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? Who’s going to be left of said gang? Will the next encampment be somewhere a little more fun, like an abandoned Dave and Buster’s? So many questions, so long to wait. (The Walking Dead returns in February 2014.)
Rick and Morty (Monday, Dec. 2, Adult Swim), series debut: Drunk-but-brilliant-but-somewhat-insane scientist Rick (voiced by show co-creator Justin Roiland) and his grandson, Morty (also Roiland), travel the universe and run afoul of alien races on nightly adventures—which, naturally, has a negative affect on Morty’s schoolwork and general well-being. Despite the crazy worlds encountered, Rick and Morty has a more coherent comedy vision than the majority of Adult Swim offerings, thanks to co-creator Dan Harmon (Community) and a longer running time (30 minutes instead of the usual 10 to 15 minutes), but relax: It’s still as sick, twisted and wrong as anything on AS. Hell, they even sent me a flask in the promotional pack.
Kirstie (Wednesday, Dec. 4, TV Land), series debut: Post-Cheers, Kirstie Alley has made some terrible (Veronica’s Closet), funny (Fat Actress) and just plain sad (Kirstie Alley’s Big Life) television choices, but it was inevitable that she’d end up on TV Land, where careers go to eat dinner at 5:30. In Kirstie, she plays Madison Banks … she’s not even named Kirstie? Whatever … she’s a manic, hard-partying Broadway star who’s suddenly confronted with the son she gave up for adoption 26 years ago (Eric Petersen). With the help of her assistant (Cheers co-star Rhea Perlman) and chauffer (Seinfeld’s Michael Richards), she and the kid are gonna make sense of this nutty Manhattan life! Too bad TV Land mandates the canned laugh track of “classic” (read: tired) sitcom tradition; this probably could have been good. Well, tolerable. At least it’s better than Sean Saves the World, OK?
Mob City (Wednesday, Dec. 4, TNT), miniseries debut: Frank Darabont isn’t just The Guy AMC Fired From The Walking Dead; long before he was dumped by the Asshole Money Channel, he directed films great (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) and not-so-great (The Majestic). His new Mob City, adapted from the nonfiction book L.A. Noir, is essentially a six-hour movie spanning three weeks—a ’40s gangster period piece with an expansive, impressive cast: Ed Burns, Neal McDonough, Jeremy Luke, Robert Knepper, Simon Pegg and even The Walking Dead’s very-dead Shane, Jon Bernthal. Mob City is faster-paced and snappier than Boardwalk Empire, far less stoopid than Gangster Squad and, at the very least, more recent than obvious comparison flick L.A. Confidential. It’s also story-rich enough become a full-fledged series—provided Darabont and TNT continue to play nice.
DVD ROUNDUP FOR DEC. 3!
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
When teen-girl Mandy (Amber Heard) heads out on a weekend booze ’n’ drugs getaway with a bunch of horny boys, things go bad, and bros get dead. Made in 2006, long before Heard’s thespian tour-de-force Drive Angry. (Anchor Bay)
An FBI agent with an impressive collection of tight white shirts (Jasmine Waltz) goes to Florida to solve several bloody murders, possibly perpetrated by a government-created (?) Chupacabra. How the hell did Syfy miss this? (Maxim Media)
Funny people Olivia Wilde, Ron Livingston, Anna Kendrick and Jake Johnson star in the inexplicably, painfully unfunny love-quadrangle story of pals who work at a craft brewery. Punchline: There isn’t enough beer to make this tolerable. (Magnolia)
Duck Dynasty: Seasons 1-3
Sure, after you’ve seen one episode, you’ve seen ’em all—but now you can own all 41 episodes of the first three seasons! And the set even comes with a Duck Dynasty bandana! You know someone who’s getting this for Christmas, don’t you? (A&E)
In the not-sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Logan (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to take on the Yakuza and the Silver Samurai—but he’s no longer immortal! That’s as dumb of a mistake as not titling this Wolverine: Tokyo Drift. (20th Century Fox)
More New DVD Releases (Dec. 3)
Doug Stanhope: Beer Hall Putsch, Hot In Cleveland: Season 4, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: The Complete Series, Night of the Naked Dead, Rise of the Fellowship, Running Wild, The Simpsons: Season 16, The Smurfs 2, Step Dogs, Stevie Nicks: In Your Dreams.