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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

TV

08 Feb 2017
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Girls (Sunday, Feb. 12, HBO), season premiere: Yes, Girls creator/star Lena Dunham has made some astoundingly stupid statements on social media—isn’t that what social media is for?—but she’s also cranked out a half-dozen solid seasons of an HBO series, so she’s far more than just a “privileged snowflake.” Season 6 will be the last for Girls (though there may be a follow-up movie), and Brooklynites Hannah (Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) are totally different, and somehow exactly the same, as they were in the beginning. Girls’ infamously un-glam sex scenes and monologues continue, but it’s Dunham’s nimble comedy writing that deserves the attention—lines like “I don’t give a shit about anything, yet I simultaneously have opinions about everything” are as funny as they are instantly relatable (to some of us writers, anyway). Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Monday, Feb. 13, HBO), documentary: Locally…
01 Feb 2017
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Powerless (Thursday, Feb. 2, NBC), series debut: Rebooted before it even premiered: Powerless, which exists somewhere within the DC Comics universe, was originally a deadpan workplace comedy à la The Office, about an insurance firm that handled cases of civilians affected by superhero vs. supervillain battles—real catastrophic damage. Now, it’s about Wayne Security (as in, Bruce Wayne and Wayne Enterprises), a company specializing in tactical-tech personal-protection devices for non-superhumans. It’s a faster-paced, colorful upgrade that the cast (Vanessa Hudgens, Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi, Ron Funches and Christina Kirk) delivers on hysterically—when the material’s there. Unfortunately, Powerless’ writing isn’t as consistent as that of recent NBC comedy breakouts Superstore and The Good Place, so it’ll have to be carried by its stars for now. Superior Donuts (Thursday, Feb. 2, CBS; moving to Mondays on Feb. 6), series debut: Sitcoms like NBC’s The Carmichael Show and CBS’ Mom have shown that it’s…
25 Jan 2017
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Riverdale (Thursday, Jan. 26, The CW), series debut: It’s exactly what you think it is—Archie Comics given a dark ’n’ broody CW-teens makeover, like Twin Peaks meets Gossip Girl. Riverdale is also far better than most are going to be willing to give it credit for: It’s sharply written (though the first ep is exposition-heavy, because kids today) and winkingly self-aware murder noir dressed up in muted-classic Archie couture that firmly states, “Yeah, we’re actually doing this—and we’re going hard.” The gang’s all here, including a ripped-but-sensitive Archie (K.J. Apa), a mysterious Jughead (Cole Sprouse), a jittery Betty (Lili Reinhart), a seductive Veronica (Camila Mendes) and an ambitious Pussycats-fronting Josie (Ashleigh Murray), and they all arrive as surprisingly fleshed-out characters. Riverdale will be the first TV obsession of 2017—count on it. iBoy (Friday, Jan. 27, Netflix), movie: Because AndroidBoy didn’t quite have the same ring to it, here’s iBoy: British…
17 Jan 2017
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When I interviewed local music legend Jesse Hughes in August 2015, he was in good spirits and quite excited about the then-soon-to-be released Eagles of Death Metal album, Zipper Down. “This album is like John Holmes, only with a bigger dick,” Hughes told me. “I’ve never been one of those dudes who has tried to change or do something different. I pretty much want to make Little Richard proud, and I feel that this album has gotten me closer to that goal than any other record.” Sure enough, the Eagles of Death Metal made waves with the release of Zipper Down—the band’s first new release in seven years. In fact, the Palm Desert-born band was enjoying the most critical acclaim it had ever received. This high would not last: On Nov. 13, 2015, during an EODM concert in Paris at the world-famous Bataclan, the venue was attacked by terrorists. While…
18 Jan 2017
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Baskets (Thursday, Jan. 19, FX), season premiere: When Baskets premiered last January, it appeared to be a loony lark, like someone dared Zach Galifianakis to create a comedy bizarre enough to make even FX flinch: Aspiring artiste Chip Baskets (Galifianakis) flunks out of a prestigious French clown academy and returns home to uncultured Bakersfield to become a crestfallen rodeo clown. Oh, and the black comedy also features an undercurrent of commentary on the decline of Western civilization and the futility of artistry, as well as Galifianakis playing his own twin brother, Dale, and Louie Anderson in drag as their mom—comedy gold, right? Actually, yes. Baskets’ weirdness was balanced with a certain sweetness, and Anderson’s hyper-quotable “Christine” became the unlikeliest breakout character of the year. At the outset of Season 2, Chip attempts to flee Bakersfield (hobo-clown-style riding the rails, of course), and Christine finds romance (and water aerobics). So, yeah,…
11 Jan 2017
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My Kitchen Rules (Thursday, Jan. 12, Fox), series debut: This what the “celebrity” competition show has come to: a cook-off. In a borrowed Australian format, this show features teams of two taking turns hosting dinner parties for their competitors and judges—you suck, you go home. The “star” duos of My Kitchen Rules are N’Sync’s Lance Bass and his mom, bro-and-sis singers Brandy and Ray J, comedian Andrew Dice Clay and Mrs. Clay, Real Housewife of Who Gives a Shit? Brandi Glanville and some dude, and singer Naomi Judd and her long-suffering husband. Judges Curtis Stone and Cat Cora, chefs who are arguably bigger celebrities than everyone else in this clown car, could keep it interesting, but what’s next? Landscaping With the Stars? Celebrity Dog Wash? Or … Caraoke Showdown (Thursday, Jan. 12, Spike), series debut: I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, this is exactly like James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke!” Wrong-o,…
04 Jan 2017
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Crazyhead (streaming on Netflix), new series: Few, if any, Buffy the Vampire Slayer “tributes” (or, if you prefer, “loving rip-offs”) have gotten that classic series’ deft blend of horror and humor as wonderfully right as British import Crazyhead, created and written by Misfits’ Howard Overman. When 20-something Bristolian Amy (Cara Theobold) discovers she’s a “seer” who can recognize the demon-possessed hiding among us, she forms an at-first-unlikely alliance with fellow seer-turned-hunter named Raquel (Susan Wokoma); much ass-kicking and sass-quipping ensue. But the six-episode Crazyhead’s bedrock isn’t action and wisecracks—it’s the friendship between Amy and Raquel, a sweetly rocky bond that’s as believable as it is hysterical. Also: killer soundtrack. Also, also: some of the loveliest public restrooms on television, British or otherwise. One Day at a Time (Friday, Jan. 6, Netflix), series debut: A remake of the ’70s sitcom with a Cuban-American twist, complete with a single mom (Justina Machado),…
28 Dec 2016
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The Mick (Sunday, Jan. 1; Fox): Broke lowlife Mackenzie (Kaitlin Olson, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) gets stuck raising the kids of her just-incarcerated rich sister. It’s Uncle Buck meets Mary Poppins meets, well, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Ransom (Sunday, Jan. 1; CBS): A good-looking hostage negotiator (Luke Roberts) and his good-looking team resolve kidnapping and ransom cases in Your Town, USA (which is really Canada—shhh!). Ransom moves to Saturdays after tonight, so it’s already canceled. One Day at a Time (Friday, Jan. 6; Netflix): A remake of the ’70s sitcom—with a Cuban-American twist, complete with single mom (Justina Machado), precocious kids, a sleazy building manager and, unfortunately, a damned laugh track. Almost had it, Netflix. Emerald City (Friday, Jan. 6; NBC): A dark “reimagining” of The Wizard of Oz that’s been kicked around for two years, with a smoldering Puerto Rican Dorothy (Adria Arjona, True Detective) and a…
21 Dec 2016
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No, not all of the great shows are here; 2016 served up too much quality TV to contain in this space, while not all of the great shows rise to the level of year-end best lists. (Too many other critical lists are surrendering space to Stranger Things; just sayin’.) These 16 shows are binge-worthy alternatives to holiday family time—Merry Xmas! Westworld (HBO): This Westworld was smarter, sleeker and more terrifying than its 1973 origin flick, but it also imbued the Wild West park’s androids with a tragic “humanity.” (Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton for all of the awards.) It also reminded us that actual flesh-and-blood humans are just the worst. Veep (HBO): Now more than ever, huh? Vice president-turned-president-turned-footnote Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) suffered an exhausting political beating months before the rest of us did in 2016, but at least hers was funny (and slightly more F-bomb-heavy). Forget Idiocracy—Veep…
14 Dec 2016
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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),…