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TV

10 May 2017
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I Love Dick (Friday, May 12, Amazon Prime), series debut: Much has been think-pieced about Transparent showrunner Jill Soloway’s follow-up Amazon Prime series, I Love Dick: It’s a showcase for the rarely dramatized “female gaze”; it’s upending standard methods of linear storytelling; it has “Dick” in the title, etc. But … is it funny and/or moving? The first episode, launched last year in Amazon’s up-voting Pilot Season, answered with a hard “duh.” I Love Dick tells the story of New Yorkers Chris (Kathryn Hahn) and Sylvere (Griffin Dunne), who’ve relocated to a Texas artist town; she’s a struggling indie filmmaker, while he’s a writer-in-residency, and they’re both obsessed with local cowboy artist Dick (Kevin Bacon), a rugged bastard who couldn’t care less. If you loved the pilot, you’ll want to spend a whole season with Dick. Get Me Roger Stone (Friday, May 12, Netflix), documentary: Listeners of Alex Jones and…
03 May 2017
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Live PD (Fridays and Saturdays, A&E), new series: Well, new-ish. A&E (the “Anything & Everything” network) has aired Live PD, which is essentially Cops meets Facebook Live in hell, since October 2016, much to the delight of slackjawed homebodies who can no longer get it up for Duck Dynasty. The “action” unfolds as a real-time ride-along, with ex-cops providing stilted commentary from a studio desk like a low-rent SportsCenter; “action” is in quotes, because Live PD captures a whole lotta nothin’ for hours on end—except for that one time when they scored footage of a guy who’d just been shot and killed over a drug deal, and A&E execs probably scored a quarterly bonus. I’m not saying that viewers of Live PD are immoral, brainless dirtbags for watching shakedowns of drunk college coeds. I am heavily implying it, though. 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards (Sunday, May 7, MTV), special:…
26 Apr 2017
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Dear White People (Friday, April 28, Netflix), series debut: A few white people were angry about the mere title of creator/director Justin Simien’s 2014 film Dear White People, and even more got pissed when Netflix dropped a trailer for his new 10-episode series of the same name. They’ve never seen more than a minute of either, but said whiteys waged futile YouTube downvote campaigns and “cancel Netflix” drives to stop this reverse oppression … or whatever the hell was perceived as happening. Too bad, because Dear White People is a ferociously funny look at “post-racial” relations, PC college culture and misconceptions from both ends of the color spectrum. Could it maybe change some minds? Nah, probably not. But! For everyone else, DWP features some killer performances and nimble comical/political scripting. What’s in a name? Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (Saturday, April 29, TBS), special: In the name of Serious…
19 Apr 2017
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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…
12 Apr 2017
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Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Friday, April 14, Netflix), season premiere: While MST3K O.G.s Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett continue their movie-mockery biz at a staggering pace with RiffTrax, Mystery Science Theater 3000 proper is still missed. Netflix, proving that not all pop-cultural reboots are heinous abominations, picked up the 1988-1999 series after creator Joel Hodgson sparked a revival firestorm via Kickstarter. Hodgson has also recast the show, with comedian Jonah Ray as the new astro-host on the Satellite of Love, as well as new ’bot voices (Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn as Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, respectively), and Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt as MST3K’s new “Mads.” Exactly which cinematic disasterpieces the crew will be viewing and skewering in these 14 fresh episodes are currently unknown, but who cares? New MST3K! Doctor Who (Saturday, April 15, BBC America), season premiere: After Series 10—that’s U.K. for Season…
05 Apr 2017
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Idiotsitter (Thursday, April 6, Comedy Central), season premiere: If you somehow made it through the 2016 “holiday” flick Office Christmas Party, you must concur that Jillian Bell’s bipolar she-pimp character was the funniest part of the movie—really, you must. Earlier in 2016, Bell and comedy partner Charlotte Newhouse dropped the debut season of Idiotsitter, a hilarious, flipped-to-female Workaholics of sorts that looked to be another Comedy Central one-and-done (see also, 2015’s genius Big Time in Hollywood, FL). But! Idiotsitter is back for a second season, and broke “baby sitter” Billie (Newhouse) and heiress “idiot” Gene (Bell) are now off to college. Despite what the Ghostbusters trolls told you, 2016 was a fantastic year for women in comedy—on-demand Idiotsitter Season 1 now, and report back. You the Jury (Friday, April 7, Fox), series debut: Was Fox News host Jeanine Pirro’s recent spanking of House Speaker Paul Ryan merely a publicity stunt…
29 Mar 2017
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Prison Break (Tuesday, April 4, Fox), return: Make that Prison Break: Resurrection, because the “dead” Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) is actually alive in another prison—this time in Yemen, like that matters. The original 2005-2009 run of Fox’s Prison Break was a cultural phenomenon for a hot minute, but the story of blueprint-tattooed Michael springing his wrongfully convicted brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) from jail held up surprisingly well over four seasons, thanks to a colorful supporting cast and ri-dic-u-lous plot twists. Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies), Sucre (Amaury Nolasco), C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar) and the unforgettable T-Bag (Robert Knepper) rejoin the Buzzcut Bros. for this nine-episode international Break-out event; it’s best if you don’t think too hard. New Girl (Tuesday, April 4, Fox), season finale: Is Season 6 the end for New Girl? Fox yet to come to a decision, and tonight’s season finale could easily serve as a series finale for…
22 Mar 2017
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RuPaul’s Drag Race (Friday, March 24, VH1), season premiere: For Season 9, RuPaul’s Drag Race moves from niche network Logo to the slightly more mainstream VH1—what does this mean? That drag queens are now ready for ’Merican primetime? That our divided country needs fabulousness now more than ever? That VH1 could use some new programming unrelated to basketball, hip-hop and potluck dinners? Yes. Like a flashier, bitchier Project Runway, or a taller America’s Next Top Model, RuPaul’s Drag Race brings the D-R-A-M-A like nothing else on television, and deserves to be exposed—phrasing—to a wider audience (and if a few unsuspecting motorsports fans accidentally tune in, even better). On the educational side, I also now understand the phrases “Read to filth” and “She done already done had herses,” and hope to use them in a doctoral dissertation soon. Bones (Tuesday, March 28, Fox), series finale: When it premiered in 2005, Bones…
15 Mar 2017
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Marvel’s Iron Fist (Friday, March 17, Netflix), series debut: Well, this sucks. Of all the Netflix/Marvel adaptations, I was most looking forward to Iron Fist, one of my favorite comic-book titles from back in the day. Where Daredevil was a fantastic surprise and killer introduction to this Marvel microverse, and Jessica Jones and Luke Cage delved even deeper into characters and motivations, Iron Fist is just … there. “Cultural appropriation” bullshit aside, the story of rich kid Danny Rand (Finn Jones) being orphaned in the Himalayas and trained in supernatural-adjacent martial arts (which includes manifesting a literal “iron fist”) to Save This City is one that’s been reinvented successfully ad infinitum, from Batman to Arrow. Unfortunately, Iron Fist’s “deadly kung-fu action” is mostly backyard pro wrestling-level. Jones is too bland to carry the dramatic side, and the exposition-heavy writing is more like Ham Fist. Sigh. On the upside, it’s the…
08 Mar 2017
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Love (Friday, March 10, Netflix), season premiere: In its 2016 debut season, Judd Apatow’s Love received wildly mixed reviews from real people and TV critics (who, it should always be noted, are not real people) alike. I was on the positive side—but, then again, I also liked Will Arnett’s universally despised Netflix baby Flaked, so there’s obviously something wrong with me. Lovebirds Micky (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) still aren’t exactly right, either, but they’re giving the committed-relationship thing a go with predictably messy/hilarious/sad results. Both Jacobs and Rust (and an ever-expanding guest list) are fantastic; at its best, Love plays like an introverted cousin of couplehood-is-hell MVP You’re the Worst. A great place to be in Season 2, and the haters are still gonna hate. Samurai Jack (Saturday, March 11, Adult Swim), return: A long, long time ago, I wrote about a Cartoon Network series called Samurai Jack,…