The Blacklist: Redemption (Thursday, Feb. 23, NBC), series debut: While hardcore Blacklist fans are asking, “How’s this spin-off going to work?” casual viewers are curious to know: “How many encoded tattoos can she fit on her body?” For the latter: That’s Blindspot, dumbasses. For the former: Undercover op and ex-Blacklist bad hombre Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) has a wife and a baby at home, but now he’s going to be traipsing around the world with mom “Scottie” Hargrave (Famke Janssen) on missions the U.S. government won’t avow, because, karma. It’s best to forget the parenting logistics of The Blacklist: Redemption and just go with the action (which will only span eight episodes, so Tom will be back with Liz and Agnes on The Blacklist proper soon enough). But if Redemption is a hit—which it could be; Blacklist faithful won’t be disappointed—they’re going to have to work out a nanny schedule for future missions.
Sun Records (Thursday, Feb. 23, CMT), series debut: Many a dramatized biopic and miniseries have tackled the rock ’n’ roll legend of Elvis Presley—but none have brought together the “Million Dollar Quartet” that also includes Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Sun Records attempts to contain all of these personalities and chronicle the civil rights movement of late-’50s Memphis, and fares mostly better than expected for reality-damaged CMT (which, as a reminder, still stands for Country Music Television, not Cheerleaders, Mullets and Trucks). The Quartet members are portrayed well-if-not-vacantly-pretty enough, but it’s the turn by Billy Gardell (Mike and Molly) as Elvis manager Colonel Tom Parker that provides Sun Records’ real spark.
The 89th Annual Academy Awards (Sunday, Feb. 26, ABC), special: More than just another overlong awards show wherein rich celebrities exchange trophies for being rich celebrities who put out semi-commercially viable content last year, The 89th Annual Academy Awards will also be an overlong soapbox for rich celebrities to rail against the rich celebrity currently residing in the White House (or Mar-a-Lago, or wherever). As boring as that sounds, it’s nothing compared to the snooze-inducing qualities of several of this year’s Best Picture nominees: The most—really, only—exciting part of Arrival was Amy Adams’ CGI floaty-gravity hair; La La Land somehow made jazz, and musicals, even more unpalatable; and Manchester by the Sea … WTF was that mumble-y tone poem of tragedy? Have fun watching the dresses and No Orange Order rants.
Taken (Monday, Feb. 27, NBC), series debut: Bryan Mills, the man with a very particular and dangerous set of skills who still couldn’t protect his daughter and wife from being kidnapped and/or killed over the course of three movies, is back! More accurately … was back? Doomed TV knockoff Taken is a prequel, set 30 years before the films, starring Clive Standen (Vikings) as a younger, fashionably bearded Mills, who’s recruited into the CIA after his sister is gunned down by terrorist goons on his watch. (It does not pay to be related to this guy.) Soon, his covert-agency boss (Jennifer Beals) is putting him through the usual crime-drama-case-of-the-week grind, leaving fans of far-more-ambitious timeslot occupant Timeless to wonder, “NBC cut the season short for this?”
President’s Address to Congress (Tuesday, Feb. 28, many channels), news special: What’s President … yep, still funny … Donald Trump going to pull out of the pocket of his ill-fitting big-boy suit this time? Another attack on real information leaks that somehow led to fake news? More victory laps for winning so hard/narrowly months ago? A eulogy for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Celebrity Apprentice? A declaration of war on New Mexico? (“So much more advanced and dangerous than old Mexico, believe me.”) As thrillpressing (thrilling + depressing, new term) as the many, many, many possibilities are, The Only TV Column That Matters