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08 Nov 2017

True TV: Maria Bamford Drops More 'Lady Dynamite'; 'Ill Behavior' Puts the 'Can-do' in Cancer

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Still sounds good, still feels right: Lady Dynamite, Maria Bamford’s semi-autobiographical meta-comedy about dealing with bipolar disorder, is damned near impossible to explain. Still sounds good, still feels right: Lady Dynamite, Maria Bamford’s semi-autobiographical meta-comedy about dealing with bipolar disorder, is damned near impossible to explain.

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 is broken! Desperate, she reaches out to her ex (Lea Coco—he’s a dude; relax, watchdog groups), a pizzeria owner with just the right equipment. Will she win? Can love re-bloom for a Christmas miracle? Will I resist the obvious hot, throbbing gingerbread-man/oven joke?

I’m rarely wrong, and it’s even rarer for me to cop to it when I am, so hold onto your asses: Star Trek: Discovery turned out to be an impressive prequel, and CBS’ All Access streaming service might actually work in the long run. Here’s another winner: No Activity (series debut Sunday, Nov. 12, CBS All Access), a Funny or Die comedy about the clueless humps (in this case, Patrick Brammall and Tim Meadows) on the periphery of those action-packed crime procedurals—the cops who never get to slide across the hood of a squad car, bust a perp or do anything cool. Will Ferrell and other FoD usuals guest on No Activity, meaning you may want to keep All Access even though ST:D (ha!) is over for now. Sorry.

What’s so funny about cancer? Ill Behaviour (series debut Monday, Nov. 13, Showtime), a British show acquired by Showtime, has an idea. Recent divorcee Joel (Chris Geere) moves in with Charlie (Tom Riley), who then announces that he has cancer and, instead of clinical treatment, is going the holistic route. Naturally, Joel and mutual friend Tess (Jessica Regan) kidnap Charlie and begin injecting him with chemo drugs against his will. And if that’s not funny enough, also in the mix is alcoholic sex-addict doctor, Nadia (Lizzy Caplan, who always makes anything better). It’s more hilarious (and chaotically British) than it sounds, and Geere almost tops his You’re the Worst performance. Almost.

The rise of eSports baffles me—how the fuck is playing videogames a “sport”? I’m typing this paragraph athletically quickly right now, so can I be in the Olympics? Anyway: Future Man (series debut Tuesday, Nov. 14, Hulu) is about a hapless gamer (Josh Hutcherson) who’s recruited by time-traveling bad-asses (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson) to use his eSkills to save humanity. (Obviously, these visitors haven’t been paying attention and don’t realize that humanity is no longer worth the effort.) Future Man is a Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg joint, and the kitchen-sink action/comedy mix they brought to Preacher and This Is the End is in full effect here, just on a smaller scale. But humanity? Nah.

The Mindy Project (series finale Tuesday, Nov. 14, Hulu) is one of those rare shows that survived being cancelled by a TV network (Fox) by landing on a streamer (Hulu) and running longer than anyone ever expected (three more seasons). Not that Mindy Kaling’s rom-com-gone-wrong really had six seasons and 117 episodes-worth of material, but kudos for going farther than anything called a “project” should. (I’m looking at you, Alan Parsons Project and Vanilla Ice Project.) Over the years, unlucky-in-love OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri evolved from a hot mess into at least a warm mess, and Kaling smartly let her co-stars (a cast with a higher turnover rate than Papa John’s) shine. Now, when’s The Office reboot happening?

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