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Wed12132017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

TV

29 Nov 2017
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I only needed to hear “from the creators of Crank” to be all-in for Happy! (series debut Wednesday, Dec. 6, Syfy). Based on the Image comic, Happy! follows disgraced ex-cop Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni, killing his old Law and Order: SVU character once and for all), now a druggie fuck-up and assassin for hire. After being gunned down and left for dead, Nick awakens to a cartoon winged unicorn named Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) who needs his help in rescuing a little girl who’s been kidnapped by Santa Claus. Yep: Insanity, violence and a gonzo-command performance from Meloni ensue. Happy! is too bizarre to last long, so drink it in. What Vikings did for, well, Vikings, the new, terribly titled Knightfall (series debut Wednesday, Dec. 6, History) hopes to do for the Middle Ages tale of the Knights Templar. The Knights were warrior monks charged with protecting Christian relics—most…
22 Nov 2017
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The Christmas season began in August, and you still probably don’t have a holiday viewing plan—so I’ve put one together for you. (It’s OK that you didn’t get me anything.) Here are 12 Christmas shows on the ho-ho-horizon: Trolls Holiday (Friday, Nov. 24, NBC): The most adequate kids’ movie of 2016 is now a time-filling Christmas special about the Queen of the Trolls (Anna Kendrick) forcing her holiday traditions upon the Bergens, which sounds suspiciously Christian. Besides, Bergens eat Trolls, don’t they? A Christmas Story 2 (Friday, Nov. 24, CMT): Sequels are always better than the original, and this follow-up to 1983’s A Christmas Story is no exception: A teenage Ralphie needs a sweet Mercury convertible for Christmas; otherwise, he’ll never get laid. A major award, for sure. Homicide for the Holidays (Saturday, Nov. 25, Oxygen): Season 2 of the murder-rific Xmas series features true-crime stories ranging from “a botched…
15 Nov 2017
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After cutting down on episodic bloat with the eight-installment The Defenders, Netflix is back in the overload business with The Punisher (series debut Friday, Nov. 17, Netflix), the latest 13-episode Marvel delivery from Hell’s Kitchen. Vicious vigilante Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) is more antihero than superhero, and The Punisher doesn’t dabble in the supernatural like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist before it—there are no superpowers, just brute force, big guns and PTSD. The Punisher plays more like an ’80s action-revenge flick than a superhero series, and the only other familiar Marvel/Netflix face is Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll); proceed with caution (and a strong stomach). It's the end of the road for Sheriff Walt (Robert Taylor) as modern-day Western Longmire (Season 6 premiere Friday, Nov. 17, Netflix) heads into its final chapter—damn, this show has been canceled twice. After Longmire was put down by A&E after three…
08 Nov 2017
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Still sounds good, still feels right: Lady Dynamite (Season 2 premiere Friday, Nov. 10, Netflix), Maria Bamford’s semi-autobiographical meta-comedy about dealing with bipolar disorder (much like, but totally differently from, BoJack Horseman’s bouts with depression, or Jessica Jones’ lingering PTSD—Netflix is your one-stop therapy shop), is damned near impossible to explain. There’s time-hopping; there’s fourth-wall obliteration; there’s heartbreak; there’s pugs; and there’s Bamford herself, long an odd-woman-out comedian who makes utter and complete sense within the surreal context of Lady Dynamite. You could skip Season 1 and just jump right in … but why would you do that, dummy? How do I know it’s November? The Hallmark Channel is cranking out Christmas movies. The Sweetest Christmas (Saturday, Nov. 11, Hallmark Channel) stars perennial Hallmarker Lacey Chabert, this time as a struggling—and, of course, single—pastry chef who’s made it to the finals of the American Gingerbread Competition … but her oven…
01 Nov 2017
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Need more proof that broadcast television is out of ideas? S.W.A.T. (series debut Thursday, Nov. 2, CBS) is a TV show based on a 2003 movie based on a 1975 TV show—neither of which fared particularly well. (There was no 2 S.W.A.T. 2 Spurious film sequel, and the series lasted just 37 episodes.) Still, CBS is banking on ex-Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore to carry this re-reboot, because he’s the only face anyone’s going to recognize. Here, he’s former Marine “Hondo” Harrelson, a streetwise Los Angelino charged with leading the local Special Weapons and Tactics unit (militarized police, because ’Merica). Everyone else on the show? Mix-and-match CBS cop-procedural pretty people. This will run for years. By the time a series hits eight seasons, there ain’t much story left to tell—remember cautionary Showtime series Dexter and Weeds? At least Californication had the good sense to bail at seven. Shameless (Season 8…
25 Oct 2017
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Look, I liked the first go-round of Stranger Things (Season 2 premiere Friday, Oct. 27, Netflix) just fine, sort of like Panda Express takeout: filling, not quite dog food, coulda been worse. But then you people whipped up a breathless hype frenzy like it was The Greatest TV Show of All Time, and things just got ’80s-romanticizing-stoopider from there. And Barb? She’s dead; get over it. Season 2 of Stranger Things picks up a year later, on Halloween 1984, with Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) returning from The Upside Down to help the gang take on a new crop of weirdness in Hawkins. Meanwhile, Joyce (Winona Ryder) as cray as ever. (Hey, if ain’t broke.) There’s also the Reagan/Bush re-election campaign to deal with—boo! What an ambitious year 2015 was for broadcast network dramas—successful, not so much. Scream Queens, Limitless, Blood and Oil, Heroes Reborn, The Player, Wicked City, Rosewood, Minority…
18 Oct 2017
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Way back in April, I dismissed the debut of Great News (Thursdays, NBC) as an inferior Tina Fey production that lacked the snap of 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and I saw no point in the casting of Nicole Richie. But by the time the newsroom comedy wrapped its initial 10 episodes, Great News had found its goofy groove, and Richie proved herself to be an adept comic actress. (Let’s just pretend that VH1’s Candidly Nicole never happened.) Sure, Andrea Martin could dial it down a little—OK, a lot—but so what? Season 2 continues the subtle-but-sharp transformation into 30 Rock 2.0, meaning Great News is no longer the worst sitcom on NBC … here’s looking at you, Will and Grace. Like Ghost Wars, Superstition (series debut Friday, Oct. 20, Syfy) is an effectively creepy Syfy show saddled with a lame title: C’mon, Ghost Wars sounds like a reality series…
11 Oct 2017
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In her new weekly series I Love You, America (series debut Thursday, Oct. 12, Hulu), comedian Sarah Silverman is “looking to connect with people who may not agree with her personal opinions through honesty, humor, genuine interest in others, and not taking herself too seriously. … Silverman feels it’s crucial, now more than ever, to connect with un-like-minded people.” If you’re skeptical of Liberal Elite Hollywood’s motives for hanging out with Red State rednecks while promising to not to shit on them, join the club. But it’s a promising chat show/travelogue setup, and Silverman is more capable of pulling it off sincerely than, say, Chelsea Handler. She still does that thing on Netflix … doesn’t she? With a cool title like Mindhunter (series debut Friday, Oct. 13, Netflix), you’d expect sci-fi series loaded with psychic warfare and exploding heads, or is that just me? Sadly, this Mindhunter is another cop…
04 Oct 2017
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Now that The Strain is over, TV only has one vampire apocalypse show, Van Helsing (Season 2 premiere Thursday, Oct. 5, Syfy), and it’s finally stepping up to the challenge. In Season 1, Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton) spent mucho time wandering underground and losing colleagues—saving Canadian dollars on locations and costars, apparently—in a slow buildup to the vamp beatdown. Series creator/writer Neil LaBute—yes, that Neil LaBute—took a glacial approach that was unusual for a Syfy hour, and Overton more than delivered on the human drama and (occasional) vampire-slayer action. Now, the bigger/bloodier battle to take back the world really begins; come back if you got bored and bailed. No, it’s not a reality show about haunted storage units—Ghost Wars (series debut Thursday, Oct. 5, Syfy) is about malicious paranormal forces taking over a remote town in the remotest of states, Alaska. Anything set in The Last Frontier is automatically…
27 Sep 2017
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Not much was expected of Marvel’s Inhumans (series debut Friday, Sept. 29, ABC), and the two-hour pilot doesn’t … not? … deliver on that lowered bar. Like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with more ridiculous outfits, or dollar-store X-Men, Inhumans Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Medusa (Serinda Swan), Gorgon (Eme Ikwuakor), Triton (Mike Moh), Karnak (Ken Leung), Crystal (Isabelle Cornish), Maximus (Iwan Rheon) and supersized teleporting-dog Lockjaw are a royal family of don’t-call-them-mutants who flee the moon for Hawaii to establish a persecuted-superheroes-as-Dreamers narrative. An underwritten, obscure Marvel property dumped on Friday night doesn’t really need to perform, but it should do … something. Craig Robinson and Adam Scott in a paranormal comedy? Sounds like Adult Swim material, but Ghosted (series debut Sunday, Oct. 1, Fox) fits nicely into the Sunday-night broadcast between The Simpsons and Family Guy, maybe even better than The Last Man on Earth (which also returns tonight, Tandy fans).…

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