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12 Jul 2017

True TV: 'Game of Thrones' Penultimately Returns; 'Friends From College' Flunks Out

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Friends From College might have made a better movie than an eight-episode streamer. Or not: Who needs another outlet on any platform for pretty, well-off 30-somethings? Friends From College might have made a better movie than an eight-episode streamer. Or not: Who needs another outlet on any platform for pretty, well-off 30-somethings?

Friends From College (series debut Friday, July 14, Netflix), from Neighbors and Forgetting Sarah Marshall producer Nick Stoller, might have made a better movie than an eight-episode streamer. Or not: Who needs another outlet on any platform for pretty, well-off 30-somethings (the College was Harvard, and the Friends live in, of course, New York) to marinate on the hardships of adulting? Despite a killer cast (including Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Annie Parisse, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage and Jae Suh Park), Friends From College doesn’t make a case to give a shit about any of them—or its worst-of-the-’90s Spotify soundtrack.

Yet again, HBO has decided that TV critics don’t need to see any of the new Game of Thrones (Season 7 premiere Sunday, July 16, HBO), and that’s cool with me. Anything that annoys tubby TV critics (who, despite the rise of Peak TV, still haven’t reached the level of self-grandeur of movie critics—sad!) should be applauded. Anyway: What’s known about the penultimate season of the ultimate blood ’n’ boobs fantasy series is … well, nothing. Sure, there’s speculation on everything from the inevitability of Daenerys finally crossing paths with Jon Snow (duh) to the idea that Ned Stark is still alive (oh, shut up, nerds), but I’ll be watching Twin Peaks.

Eternal darkness has fallen, and a totalitarian regime that rules though fear and intimidation has taken command. Relax; it’s just The Strain (Season 4 premiere Sunday, July 16, FX)—what did you think I was talking about? You’re watching too much fake news. The fourth and final season of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire-apocalypse epic finds our heroes Eph (Corey Stoll), Fet (Kevin Durand) and Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) seemingly defeated by the Strigoli, who are thriving in the nuclear winter, but the war between humans and bloodsuckers isn’t over yet. Hulu Seasons 1-3; The Strain is better than any of that zombie fluff.

“The story of four tech entrepreneurs and childhood friends who, on the heels of selling their gaming company, become multi-millionaires and are forced to deal with the pitfalls that come with being an overnight success.” Is it Silicon Valley? Halt and Catch Fire? No, just British import Loaded (series debut Monday, July 17, AMC), which is neither as funny as the former nor as dramatically compelling as the latter—but it does have Mary McCormack as a deliciously nasty boss lady. (“Think of me as a sexy Darth Vader, because yesterday, you got bought out by the Empire, and behind me, there’s an emperor.”) She’s the reason to check out Loaded.

The network won’t acknowledge it, but Shooter (Season 2 premiere, Tuesday, July 18, USA), based on the 2007 Mark Wahlberg flick, is a hit with conservative Flyover America. Since the debut of its first season was delayed from summer to post-election 2016 due to, you know, actual shootings around the country, Shooter’s semi-jingoistic edge long preceded the “Should we Satanic Hollywood Liberals address whatever the hell falls between New York and California?” discussion. Politics aside, star Ryan Phillippe is far better as a Marine sniper on the lam than Wahlberg was, and Shooter’s worth a look. You can watch it with your parents instead of Fox News!

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