CVIndependent

Wed06032020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Bill Frost

In a year so loaded with great TV, it’s easy to forget the crap—unless you’re a professional television watcher in need of holiday-month filler.

The best will come next week; here are (some of) the worst:

Kevin Can Wait (CBS): Kevin James plays a recently retired cop who finds that life at home with the family is exactly like a shitty sitcom from the ’80s. He’s fat! He’s dumb! He’s ’Merica! And we’re in for at least four years of it, if not eight. Thanks for nothing (again), CBS.

Party Over Here (Fox): A bait-and-switch Andy Samberg/Paul Scheer production that hinted at a Lonely Island sketch show, but instead pitted a trio of unknown (but talented) female comics with no material against Saturday Night Live. Just stay out of late night, Fox.

Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (CBS): It has a decent cast (including Gary Sinise and Alana de la Garza), but this sub-xenophobic, white-folks-in-peril-abroad spinoff has little reason to exist when we already have a perfectly good O.G. Criminal Minds.

Heartbeat (NBC): In this now-canceled mess, Melissa George starred as a genius-rebel heart surgeon who whose accomplished-if-occasionally-man-splained career contrasted with her garbage personal/romantic life as a single mom and Melissa George-level hot thang. Insert time-of-death joke here.

Houdini and Doyle (Fox): An intriguingly weird setup—Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle solving crimes in the 1900s—turned into another redundant cop procedural, albeit one with an impressive suspenders and mustache-wax budget.

Maya and Marty (NBC): It’s an undead collection of rejected Saturday Night Live sketches that Maya Rudolph and Martin Short shambled though like The Walking Dead gang smeared in zombie guts, desperately trying to avoid attention. Upside: M&M should be the final nail in the variety show’s coffin.

Feed the Beast (AMC): Could a sullen wine sommelier (David Schwimmer) and a sketchy master chef (Jim Sturgess) make their Bronx restaurateur dreams come true? Or at least not get seared and deconstructed by the local mafia? No one, absolutely no one, cared.

Roadies (Showtime): Cameron Crowe’s ode to the hard-knock life behind the rock ’n’ roll fantasy, starring Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino and cameo bands galore, began more rom-com than rock show, then noodled as aimlessly as a Dead jam. Roadies did mostly pull it together by the end, but it was waaay too late.

Wayward Pines (Fox): The first go-round of Wayward Pines, with M. Night Shyamalan at the helm, was a nearly perfect sci-fi season—it was also meant to be the only season. Then Fox got greedy and went ahead with a needless, nonsensical second that made Under the Dome look like a model of cohesion.

Legends of Chamberlain Heights (Comedy Central): The only genuinely funny aspect of Comedy Central’s latest (badly) animated series Legends of Chamberlain Heights is the name of the school where it's set: Michael Clarke Duncan High. Following one of the most uneven seasons of South Park didn’t help.

Notorious (ABC): At least this criminally-stoopid mashup of The Newsroom and Law and Order, about a gorgeous lawyer (Daniel Sunjata), a gorgeous-er news producer (Piper Perabo) and “the unique, sexy and dangerous interplay of law and the media,” has been mercifully canceled by ABC. Just like …

Conviction (ABC): Yet another “sexy” legal drama, this one starring Haley Atwell as a party-girl lawyer learning how to overturn wrongful convictions and “care,” if not master an American accent. Conviction has a handful of episodes to burn off in January, but Atwell is now freed up for more Agent Carter (hint).

The Exorcist (Fox): This unnecessary reboot of the 1973 horror classic is spooky, atmospheric and ... not much else. Kind of a letdown, considering it’s The Exorcist and all. Premiering months after Cinemax’s satanically superior Outcast didn’t help, nor did the Friday time slot. Lucifer is the only Fox devil you need.

Aftermath (Syfy): And another supernatural-apocalypse series—but this time, it's about family! Mom is Anne Heche, who appears to be perpetually hungover, and phones her performance in from behind a ridiculous pair of sunglasses. Even she realizes Aftermath is hot trash.

The Affair (Showtime): Season 1 of The Affair delivered some intriguing adult drama from multiple perspectives. Unfortunately, now that it’s dragged on into Season 3, this “prestige” series offers little more than Middle-Aged Rich People Probs and pricey East Coast real estate views.

Broadcast and Cable News (all of it): Bitch all you want about “fake news”; the “real news” failed spectacularly in this election year. They handed over billions of dollars-worth of free advertising to the worst two presidential candidates in history, and they’re surprised by the outcome? Trump TV might actually be an improvement.

SuperMansion: War on Christmas (Thursday, Dec. 8, Crackle), holiday special: Oldster superhero Titanium Rex (voiced by Bryan Cranston) and his geezeriffic League of Freedom are forced to stop arguing for a hot minute to save Christmas from a new supervillain, Mr. Skibumpers (Jim Parsons), a malevolent alien who’s turned Santa Claus (Gary Anthony Williams) into a bloodthirsty murder machine wreaking havoc upon Storm City. War on Christmas is SuperMansion’s unofficial kickoff of a second season, arriving in 2017 on Crackle, that little orange-button app you should get around to trying sometime. The Robot Chicken team didn’t quite nail its debut season—about a senior-citizen stop-motion sub-Avengers—but War on Christmas is a step in the right direction, amping-up the crazy and the cohesiveness for a solid holiday entry. As psycho Santa says, we could all use “the gift of oblivion” right about now.

Fuller House (Friday, Dec. 9, Netflix), season premiere: ’Merica has made plenty of egregious, perverse and downright stoopid decisions this year, but it’s not hyperbole to say our most catastrophic, soul-destroying, Sept.-11-times-100 act of them all was to make Netflix’s Full House reboot Fuller House a hit back in February. This means the laugh-tracked atrocity is back for a second season within the calendar year, further cementing 2016 as just the worst. Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier and Lori Laughlin will again recur, because, paychecks, but Fuller House is still about the even-less-interesting next gen of Candace Cameron Bure, Jodi Sweetin and the other one; meanwhile, the Olsen twins remain conspicuously absent. (Yay?) Upside: Another season of this dreck will help fund other Netflix shows like …

White Rabbit Project (Friday, Dec. 9, Netflix), series debut: Missing Mythbusters? Can you say that five times fast? White Rabbit Project re-teams Tori Belleci, Kari Byron and Grant Imahara for a new series deconstructing events from pop culture, science and history—jailbreaks, superpower technology, heists, World War II weaponry and why the hell the Discovery channel fired the Build Team trio from Mythbusters two years ago. (OK, probably not the last one.) Speed, flames, explosions, shots and—it hasn’t been outlawed yet!—science converge for what should be an entertaining, if not educational, ride. Maybe next season they can explain Westworld.

A Christmas Wedding Date (Saturday, Dec. 10, Lifetime), movie: A few years ago, there was an odd wave of original Christmas TV movies wherein stylish, big-city businesswomen who had everything but time for love or the holidays were knocked unconscious, only to later awaken in small towns, relieved of those cumbersome career goals and designer fashions—all while being romanced by a hunky townie with a flannel shirt and carefree stubble. There are not so many such films in 2016, but A Christmas Wedding Date puts a Groundhog Day spin on the story of Rebecca (Marla Sokoloff of The Practice and the immortal Dude, Where’s My Car?), a stylish, big-city businesswoman who gets fired from her corporate job, then returns to her small hometown to attend a friend’s Christmas Eve wedding. Soon, she’s reliving the day over and over again, presumably until she gets her shit together, snags a man and learns The True Meaning of Christmas®. Stray thought: Why has no one pitched a sequel called Dude, Where’s My Christmas? Holiday gold!

Star (Wednesday, Dec. 14, Fox), series debut: This certainly sounds familiar: “Star (Jude Demorest), a tough-as-nails young woman who came up in the foster-care system, tracks down her sister, Simone (Brittany O’Grady), and her Instagram bestie, Alexandra (Ryan Destiny), and together, the trio journeys to Atlanta with the hope of becoming music superstars.” A little TLC, a little Destiny’s Child, a whole lotta Empire (Star is produced by Lee Daniels), as well as a cast that also includes Queen Latifah, Benjamin Bratt and Lenny Kravitz, all adds up to what could be a winter sleeper hit for Fox. The snag: Star relies more on music and heartstring-tugging than the over-the-top soap fireworks of Empire, so it’s going to need more (and better) songs to go the distance. But, then again, they said that about Lenny Kravitz, too.

Pacific Heat (Friday, Dec. 2, Netflix), series debut: Much has already been written about how animated Australian import Pacific Heat looks a hell of a lot like long-running American series Archer—and now here’s one more, damn it. First of all, the animation isn’t as slick as Archer’s; Pacific Heat more resembles a haphazard Microsoft Paint attempt at a tribute than a calculated rip-off. Second, the real stoopid-genius of Archer lies in its writing and voice talents, which are among the best on TV, cartoon or otherwise. The Gold Coast law-enforcement agents of Pacific Heat aren’t particularly clever or distinct, and every joke can be seen coming from a kilometer away. You could blame an Aussie/American disconnect, but remember Danger 5? That was some Down Under funny—time to bring it back, Netflix!

Mr. Neighbor’s House (Friday, Dec. 2, Adult Swim), special: You probably know actor Brian Huskey as “that guy” from People of Earth, Veep, Another Period, Childrens Hospital and 100 other bizarro-comedy series and movies. Mr. Neighbor’s House could be the first time Huskey has played a lead role, and he’s disturbingly perfect as a slowly-coming-unglued children’s show host who internally seethes like Patrick Bateman stuck with Mr. Rogers’ shitty sweater—and shittier puppets. Unfortunately, Mr. Neighbor’s House (which was created by Huskey and fellow alt-comedy vet Jason Mantzoukas) has been sitting in Adult Swim purgatory for more than a year, and only one episode of what could have been a hilarious series was produced. So, enjoy Mr. Neighbor’s “31st Annual 5th Birthday Party” and wonder what’s going on at Adult Swim programming these days.

The Royals (Sunday, Dec. 4, E!), season premiere: Sexy glam-trash soap opera The Royals is the only non-reality show on E!, as well as the network’s lone offering that isn’t an insult to anyone with an IQ higher than 50. (Has The Soup really been gone a year? Sigh …) Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley), Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park) and the rest of the fictional British royal family have been locked in a tawdry, shifting power struggle over the throne for two seasons now, and the unexpected return of presumed-dead Prince Robert (Max Brown, replete with fake castaway beard) at the outset of Season 3 further complicates an already sticky wicket. (Hey, I tried.) Catch up on The Royals over the holidays on Amazon Prime; the accents will fool your family into thinking you’re watching some proper PBS fare.

Shut Eye (Wednesday, Dec. 7, Hulu), series debut: A dark dramedy about a Los Angeles crime syndicate of gypsy psychics? Well-played, Hulu. Charlie (Jeffrey Donovan, Burn Notice) is a cynical fortune-teller conman desperate to get out of the gypsies’ racket and start his own racket with his wife (KaDee Strickland, Secrets and Lies), ripping suckers off as an independent businessman, because ’Merica. The idea of a grifter couple trying to get out from under the thumb of a ruthless psychic mafia is intriguing enough, but Shut Eye throws in another twist: When Charlie sustains a beat-down head injury that enables him to experience (seemingly, at least) real clairvoyant visions, the career fraud suddenly has a new outlook on life—not that gypsy mob bosses Fonzo (Angus Sampson) and Rita (Isabella Rossellini) care; their only interest is in retaining their star crystal-baller and his cash flow. Another left-field winner from Hulu.

Hairspray Live! (Wednesday, Dec. 7, NBC), special: John Waters got it right in 1988 with the original Hairspray movie—how many unnecessary and increasingly watered-down stage and film versions need to be made? Apparently one more, because current broadcast network TV is more about nostalgia and cheap stunts than original concepts and risk-taking. (Didya hear that Hulu has a series about a psychic crime syndicate, NBC?) Ariana Grande, Kristin Chenoweth, Andrea Martin, Martin Short, Derek Hough, Harvey Fierstein, Jennifer Hudson, Dove Cameron, Garrett Clayton, Maddie Baillio, Ephraim Sykes, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Billy Eichner, Sean Hayes and Rosie O’Donnell make up the Who’s Who of Who Cares? cast, and every remaining trace of Waters’ subversive undertones will surely have been scrubbed out by airtime. At least he’ll get a check.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Friday, Nov. 25, Netflix), return: Do not, repeat, do not, watch all four seasonal 90-minute installments of what is technically Gilmore Girls’ eighth season in a single binge—even writer/producer Amy Sherman-Palladino doesn’t recommend it. But you’re going to anyway. This return to Stars Hollow has everything a Gilmore Girls fan could possibly want, and Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory’s (Alexis Bledel) caffeinated banter hasn’t lost a beat since the end of the original WB/CW series nine years ago. Like all nostalgia wallows, however, A Year in the Life (the Netflix run’s unnecessary subtitle) has a few problems balancing ’Member This? with Here’s a New Thing! plot points. But it still hits all the feel buttons with a sentimentally deadly accuracy that lesser revivals like Netflix’s Fuller House crapfest can’t touch. Stretch it out over the Thanksgiving weekend, because this a lot of Gilmore Girls to (re)absorb, and they’re not as perfect as you remember. Except Paris (Liza Weil). She can do no wrong.

Christmas List (Friday, Nov. 25, Hallmark), movie: You know that this year’s crop of new Christmas flicks began airing in October, right? TV’s most egregious ho-ho-offender, Hallmark, is already five weeks into Santa season, and I pity the fool who has to write these plot synopses for ’em: “In Christmas List, Isobel (Alicia Witt) plans a storybook Christmas with her boyfriend, including a snow-covered cottage in the Northwest, and a carefully composed bucket list of classic holiday traditions. But when the boyfriend goes AWOL, the list proves challenging, and a tempting new romance turns her life upside-down. Will Isobel have a White Christmas ending under the mistletoe?” First, “AWOL”? Military jargon is not Christmas-y. Second, “new romance”? Isobel moved on fast.

A Heavenly Christmas (Saturday, Nov. 26, Hallmark), movie: Let’s continue the copywriter analysis with A Heavenly Christmas: “Upon her untimely death, Eve (Kristin Davis) finds herself tethered to her guardian angel (Shirley MacLaine), learning to become a Christmas angel in Heaven. Despite being the worst recruit in the history of Christmas, Eve is assigned the difficult task of helping a struggling singer, Max (Eric McCormack) use his musical gifts to heal old family wounds. As Max begins to overcome his issues, Eve begins to embrace the meaning of Christmas, heal wounds of her own and perhaps find love along the way.” OK, she’s dead, and she’s going to “find love” with a still-alive singer who’s a bit old to still be “struggling”? Kinky.

Journey Back to Christmas (Sunday, Nov. 27, Hallmark), movie: And the hits keep coming: “A World War II-era nurse (Candace Cameron Bure) is transported in time to 2016 and meets a man (Oliver Hudson) who helps her discover the bonds of family and that the true meaning of Christmas is timeless.” That sentence was written in AP Style—Ain’t Punctuating. As for the plot … huh? Is this some kind of reverse-Outlander, minus the kilts and abusive gingers? Also, the title Journey Back to Christmas implies that she’ll returning to the 1940s to possibly be blown up by Nazis, die from a minor flu bug or just be generally marginalized as a “dame.” Stay in 2016! America won’t begin devolving into The Man in the High Castle until at least Jan. 20 of next year.

Incorporated (Wednesday, Nov. 30, Syfy), series debut: So, is now the best time to introduce a sci-fi series about class warfare taken to corporate and technological extremes … or literally the worst time? Like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the producers of Incorporated care. In this 2074-set drama, the world is split into two distinct halves: The Green Zone, a sealed corporate utopia that resembles American Psycho sponsored by the Apple Store and Ikea, wherein company loyalty is rewarded/demanded; and the Red Zone, the lawless, dirty dystopia that dozens of YA novels (and at least half of Syfy’s other programs) have warned you about. It’s slick and dazzling—so much so that Incorporated’s central story of an outsider (Sean Teale) infiltrating the Green Zone to save his girlfriend almost feels like an afterthought. Wait a minute … Green Zone … Red Zone … Christmas Incorporated?!

Lovesick (Thursday, Nov. 17, Netflix), season premiere: The British series formerly known as Scrotal Recall returns for a second season as Lovesick. Admittedly, that’s not as catchy of a name, but how could one ever top Scrotal Recall? Dicks for the Memories? Poundtown Abbey? Doctor Strange? Anyway: Lovesick is still a romantic-ish comedy about sexually prolific Dylan (Johnny Flynn) contacting his former bedmates episode-by-episode to inform them that he has an STD; perhaps he will come across … let’s rephrase that … happen upon a Miss Right whom he may have blindly overlooked before. It’s charming-enough fluff, worth binging over the holidays after you’ve torn through Gilmore Girls, and you won’t have to explain the (new) title to the parental units.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Fridays, The CW), new season: We’ve recently learned a hard, orange lesson about trusting polls and ratings, but the numbers show that no one is watching the second season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a musical rom-com oddity that struggled even before The CW banished it to Fridays. Too bad, because even though the songs aren’t as strong this time around—call it Flight of the Conchords syndrome—creator/producer/star Rachel Bloom is funnier and more confident than ever in the title role. In the first season, Rebecca (Bloom) left her career—and her meds—in New York City to chase old flame Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) in strip-malled SoCal; now that she’s sorta-landed him, things are getting even weirder and more unpredictable in Season 2. Put Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in the catch-up cue before Lovesick.

The Affair (Sunday, Nov. 20, Showtime), season premiere: Still on? Really? The Affair ran out of story in its first season, and now Showtime is tossing out a third installment of The Sulking Whiteys. It all started with frustrated writer—aren’t they all?—Noah (Dominic West) boning waitress Alison (Ruth Wilson), much to the meh-smay of their respective, equally boring spouses (Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson). For annoying measure, there are also alternate perspectives, split timelines and a whodunit murder subplot in play, all designed to excuse The Affair’s self-absorbed vanilla dullness with an “It’s Artsy!” defense. Nope. Shameless (still killing it in Season 7, BTW) deserves a better lead-out, Showtime.

Squidbillies (Sunday, Nov. 20, Adult Swim), Thanksgiving episode: Now more than ever, we need the redneck wisdom of Squidbillies. In Season 10 (!), the animated series about land-locked Deep South squids (just go with it) has been extended to include Halloween (grave-robbin’!) and Thanksgiving (dinner-fightin’!) episodes, but, sadly, there is no Christmas special—you haven’t earned it, ’Merica; maybe next year. On one hand (tentacle?), perhaps we should set aside such broad stereotypes and reach out to the conservative side of the nation to foster a new sense of unity and understanding. On the other … this shit is just too funny. Make America Squids Again!

Search Party (Monday, Nov. 21, TBS), series debut: Sometimes “dark” comedy is just code for “not necessarily funny” comedy, and there’s probably a reason TBS is blowing out Search Party over five days instead of running it for 10 weeks. When Dory (Alia Shawkat) and her insufferably shallow Brooklynite friends become caught up in the mystery of a missing college acquaintance they vaguely remember … barely anything happens. It quickly becomes apparent that these idiots wouldn’t even be able find their own asses without Google Maps, and that Search Party is a not-so-subtle commentary on directionless millennials who are armed with too much information and zero real-world experience. Edited down to a 90-minute indie-flick, this could work; the friends’ run-ins with harsh reality are hilarious, if too few and far-between. As a five-hour series, not so much.

Better Things (Thursday, Nov. 10, FX), season finale: Like the just-wrapped Atlanta, Better Things is a comedy like no other—on FX or elsewhere. Pamela Adlon’s semi-autobiographical story of a B-level actress/saint-level mom (her daughters are the worst) delivers no overly grand statements or sitcom-wacky situations; it just makes it through another day and drops subtle, been-there wisdoms. Better Things swings from sweet to sad to snarky with an assured precision that her creative partner Louis C.K.’s Louie never quite nailed, and Adlon subverts the first impressions of her co-stars beautifully. (OK, her daughters aren’t that bad.) Hell, FX aired the 10 episodes in random order—a note to future on-demanders—and it still worked. Thank goodness the show has been renewed for a second season.

People of Earth (Mondays, TBS), new series: It’s not as instantly defined as recent TBS comedies like The Detour or Angie Tribeca (you know, as Vacation and The Naked Gun clones, respectively), but People of Earth at least has ex-Daily Show correspondent Wyatt Cenac, which is a hell of a start. Cenac plays a New York City journalist dispatched to a small upstate town to interview an alien-abductee support group, and investigate “extraterrestrial activity” in the area. It’s a quirky enough setting—like Parks and Recreation with Lexapro dumped in the water supply—but People of Earth leans more weird than funny, and the characters are even less fleshed out than those of TBS’ weakest new sitcom, Wrecked. But, as I always say about TBS: At least it’s not another King of Queens rerun.

Good Behavior (Tuesday, Nov. 15, TNT), series debut: Whereas Animal Kingdom, TNT’s first bid for grit-drama cred, was mostly bark and little bite, the rebranding network’s new Good Behavior has teeth. Not-so-lovable loser Letty Dobesh (Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey) is fresh out of prison and low on prospects when she hooks up with a magnetic hit man (Juan Diego Botto) who’ll most likely derail her already-shaky plans for getting straight (well, him and the drugs). Like Cinemax’s fantastic (and novel-based—writing matters, people) Quarry, Good Behavior takes a boilerplate crime-noir setup and twists it into unexpected shapes, going deeper than usual TNT fare. Dockery and Botto are transfixing to watch, and director Charlotte Sieling (who also helmed Queen of the South’s similarly impressive pilot) brings the sweat of the South alive. Yes, now there’s another show you need to watch.

Sweet/Vicious (Tuesday, Nov. 15, MTV), series debut: Intentions were good-ish: Sorority girl Jules (Eliza Bennett) and outcast computer-punk Ophelia (Taylor Dearden) team up to beat down sexual predators on their college campus; think Kick-Ass filtered through Jezebel. It’s a heavy balance to strike, avenging rape survivors and dropping post-feminist snark (not to mention keeping up on classwork—vigilantes should be sponsored by Red Bull), and Sweet/Vicious’ Serious Issues half isn’t yet as compelling as its Violent Fun half. Still, credit first-time creator/writer Jennifer Robinson and MTV for hitting on a hot topic while it’s timely, instead of five years from now in a tossed-off Law and Order: SVU episode. Of course the soundtrack rocks—MTV hasn’t completely lost its touch.

Ice (Wednesday, Nov. 16, Audience/DirecTV), series debut: Crackle’s The Art of More, a star-studded drama about high-end art crime, streams its second season today, and now DirecTV’s Audience network is debuting Ice, a star-studded drama about diamond thieves. Is there a new 1 Percenter TV trend that I missed? Anyway: Freddy (Jeremy Sisto) puts his family diamond business—and his family—in jeopardy when he kills a connected rival gem dealer; now it’s up to his half-brother Jake (Cam Gigandet) to save his ass from a ruthless diamond-cartel crime boss (Donald Sutherland). Violence, sex and shiny-object fondling ensue, but who needs to add this “meh” trinket to an already overstuffed Too Much TV cue? And why wasn’t it titled On the Rocks?

Election Night 2016 (Tuesday, Nov. 8, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS): You could trust the Lamestream Media to give you accurate, unbiased coverage of voting results across the country, just like you could trust a urine-scented man in a ratty clown costume to baby-sit your kids in a windowless van under the overpass while you attend your political party’s “Victory!” bash at the local bar. Just sayin.’ ABC’s Your Voice Your Vote, CBS’ Campaign 2016, Fox’s You Decide 2016, NBC’s 2016 Election Night and PBS’ Newshour Election Night can’t even come up with decent titles, much less disclosure that their Liberal Media reporters and analysts are all Team Hillary. Except for that dreamy Shepard Smith, anchor of Fox’s recycled broadcast from Fox News …

Election Night 2016 (Tuesday, Nov. 8, Fox News): The Make America Great Again™ crowd will be glued to Fox News tonight, grabbing for any crumbs of positive Donald Trump poll showings, which Shep and conservative lust/loathe object Megyn Kelly may not be able to deliver. Which is why Fox News will probably throw on such true believers as human potato Karl Rove and inhuman hairball Ann Coulter to keep your grandfather from completely losing his shit and retreating to the bunker. With any luck, they’ll also give some screen time to Fox News wildcards like Greg Gutfeld and Kat Timpf to inject some (intentional) comedy into what could be a bleak night.

Election Night 2016 (Tuesday, Nov. 8, CNN): If the Centrist News Network were smart, they’d bring in Samantha Bee from Time Warner cable cousin TBS’ Full Frontal as a guest commentator. They’re not, so they won’t. Instead, it’ll be hours of Wolf Blitzer’s beardy blathering, broken up with the occasional pithy point from Anderson Cooper, Jake Tapper and maybe a woman, if they can find one anywhere in the newsroom. But hey, 3D Minority Report graphics!

Election Night 2016 (Tuesday, Nov. 8, MSNBC): The Left Wing’s direct feed will be unapologetically, giddily pronouncing a Hillary Clinton landslide, and Hardball’s Chris Matthews will likely be even more intoxicated than usual … allegedly. MSNBC is as liberal as David Cross in Barbra Streisand drag snorting Ecstasy at Burning Man, but it’s still a credible news outlet that delivers in the clutch—maybe because they rest all weekend while airing 600 reruns of Locked Up Abroad, but who knows? Few newscasters piss off Redneck ‘Merica like Rachel Maddow, which is why she’s a national treasure who’ll become even more invaluable should this “rigged” election go the way of the Manchurian Cheeto instead of the presumed Pantsuit Assassin. Who better to be the voice of the underground resistance in the post-apocalyptic Mad Max hellscape of TrumpVana?

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah (Tuesday, Nov. 8, Comedy Central): It’s crunch time. If Trevor Noah and his crew don’t nail this, the most important moment of The Daily Show’s post-Jon Stewart era, Comedy Central might as well give up and just hand weeknights completely over to Chris Hardwick and @Midnight. We’re rooting for you, Trevor. Well, maybe not Larry Wilmore, but the rest of us are …

Stephen Colbert’s Live Election Night Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going to Clean Up This Shit? (Tuesday, Nov. 8, Showtime): “It will be all the political comedy you love from my CBS show, with all the swearing and nudity you love from Showtime,” Late Show host Stephen Colbert has said of his epically-named live special. “Get all the election news without all the ethics and standards of news.” While that last part is essentially the mantra of AM talk radio, Colbert’s unusual live outing on an uncensored premium-cable network (again, why aren’t you doing a similar special with Samantha Bee on your HBO, Time Warner?) should be the go-to election broadcast of the year, even if it is only an hour long.

Good night, and good luck, America.

The Great Indoors (Thursday, Oct. 27, CBS), series debut: Well, this is uncomfortably familiar: Outdoor-adventure magazine editor Jack (Joel McHale) returns from—what else?—an adventure, only to find that the print arm of his company has been put out of its dwindling misery, and he’s now in charge of cranking out “web content” with the “digital daycare division.” Everybody knows that print is dead (pause for audible sigh from this tabloid’s publisher … and … moving on). The Great Indoors is just an excuse for hack gen-x sitcom writers to lazily mock millennials, and a waste of McHale as a snarky shadow of his former Community self. Besides, we gen-xers need to just lay off millennials and concentrate on making fun the real enemy: baby boomers.

Pure Genius (Thursday, Oct. 27, CBS), series debut: A tech billionaire (Augustus Prew) enlists a maverick doctor (Dermot Mulroney—not Dylan McDermott) for his cutting-edge Silicon Valley hospital to treat “incurable” patients for free—yes, it’s another medical drama, but with a Feel the Bern! twist. But as with Code Black and pretty much every other drama on its schedule, there’s no potentially “new” idea that CBS can’t turn into a snooze that’s demo-targeted at baby boomers. (Not a theme this week, just the truth, man.) Creator/writer/producer Jason Katims injects moments of his missed Parenthood heart and humor into this tech-healthcare wet dream, but can’t quite overpower Pure Genius’ preachiness and self-importance (not to mention Mulroney actually uttering the phrase “gadgets and gizmos”).

Tracey Ullman’s Show (Friday, Oct. 28, HBO), series debut: British comic actress Tracey Ullman headlined the then-brand-new Fox network’s second series in 1987 after Married … With Children, and birthed The Simpsons (not literally—short features from The Tracey Ullman Show were eventually spun off into the animated series). More than 30 years and dozens of TV projects later (including the should-been-bigger 2008-10 Showtime series Tracey Ullman’s State of the Union, the piss-take ’Merica could really use right now), Ullman is still as unstoppable of a comedic force as ever. Tracey Ullman’s Show is a BBC series that’s being rebroadcast by HBO, featuring a somewhat more serialized storyline than her previous strictly sketch shows, and a Euro-famous Angela Merkel impersonation that may be lost on Yanks.

The Fall (Saturday, Oct. 29, Netflix), season premiere: U.K. crime drama The Fall has smoldered, twisted and teased for two brief seasons, with Det. Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) tracking down serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) in Belfast, Ireland. Though Spector was—spoiler!—gunned down upon capture at the end of last season, it’s a no-brainer that the literal lady-killer (women looove him; Dornan’s carving out quite the career as Mr. Deadly Dreamboat) is back for Season 3, with a possible exoneration looming as The Fall heads to the courtroom. Tense-sexy (tensexy?) parries between cop and killer are standard psychological-thriller fare, but Anderson and Dornan sell Allan Cubitt’s tight, if occasionally slow, scripting brilliantly. In typical Brit fashion, The Fall’s six-episode third season may well be its last—you know what to do.

Stan Against Evil (Monday, Oct. 31, IFC), series debut: Comparisons to Starz’s bloody-fantastic Ash vs. Evil Dead (currently slaying in Season 2) are inevitable, but Stan Against Evil is a different middle-aged-dude-battling-hell animal. First of all, it’s less gory, because 1. IFC is basic-ish cable, and 2. Ash vs. Evil Dead has severely depleted the nation’s fake blood supplies. Also, Stan (John C. McGinley) is far less gonzo than Ash; he’s just the retired sheriff of a small New England town (which happens to be built on the site of a 17th century witch burning, of course) reluctantly dragged back into action to help fight a demon uprising alongside his replacement (Janet Varney). McGinley’s over-it delivery is deadpan perfect, putting Stan Against Evil more in-line with Shaun of the Dead than Evil Dead. Happy Halloween! Regular timeslot: Wednesdays, beginning Nov. 2.

Black Mirror (Friday, Oct. 21, Netflix), season premiere: Charlie Brooker’s near-futuristic Black Mirror anthology series has been creeping out both technophobes and technophiles since 2011, kicking off with an episode wherein the prime minister of Britain was forced to have sex with a pig on live TV. (That seems quaint given our own Election 2016 cycle, doesn’t it?) The series’ third season is only slightly less pessimistic about today’s/tomorrow’s oversharing online society; one out of the six episodes actually highlights some positive, non-horrific application of smartphone tech, so that’s … something. Among the doomed digerati of Season 3 are Bryce Dallas Howard, James Norton, Mackenzie Davis, Eve Alice, Wyatt Russell and Hannah John-Kamen, starring in a swath of stories that subtly filter film genres through a “Social Media Can and Will Kill You” narrative. At least there are no pigs this time around.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Saturday, Oct. 22, BBC America), series debut: Even if you’ve read the Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) novels upon which Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is based, it’s difficult to explain just what in the hell’s going on here; “sheer madness with a chewy mystery in the middle” seems too simple, but it’s a start. American Ultra/Chronicle writer Max Landis brings the tale of kinda-detective Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett, Penny Dreadful) and his certainly-not-Watson partner Todd (Elijah Wood, Wilfred) to crackling, chaotic life—so much so that it seems the action might spin right off the screen at any moment. Unlike Black Mirror, Dirk Gently celebrates the connectedness of all people and things (hence, “holistic detective”), even when there’s danger afoot (hence, a “holistic assassin”).

Dream Corp, LLC (Sunday, Oct 23, Adult Swim), series debut: Premiering after the Season 3 (!) return of the hilariously bizarre Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell (it’s Office Space in hell, and the boss is Satan—yes, we’ve all been there), Adult Swim’s new Dream Corp, LLC could the network’s most blatant “Let’s not pretend we’re not all watching this high at 3 a.m.” pitch yet. A wild-haired Jon Gries (Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite!) stars as Dr. Roberts, head of the titular psychotherapeutic lab where he and his equally sketchy team analyze the traumatic dreams of patients. That’s essentially the plot; the rest of Dream Corp, LLC is brain-twisting, hallucinogenic visual F/X rendered in rotoscope (animation over live-action film). It all makes about as much sense as USA’s dream-centric drama Falling Water, but gets it done in less than 15 minutes.

Man With a Plan (Monday, Oct. 24, CBS), series debut: Matt LeBlanc joins fellow Friend Matthew Perry in CBS Sitcom Hell, and while nothing could be as mind-numbingly awful as Perry’s The Odd Couple or Kevin James’ Kevin Can Wait (yes, 2 Broke Girls is now the Eyeball net’s smartest Monday comedy—this is where we are now, ’Merica), Man With a Plan is definitely a contender in the race to the bottom. In this laugh-tracked throwaway, LeBlanc plays a blue-collar dad who agrees to stay home with his children while his wife (Liza Snyder, replacing the wisely fled Jenna Fischer) returns to work. Guess what? The kids are a nightmare! Dad’s in over his head! Mom says, “Told ya so!” There’s not a joke here that can’t be seen coming from 85 miles away! Look up LeBlanc’s meta-funny Showtime series Episodes instead; it’s best to remember him that way.

Rectify (Wednesday, Oct. 26, Sundance), season premiere: The first three seasons of Rectify are currently available on Netflix; before this fourth and final run ends, I’d recommend starting there … patiently. Rectify follows the existential struggle of Daniel Holden (Aden Young), a man released after serving 19 years in prison for rape and murder. New DNA evidence got him out of the joint, though it’s still not clear whether he committed the crime or not—and it may never be revealed by the end, according to creator/producer Ray McKinnon. The residents of his small Georgia hometown have divergent, occasionally violent opinions; the same goes within his own family (including his stalwart-defender sister, fantastically played by Abigail Spencer, Rectify’s true heartbreaking center). Warning: Rectify moves ssslllooowwwly, and Daniel’s guilt or innocence isn’t the point of the story. Enjoy!

Falling Water (Thursday, Oct. 13, USA), series debut: In the time of Too Many Shows, it’s almost suicidal to drop a new series that won’t get to the damned point by the middle of the first episode; USA needs to hook ’em fast, because viewers have a dozen other choices tonight (except for Notorious, which still sucks). Falling Water follows three seemingly unrelated people (Lizzie Brochere, David Ajala and Will Yun Lee) who come to realize that they’re all dreaming parts of the same dream, and said dream relates to “the fate of the world.” How? That’s annoyingly unclear, but the three are definitely dreaming—so much so that it’s impossible to tell what’s “real,” but at least the imagery is gorgeous. (If you have access to 4K HD and “herbal” medication, you’ll probably enjoy this more than most.) Falling Water has nine more episodes to establish a plot; otherwise, there likely won’t be more to come.

Goliath (Friday, Oct. 14, Amazon Prime), series debut: Yes, I’ve been complaining about the glut of new legal dramas this season … However! The potential of the combo of David E. Kelley (finally venturing into the streaming realm) and Billy Bob Thornton (sorely missed from episodic TV since Fargo Season 1) is too rich to ignore. As beaten-down Los Angeles lawyer William McBride, Thornton more than delivers, and Goliath, set against the classic-noir backdrop of seedy Los Angeles, is a stick-it-to-The-Man legal saga that echoes Better Call Saul and the late, great Terriers. McBride, on the edge of abandoning the legal system in favor of just drinking himself to death, is hell-bent on one last takedown—his former partner (William Hurt), a power-tripping shark using his corporate influence to cover up a murder and who-knows-what else. It’s a familiar trope, but Thornton and Kelley play it so well that it’s easy to forgive them for not using Goliath’s killer supporting cast (including Maria Bello, Molly Parker and Olivia Thirlby) to fuller effect.

Haters Back Off (Friday, Oct. 14, Netflix), series debut: Depending upon your tolerance level for YouTube star Miranda Sings (Colleen Ballinger), Netflix’s Haters Back Off is either a brilliant, inevitable expansion of her digital reach, or an inexplicably annoying excuse for comedy (i.e. you’re old—go watch Longmire again). Ballinger’s Miranda character is a satire of self-absorbed, tone-deaf YouTube “singers” desperate for fame, so creating a backstory around her (which includes The Office’s Angela Kinsey as her mother, and Eastbound and Down’s Steve Little as her far-too-supportive uncle) could bring the whole meta roof crashing down. Then again, there’s some undeniably funny writing here (“Are you an alto or a soprano?” “I’m American!”), and Ballinger dominates any size of screen she’s on, so it’s probably best not to overthink Haters Back Off. Besides, no Millennials are reading this, anyway … right?

Eyewitness (Sunday, Oct. 16, USA), series debut: Since there are, as previously stated, Too Many Shows, do you really need a crime thriller about a pair of teenage boys trying to hide their taboo relationship and stay one step ahead of a murderer whom they witnessed in the act at a remote cabin? If Eyewitness were even half as intense as the Norwegian series upon which it’s based, I’d be inclined to say, “Kanskje.” But, as with umbrellas and black metal, some things are just done better in Norway.

Chance (Wednesday, Oct. 19, Hulu), series debut: Hugh Laurie is back on TV (well, Hulu) as a doctor—but Dr. House, he ain’t. In Chance, he’s Dr. Eldon Chance, a forensic neuropsychiatrist whose treatment of a patient with possible multiple personalities (Gretchen Mol) becomes a bit too intimate for the liking of her abusive police-detective husband (Paul Adelstein). It sounds like the setup for a throwaway Lifetime movie, but Chance is a layered psychological thriller more in line with British imports like The Fall and Marcella, with even-seedier stories happening outside the margins and a surprisingly terrifying performance from ex-My Name Is Earl goofball Ethan Suplee. It may (or may not) be wise to also mention that Chance comes from novelist/screenwriter Kem Nunn, the man who created HBO’s most divisive drama ever, John From Cincinnati … but there it is.