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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

TV

21 Sep 2016
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Notorious (Thursday, Sept. 22, ABC), series debut: A really, really, really ridiculously good-looking lawyer (Daniel Sunjata) and really, really, really ridiculously good-looking news producer (Piper Perabo) delve into “the unique, sexy and dangerous interplay of criminal law and the media” in a beyond-stoopid mash-up of The Newsroom and Law and Order with a vanilla title. (Considering its other useless new legal drama, Conviction, it’s like ABC isn’t even trying.) Notorious is based on a real-life behind-the-scenes media/law relationship that existed on ye olde Larry King Live, upping the “Who Gives a Shit?” quotient by 10. Don’t worry; Scandal will be back before anyone notices. Pitch (Thursday, Sept. 22, Fox), series debut: Female pitcher Ginny Baker (Kylie Bunbury) is called up to play Major League Baseball for the San Diego Padres because shut up you sexist troll; it could totally happen, and why do you hate stories about strong women making…
14 Sep 2016
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High Maintenance (Friday, Sept. 16, HBO), series debut: Unapologetically bipolar comedies (half-hours that lean a bit too heavy to be “dramedies”) are apparently the thing this season, and along with Donald Glover’s Atlanta, High Maintenance essentially defines them. The former Web series—created, written and directed by wife-and-husband team Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair, about New York City weed dealer The Guy (played by Sinclair)—looks like just another stoner-com from the outside, but it’s deeper than that. The Guy, who’s the only constant of the series, is the thread between a roster of clients who are both comically bizarre (like the deceptively dim bros we meet first) and tragically human (seemingly stereotypical gay-guy/straight-girl BFFs Max and Lainey, the meat of the pilot episode’s story). The pair’s bitchy repartee soon takes a dark turn into co-dependency hell that’s as bitter as it is funny; maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the veiled pathos…
07 Sep 2016
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Quarry (Friday, Sept. 9, Cinemax), series debut: If Quarry were premiering on HBO instead of lesser-subscribed-to cousin Cinemax, it would be hyped like the second coming of True Detective (Season 1, of course). The 1972-set crime-noir series is based on the novels of Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition) and directed by Greg Yaitanes (the late, great Banshee), so Quarry’s pedigree is already as hard-boiled as they come, and the pilot episode delivers even harder—but it’s a slow burn, so patience. U.S. Marine Mac (Logan Marshall-Green) returns home to Memphis after enduring a harrowing—and well-publicized stateside—tour in Vietnam, only to encounter anti-war hippie-hate and bleak job prospects; even his devoted girlfriend, Joni (Jodi Balfour), is wary of him. When approached by a man calling himself The Broker (Peter Mullan), a mysterious crime boss looking to hire a killer with Mac’s marksman skills, Mac initially turns down the offer, but is…
31 Aug 2016
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Narcos (Friday, Sept. 2, Netflix), season premiere: When last we left the semi-biographical Narcos, Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura) had just escaped the Greybar Hotel, with errybody on both sides of the law out to take him down. Given, you know, history, the promo tagline of “Who killed Pablo Escobar?” is somewhat moot (hint—it wasn’t old age), but Narcos is even more terrifyingly tense in Season 2. (After seeing this, it’s even harder to believe that those Entourage twinks actually “made” an Escobar film once upon a time.) It’s also a bit more personal, with Moura revealing the man behind the monster on occasion—since we’re staring down the barrel of Escobar’s ultimate demise this season, it’s a nice, empathetic touch that sets Narcos apart from certain Drug Guy Downfall movies that don’t live up to their posters. (Yes, I’m talking about Scarface—admit it, it sucks.) It’s Labor Day…
24 Aug 2016
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The Strain (Sunday, Aug. 28, FX), season premiere: The most disconcerting part of the Season 3 opener of The Strain, FX’s scariest series (sorry, American Horror Story)? Setrakian (David Bradley) reminding us that it’s only been 23—23!—days since the Euro-vampires landed in New York City. Dr. Eph (Corey Stoll) is boozing through the pain of his girlfriend’s death and his son’s kidnapping by his now-vamp wife, and his bio-weapon is losing its lethality against “the munchers”—all of this stress could explain why his hair won’t grow back. The locals believe they’re still “New York Strong,” but even the military, which has essentially given up on saving the city, is outmatched. (It does make for some great Call of Duty: Vamp Town action sequences, though.) New Yorkers are on their own to fight The Strain … but what’s a little vampire takeover after beating back a Sharknado? 2016 MTV Video Music…
17 Aug 2016
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Halt and Catch Fire (Tuesday, Aug. 23, AMC), two-hour season premiere: AMC just can’t quit Halt and Catch Fire, a critical darling that hasn’t cracked 1 million viewers since its premiere in 2014, despite improving markedly over the course of two seasons (both available on Netflix, FYI). The ’80s-set drama chronicles the personal-computer revolution more accurately than the, what, 19? Steve Jobs biopics cluttering the cultural landscape, and gives some long-overdue credit to women in the early days of PC tech. Season 2 really, ahem, caught fire when the story shifted focus to Cameron (Mackenzie Davis) and Donna (Kerry Bishé) and their Mutiny Co. startup struggles. Season 3 picks up in 1986, with Mutiny leaving Texas for Silicon Valley, a make-or-break play that leaves Donna’s engineer husband, Gordon (Scoot McNairy), professionally and emotionally adrift. The three are followed out west by ex-partner/antagonist/eyebrow creeper Joe (Lee Pace), because that’s how Joe…
10 Aug 2016
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The Get Down (Friday, Aug. 12, Netflix), series debut: It’s the last Prestige TV debut of the summer, and viewers and critics alike are probably going to go easier on Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down than they did on that other high-profile ’70s NYC musical-history tour, HBO’s Vinyl. It’s nearly as messy as that Martin Scorsese/Mick Jagger rock ’n’ roll blowout, but The Get Down, which chronicles the origins of hip-hop in the Bronx, uses that chaos to better effect—it just takes a few episodes to, well, get down to it. Like Vinyl, The Get Down kicks off with an overstuffed 90-minute episode that tries to introduce everything but accomplishes little; unlike Vinyl, it gets better and, occasionally even stunning, from there. Unfortunately, Part 1 is only six episodes; Part 2 won’t drop until 2017. Didn’t anybody explain to Luhrmann how Netflix works? Perfect Sisters (Saturday, Aug. 13, Lifetime), movie:…
03 Aug 2016
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Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23 (Netflix; 26 episodes): Before she was Jessica Jones, and after she was a Breaking Bad casualty, Krysten Ritter was the funniest bitch ABC ever dared to cancel. Besides Elisabeth Hasselbeck, anyway. Gravity (Hulu, 10 episodes): But, before she was the B, Ritter starred in this mopey-but-magnetic Starz dramedy about a suicide-survivors group. The show is occasionally as dark-humored as Jessica Jones. Original title: Suicide for Dummies. Penny Dreadful (Hulu, Netflix; 27 episodes): The just-ended Showtime steampunk soap opera is one part Victorian X-Files and 50 parts crazeepy (crazy + creepy), with Eva Green’s killer performance inducing all of the feels. Better Off Ted (Netflix; 26 episodes): Ted Crisp (Jay Harrington) works for mega-corporation Veridian Dynamics, an obvious precursor to Mr. Robot’s Evil Corp., in yet another of ABC’s genius comedy cancellations. Happyish (Hulu, Netflix; 10 episodes): Steve Coogan (stepping in for Philip Seymour…
27 Jul 2016
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Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (Sunday, July 31, Syfy), movie: Who’s joining Ian Ziering and Tara Reid (apparently, the #AprilLives campaign from Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! worked) this time? David Hasselhoff (Baywatch), Gena Lee Nolin (also Baywatch), Alexandra Paul (again with the Baywatch), Gary Busey (snubbed Donald Trump VP candidate), Cheryl Tiegs (elderly model-shamer), Carrot Top (elderly prop comic), Stacey Dash (pretend Fox News “conservative”), Duane Chapman (“Dog” the Bounty Hunter), Vince Neil (Motley Crue), Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour), various “personalities” from Bravo reality shows, and more from the “Is Pepsi OK?” department of central casting. After chomping on Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C., the next logical (?) locale to be hit with a Sharknado is, of course, Las Vegas. (Don’t fret; Palm Springs will probably get its turn by Sharknado 16.) Now the story … doesn’t matter in the least, duh. 2016 Teen Choice Awards (Sunday,…
20 Jul 2016
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BoJack Horseman (Friday, July 22, Netflix): Prior to the premiere of Season 3, Netflix released promo art that placed cartoon character BoJack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett) in the same league as troubled dramatic TV anti-heroes Tony Soprano, Don Draper and Frank Underwood. It’s no joke: They all struggled to find happiness within the American Dream (though it could be argued that House of Cards’ Frank Underwood is simply nuts—and still a better presidential choice than anyone running in reality), and so continues BoJack. He should be happy: He’s back in the public eye, doing press and Oscar (!) campaigning for his dream starring role in Secretariat … but it’s all meaningless, hollow crap. More so than depression and ennui—yes, a cartoon has forced me to break out the fancy words—BoJack Horseman is about the aggressive shallowness of Hollywood and celebrity, and Round 3 goes even deeper and darker than…

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