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Thu10192017

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

TV

16 Aug 2017
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Be careful what you whine for: Marvel’s The Defenders (series debut Friday, Aug. 18, Netflix) is only eight episodes long, maybe partially in response to complaints that previous Marvel/Netflix series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist felt stretched thin at 13 episodes per season each. The story that finally brings them all together as the Defenders arguably could have been longer, but the no-filler/mostly killer approach works well here, leaning heavily on franchise favorite Jones (Krysten Ritter) while somewhat redeeming the maligned Iron Fist (Finn Jones) and introducing a subtle-but-menacing new villain (Sigourney Weaver). Marvel’s Defenders delivers on the built-up hype and promise, just at a brisker pace. Everyone presumed it dead after Season 1, but Halt and Catch Fire (Season 4 premiere Saturday, Aug. 19, AMC) just kept coming back—but this time, it really is the end. The series that dramatized the rise of 1980s personal computing…
09 Aug 2017
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The summer of 2017, like the summers of Peak TV before it, has been overloaded with buzzy hot-weather series like GLOW, Preacher, Twin Peaks, Rick and Morty, Orphan Black and, of course, Game of Thrones, to name just a few. Fortunately, there weren’t any other, below-the-radar shows that you’ll need to add to your catch-up cue once you’ve had enough of the sun and the outdoors and whatever the hell else life away from the screen offers, right? Wrong. Here are 10 you probably missed: The Jim Jefferies Show (Comedy Central): The overworked late-night talkers have done an admirable, if repetitive, job of taking the piss out of our Made-for-TV president. But none have done it with the glee and zero-fucks-given swagger of Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, who backs up his barbs with cold facts, on-location bits and “weatherman” Brad Pitt (yes, really) consistently predicting climate doomsday. Blood Drive (Syfy):…
02 Aug 2017
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No franchise defines our times like Syfy’s Sharknado series: It’s brazen; it’s ridiculous; it defies science; it celebrates D-list celebrities; and it distracts us from reality. (It may also be a product of Russian collusion; investigation pending.) Sharknado is also apparently un-killable, as we’ve been gifted with a new chapter every summer since 2013, each one starring all-American hero Ian Ziering and mostly plastic cautionary tale Tara Reid. Let’s look back at the greatest shark-related franchise in history—there were only four Jaws films, and most were garbage; each Sharknado has been more wondrous than the last—as we prepare to drink in this weekend’s Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. Sharknado (2013): The one that started it all, launching a phenomenon that actually made us root for California, reversing years of subliminal anti-Cal propaganda from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. A massive cyclone (not a tornado, but who’s going to watch Sharkclone?) scoops…
26 Jul 2017
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The Duplass Brothers have created some intriguing, if not always watchable, shows for HBO (Togetherness and Animals, only one of which is still a thing), and Room 104 (series debut Friday, July 28, HBO) could be their best yet. A time-spanning anthology series, Room 104 follows various occupants of a single motel room; the premiere episode, about a baby sitter and a strange boy, is a mini horror film, while the others range from mysterious (a maid looking for clues) to visceral (a pair of female MMA fighters sparring) to sexy (a pizza-delivery guy invited into a twisted threesome) to awkward (two Mormon missionaries questioning their faith, among other things). Verdict: Watchable! It’s finally here! Rick and Morty (Season 3 resumes Sunday, July 30, Adult Swim) dropped the first episode of its third season on April Fool’s Day (how delightfully schwifty) and then made us wait three more months, because…
19 Jul 2017
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There were sooo many questions at the end of 2015’s Descendants that Descendants 2 (movie, Friday, July 21, Disney) was inevitable … probably. Not being 12, I have no idea. Anyway: Descendants was about impossibly pretty teens who happened to be the offspring of Disney villains being liberated from the Isle of the Lost (aka Bad People Island) and given a chance to live straight in the United States of Auradon (aka Queen Belle and King Beast’s Socialist Utopia). In Descendants 2, one of the rainbow-haired kids (Dove Cameron) gets sick of being “good” and returns to the Isle of the Lost, only to find her old friends resentful for being left behind and/or left out of the Disney merchandising. Also: Singing! Of all shows, TBS’ Wrecked summed up Ballers (Season 3 premiere Sunday, July 23, HBO) best recently: “Game of Thrones? The best thing on HBO is Ballers! Who…
12 Jul 2017
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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…
05 Jul 2017
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Andy Samberg’s 2015 mockumentary, 7 Days in Hell, was all about tennis and ridiculous wigs; his latest sports-doc send-up, Tour de Pharmacy (movie, Saturday, July 8, HBO), is all about cycling and ridiculous wigs—at least he’s consistent. Set in 1982, “a dark and fictitious time in cycling history,” Tour de Pharmacy chronicles a doping scandal within a Tour de France-ish cycling competition, getting weird with a game array of guest stars: Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Julia Ormond, Dolph Lundgren, James Marsden, Kevin Bacon, Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Mike Tyson, J.J. Abrams and, of course, Lance Armstrong. Not all of it works, but there’s so much that it hardly matters. National Geographic already covered this three years ago with its The ’90s: The Last Great Decade miniseries, but leave it to a failing Fake News outlet to rip it off: The Nineties (series debut, Sunday, July 9,…
28 Jun 2017
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Two years ago, I actually typed the phrase “renegade zoologist” in reference to Jackson Oz (James Wolk), the protagonist of Zoo (Season 3 premiere Thursday, June 29, CBS). Surprisingly, both Wolk and I still have jobs in 2017, even though Zoo has now moved past the material of the original James Patterson novel, wherein animals had taken over the planet because humankind was too weak and dumb to stop it. (Sounds about right.) In Season 3, the sci-fi-ish series jumps ahead 10 years to 2027, when the world population is dwindling due to sterility, but at least animals are no longer a threat—well, except for the new, military-spawned lab creatures that are even more deadly. Way to go, humans! Nothing prompts me to cheer for a critter apocalypse like the major networks’ continued insistence on digging up long-dead “classics” and repositioning them as summer filler—the latest being Battle of the…
21 Jun 2017
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If you think adapting Stephen King’s The Mist (series debut Thursday, June 22, Spike) for TV is bad idea, know that ABC is launching a reboot of The Gong Show and a boy-band reality-competition show on the same night as the premiere of The Mist to compete with the summer filler stinking up Fox and NBC—there’s nothin’ else on. King’s Under the Dome, which was essentially the same story—a small town is isolated by a supernatural event—ran for three whole seasons on CBS, one of which didn’t suck. The Mist doesn’t have the luxury of known actors, just a crew of nobodies with zero lead-in assist from Lip Sync Battle, the only thing anyone ever watches on Spike besides Bar Rescue and off-brand MMA. But, as I said, there’s nothin’ else on. Alison Brie has had memorable supporting roles on Community and Mad Men, but GLOW (series debut Friday, June…
14 Jun 2017
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Now that Netflix is addressing the Too Many Shows epidemic and just canceling stuff for the sake of canceling stuff—buh-bye Sense8, The Get Down and Marco Polo—let’s get on with killing off The Ranch (Season 3 premiere Friday, June 16, Netflix). This laugh-tracked cowpie’s initial novelty of reuniting That ’70s Show stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson wore off quickly, leaving just a hacky sitcom with painfully slumming costars (Sam Elliott and Debra Winger—WTF?). Much like Tim Allen’s recently deceased Last Man Standing, The Ranch is red-state bait that thinks it’s cleverly poking P.C. culture, but ultimately just comes off as lazy. Netflix’s F Is for Family does it better—try that. Was anyone aware that Turn: Washington’s Spies (Season 4 premiere Saturday, June 17, AMC) was still a thing? Only me? The Revolutionary War drama’s fourth season will also be its last, and we all know how it ends (’Merica…