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TV

14 May 2014
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Stick a fork in this TV season—it’s time to look ahead to the next one. Here’s some of what the networks have green-lighted for the 2014-2015 season: Agent Carter (ABC): Or, more likely, Marvel’s Agent Carter, as it’s a spin-off of Captain America: The First Avenger. In the 1946-set drama, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) takes on secret spy missions for Stark Industries, because she’s a skilled, capable woman (yay) … and she needs something to distract her from pining over Cap (boo). American Crime (ABC): And the dullest show-title award goes to American Crime, which follows the personal toll taken on those affected by a racially motivated crime and trial. If TV audiences are clamoring for anything, it’s to be lectured on race and class politics every week, right? Forever (ABC): The Fantastic Four’s Ioan Gruffudd stars as a New York City medical examiner who also happens to be immortal…
07 May 2014
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Maron (Thursday, May 8, IFC), season premiere: IFC no longer stands for Independent Film Channel; it’s just IFC—not Insanely Funny Comedy, not I’m Feeling Crampy, just IFC. After a handful of false starts (remember Food Party? Z Rock?), Portlandia and Comedy Bang! Bang! (the latter of which premieres for Season 3 on Thursday, May 8) established IFC as a viable original-comedy destination, but it was 2013’s debut season of Maron that lent the channel some real weight. Despite outside appearances, Maron isn’t exactly Louie, just as Louie isn’t Curb Your Enthusiasm; the fictionalized “Marc Maron” rings truer—and often funnier—than “Louis C.K.” or “Larry David.” In the Season 2 premiere, Marc has an uncomfortable time on Talking Dead with geek-media “enemies” Chris Hardwick and Michael Ian Black. Making the world of Twitter, podcasts and nerd-analysis shows play like high drama—that’s comedy. Rosemary’s Baby (Sunday, May 11, NBC), miniseries debut: What’s a…
30 Apr 2014
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The Only TV Column That Matters™ knows the fate of your beloved network series—or knows enough to make a wild guess as to whether or not they’ll return next season, at least. Could an NBC exec wake up tomorrow and say, “Cancel Parenthood—we’re going with Hollywood Cornhole on Thursdays”? Sure. Is it possible that Fox and America finally realize the comedy genius of Surviving Jack before it’s too late? Remotely. Could CBS decide that one NCIS is enough for the nation’s shut-ins? Yeah, right. Will The CW’s show-cloning machine run out of unicorns-and-glitter fuel? Not likely. Might ABC embrace the concept of hate-watching weapons-grade crap and squeeze out another 13 episodes of Black Box? I almost hope so. These be the stats as I know them right now: Not Going Anywhere: Already Renewed, or Thisclose ABC: The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Castle, Dancing With the Stars, The Goldbergs, Grey’s Anatomy, Marvel’s…
23 Apr 2014
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Bad Teacher (Thursday, April 24, CBS), series debut: Do we really need a weekly sitcom take on Cameron Diaz’s Bad Teacher when the 2011 movie is still running on cable 24/7? If Diaz’s TV replacement is Ari Graynor (For a Good Time, Call …), yes. The single-camera, no-laugh-track Bad Teacher comes off like a Fox comedy that wound up on CBS, and Graynor’s Meredith—a dumped trophy wife who fakes her way into teaching at an upscale elementary school to snag Rich Husband No. 2—is far more appealing than Diaz’s toxic film version. She and vet David Alan Grier, as Nixon Middle School’s principal, make Bad Teacher CBS’ funniest new comedy in years—which means it won’t last long; catch it while you can. Black Box (Thursday, April 24, ABC), series debut: Last year, NBC premiered (and two weeks later canceled) Do No Harm, about a brilliant surgeon with a nocturnal second…
16 Apr 2014
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Community (Thursday, April 17, NBC), season finale: One of the best and definitely most out-there seasons of Community has also been its least-watched—it’s almost as if creator Dan Harmon took his second chance with NBC as a challenge: “You think it was weird before? Suck on this!” And yet, even with Season 5’s sub-CW ratings, Community could still realize the dream of Six Seasons and a Movie, because the only other half-hour comedy to survive NBC’s 2013-2014 slate is Parks and Recreation; launching a new comedy block with only one established show is already a proven Turrible Idea (see: NBC Thursday, September 2013). So, with a hopeful eye to fall 2014, how’s Community closing out this bizarro season? With a guest appearance from Chris Elliott (Eagleheart) … this does not bode well. Orphan Black (Saturday, April 19, BBC America), season premiere: The Only TV Column That Matters™ inadvertently overlooked the…
09 Apr 2014
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Mad Men (Sunday, April 13, AMC), season premiere: The seventh and final season of Mad Men, the series that made AMC legit years before the money-printing machine of The Walking Dead fired up, will split 14 episodes over this spring and next, because why not? You put up with it for Breaking Bad, so AMC assumes you’ll do the same for ad man Don Draper. The network has requested the omission of certain plot points in reviews; The Only TV Column That Matters™ requested review materials in a timely manner, and we all failed. Season 7 opens in January 1969, two months after last season left off, and the series’ long-dreaded pre-’70s fashion catastrophes are in full effect (the horror, the horror). Don (Jon Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) are now in California, as is Pete (Vincent Kartheiser), while Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) is still in New York, banging her head…
02 Apr 2014
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Game of Thrones (Sunday, April 6, HBO), season premiere: “Two Swords” is as lighthearted and humorous as Game of Thrones gets, thanks mostly to series vets Peter Dinklage (Tyrion is the master of the stoic WTF? face) and Lena Headey (have another drink, Cersei), though The Only TV Column That Matters™’ new favorite character has to be The Hound: Rory McCann kills it, in every sense, in a late-episode scene that’s essentially a death-brawl over chicken. Meanwhile, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) learns it’s easier to control a growing army than growing dragons (spoiler: they’re assholes)—and you still get your standard GOT allotment of weird sex and nudity (to ease the transition from Girls). Silicon Valley (Sunday, April 6, HBO), series debut: Mike Judge nailed the corporate-cubicle-farm ennui of the 1990s with Office Space, and it’s easy to see the line from there to his new Silicon Valley—and you know where you…
26 Mar 2014
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Surviving Jack (Thursday, March 27, Fox), series debut: Fox has so many great comedies right now that the network can cancel ’em at will (Raising Hope is dead, soon to be followed by Enlisted). So why should you pay any attention to the new Surviving Jack? First, Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU) absolutely kills it as Jack, an acerbic, zero-bullshit dad to a coming-of-age teen son (Connor Buckley)—and, in a shocking blow to sitcom tropes, neither is a complete idiot, and mom isn’t absent/dead. Second, it’s set in 1991, so nostalgia TV can finally move on from terrible ’80s fashion and music to terrible ’90s fashion and music. (Remember hyper-color T-shirts and Jesus Jones? Blech.) Third, everything that ABC’s similarly Wonder Years-y The Goldbergs gets wrong, Surviving Jack nails: The sarcasm, the realism and the heart are classic Fox family-style. (This is where The Only TV Column That Matters™…
19 Mar 2014
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Review With Forrest MacNeil (Thursdays, Comedy Central), new series: Anyone can be a critic (seriously, anyone), but few have the conviction of Forrest MacNeil, the tenacious “life critic” of Comedy Central’s left-field new hit Review. As MacNeil, Andy Daly takes requests from viewers as to which random life experience he should try out; in Episode 1, MacNeil gave addiction a spin and wound up awarding cocaine “a million stars!” out of five. (Post-rehab, a half star, because no real journalist would hand out zero stars.) In the March 20 episode, he takes on the equally dangerous task of consuming 15 pancakes in one sitting—if that sounds easy to you, MacNeil suggests that your life must be “an unendurable hellscape of excruciating sadness.” (Didn’t I use that line in a review of George Lopez’s new sitcom?) Review review: one green button. Da Vinci’s Demons (Saturday, March 22, Starz), season premiere: Starz…
12 Mar 2014
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The Grim Sleeper (Saturday, March 15, Lifetime), movie: Believe it or not, The Only TV Column That Matters™ is developing a real affinity for Lifetime movies—better hurry up with Sharknado 2, Syfy. In the nicely titled The Grim Sleeper, a far-too-good-looking L.A. Weekly reporter (Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23’s Dreama Walker, unbelievably pretty even by Los Angeles journalism standards) investigates a string of unsolved murders with a 14-year gap and learns that the cops have kept a serial-killer spree quiet—it’s True Detective without all of the thinky exposition and bad hair. The Grim Sleeper is based on a true story, wherein the recently apprehended suspect hasn’t even gone to trial yet. Oh, Lifetime! Crisis (Sunday, March 16, NBC), series debut: The kids of Washington, D.C.’s elite politicos, CEOs, diplomats and even the president have been kidnapped by a mysterious mastermind bent on causing chaos on ’Merican soil, and…