Black Mirror (Friday, Oct. 21, Netflix), season premiere: Charlie Brooker’s near-futuristic Black Mirror anthology series has been creeping out both technophobes and technophiles since 2011, kicking off with an episode wherein the prime minister of Britain was forced to have sex with a pig on live TV. (That seems quaint given our own Election 2016 cycle, doesn’t it?) The series’ third season is only slightly less pessimistic about today’s/tomorrow’s oversharing online society; one out of the six episodes actually highlights some positive, non-horrific application of smartphone tech, so that’s … something. Among the doomed digerati of Season 3 are Bryce Dallas Howard, James Norton, Mackenzie Davis, Eve Alice, Wyatt Russell and Hannah John-Kamen, starring in a swath of stories that subtly filter film genres through a “Social Media Can and Will Kill You” narrative. At least there are no pigs this time around.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Saturday, Oct. 22, BBC America), series debut: Even if you’ve read the Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) novels upon which Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is based, it’s difficult to explain just what in the hell’s going on here; “sheer madness with a chewy mystery in the middle” seems too simple, but it’s a start. American Ultra/Chronicle writer Max Landis brings the tale of kinda-detective Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett, Penny Dreadful) and his certainly-not-Watson partner Todd (Elijah Wood, Wilfred) to crackling, chaotic life—so much so that it seems the action might spin right off the screen at any moment. Unlike Black Mirror, Dirk Gently celebrates the connectedness of all people and things (hence, “holistic detective”), even when there’s danger afoot (hence, a “holistic assassin”).
Dream Corp, LLC (Sunday, Oct 23, Adult Swim), series debut: Premiering after the Season 3 (!) return of the hilariously bizarre Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell (it’s Office Space in hell, and the boss is Satan—yes, we’ve all been there), Adult Swim’s new Dream Corp, LLC could the network’s most blatant “Let’s not pretend we’re not all watching this high at 3 a.m.” pitch yet. A wild-haired Jon Gries (Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite!) stars as Dr. Roberts, head of the titular psychotherapeutic lab where he and his equally sketchy team analyze the traumatic dreams of patients. That’s essentially the plot; the rest of Dream Corp, LLC is brain-twisting, hallucinogenic visual F/X rendered in rotoscope (animation over live-action film). It all makes about as much sense as USA’s dream-centric drama Falling Water, but gets it done in less than 15 minutes.
Man With a Plan (Monday, Oct. 24, CBS), series debut: Matt LeBlanc joins fellow Friend Matthew Perry in CBS Sitcom Hell, and while nothing could be as mind-numbingly awful as Perry’s The Odd Couple or Kevin James’ Kevin Can Wait (yes, 2 Broke Girls is now the Eyeball net’s smartest Monday comedy—this is where we are now, ’Merica), Man With a Plan is definitely a contender in the race to the bottom. In this laugh-tracked throwaway, LeBlanc plays a blue-collar dad who agrees to stay home with his children while his wife (Liza Snyder, replacing the wisely fled Jenna Fischer) returns to work. Guess what? The kids are a nightmare! Dad’s in over his head! Mom says, “Told ya so!” There’s not a joke here that can’t be seen coming from 85 miles away! Look up LeBlanc’s meta-funny Showtime series Episodes instead; it’s best to remember him that way.
Rectify (Wednesday, Oct. 26, Sundance), season premiere: The first three seasons of Rectify are currently available on Netflix; before this fourth and final run ends, I’d recommend starting there … patiently. Rectifyfollows the existential struggle of Daniel Holden (Aden Young), a man released after serving 19 years in prison for rape and murder. New DNA evidence got him out of the joint, though it’s still not clear whether he committed the crime or not—and it may never be revealed by the end, according to creator/producer Ray McKinnon. The residents of his small Georgia hometown have divergent, occasionally violent opinions; the same goes within his own family (including his stalwart-defender sister, fantastically played by Abigail Spencer, Rectify’s true heartbreaking center). Warning: Rectify moves ssslllooowwwly, and Daniel’s guilt or innocence isn’t the point of the story. Enjoy!