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TV

26 Feb 2014
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Portlandia (Thursday, Feb. 27, IFC), season premiere: The biggest changes for Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s Portlandia in Season 4? It’s now on Thursdays (dunno why—comedy void?), and the guest-star lineup is ridicu-lectic (Olivia Wilde, Kirsten Dunst, Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra, Grimm’s Silas Weir Mitchell, Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Saturday Night Live’s Vanessa Bayer, Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, the Portland Trailblazers and even sex columnist Dan Savage from Portland’s mortal enemy, Seattle, to name a few). While Netflix is a fine place to start, The Only TV Column That Matters™ recommends catching up on Portlandia via AKidsGuideToPortlandia.com, written by 7-year-old Ezra (yes, really). Vikings (Thursday, Feb. 27, History), season premiere: Speaking of the writings of 7-year-olds … I kid; lighten up. Vikings was one of 2013’s more out-of-left-field hits, a period drama that somehow combined the sensibilities of Game of Thrones and Sons of Anarchy without…
19 Feb 2014
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Private Lives of Nashville Wives (Monday, Feb. 24, TNT), series debut: We’re going to need a ruling on the definition of “Private,” here—does it mean, “Followed around by a camera crew capturing every calculated second of our scripted ‘lives’”? Don’t expect an answer from TNT anytime soon, because they’re floating in an alternate timeline when this catty Housewives crap is still viable, and not realizing that just injecting “Nashville” collagen doesn’t instantly make them Bravo circa 2008. Of all the cable nets chasing a quick buck with reality-TV filler, none get it more consistently wrong than TNT. Can’t they just be happy with Rizzoli and Isles? Game of Arms (Tuesday, Feb. 25, AMC), series debut: AMC hasn’t had much luck with reality outreach, either—but at least their offerings have been original and interesting. (C’mon, who wasn’t simultaneously intrigued and horrified by Small Town Security?) Game of Arms, about the sleeveless…
12 Feb 2014
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House of Cards (Friday, Feb. 14, Netflix), season premiere: Falling between Arrested Development (“It’s back! But … huh?”) and Orange Is the New Black (“OMG! The greatest thing in the history of things!”) in the Netflix hype of 2013, the uneven debut season of political drama House of Cards was more fun if you didn’t think about it too hard. Some whined about star Kevin Spacey’s talk-to-the-camera asides as magnetically evil congressman Frank Underwood—but they provided many of the series’ best moments (and one provides one of the Season 2 premiere’s funniest moments). The less time you spend pondering the actions of Underwood’s power-couple counterpart (Robin Wright) and D.C. journoslut Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), the better, because the weirdness is escalating now that he’s vice president. (Veep, this aint.) All 13 new episodes go live at midnight, but pace yourself—it is Valentine’s Day, after all. The Good Mistress (Saturday, Feb.…
05 Feb 2014
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Waaay back in September of last year, The Only TV Column That Matters™ passed judgment on all of the new series premiering on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW for the 2013-2014 television season. Though the majority of my pilot reviews were, of course, dead on, a handful of the shows drifted into disappointing territory—or, in some cases, a whiplash-inducing tailspin of suck—as the weeks wore on. Now that we’re past the midpoint of the season, here’s where I was … Wrong! Sleepy Hollow (Fox): I was iffy on Sleepy Hollow in the beginning, believing it might be too “thinky” as escapism fantasy. Nope. The good-lookin’ time-traveler/good-lookin’ cop/good-lookin’ murderous torso triangle blew up into a hit and earned a second season. (It only had to sustain its crazy-ass storyline for 13 episodes instead of the usual 22, but that’s nitpicking.) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC): Since ABC didn’t allow…
29 Jan 2014
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Don’t care to watch millionaire meatbags throw a Stewie-shaped sportball around between 500 pricey commercials during many over-analyzed hours on end this weekend? Or is that just The Only TV Column That Matters™? If you’re looking for an alternative to Super Bowl 48 (it’s the 21st century—ditch the damned Roman numerals already), options are limited. Even HBO blinked, opting to pull the premium shows you pay extra to see instead of going up against America’s Favorite Timesuck, on Sunday, Feb. 2. While you’re waiting for the much-hyped post-game new episodes of New Girl (with Prince!) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (with Fred Armisen … really?) on Fox, here are 16 other TV choices for Super Bowl Sunday: Shameless, House of Lies, Episodes (Showtime): Unlike HBO, Showtime isn’t afraid of The Bowl—fresh episodes (and Episodes) all around! Downton Abbey, Sherlock (PBS): The Brits don’t care about what ’Mericans refer to as “football,” as…
22 Jan 2014
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American Idol (Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fox), new season: Last week, reality-competition artifact American Idol had its lowest-rated season premiere ever. Same-show-but-let’s-all-pretend-it’s-different The X Factor is not a lock to be renewed for a fourth season by Fox, also thanks to eroded viewership. The Only TV Column That Matters™ is jumping straight to the conclusion that … karaoke TV is dead! No more sob stories about the asthmatic, one-legged teen from Spittoon, Arkansas, who worked three jobs at three different local Walmarts to pay for vocal coaching so she could nail both notes on “Roar”! No more “superstar” judges collecting easy paychecks until state-fair season! No more Ryan “Antichrist Cheesedick” Seacrest! Yeah, I know, there’s still The Voice on NBC … just let me have this for a moment. Rake (Thursday, Jan. 23, Fox), series debut: Producer Peter Tolan had a great run on FX with Rescue Me, but a soul-sucking…
15 Jan 2014
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The Spoils of Babylon (Thursdays, IFC), new miniseries: This features even more ridiculous revolving hairstyles than American Hustle, and it makes slightly more sense—maybe miscast Jeremy Renner should have signed on for The Spoils of Babylon instead of American Hustle. Spoils parodies the sprawling ’70s/’80s TV epics that few remember (Wiki The Winds of War and Rich Man, Poor Man, kids), narrated by “author” Eric Jonrosh (Will Ferrell), unspooling the time-spanning tale of a young drifter (Tobey Maguire), an oil tycoon (Tim Robbins) and his dim daughter (Kristen Wiig), as excessively and faux-melodramatically as six 30-minute episodes will allow. It’s not all gold (like those old miniseries, this could have been half as long), but The Spoils of Babylon showcases Stars Gone Silly (including Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer, Michael Sheen and others) magnificently. Helix (Fridays, Syfy), new series: Speaking of ’70s throwbacks, Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald D. Moore mines The Andromeda…
08 Jan 2014
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Banshee (Friday, Jan. 10, Cinemax), season premiere: If you haven’t yet seen the first season of Banshee, do so—it’s a 10-episode rush of gonzo-pulp mayhem that defies reason, and yet it somehow still works, like a visceral mash-up of Justified, Twin Peaks, Fight Club and some sexy number you’d see much later in the night on Cinemax. You’d sprain something if you jumped in on Season 2 tonight. Go ahead; The Only TV Column That Matters™ will be here, waiting. Shameless (Sunday, Jan. 12, Showtime), season premiere: Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and her job may finally have the family “creeping up on the poverty line,” but all is not yet well in Gallagher world: Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is finding college tougher than he thought; Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) and Debbie (Emma Kenney) have become hormonal-teen assholes; Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is still missing; and, even worse, Frank (William H. Macy) has been…
01 Jan 2014
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Community (Thursday, Jan. 2, NBC), one-hour season premiere: No, series creator and once-deposed-but-now-returning showrunner Dan Harmon isn’t going to ignore Season 4, last year’s not-quite-right 13 Community episodes that NBC figured would work without him. They didn’t—but they also weren’t as terrible as everyone’s making them out to be in hindsight. (The Inspector Spacetime convention and the puppet episode, in particular, were worthy entries, so shut up.) In the Season 5 opener, declaratively titled “Repilot,” Harmon addresses the limbo season, the vaporization of Chevy Chase and the graduation of Jeff Winger (Joel McHale)—and then starts Community over from Square One. But does Season 4 still count toward Six Seasons and a Movie? Killer Women (Tuesday, Jan. 7, ABC), series debut: Tricia Helfer isn’t one of the better actors to come out of Battlestar Galactica, which probably explains why she’s basically only played the occasional bitchy villainess in guest roles and…
25 Dec 2013
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Arrow (The CW): The comic-book superhero series that got it right in its first year has been on fire in Season 2, jacking up the action to thrillingly visceral levels, as well as giving both our hero’s allies (love that Felicity) and enemies (hate that Malcolm) generous chunks of screen time. Oh, and the Flash! Justified (FX): Despite the guns, guns, guns promos, Justified is all about the consequences and the dialogue, and Season 4—which had to follow a landmark “just try and top that” season—had plenty for Marshal Raylan, Boyd and anyone unlucky enough to be attached to them. FX’s best drama, period. Banshee (Cinemax): This gritty-weird series about an ex-con assuming the identity of a small-town sheriff to reunite with his former lover/partner—and their loot—should have been a pulp-crime mess, but the deepening story (and the hyper-violent action) can’t be denied. Shameless (Showtime): The Gallaghers continued their grimy…