Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm


14 Oct 2015
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Truth Be Told (Friday, Oct. 16, NBC), series debut: Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Franklin and Bash and, of course, Saved by the Bell) has proven he can do funny, as has Tone Bell (the best part of last season’s Bad Judge). Unfortunately, they’re now saddled with a tepid, laugh-tracked bro-com that’s paired with the still-awful (but now “Live!”) Undateable on Friday nights, and a lone creative note from NBC that reads: “We’ve given up on comedy. Just fill 30 minutes, and turn out the lights when you leave.” At least they changed the name from People Are Talking, because that makes all the difference, and ponder this: As aggressively awful as Truth Be Told is, it’s still better than any of the new comedies NBC has in the production pipeline. I’ve seen it … the horror … the horror … Satisfaction (Friday, Oct. 16, USA), season premiere: The debut season of Breaking…
07 Oct 2015
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SuperMansion (Thursday, Oct. 8, Crackle), series debut: Geezer superhero Titanium Rex (voiced by Bryan Cranston) and his equally creaky League of Freedom colleagues live together in the SuperMansion when not out fighting crime and/or the battle to remain relevant. This senior-citizen stop-motion Avengers looks like Robot Chicken, because it’s from the same creators, but the humor is geared toward (slightly) longer attention spans. Best of all, the League of Freedom counts among its members American Ranger, Black Saturn, Cooch and … RoboBot. Red Oaks (Friday, Oct. 9, Amazon Prime), series debut: If Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp revival didn’t satiate your hunger for retro-’80s comedy, here’s Red Oaks, the Caddyshack 2 we deserved all those 27 years ago. College student David (Craig Roberts) takes a tennis-instructor job at Red Oaks country club in the summer of 1985, and every glorious coming-of-age lesson, fashion catastrophe and cheesy…
30 Sep 2015
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Benders (Thursday, Oct. 1, IFC), series debut: Denis Leary has produced shows about firefighters (Rescue Me), EMTs (Sirens) and music (Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll), so it was inevitable he’d get around to another of his obsessions: hockey. Benders’ beer-soaked concept—an amateur hockey league that spends more time bro-bonding and trash-talking off the ice than playing on it—feels a bit off-brand for IFC, which has established itself with a more highbrow style of comedy (or whatever you’d call Maron and Documentary Now!). But Benders is the best new hockey-themed comedy of this season, so it has that going for it. Dr. Ken (Friday, Oct. 2, ABC), series debut: In the fall battle for Worst New Comedy (not to mention First Cancellation), Dr. Ken may have the edge over Grandfathered and Truth Be Told: The latter two have stars that could, in theory, carry a well-executed comedy, whereas Ken Jeong (The Hangover, Community) is the…
23 Sep 2015
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The Player (Thursday, Sept. 24, NBC), series debut: Philip Winchester (Strike Back) plays Alex Cane, an ex-FBI operative now working as a Las Vegas security consultant who’s approached by the mysterious “Mr. Johnson” (Wesley Snipes—yes, that Wesley Snipes) to play a game: Try to stop these high-stakes crimes while a secret society of the super-rich bets on the outcome, aided by a high-tech “crime prediction” computer. So, it’s Person of Interest with a pit boss. Snipes and Winchester are solid, and the action is flashy (The Player comes from the same producers as The Blacklist), but there’s also a tired “Who killed my wife?!” subplot—and the fact that NBC hasn’t launched a viable Thursday-at-9 player since ER ended. I could say roll the dice on this one … but I won’t. Heroes Reborn (Thursday, Sept. 24, NBC), series debut: Noah (Jack Coleman) is back, and Hiro (Masi Oka) and Matt…
16 Sep 2015
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Blindspot (Monday, Sept. 21, NBC), series debut: A naked woman (Jaimie Alexander) turns up in a duffle bag in Times Square, covered in mysterious tattoos and devoid of memory. One of the largest tats is the jumping-off point: “Kurt Weller FBI.” Turns out the ink is a tapestry of clues about future terrorist attacks on American soil, and it’s up to Agent Weller (Sullivan Stapleton) and “Jane Doe” to decode and stop the crimes—and maybe learn her identity. Sure, Blindspot is another Quirky Outsider Works With the Law drama, but there are enough twists and tension to almost justify the “next Blacklist” hype. Alexander is note-perfect here, while Stapleton could stand to dial down the tough-guy routine (probably a residual of five seasons on Cinemax’s Strike Back). Nagging first-episode question: Are we really to believe that no one in the New York City FBI speaks Chinese? Minority Report (Monday, Sept.…
09 Sep 2015
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Longmire (Thursday, Sept. 10, Netflix), season premiere: Cable net A&E canceled modern-day western Longmire after its third and strongest-yet season in 2014, because the viewership demo was too old. While A&E forged ahead with shrewd new programming like Neighbors With Benefits (canceled after two episodes), Netflix picked up Longmire for a 10-episode Season 4 that continues right where it left off: Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is finally on to the man who had his wife killed, and Deputy Branch Connally (Bailey Chase) is once again on the wrong end of a gun. Think of Longmire as a grizzled cousin to Justified, but with more pathos than clever quips, and binge all four seasons post-haste. Z Nation (Friday, Sept. 11, Syfy), season premiere: In its debut season a year ago, lo-fi zombie romp Z Nation enjoyed the luxury of airing in a Walking Dead-free zone for a few weeks.…
02 Sep 2015
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The Late Show With Stephen Colbert (Tuesday, Sept. 8, CBS), series debut: No one’s probably more excited about the long-awaited arrival of new Late Show host Stephen Colbert than James Corden, who’s been working The Late Late Show for more than three months without a proper lead-in—just reruns of CBS dramas (and no comedian should be forced to follow the unintentional hilarity of CSI: Cyber). As for Colbert, the Late Show Stephen Colbert will be the real Stephen Colbert, not the hyper-arch “Stephen Colbert” of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report … follow? Night One’s guests are no great shakes (reliable charmer George Clooney and GOP snoozer Jeb Bush), but don’t worry: Trump can’t stay away for long. Drunk History (Tuesdays, Comedy Central), new season: The most educational program on television (sorry, PBS) is back for a third season of wasted comedians narrating elaborate re-enactments of Great Moments in History. Tonight, in…
26 Aug 2015
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Geeks Who Drink (Thursdays, Syfy), new series: The version of Geeks Who Drink at the local bar can be fun, but would you watch it? What if it was hosted by the guy who used to be Chuck (Zachary Levi) and featured a smattering of semi-celebrities? Yeah, it’s still not a show—but Syfy disagrees. The trivia questions pose as much of a challenge to the contestants and viewers as naming a favorite Wookie, and the drinking is strictly Lightweight Division (at least by, ahem, my standards). At least Levi does his damndest to liven this snoozefest up, which is far more than can be said for the host of … Reactor (Thursdays, Syfy), new series: No network, not even originator E!, has figured out how to replicate the snarktastic magic of Joel McHale and The Soup. They make stinging commentary on news and pop culture of the past week look…
19 Aug 2015
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Documentary Now! (Thursday, Aug. 20, IFC), series debut: Relax, it’s not a real documentary series—IFC doesn’t do that anymore. The former Independent Film Channel is now in the Irregularly Funny Comedy business, and Documentary Now! (the exclamation point should’ve been a giveaway) is a faux-doc series from Portlandia and Saturday Night Live folks (Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers and Bill Hader), lent some seriously confusing cred by host Helen Mirren (!). As with Portlandia and SNL, the half-hour eps fluctuate between killer (a profile of a hapless ’70s rock band; being on-location with a Vice-like news program) and filler (Armisen and Hader in old-lady drag), but at least Documentary Now! is only six episodes long, unlike the fictional DN! series, all 50 seasons of which are available in a 294-disc box set—order yours today! Blunt Talk (Saturday, Aug. 22, Starz), series debut: Starz used to be a premium-cable joke, but the…
12 Aug 2015
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Another Period (Comedy Central): After a meh first episode, Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome’s Downton Abbey/Kardashians parody became bolder and funnier (and dirtier) every week. It’s Wet Hot 1902 Summer. Halt and Catch Fire (AMC): Just ended and most likely canceled, ’80s tech drama Halt and Catch Fire really did catch fire in Season 2 by focusing on its women (Kerry Bishé and Mackenzie Davis, killing it). Maybe just skip the first season. UnReal (Lifetime): And another female-led powerhouse: UnReal’s behind-the-sordid-scenes drama about a Bachelor-esque “reality” show was brutal, discomfiting and, for all we know, completely accurate. Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer FTW. Wayward Pines (Fox): It was obvious that M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines meant “limited series” business when it killed off two big-name cast members (no spoilers!) early on. A taut, weird sci-fi conspiracy yarn. Maron (IFC): No hype, just Marc Maron being Maron in Curb Your Enthusiasm:…