Undateable (Thursday, May 29, NBC), series debut: When Whitney debuted in 2011, The Only TV Column That Matters™ asked, “Who’s this funny Chris D’Elia guy?” and “Why the hell are networks still producing laugh-tracked comedies in the 21st Century?” Three years later, I’m asking the same questions with Undateable. The idea of D’Elia as a delusional “player” who sets out to teach his romantically challenged buds how to play the love game is a solid one—his stand-up is loaded with hysterical relationship disasters—but Undateable’s lazy writing and cheap staging is straight outta the late ’90s, when NBC was cranking out “Must See TV” filler like it was going out of style (which it was). I’ll leave the “Unwatchable” puns to lesser TV critics.
Crossbones (Friday, May 30, NBC), series debut: During the two years (!) since Crossbones was ordered to series, Starz pissed in the pirate punchbowl with Black Sails, a hella-promoted Michael Bay joint that, while terrible, was at least glossy and buzz-y enough to snag a second season. Now, NBC finally drops Crossbones in the pre-summer dead zone on Friday nights, which essentially says, “Well, it’s paid for—let’s get this over with.” Too bad, because with a star like John freaking Malkovich and a showrunner like Neil Cross (BBC’s Luther), this could have been huge (or at least huge-adjacent) on a cable network that actually cared to launch it right. Check out Crossbones now before it gets dumped on corporate cousin Syfy, or Hulu or (ack) Esquire.
2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Saturday, May 31, HBO), special: I know something happened besides the fantastically uncomfortable spectacle of long-overdue Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Kiss (Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, plus estranged original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley) sharing a stage and pretending not to hate each others’ guts with the burning intensity of a thousand smoking guitars … but damned if I can think of it.
Halt and Catch Fire (Sunday, June 1, AMC), series debut: The clunky title sounds like a sequel to AMC’s snoozy Revolutionary War drama Turn (which is still on, BTW), but Halt and Catch Fire is actually a piece from a different period: The early 1980s, ground zero of the personal-computer revolution—it’s The Americans meets Silicon Valley meets MS-DOS! But the setup is timeless: An ex-IBM exec (Pushing Daisies’ Lee Pace) enlists a ragtag team of engineers and programmers (including Scoot McNairy as the obligatory Has-Been With a Dream genius and MacKenzie Davis as the obligatory-er Hot Girl With Punky Hair proto-hacker) to re-imagine his old boss’ gear and become a player on the still-forming computer field. Like The Americans, Halt and Catch Fire nails the look, the tech, the music and the claustrophobic, earth-toned feel of the era—and, even though we all know where this is headed, there’s a real sense of urgency and discovery to the proceedings. Barring an all-too-possible marketing misfire on AMC’s part (R.I.P., Low Winter Sun), this should explode like an old CRT monitor.
Longmire (Monday, June 2, A&E), season premiere: As Season 3 opens, Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) not only has to exonerate BFF Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips) of murder charges; he also has to figure out who shot his deputy (Bailey Chase) and deal with that nagging Who Murdered My Wife mystery. Meanwhile, his other deputy, Vic (Katee Sackhoff), may or may not still have a vengeful stalker problem—and you thought Wyoming was boring. It’s a little slower and less quippy than Justified, but Longmire is the contemporary Western you should be watching in Raylan’s current absence.
DVD ROUNDUP FOR JUNE 3!
The day before his wedding, a retired criminal finds himself on the hook for 20 kilos of stolen-mob cocaine. No sooner than you can say “one last job,” he has 24 hours to save his fiancée. Or not—there’s plenty of coke-loving fish in the sea. (Music Box)
In the Blood
When her husband is kidnapped on their Caribbean honeymoon, a woman with mad MMA skills (Gina Carano) investigates the conspiracy and then beats the living hell out of those responsible (which inevitably includes Danny Trejo). (Anchor Bay)
In the remake of the ’80s classic, a future Detroit policeman (Joel Kinnaman) gets shot up on the job and then reassembled by OmniCorp as the half-man/half-machine Robocop. Likewise, the dark humor has been replaced with better effects. (MGM)
Super Duper Alice Cooper
The combination documentary/rock opera (doc opera?) tells the true-ish story of Alice Cooper through archival footage, animation, general depravity and chaos—like there’s any other way to tell an Alice Cooper story. (Eagle Vision)
True Blood: Season 6
Louisiana declares war on vampires; Billith (Stephen Moyer) rises; and Sookie (Anna Paquin) faces off against her parents’ killer as Tru Blood and our patience with this nonsense begin to run low. Only one more season, and it’s over! (HBO)
More New DVD Releases (June 3)
Christina Perri: The Journey, Copper: The Complete Series, Falling Skies: Season 3, Graceland: Season 1, Lone Survivor, Luther: The Complete Series, The Motel Life, Pretty Little Liars: Season 4, Workaholics: Season 4.