Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm


06 Apr 2016
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The Girlfriend Experience (Sunday, April 10, Starz), series debut: No Starz series has ever arrived with as much critic-melting Prestige Television pageantry as The Girlfriend Experience: The 13-episode series is produced by Steven Soderbergh (and based on his 2009 movie of the same name); it’s written and directed by a pair of indie filmmakers; it stars the granddaughter of Elvis Presley (Riley Keough, Mad Max: Fury Road); and it and premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Keough plays a law-firm intern who moonlights as a high-priced escort with occasional bouts of self-awareness and humanity. The Girlfriend Experience looks like Soderbergh’s film—natural lighting is always a giveaway—but packs more story (and sex) into its taut, 30-minute episodes. Just don’t expect much cutesy comedy à la Secret Diary of a Call Girl—this Experience is serious business. Fear the Walking Dead (Sunday, April 10, AMC), season premiere: Good news/bad news if you’re…
30 Mar 2016
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Banshee (Friday, April 1, Cinemax), season premiere: Anyone flinching at the hand-to-hand-combat brutality of Daredevil has never seen Banshee—which is probably most of you, because, you know, Cinemax. Fortunately for those suffering from Too Much TV Syndrome, Season 4 will be the last for this overlooked, gritty slice of Amish-country crime noir (stay with me), so there’s hope for eventually catching up. The tale of an ex-con/thief (Antony Starr) who assumes the identity of Sheriff Lucas Hood en route to tracking down his former partner/girlfriend (Ivana Milicevic), who’s hiding out in the small town of Banshee, Penn., has taken many a bizarre turn, but the outcome is always the same (and bloody): The local Amish mafia, Native Americans, skinheads and even some members of Hood’s own police force would like him gone and/or dead. Season 4 picks up two years after the events of Season 3’s shattering finale—Banshee isn’t a…
23 Mar 2016
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The Catch (Thursday, March 24, ABC), series debut: A Shonda Rhimes production is batting cleanup on ABC’s hottest night, which she essentially owns (Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Grey’s Anatomy, you know ’em)? Do I even need to continue here? Yes, because The Catch is, and isn’t, typical Shondaland TV. Sure, the cast is beautiful and diverse-ish, but the tone is less life-and-death-and-sex-and-tears, and more comedic caper with lower stakes. (Rich, gorgeous people stealing from other rich, gorgeous people—who to side with?) When a successful Los Angeles private investigator (Mireille Enos, The Killing) is conned out of millions by the man she thought to be her fiancé (Peter Krause, Parenthood), she sets out on a seek-and-destroy mission for payback against the international “Mr. X,” who’s always one step ahead of her, even though his disguise repertoire seems only to consist of Handsome Rogue and Handsome Rogue With Glasses.…
16 Mar 2016
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Daredevil (Friday, March 18, Netflix), season premiere: Compared to Ben Affleck’s Daredevil, the 2004 Thomas Jane-led Punisher flick wasn’t that bad—but Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead) is the ultimate Punisher for which the fanboys have been waiting. Season 2 of Marvel/Netflix smash Daredevil picks up a few months after the end of the first chapter, with Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) doing his Hell’s Kitchen vigilante thing by night, and sort-of attending to his lawyer duties by day. But as busy as DD is keeping, someone doesn’t think he’s doing enough, hard enough—that’s Frank Castle (Bernthal), aka the Punisher, a brutal, relentless mercenary with a “Kill ’Em All, Let ME Sort ’Em Out” credo that clashes with Murdock’s less murder-y version of street justice. As if that weren’t trouble enough, another fan-favorite frenemy is also in town with a score to settle: Ninja-assassin Elektra (Elodie Yung). Aside from the new additions…
09 Mar 2016
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Party Over Here (Saturday, March 12, Fox), series debut: Fox’s history with late-night comedy programming ranges from near-great (1995-2009’s MadTV; 2006-09’s Talkshow With Spike Feresten) to passable (the current Animation Domination High-Def) to WTMFF? (1993’s The Chevy Chase Show, one of the most famed flameouts in TV history). Party Over Here has near-great potential: It’s a sketch-comedy half-hour from The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) and Paul Scheer (The League, NTSF:SD:SUV), mixing live-in-front-of-a-studio-audience bits with filmed shorts while being fully aware of the elusive target audience: “In an age where most Millennials don’t even know what a TV is, we’re really excited to be getting into the TV business,” Scheer says in the Fox PR. At least Party Over Here won’t be going directly up against Saturday Night Live … right? Crowded (Tuesday, March 15, NBC), series debut: After tonight, NBC will sentence Crowded to die…
02 Mar 2016
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The Family (Thursday, March 3, ABC), series debut: ABC has only launched a single winner in the 2015-16 TV season: Quantico (aka Federal Beautiful Investigators, aka How to Get Away With Homeland—which returns March 6, if you were wondering). Everything else has been DOA, and The Family will likely be no different. The dully named “political thriller” stars Joan Allen as Maine politician Claire Warren, an aspiring candidate for governor whose campaign is rocked by the sudden return of her son Adam (Liam James), who was presumed murdered a decade ago. Is Claire’s politically prudent persona as a “survivor” in jeopardy? Will the wrongly ailed “killer” (Andrew McCarthy) seek revenge? Where the hell’s Adam been—if it’s really even him? Is the Warren family harboring even more secrets and lies than ABC’s other lamely titled drama, Secrets and Lies? Couldn’t this have all been wrapped up in a Lifetime movie? So…
24 Feb 2016
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You’re probably watching few, if any, network shows (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC) via live broadcast anymore. Hell, you’re probably not even watching on an actual television set—do you even own a TV, comrade? Or, as you’ll see on some of the lists below, you’re just not watching them, period. Broadcast networks have taken a particularly brutal beating from cable/satellite and streaming services this season, what with unfair practices like easy viewing options, non-garbage programming and limited pandering to the lowest common denominator of mouthbreathing ’Merica (E! excluded). Broadcast TV has become AM radio: It’s there, but who’s paying attention? Besides your uncle who believes that the moon landing never happened, that Obama is a ninja assassin who snuffed out a Supreme Court justice, and that the NSA is spying on him though his Keurig? Through intense ratings number-crunching, social-media trend monitoring and proprietary government data gathered through…
17 Feb 2016
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Love (Friday, Feb. 19, Netflix), series debut: Gillian Jacobs was always Community’s most-underrated player, a reliable source of dark snark who functioned as a counterpoint to Joel McHale’s, well, darker snark, and who was rarely forced to play the “pretty blonde” card. In her first real headlining gig, in Judd Apatow’s Love, she plays a character even less motivated than Community’s Britta: Here, she’s aimless radio-station programmer Mickey, who spends most of her time stoned, partying or obliviously failing out of relationships. When she meets up with recently dumped Gus (Paul Rust), it’s … something at first sight. Apatow has been making films for so long that it’s easy to forget his early TV shows (Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared), on which male and female teens and 20-somethings coexisted awkwardly while trying to Figure Out Life. Love is an older, none-the-wiser final entry in this unofficial Apatow TV trilogy, and the…
10 Feb 2016
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Vinyl (Sunday, Feb. 14, HBO), series debut: “What? You thought records got played because they’re good?” sniffs American Century Records president Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale), explaining away the radio-payola tactics of his marketing right-hand man (Ray Romano), who secures the label’s bands airplay with a little coke and a lot of cash. Thing is, Richie loves good music—he can hear a hit instantly, and gets downright misty-eyed over the artistry. Likewise, Vinyl, an early-’70s-set remix of New York City music-scene fact and fairy tale, loves rock ’n’ roll, cramming real-deal period tunes into nearly every second of every scene (with the exception of the music of Led Zeppelin—glaring, since the band figures prominently, and hilariously, in Vinyl’s two-hour premiere episode). It’s all as excessive and beautiful as you’d expect a collaboration between Martin Scorsese, Terence Winter and Mick Jagger to be, blending Almost Famous’ music-saves earnestness with Velvet Goldmine’s visceral…
03 Feb 2016
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Animals (Friday, Feb. 5, HBO), series debut: HBO’s history with animated series is sparse but solid; the most-recent network original, canceled 2008-12 obscurity The Life and Times of Tim, was a dry, hilarious slice of weirdness that more than deserved a second chance on Adult Swim. (Come on, HBO and Adult Swim are owned by the same media megacorp—why can’t we Family Guy Tim back from the grave, already?) Anyway: The new Animals comes from the Duplass brothers, the guys who brought you HBO’s Togetherness and many far-less-watchable indie-flicks; this sharply-drawn cartoon hints that maybe the bros have been wasting their time on humans. Animals follows the daily lives of dogs, cats, rats, mice, horses, birds and bugs in New York City, arguably the worst residence on Earth for wildlife. The tropes are NYC comedy-typical (relationships, racial tensions, jealousies, being swallowed by snakes, etc.), but Animals’ deep bench of voice…