easier in the era of “fake news.” Season 2 isn’t toning anything down, as the first episode tackles immigration and features an interview with everyone’s favorite white nationalist/Nazi piñata, Richard Spencer. United Shades of America: The bravest (and, as far as I know, only) show on CNN.

Drop the Mic (Tuesday, May 2, TBS), series debut: Prompting celebrities to sing karaoke, lip-sync hits and engage in rap battles are cheap and easy methods to connect with Middle ’Merica, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and The Late Late Show With James Corden have the gimmick on lock. Spike expanded Fallon’s Lip Sync Battle bits into a successful series, and Corden’s Carpool Karaoke gets regular prime time-special treatment on CBS; now, his hip-hop combat segment Drop the Mic is a TBS show. (Note to these series: Stop dropping unplugged microphones in commercials—details, people.) Drop the Mic blatantly clones Lip Sync Battle’s LL Cool J/Chrissy Teigen dynamic with hosts Method Man (veteran rapper) and Hailey Baldwin (model with an Instagram account). Up next: Celebrity Colonoscopy.

Mary Kills People (Sunday, April 23, Lifetime), series debut: Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas has starred in left-of-center American series like Wonderfalls and Hannibal, but Mary Kills People is probably the first to fully realize her oddly chilly-sexy potential. (It’s also a Canadian production, so no U.S. credit earned.) As the title bluntly spells out, Dr. Mary Harris (Dhavernas) kills people—terminally ill patients who want to go out on their own terms, specifically. Her secret Angel of Death gig threatens to spill over into every other aspect of her life, echoing dark-side classics like Weeds and Dexter, and Dhavernas’ complex Mary is an easy equal to Nancy Botwin and Dexter Morgan. The first season of Mary Kills People is only six episodes, but it’s an addictive taste of what should be more to come. Make it happen, Canada!

Silicon Valley (Sunday, April 23, HBO), season premiere: Another season, another seemingly insurmountable clusterfuck for Pied Piper: Thanks to the fallout from using a click-farm to artificially boost the popularity of the clunky compression platform made by Richard (Thomas Middleditch), no one wants to fund Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and his viable-and-already-blowing-up video-chat app—coder probs, am I right? Silicon Valley, aka Nerd Entourage, makes far more sense if you’ve ever worked in the digital world, where the only physical product is the occasional promo hoodie or sport bottle, and egos run rampant (I have; this show nails it uncomfortably well), but the funny is universal. In an unlikely parallel to HBO’s Girls, Season 4 of Silicon Valley sees the crew growing apart—but clothed, thankfully. And I stand by this: A little T.J. Miller goes a long way.

Dimension 404 (Tuesday, April 25, Hulu), season finale: Hulu’s six-episode anthology series Dimension 404 is like a more comedic take on Black Mirror—then again, pretty much anything is comedic compared to Black Mirror. The series’ premiere episode, “Matchmaker,” was a twisty riff on dating-app tech in which Joel McHale gave a more lively performance in under 30 minutes than he has in 20 episodes of the dead-eyed slog of The Great Indoors. (Please, CBS, kill that show, and set Joel free.) Another installment, “Cinethrax,” starring Patton Oswalt, began as a cautionary commentary on the divisiveness of insular nerd-elitism, only to have said insular nerd-elitism ultimately save the day (well, until—spoiler—aliens enslaved the planet). Dimension 404 isn’t a mind-blower, but it’s at least amusingly unpredictable—and now you can binge all six episodes.

Great News (Tuesday, April 25, NBC), series debut: NBC’s last great newsroom comedy was NewsRadio in the ’90s (30 Rock doesn’t count, and the hilarious antics of Brian Williams reside on MSNBC), but damned if they don’t keep trying. Great News is set behind the scenes of a cable-news show, The Breakdown, produced by Katie (Briga Heelan), a—you guessed it—frazzled, unlucky-in-love young career woman who becomes even more frazzled-er when her mom, Carol (Andrea Martin), comes aboard as an intern. For a Tina Fey production, Great News lacks the snap of 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, though vets Martin and John Michael Higgins (as The Breakdown’s old-school anchor) are reliably solid. Also, Nicole Richie is … here, for some reason.

The Handmaid’s Tale (Wednesday, April 26, Hulu), series debut: Here’s yet another bleak dystopian future in which the super-rich rule in a fascist theocracy—but wait, there’s more! Women are servile, disposable and mostly barren; those “lucky” enough to be fertile are treated like higher-grade animals, “wombs with two legs.” Fun, right? The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, was first given the screen treatment in 1990, but lends itself far better to a 10-episode series than that rushed, uneven film. In the society of Gilead, former-American-with-rights-turned-handmaiden Offred (Elisabeth Moss, fantastic as ever) is the designated baby-maker for Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski); dehumanization and ickiness ensue. There are few slivers of light in the darkness here, but the payoff is worth it.

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