Surviving Jack (Thursday, March 27, Fox), series debut: Fox has so many great comedies right now that the network can cancel ’em at will (Raising Hope is dead, soon to be followed by Enlisted). So why should you pay any attention to the new Surviving Jack? First, Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU) absolutely kills it as Jack, an acerbic, zero-bullshit dad to a coming-of-age teen son (Connor Buckley)—and, in a shocking blow to sitcom tropes, neither is a complete idiot, and mom isn’t absent/dead. Second, it’s set in 1991, so nostalgia TV can finally move on from terrible ’80s fashion and music to terrible ’90s fashion and music. (Remember hyper-color T-shirts and Jesus Jones? Blech.) Third, everything that ABC’s similarly Wonder Years-y The Goldbergs gets wrong, Surviving Jack nails: The sarcasm, the realism and the heart are classic Fox family-style. (This is where The Only TV Column That Matters
Mr. Selfridge (Sunday, March 30, PBS): In 2013, Jeremy Piven reminded everyone why he won all those Entourage Emmys with the debut season of Mr. Selfridge, in which he plays 1900s department-store magnate Harry Selfridge, a charismatic American who brought the bigger-is-better concept of shopping-as-recreation to London’s Oxford Street. Its 10 episodes didn’t garner Downton Abbey-level hype, but as sexy-glossy period dramas go, Mr. Selfridge wouldn’t have seemed out of place on HBO, or at least History, even though it’s more historically accurate than anything on that channel anymore. Season 2 picks up several years later, in 1914, with World War I heating up (bad for business) and unionists organizing the warehouse workers (even worse). I don’t often recommend anything on PBS, but when I do, it’s Mr. Selfridge.
The Walking Dead (Sunday, March 30, AMC), season finale: Who else knows/cares that “Terminus” was the original name for Atlanta? Or that the second name before the township settled on Georgia was “Thrasherville”? THRASHERVILLE! The greatest name for a city ever, and the hicks just threw it away—you deserve your zombie apocalypse, Georgia. Back to Terminus: The splintered remnants of Team Rick (plus a few undesirable new tag-alongs, and minus some useless kiddies) are all set converge at the ominously titled destination at the end of the railroad tracks, but what’s there? Woodbury 2.0? Another (literally) dead end? As per my sorta-theory above, Atlanta? As per the Walking Dead comic books, a cannibal society? That was some odd-looking meat on the grill in last Sunday’s penultimate episode …
How I Met Your Mother (Monday, March 31, CBS), series finale: First of all, the theory about The Mother being dead all along is lame: Showtime—which is also owned by CBS—wouldn’t let Dexter, a serial killer, be dead at the end of his morally ambiguous, murderous series, so it sure as hell isn’t going to happen on a network sitcom; you’d more likely see both 2 Broke Girls decapitated in a Dumpster (which is my theory on how that show will end). And don’t throw “How I Met Your Mother should have ended years ago” gripes out there, either—as long as a sitcom is making money, you keep cranking them out until there’s nothing but dust (see: Two and a Half Men); this ain’t Breaking Bad. The only real mystery here is how quickly craptastic new replacement series Friends With Better Lives (premiering right after the HIMYM finale) will be cancelled. Instantaneously? Mid-April? There should be a bracket for this.
House of Food (Monday, March 31, MTV), series debut: Remember the days when MTV created groundbreaking, fearless television? Anyway: Here’s a half-assed mashup of The Real World and Top Chef.
DVD ROUNDUP FOR APRIL 1!
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and the news team move into the ‘80s and 24-hour cable news in the sequel that’s completely different from Anchorman—if completely different means exactly the same with more guest stars. (Paramount)
The Bag Man
A crime boss (Robert De Niro) organizes a gathering of shading underworld characters (including John Cusack) for undisclosed reasons; direct-to-DVD violence and weirdness ensue. Weren’t De Niro and Cusack big movie stars once? (Universal)
A Tyler Labine-looking dude (Tyler Labine) takes his girlfriend (far-out-of-Labine’s-league Malin Akerman) to his family’s cottage to propose—and then his scumbag brother shows up and ruins everything. Seriously … Malin Akerman? (Phase 4)
Knights of Badassdom
Three buds (including Peter Dinklage and Ryan Kwanten) go on a LARPing weekend in the woods and inadvertently conjure an actual demon from the pits of hell. They got time off from Game of Throne and True Blood to do this? (Entertainment One)
More New DVD Releases (April 1)
47 Ronin, 666: Kreepy Kerry, At Middleton, Beyond Betrayal, Broadchurch: Season 1, Finding Bigfoot: Vol. 3, The Pirate Fairy, Psych: Season 8, Warrior Assassin.