Strike Back (Friday, Aug. 9, Cinemax), season premiere: This series is more macho than Jason Statham crashing a Hummer into an MMA octagon where Ron Swanson and Nickelback are fighting over a rib-eye, but the addition of Rhona Mitra to the cast of military-actioner Strike Back last season brought at least a little feminine balance—too bad it looks as though she’s going down hard in Season 3. When Maj. Dalton (Mitra) sees her terrorist-hunting mission in Beirut compromised, Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) and Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) are pulled off a completely-heterosexual joint vacation (?) to track said terrorist’s associates in Columbia; as usual, things go from bad to worse for Team America (actually, MI6). Strike Back may be predictable, but it’s predictable with such visceral style and grit, who cares? Kill ’em all!
The White Queen (Friday, Aug. 9, Starz), series debut: Starz execs: “We need our own Game of Thrones, only waaay cheaper, with watered-down sex and violence, and scripts that were previously rejected by The CW or Drunk History.” BBC One execs: “Have we got a show for you!”
Clear History (Saturday, Aug. 10, HBO), movie: If you’re expecting a huge thespian departure for Larry David, forget it: The Gandalf wig and beard early in the movie are as far removed from Curb Your Enthusiasm’s “Larry David” as he gets in this film; in the end Clear History is really just an extended episode of Curb. On the upside, it’s an extended episode of Curb! David stars as Nathan Flomm, a marketing exec at a startup electric-car company who, after getting into a stupid, Larry-like fight with his boss (Jon Hamm), quits and sells his shares. Five minutes later, the company breaks billions-big, Apple-style, and Nathan is a national joke. A haircut and 10 years on, Nathan is now Rolly, anonymously and happily living Larry-like in Martha’s Vineyard—until his old boss shows up and builds a mansion on the island. Clear History is funny and star-studded enough (watch for an uncredited Liev Schreiber), but Season 9 of Curb Your Enthusiasm would have been pretty, pretty, pretty preferable.
Breaking Bad (Sunday, Aug. 11, AMC), mid-season premiere: The second half of the final Breaking Bad season (The Only TV Column That Matters™ is not going to miss explaining that) cuts right to the meat of The End of Heisenberg/Walter White (Bryan Cranston); returning episode “Blood Money” is a bracing, all-killer, no-filler episode that simultaneously spells out Walt’s post-meth-biz fate and somehow leaves it wide-open at the same time—quite a trick. It’s so jam-packed, nearly every plot point is a spoiler (real spoilers, not your Mad Men bullshit, Matthew Weiner), but it’s at least safe to mention that Jesse (Aaron Paul), Hank (Dean Norris), Saul (Bob Odenkirk), Skyler (Anna Gunn) and, my pick for lone survivor, Marie (Betsy Brandt) all get quality screen time—even Badger and Skinny Pete show up for some much-needed comic relief. You don’t need me to tell you to Be There.
Low Winter Sun (Sunday, Aug. 11, AMC), series debut: Speaking of Breaking Bad, Gale Boetticher is back! Not really, but the actor (David Costabile) who played him is, as a Detroit Police internal-affairs officer investigating a cop’s murder—at the hand of Low Winter Sun’s (anti-)hero, Det. Frank Agnew (Zero Dark Thirty’s Mark Strong). Fortunately for AMC, Low Winter Sun is more The Shield than The Killing, and less cop procedural than tension-escalating indie flick. Just in time, eh, Detroit?
DVD-RELEASE ROUNDUP FOR AUG. 13!
A suburban mom (Janeane Garofalo!) is thrust into the high-stakes world of kiddie soccer, facing off against long sleeves, crazed parents and a driven coach (Christopher Titus!!) in the movie that slams the coffin lid on ’90s alt-comedy. (Gaiam)
A Band Called Death
The SXSW rock-doc is about early ’70s Detroit sibling trio Death, the punk band who predated punk, were initially rejected for being black kids playing “white boy music,” and then rediscovered decades later. Move over, Anvil. (Image)
The Mindy Project: Season One
Successful OB/GYN Mindy (Mindy Kaling) is a hot mess looking for love, but she usually just ends up in even more pathetic situations than that wacky New Girl. The DVDs do not come with subtitles for those who can’t hear her high-pitched voice. (Universal)
Misfit gamer-geeks (including Felicia Day) work for a secret government agency, piloting satellite drones to destroy asteroids before they reach Earth, but they mostly just fight bureaucratic meddling. Not based on a true story … or is it? (Cinedigm)
More New DVD Releases (Aug. 13)
The Big Wedding, Cat. 8, The Company You Keep, Compulsion, Dave Foley: Relatively Well, Deadly Swarm, Divination, Dog Pound, Dolls of Voodoo, Emperor, Enlightened: Season 2, Girls: Season 2, Hatchet III, The Hot Flashes, Olympus Has Fallen, Once Upon a Time: Season 2, Southland: Season 5