Garfunkel and Oates (Thursday, Aug. 7, IFC), series debut: New Zealand musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords self-canceled their quasi-autobiographical HBO series partially because it was difficult to write so many songs for each episode. Since Garfunkel and Oates (Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci) already have twice as many funny tunes to choose from, maybe they’ll last longer than two seasons. Garfunkel and Oates is closer in spirit to female-centric series like Broad City and the subtly groundbreaking Sarah Silverman Program than the dude-heavy comedies dominating cable right now, and the sparingly used musical numbers are sweet and scathing. (DVR alert: Lindhome and Micucci’s clever wordplay flies fast and furiously.)
Black Jesus (Thursday, Aug. 7, Adult Swim), series debut: What’s Aaron McGruder been up to besides not working on the final season his own show, The Boondocks? Making a whole new series to piss off Whitey: Despite the drama surrounding the long-long-delayed/contracted Season 4 of The Boondocks, which Adult Swim finally went ahead and just produced without him, McGruder’s still in business with the network—and really, who else would run a show called Black Jesus? A live-action series starring Gerald “Slink” Johnson, who provides the voice for Grand Theft Auto character Lamar Davis, Black Jesus finds The Lord “living in present day Compton, Calif, on a daily mission to spread love and kindness throughout the neighborhood.” Black Jesus looks like it was filmed for $75 and is more concept than comedy, but since it’s already outraged Christian ’Merica, score.
The Knick (Friday, Aug. 8, Cinemax), series debut: Ready for another brilliant-yet-troubled handsome rogue of a doctor who’s addicted to drugs, sex and narcissism? Wait, come back—what if it’s Clive Owen? In 1900s New York? Directed by Steven Soderbergh? Now you’re interested. The Knick is short for Knickerbocker Hospital, where Dr. John Thackery (Owen) has reluctantly inherited the role of chief surgeon—a rough gig for a cocaine-and-opium-addled wreck who’s pushing the boundaries of medicine while trying to pull the hospital from the brink of financial ruin. Add race and gender politics to the old-timey medical-science steam-punkery, and The Knick is one more TV obligation in The Summer of Too Many Shows. It’s good, but it can wait.
Outlander (Saturday, Aug. 9, Starz), series debut: A married World War II nurse (Caitriona Balfe) is mysteriously transported from 1945 to 1743 in the Scottish Highlands, where’s she’s held captive by hunky Scottish warriors in an even more patriarchal, misogynistic society than in the ’40s. Outlander, based on a best-selling book series, is equal parts romance, sci-fi, history and bodice-ripping ridiculousness—and, thanks to the direction of Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), probably the smartest and most female-friendly Starz series ever. Which isn’t saying a hell of a lot, but good for you, Starz.
4th and Loud (Tuesday, Aug. 12, AMC), series debut: As I ranted about a couple of weeks ago on an episode of the TV Tan podcast (which you should be subscribing to on iTunes, Stitcher or Spreaker, just sayin’), it’s bad enough that The Band Who Still Calls Itself Kiss is now in the arena-football business, but in Los Angeles? Could have at least tried to salvage some of that old East Coast cred and bought a New York franchise, Bat Lizard and Starchild. And why is Paul Stanley, who refused to appear on Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels because it was a “fake” reality show, now all too happy to appear on this fake reality show? And why call the team the L.A. Kiss instead of the far-more-intimidating L.A. Destroyers? Or at least the L.A. Love Guns? So many questions, so few weeks until cancellation.
DVD ROUNDUP FOR AUG. 12!
Frankie and Alice
A 1970s stripper (Halle Berry) struggles with dissociative identity disorder and keeping her other two personalities—a 7-year-old girl and a Southern white racist (!)—under control. Inspired by a true story and a fantastic afro. (Lionsgate)
A young girl (Hailee Steinfeld) forges romantic e-mails between her widowed father (Guy Pearce) and their lonely weirdo housekeeper (Kristen Wiig) with sad-music-montage results. Also starring Nick Nolte as … the voice of reason? (MPI)
Low Winter Sun: Season 1
Remember that cop show that AMC tried to force you to watch by showing promos for next week’s Breaking Bad during the episodes? You know, the show that was then rejected out of spite and subsequently canceled? It was actually pretty good. (Anchor Bay)
Muppets Most Wanted
On a European tour, the Muppets get caught up in an international crime caper headed by Kermit’s evil double and his evil-er sidekick (Ricky Gervais). Also starring Tina Fey, Ty Burrell and nobody else from that other Muppets movie. (Disney)
In his 74th straight-to-DVD release this year, Nicolas Cage stars as a father whose daughter has been taken (but not, as per the lawyers, Taken), so he tracks the scum down with a unique and violent set of skills. (Again, talk to the lawyers.) (Image)
More New DVD Releases (Aug. 12)
Bitten: Season 1, The Blacklist: Season 1, Breathe In, Bunnyman Massacre, Crawl or Die, Filth, The Girl on the Train, A Haunted House 2, Hell’s Caretaker, Kilimanjaro, The Midnight Game, The Moment, Proxy, The Railway Man, Swelter, William Shatner’s Get a Life!