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TV

05 Aug 2015
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The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Thursday, Aug. 6, Comedy Central), series finale: Jon Stewart is leaving television much richer with comedic fake news reporting than when he took over The Daily Show from Craig Kilborn (’member him?) in 1999. Now, we have Comedy Central’s own Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore, HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Fox News’ Hannity, er, Greg Gutfeld Show, and others current and canceled (you’re still missed, Onion News Network), but none have the faux gravitas of Stewart. We all got over the loss of The Colbert Report fairly quickly, because we know Stephen Colbert will be back on TV come September as the new host of CBS’ Late Show, but Stewart’s probably going to opt for the quick fade, à la David Letterman (or make more movies like Rosewater… let’s hope for the quick fade). Say goodbye and salute the man who forced…
29 Jul 2015
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Wet Hot American Summer (Friday, July 31, Netflix), series debut: You either loved 2001 cult-flick Wet Hot American Summer, or hated it—or liked the first half and meh-ed the second; opinions vary wildly. The new eight-episode Netflix “prequel,” subtitled First Day of Camp, reassembles the original cast (Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Christopher Meloni, Michael Ian Black, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper), adds some up-for-silliness extras (Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Lake Bell, Chris Pine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristen Wiig and Josh Charles), and rips into ’80s summer-camp movies anew (so there was Meatballs and … what?). Sure, everyone’s now even more too-old for these roles—that’s part of the joke. Or the entire joke. Either way: Ant-Man in short-shorts! Strike Back (Friday, July 31, Cinemax), season premiere: Before Banshee put Cinemax on the map as a viable home for non-soft-porn original programming, international military actioner Strike Back was…
22 Jul 2015
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Wayward Pines (Thursday, July 23, Fox), series finale: For a second, there were rumors that Fox might Under the Dome us and crank out a second season of Wayward Pines, even though it was originally billed as a “10-episode limited series.” But! Tonight is indeed the end of the story of a bizarre little Idaho town (yes, redundant) wherein a Secret Service agent (Matt Dillon) learns the truth about why he, nor any other townies, can never leave. It’s one hell of a twist; if you’ve yet to visit Wayward Pines, either due to the previously mentioned Dome factor or the presence of producer/director M. Night Shyamalan, you should; I’m not going to spoil it here. Hulu it; on-demand it; think of it as a 10-hour movie—just do it. Sex With Brody (Fridays, E!), new series: What’s worse than a radio show repurposed as a TV show? Nothing. At least…
15 Jul 2015
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Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (Thursday, July 16, FX), series debut: Singer Johnny Rock (Denis Leary) and guitarist Flash (John Corbett) scored 15 seconds of fame when their critically hailed—and accurately named—rock band The Heathens released a debut album and broke up the on the same day in the early ’90s. Twenty-five years later, Johnny’s broke and forgotten, and Flash is in an even worse place: touring with Lady Gaga. Enter Gigi (Elizabeth Gillies), the—spoiler, but not really—daughter Johnny never knew he had. She’s also a singer, but has no desire to be a pop tart: Gigi wants to be a rocker; she has backing; and she wants The Heathens to reform, write her songs and join her onstage—except for Johnny, who would remain behind the scenes. Will he be able to put aside his raging ego, raging-er addictions and raging-est hair? Ha! Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll—written entirely by Leary, including the songs—has all the This Is…
08 Jul 2015
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Rectify (Thursday, July 9, Sundance), season premiere: Critics spent the first two seasons of Rectify trying explain a series that defies description; the dirt-simple outline being: “Daniel (Aden Young) returns to his Georgia hometown after 19 years on death row for murdering his childhood sweetheart due to inconclusive evidence, and the God-fearing townsfolk are understandably—and in some cases, violently—wary of his innocence.” Like them, viewers don’t yet know if he did it, and Season 3 seems intent on introducing some hard law and order to this dream-state Southern Gothic, much to the distress of Daniel’s long-suffering, supporting sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer). Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix: They’re short; they’re fantastic; and you should experience them now. 7 Days in Hell (Saturday, July 11, HBO), movie: So many questions: Was Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington aware that this would be his first post-Jon Snow role? Has there ever been…
01 Jul 2015
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The Millers (Saturday, July 4, CBS), series burn-off: Talk about “unceremonious.” Dumped on Saturdays, on the Fourth of July? Damn. Canceled family sitcom The Millers (starring Will Arnett, Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges and J.B. Smoove) deserves a better send-off than this; there are far worse CBS comedies with far less-capable casts (The Odd Couple comes to mind … and now my brain hurts), but at least Arnett’s time is now freed up for more of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman—we all win there. Ultimately, The Millers wasted funny people on aggressively unfunny writing, much like CBS mainstay Mike and Molly (Melissa McCarthy, hilarious; Billy Gardell, hysterical; the show, unwatchable). To add insult to injury, it’s being lowered into the TV grave alongside … The McCarthys (Saturday, July 4, CBS), series burn-off: The worst CBS sitcom ever? Tough call, but I’m still going to have to go with The Odd Couple reboot—even if…
24 Jun 2015
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Under the Dome (Thursday, June 25, CBS), season premiere: It’s on a new night, opposite a better mystery series that’s actually providing answers and staying true to its one-season-and-done mission, Wayward Pines—dick move, Under the Dome. Season 3 finds the townsfolk of Chester’s Mill on both sides of the bubble, with new characters joining the mix, and maybe some more clues, and … to quote Peter Griffin, “Oh my god, who the hell cares?!” Just watch Wayward Pines instead. Teen Beach 2 (Friday, June 26, Disney), movie: I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, I haven’t seen Teen Beach—how will I be able to follow Teen Beach 2?” Easy: In 2013’s Teen Beach, Brady (Ross Lynch) and Mack (Maia Mitchell) wiped out while surfing and were magically transported into the 1962 summer flick—wait for it—Wet Side Story; much singing and dancing ensued. Now, in Teen Beach 2, the gang from Wet…
17 Jun 2015
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True Detective (Sunday, June 21, HBO), season premiere: How do you top Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson from True Detective’s killer debut season? Double-down on the star power: Besides Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn, Season 2 also features Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch as co-leads, and the supporting-cast bench isn’t lacking, either. Vaughn is a mob boss looking to go legit; Farrell is a troubled—to put it mildly (he makes McConaughey’s Rust Cohle look like a Walmart greeter)—detective who owes him; Kitsch is a highway patrolman with a past; and McAdams is a hard-as-nails cop written to single-handedly obliterate Season 1’s Weak Female Problem. Season 2 also ditches its predecessor’s supernatural hoodoo and time-jumping plot in favor of a linear, hard-boiled California crime story that doesn’t seem to be leading to Season 1’s “happy” ending. To paraphrase Spinal Tap: How much more bleak could this be? The answer is none.…
10 Jun 2015
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Orange Is the New Black (Friday, June 12, Netflix), season premiere: Aside from the return of a beaten-down and bruised-up Alex (Laura Prepon), things are almost too bright and happy at Litchfield Penitentiary in Orange Is the New Black’s Season 3 opener. The episode, however, ends on a heartrending downer that drives home the facts that 1) this show is still set in a prison and, 2) unlike narrow award-show categories, creator/writer Jenji Kohan will pivot from “comedy” to “drama” however she damned well pleases. Kohan also introduces even more character flashbacks and new faces without spinning into Game of Thrones overload, and spends just enough quality time with the woman she initially fooled us into thinking was the “star” of the show, Piper (Taylor Schilling). That “Best Season Yet” buzz may turn out to be more than just Netflix hype. Dark Matter (Friday, June 12, Syfy), series debut: The…
03 Jun 2015
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Hannibal (NBC; Thursday, June 4, season premiere): Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) are hiding out in Europe—but can the doctor keep his “tastes” under the radar? What a bore that show would be. Sense8 (Netflix; Friday, June 5, series debut): The Wachowski Brothers bring their Matrix-y weirdness to TV in the tale of eight people around the world who can tap into each other’s existences. Coincidentally, they’re all ridiculously good-looking. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix; Friday, June 12, season premiere): The gang’s all back—and so is Alex (Laura Prepon), as well as new inmate Stella (Ruby Rose). Larry (Jason Biggs), not so much. Please contain your indifference. Dark Matter (Syfy; Friday, June 12, series debut): The crew of an adrift spaceship wakes up with no memories, and to outside threats galore. Based on the graphic novel (woo!) and produced by the Stargate SG-1 team (uh-oh). Proof (TNT;…