Halt and Catch Fire (Tuesday, Aug. 23, AMC), two-hour season premiere: AMC just can’t quit Halt and Catch Fire, a critical darling that hasn’t cracked 1 million viewers since its premiere in 2014, despite improving markedly over the course of two seasons (both available on Netflix, FYI). The ’80s-set drama chronicles the personal-computer revolution more accurately than the, what, 19? Steve Jobs biopics cluttering the cultural landscape, and gives some long-overdue credit to women in the early days of PC tech. Season 2 really, ahem, caught fire when the story shifted focus to Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) and Donna (Kerry Bishé) and their Mutiny Co. startup struggles. Season 3 picks up in 1986, with Mutiny leaving Texas for Silicon Valley, a make-or-break play that leaves Donna’s engineer husband, Gordon (Scoot McNairy), professionally and emotionally adrift. The three are followed out west by ex-partner/antagonist/eyebrow creeper Joe (Lee Pace), because that’s how Joe do. Behind Better Call Saul, Halt and Catch Fire is AMC’s best capital-D Drama, even if it doesn’t generate zombie numbers. Halt and watch it already.
You Can Do Better (Tuesday, Aug. 23, TruTV), series debut: In most markets, this column runs under its given name, True TV, while some retitle it with drab monikers like “TV Reviews” or “On the Tube” (and you thought alternative papers were supposed to be “edgy”). One recently switched from a weekly publishing schedule to monthly and dropped this column, because they couldn’t figure out how to present it in a monthly format—never mind that major American magazines have been running monthly TV-review columns for 30 years. Still, the loss of that beer-money stream is no match for the insult of TruTV, the former Court TV network that swiped my name in 2008 and got away with it because TimeWarner Inc. has waaay more lawyers than I do. But: TruTV finally has a worthwhile offering in You Can Do Better, a guide series to “real-life” skills—first up being how to get drunk more efficiently. They’re doing God’s work here.
Better Late Than Never (Tuesday, Aug. 23, NBC), series debut: No, never would have been just fine. Geezers Henry Winkler, William Shatner, Terry Bradshaw and George Foreman are taken on a no-itinerary trip across Asia by comedian Jeff Dye … why? Because it worked on Korean television? If you’re curious about what else plays well in Korea, just Google “Korean TV Game Show” and wait for the porn filter to explode your computer.
The View: 20 Years in the Making (Tuesday, Aug. 23, ABC), special: Great panelist moments from The View that will likely be glossed over in the 20 Years in the Making anniversary special: Dangerous idiot Jenny McCarthy spews anti-vaccination nonsense for a full season; benign idiot Sherri Shepherd doubts the Earth is round, claims Christians predate everything on this flat planet, and admits to never voting because she “didn’t know the dates” (and won an Emmy in the process); champion idiot Elisabeth Hasselbeck survives a full decade on the show with no discernible brain activity; comedian Michelle Collins is hired to bring some funny to The View, only to be fired after one season for making jokes; Libertarian journalist Jedediah Bila is promoted to a regular for the upcoming 2016 season, and will probably be canned by the end of it for being too smart for the panel and the audience … there’s more, but I have to go watch The Talk now.
Zoo (Tuesdays, CBS), still on: Season 2 is almost over—have you even heard of Zoo, bro? Every network wants a sci-fi series; the best CBS could come up with was an “animal uprising,” based on a James Patterson book, no less. In Zoo, James Wolk plays … I can’t believe I’m about to type this … “renegade zoologist” Jackson Oz … the first to make the connection between an uptick in critter-on-people violence and his father’s “crazy” theories about human extinction at the paws of fed-up animals. In Season 2, the animals are making the planet uninhabitable for humans almost as quickly the writers are making it unwatchable for humans. Zoo is just more stoopid, expensive-looking proof that CBS should stay the hell away from sci-fi, and yet it’s just been renewed for a third season … huh?