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Sat11252017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

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 about haunted storage units, and Superstition sucks hard enough for Freeform. The setup for Superstition, however, is solid: The Hastings family (patriarch-ed by series creator/producer Mario Van Peebles) runs the only funeral home in a small Georgia town, and they also specialize in “afterlife care” for souls who met mysterious deaths by demonic “Infernals” (there’s your title!), and generally kick supernatural ass. Bonus: Where the wildcard of Ghost Wars is singer Meat Loaf, Superstition has pro ’rassler Diamond Dallas Page. Spooky!

We’ll always have October, and we’ll always have The Walking Dead (Season 8 premiere Sunday, Oct. 22, AMC). Like the zombie apocalypse and Christianity, it’s never going away, but we must keep fighting to vanquish them anyway. Eight seasons is plenty, though I would argue that Showtime’s Shameless should run at least 20, because it is the greatest series on TV, and I’d win the argument, so shut up. As for TWD’s Season 8 premiere, it’s more of the same: blood, action, dripping flesh, more blood, flannel, homoerotic glances between Rick and Daryl, etc. Me, I’m curious to see if the righteous morons who were outraged at Season 7’s “family unfriendly” violence—in a cable show about zombies!—will be back.

Too much has been written about why Kevin Can Wait (Mondays, CBS) killed off a perfectly good wife character in order to reunite Kevin James with ex-King of Queens co-star Leah Remini in Season 2, and not nearly enough about why this piece of shit is still on. So … why is this piece of shit still on? It’s a forced, painfully unfunny sitcom that’s an insult to even the intelligence of CBS viewers who’ve allowed four seasons of Scorpion to just happen, and the addition of Remini makes little difference when the writing is nowhere near the caliber of King of Queens’ writing (which wasn’t gold, but at least it was, you know, comedy). Please join me again in 2026 when I rewrite this paragraph for KCW’s Season 10 premiere.

Like a bizarre collision of Martha Stewart Living and the comic actress’ cult favorite Strangers With Candy, At Home With Amy Sedaris (series debut Tuesday, Oct. 24, TruTV) is the how-to crafting, cooking and hospitality show of the end times—or, at least, the weirdest thing on TruTV. Modeled loosely on Sedaris’ books I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, At Home combines utterly useless homemaking tips with sketch comedy and game guests (like Paul Giamatti, Jane Krakowski, Sasheer Zamata and the infamously humorless Michael Shannon). This takes the surreality of Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner to a whole ’nother level.

Speaking of Snoop, what’s this all about? Snoop Dogg Presents The Joker’s Wild (series debut Tuesday, Oct. 24, TBS) is based on ’70s game show The Joker’s Wild, which involved a giant slot machine and trivia questions; in Snoop’s house, the slot machine remains, but the trivia has been replaced with “giant dice, playing cards, streetwise questions and problem-solving.” At least it’s kinda new, unlike Drop the Mic (series debut Tuesday, Oct. 24, TBS), which is just a celebrity rap battle rip-off of Nick Cannon’s Wild n’ Out given a cheese-glaze finish. Then again, Lip Sync Battle looked none too promising when it debuted, and that gave us … well, Chrissy Teigen’s boobs.

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Mary Kills People (Sunday, April 23, Lifetime), series debut: Canadian actress Caroline Dhavernas has starred in left-of-center American series like Wonderfalls and Hannibal, but Mary Kills People is probably the first to fully realize her oddly chilly-sexy potential. (It’s also a Canadian production, so no U.S. credit earned.) As the title bluntly spells out, Dr. Mary Harris (Dhavernas) kills people—terminally ill patients who want to go out on their own terms, specifically. Her secret Angel of Death gig threatens to spill over into every other aspect of her life, echoing dark-side classics like Weeds and Dexter, and Dhavernas’ complex Mary is an easy equal to Nancy Botwin and Dexter Morgan. The first season of Mary Kills People is only six episodes, but it’s an addictive taste of what should be more to come. Make it happen, Canada!

Silicon Valley (Sunday, April 23, HBO), season premiere: Another season, another seemingly insurmountable clusterfuck for Pied Piper: Thanks to the fallout from using a click-farm to artificially boost the popularity of the clunky compression platform made by Richard (Thomas Middleditch), no one wants to fund Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and his viable-and-already-blowing-up video-chat app—coder probs, am I right? Silicon Valley, aka Nerd Entourage, makes far more sense if you’ve ever worked in the digital world, where the only physical product is the occasional promo hoodie or sport bottle, and egos run rampant (I have; this show nails it uncomfortably well), but the funny is universal. In an unlikely parallel to HBO’s Girls, Season 4 of Silicon Valley sees the crew growing apart—but clothed, thankfully. And I stand by this: A little T.J. Miller goes a long way.

Dimension 404 (Tuesday, April 25, Hulu), season finale: Hulu’s six-episode anthology series Dimension 404 is like a more comedic take on Black Mirror—then again, pretty much anything is comedic compared to Black Mirror. The series’ premiere episode, “Matchmaker,” was a twisty riff on dating-app tech in which Joel McHale gave a more lively performance in under 30 minutes than he has in 20 episodes of the dead-eyed slog of The Great Indoors. (Please, CBS, kill that show, and set Joel free.) Another installment, “Cinethrax,” starring Patton Oswalt, began as a cautionary commentary on the divisiveness of insular nerd-elitism, only to have said insular nerd-elitism ultimately save the day (well, until—spoiler—aliens enslaved the planet). Dimension 404 isn’t a mind-blower, but it’s at least amusingly unpredictable—and now you can binge all six episodes.

Great News (Tuesday, April 25, NBC), series debut: NBC’s last great newsroom comedy was NewsRadio in the ’90s (30 Rock doesn’t count, and the hilarious antics of Brian Williams reside on MSNBC), but damned if they don’t keep trying. Great News is set behind the scenes of a cable-news show, The Breakdown, produced by Katie (Briga Heelan), a—you guessed it—frazzled, unlucky-in-love young career woman who becomes even more frazzled-er when her mom, Carol (Andrea Martin), comes aboard as an intern. For a Tina Fey production, Great News lacks the snap of 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, though vets Martin and John Michael Higgins (as The Breakdown’s old-school anchor) are reliably solid. Also, Nicole Richie is … here, for some reason.

The Handmaid’s Tale (Wednesday, April 26, Hulu), series debut: Here’s yet another bleak dystopian future in which the super-rich rule in a fascist theocracy—but wait, there’s more! Women are servile, disposable and mostly barren; those “lucky” enough to be fertile are treated like higher-grade animals, “wombs with two legs.” Fun, right? The Handmaid’s Tale, based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel, was first given the screen treatment in 1990, but lends itself far better to a 10-episode series than that rushed, uneven film. In the society of Gilead, former-American-with-rights-turned-handmaiden Offred (Elisabeth Moss, fantastic as ever) is the designated baby-maker for Commander Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife, Serena Joy (Yvonne Strahovski); dehumanization and ickiness ensue. There are few slivers of light in the darkness here, but the payoff is worth it.

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