Documentary Now! (Thursday, Aug. 20, IFC), series debut: Relax, it’s not a real documentary series—IFC doesn’t do that anymore. The former Independent Film Channel is now in the Irregularly Funny Comedy business, and Documentary Now! (the exclamation point should’ve been a giveaway) is a faux-doc series from Portlandia and Saturday Night Live folks (Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers and Bill Hader), lent some seriously confusing cred by host Helen Mirren (!). As with Portlandia and SNL, the half-hour eps fluctuate between killer (a profile of a hapless ’70s rock band; being on-location with a Vice-like news program) and filler (Armisen and Hader in old-lady drag), but at least Documentary Now! is only six episodes long, unlike the fictional DN! series, all 50 seasons of which are available in a 294-disc box set—order yours today!
Blunt Talk (Saturday, Aug. 22, Starz), series debut: Starz used to be a premium-cable joke, but the network has been on a creative roll lately: Outlander, Black Sails, Power, the upcoming Ash vs. Evil Dead—hell, even Survivor’s Remorse (which returns for Season 2 tonight) is a better sports dramedy than HBO’s Ballers. The new Blunt Talk could be Starz’s most blatant grab for buzz yet: It’s a raunchy comedy starring Patrick Stewart (yes, that Patrick Stewart) as British newsman Walter Blunt, recently transplanted to Los Angeles to shake up cable news and set ’Merica straight—if his appetite for booze, drugs and women doesn’t kill him first. Stewart tears into this Newsroom-via-Californication role like he’s been waiting forever to play a reckless hedonist, and creator/producer Jonathan Ames (HBO’s late, great Bored to Death) gives him plenty of comic room to roam. If American Dad didn’t kill off Capt. Picard, Blunt Talk will.
The Unauthorized Full House Story (Saturday, Aug. 22, Lifetime), movie: I never understood the fascination with Full House, a half-assed sitcom from the Golden Age of the Half-Assed Sitcom (late ’80s-early ’90s). Every half-hour comedy of the time—and there were hundreds of them—was a loud, indistinguishable, laugh-tracked abomination made up of cheap sets, lazy punchlines and, blech, children. But somehow, Full House has always stood out from the rest—so much so that a Fuller House spinoff is coming to Netflix next year, which would give John Stamos two concurrent TV shows (the other being Fox’s new fall series Grandfathered). There is no universe in which John freakin’ Stamos should have two series. Just kidding: Grandfathered will be long-canceled by then. Oh, The Unauthorized Full House Story? It’s terrible, but you already knew that.
Fear the Walking Dead (Sunday, Aug. 23, AMC), series debut: It’s not like Fear the Walking Dead will have any trouble snagging The Walking Dead’s audience—all 16 million of members of it. The series is undoubtedly going to debut big, but before we get Run the Hell Away From the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: Miami, the Los Angeles-set Fear the Walking Dead has to, well, not suck. Which it doesn’t, but FTWD only has six episodes in this first season to introduce new characters and set up a pre-“walker” world (in the early stages of the Z-apocalypse, they’re few, still fresh and referred to as “the infected”). We know what’s ahead, but these Angelinos are delusionally optimistic that the outbreak will be contained and don’t know to not let the infected get right up in their faces (far scarier here than in the well-aware environs of The Walking Dead). Fear the Walking Dead has all the potential of the original … as long as there are no farms in the area.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (Tuesday, Aug. 25, El Rey), season premiere: Never heard of the El Rey Network? Had no idea there was TV series based on the classic Mexi-vampire flick? Facepalm. Anyway. From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series was Robert Rodriguez’s first original series to debut on El Rey (also his network) in 2014, a blown-out, 10-episode expansion of his 1997 movie, with new Gecko Brothers (D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz), a new Satanico (Eiza González), a new scary-ass adversary (Wilmer Valderrama—yes, really), and an ending that set up a whole new chapter for Season 2 (like Rodriguez was going to cancel his own show on his own network). Check out Season 1 on the on-demand platform of your choice, then come back for Season 2—trust me, it’s worth it.