Duff Till Dawn (Thursday, Jan. 29, Food Network), series debut: In the four years since greatest food-related reality show ever, Ace of Cakes, shut down production, Charm City Cakes boss—not a damned Cake Boss, OK?—Duff Goldman has starred in several short-lived Food Network series, none of which have come close to AoC’s casual genius. In the new Duff Till Dawn, he hosts an after-hours cake-decorating competition in his familiar Baltimore shop, with a rotating cast of celebrity judges that also includes the occasional sorely missed Charm City Cakes face (like Geoff Manthorne and Elena Fox). Which leads me to ask: Why not just bring Ace of Cakes back already?! What’s the holdup? Why do you hate America?! OK, I’m better now.
Key and Peele Super Bowl Special (Friday, Jan. 30, Comedy Central), special: While I couldn’t possibly care less about the Super Bowl and all the overpaid felons involved (it’s the Seadogs and the Maple Leafs this year, right?), it is important to recognize that no one does sportball humor better than Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele—and Comedy Central has given them an hour to run wild with it. K&P will host a series of sketches, sports-desk style, straddling the line between mocking the time-wasting babble of football commentary and celebrating the time-wasting babble of football commentary. Some NFL stars will also stop by to fumble the proceedings (athletes should not talk, much less attempt comedy), but Key and Peele can’t be stopped from hitting a home run in the paint. Sportball talk, mastered! See some of their past sports-related work below.
Beautiful and Twisted (Saturday, Jan. 31, Lifetime), movie: “The true story of a couple’s obsession, jealousy and greed, which ends in one of the most notorious cold-blooded murders in recent history,” says Lifetime about Beautiful and Twisted—and it still doesn’t prepare you for what’s to (almost) come. Rob Lowe (!) plays Miami hotel heir Ben Novak Jr., a millionaire who drives Batmobiles (!!) and makes the fatal mistake of marrying a stripper (played by Paz Vega) instead of simply renting them by the dozen (!!!). Her name is “Narcy,” fergawdsakes, and she makes good on Novak’s creeping suspicion that she’d kill him—and her mother-in-law, played by Candice Bergen—for his money. Beautiful and Twisted goes for camp over chills (Lowe narrates from beyond the grave—yes, really), but never fully commits to the crazy. Still, with the right box of wine …
Red Band Society (Saturday, Jan. 31, Fox), return/burn-off: Remember Ryan Murphy’s Glee-in-a-cancer-ward dramedy? Last seen in December? Surprisingly, it never caught on—and before you blame the crowded competition it used to face on Wednesday nights, note how equally ridiculous hip-hop drama Empire is blowing up for Fox in the same time slot. Anyway: One episode tonight, the final two next Saturday, and then lesser TV critics get to use that “pull the plug” metaphor they’ve been sitting on for months.
The Blacklist (Sunday, Feb. 1, NBC), winter premiere: In theory, the post-Super Bowl timeslot would be a great place to give a few zillion viewers a taste of a struggling network series instead of an established hit like The Blacklist. But, since NBC needs to promote the hell out of the revamped Thursday-night lineup (no comedies any more, just The Blacklist sandwiched between new The Americans rip-off Allegiance and new guaranteed failure, er, limited series, The Slap), football fans immobilized by Bud Light and hot wings will get Red and Lizzie chasing down baddie du jour Ron Perlman. Not that a Super Bowl showcase could have saved a circling-the-drain NBC series like, say, State of Affairs or Constantine (let’s all imagine John Constantine staring down a nation of unsuspecting football-heads for a moment), but, whatever.
Fresh Off the Boat (Wednesday, Feb. 4, ABC), series debut: A ’90s coming-of-age tale about a young Asian-American boy and his family moving from Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown to Orlando, Fla. … a trip that requires no boat. That’s funnier than anything else that happens on Fresh Off the Boat.