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25 Dec 2013
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Arrow (The CW): The comic-book superhero series that got it right in its first year has been on fire in Season 2, jacking up the action to thrillingly visceral levels, as well as giving both our hero’s allies (love that Felicity) and enemies (hate that Malcolm) generous chunks of screen time. Oh, and the Flash! Justified (FX): Despite the guns, guns, guns promos, Justified is all about the consequences and the dialogue, and Season 4—which had to follow a landmark “just try and top that” season—had plenty for Marshal Raylan, Boyd and anyone unlucky enough to be attached to them. FX’s best drama, period. Banshee (Cinemax): This gritty-weird series about an ex-con assuming the identity of a small-town sheriff to reunite with his former lover/partner—and their loot—should have been a pulp-crime mess, but the deepening story (and the hyper-violent action) can’t be denied. Shameless (Showtime): The Gallaghers continued their grimy…
18 Dec 2013
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December—and 2013, really—is pretty much D-U-N done. Here’s what The Only TV Column That Matters™ recommends you look forward to in January 2014: Community (NBC; Thursday, Jan. 2), season 5 premiere: The Greendale gang returns to save NBC Thursdays. And while we’re being overly optimistic: Six seasons and a movie! Sex Sent Me to the E.R. (Discovery Fit and Health; Friday, Jan. 3), series debut: Fine. You win, Discovery. Repeats will air on TLC, too. Killer Women (ABC; Tuesday, Jan 7), series debut: Tricia Helfer stars as a tall ’n’ troubled Texas Ranger who has a “sixth sense” about why the ladies sometimes murder. It usually involves a man. Or Zappos. Intelligence (CBS; Tuesday, Jan. 7), series debut: Lost’s Josh Holloway is a hunky/stubbly U.S. intelligence operative with a Wi-Fi chip in his brain that allows him to hack online data. Insert virus joke here. Justified (FX; Tuesday, Jan. 7),…
11 Dec 2013
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Christmas on the Bayou (Saturday, Dec. 14, Lifetime), holiday movie: Blowing away Hallmark and ABC Family in sheer Original Holiday Movie output this season, Lifetime features Christmas cheese-doodles that almost always follow the same template: Workaholic urban Career Woman/Single Mom with a Precocious/Sullen Son retreats to Small Town USA to find a flannel-shirted Mr. Right and/or lost Christmas Spirit. In Christmas On the Bayou, she’s Hilarie Burton (White Collar, One Tree Hill), and he’s Tyler Hilton (also One Tree Hill … hmmm), and the title implies the Small Town. Naturally, Burton’s character is torn between returning to the big city as a loveless spinster with a mopey brat, and staying in Swampville with her childhood sweetheart and maybe a new career as gator bait. The kicker: “Only a Christmas miracle orchestrated by Papa Noel (Ed Asner!) can steer her heart to her true home.” Gator bait it is, then. A…
04 Dec 2013
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The Sound of Music Live! (Thursday, Dec. 5, NBC), special: So what if Parks and Recreation, Parenthood, The Michael J. Fox Show and the rest of Must-Flee Thursday are doomed to cancellation? NBC has the ratings answer: a three-hour (!) musical stage reproduction of a 1,000-year-old book/play/movie starring an American Idol (Carrie Underwood) and a True Blood vampire (Stephen Moyer)! Since The Sound of Music Live! will be performed live (though there is no theater audience, and the music is karaoke-tracked, adding to the weirdness), much can go terribly wrong … oh, now I get it. Bonnie and Clyde (Sunday, Dec. 8, A&E, History, Lifetime), miniseries: The story of beloved 1930s American outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow has been dramatized before, but never this lavishly and long: Bonnie and Clyde is a glossy production spanning two nights and, for no logical reason, three sister cable networks. The four-hour miniseries…
27 Nov 2013
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Lady Gaga and the Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular (Thursday, Nov. 28, ABC), special: So this is happening: a 90-minute “avant-garde twist on the classic holiday variety show” featuring the Muppets and Lady Gaga that’s not at all a pre-Christmas infomercial for her (relative) flop of a new album, Artpop. Sure, Gaga’s recent hosting gig on Saturday Night Live proved she can handle comedy, but can middle ‘Merica handle a primetime Thanksgiving dose of hot girl-on-puppet action? Good luck explaining to the kiddies who guest stars Elton John and RuPaul are. The Only TV Column That Matters™ will leave the turkey-dress jokes to lesser TV critics. The Walking Dead (Sunday, Dec. 1, AMC), midseason finale: The bleak—even for a zombie apocalypse—first half of Season 4 concludes with, but is not limited to, The Governor, a tank and a body count. Will the Walking Dead gang finally be forced to leave the prison?…
20 Nov 2013
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Nikita (Friday, Nov. 22, The CW), final-season premiere: Before Arrow came along, Nikita was the only viable action series on The CW; Maggie Q’s titular character is every bit the ass-kicker The Not Green Arrow is, all while weighing in lighter than one of his jade hoodies. The complicated/convoluted (complivuted?) tale of a former agent’s war on the evil quasi-governmental operation that created her comes to an end with this fourth and final season—which is only six episodes long. (The final two, airing in the holiday burn-off dead zone of Dec. 20 and 27, are “Bubble” and “Canceled”—ha!) The ever-twisting conspiracy against Nikita “goes higher” than target villainess Amanda (Melinda Clarke), of course. The Only TV Column That Matters™ believes this overlooked series will wrap more satisfyingly than, say, Chuck or Burn Notice did with twice as many farewell hours. Netflix it, latecomers. Lucas Bros. Moving Co.; Golan the Insatiable…
13 Nov 2013
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Eagleheart (Thursday, Nov. 14, Adult Swim), season premiere: In its first two seasons, Chris Elliott’s Eagleheart fought and exacerbated different crimes of the week in each episode; his Marshal Chris Monsanto may be prone to psychotic violence and gratuitous collateral damage, but he gets the job done. This time around, Eagleheart is a serialized 10-part saga, subtitled Paradise Rising, centered around the death-by-woodchipper of Marshal Brett (Brett Gellman), and Monsanto’s quest to clear his own name in a vast murder conspiracy that, somehow, involves Martin Sheen (Martin Sheen). There’s also the usual epic bloodshed, body count and general mistreatment of Marshal Susie (Maria Thayer); Eagleheart is still in touch with its roots, after all. Ground Floor (Thursday, Nov. 14, TBS), series debut: Since Ground Floor was co-created by Bill Lawrence (Cougar Town, Scrubs), The Only TV Column That Matters™ enjoyed a millisecond of hope that Ground Floor wouldn’t be just…
06 Nov 2013
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Cleaners ( Emmanuelle Chriqui and Emily Osment star as mismatched partners (Veronica’s a square! Roxy’s a party girl!) specializing in contract killing and other less-than-legal activities—until they’re screwed over by their boss (Gina Gershon) and end up as targets themselves. Cleaners overstuffs fast edits, tough girls, snarky dialogue, pounding music and gratuitous gunplay into 20-minute episodes. It’s a Quentin Tarantino ’90s Film 101 course in speedball form, and it works so well that not even overacting by Gershon or David Arquette (as an FBI agent) can derail it. Stoopid, violent fun. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee ( Jerry Seinfeld’s slick shaky-cam infomercial series for classic autos you will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be able to afford (unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld), set to stock faux-jazz, would only be slightly less annoying if the comedian weren’t such an inept interviewer; it’s like every conversation requires a minimum number of “So how…
30 Oct 2013
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Investigation Discovery (ID) is a cable channel devoted to round-the-clock “news” shows depicting lurid and true murder-rape/rape-murder/endless-kidnapping-variation cases. The shows have a standard template of soft-focus re-enactments featuring pretty actors, accompanied by alternately serious and quippy narration, juxtaposed with not-so-pretty real victims and experts rattling off just enough “facts” and “stats” to almost damper the sexy mood. It can be found on Time Warner Channel 560 here in the Coachella Valley. In other words, it’s a network for not-yet-committed snuff-porn aficionados who’ve tricked themselves into thinking they’re just really into news documentaries. The evil geniuses at Discovery, the self-proclaimed “World’s No. 1 Nonfiction Media Company” that produces such educational programs as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (TLC), Finding Bigfoot (Animal Planet) and Punkin Chunkin (Science … yes, Science) have done it again! The Only TV Column That Matters™ had never even heard of ID until a recent South Park episode…
23 Oct 2013
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Grimm (Friday, Oct. 25, NBC), season premiere: When last we left Law and Order: Special Wesen Unit, supernatural profiler Nick had been zombie-fied and stuffed into a coffin, and was about to be FedEx-ed to Europe, leaving his friends to fight off a rising horde of Portland’s walking dead. (Is there any wonder why NBC waited until Halloween weekend to bring back Grimm?) Spoiler alert: Nick doesn’t stay faux-undead for long, and zombies aren’t the only trouble brewing in Portland—Deposed Hexenbiest Adalind is still bent on regaining her powers and isn’t above leveraging her unborn mystery baby to do it, and there are hints of another Grimm (besides Nick) arriving soon. You should really be watching this. Dracula (Friday, Oct. 25, NBC), series debut: Fortunately, this isn’t a present-day telling with CEO Jason Dracula running a tech company between bites. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) is perfect as the 19th-century…