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TV

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:…
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…