Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm


19 Oct 2016
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Black Mirror (Friday, Oct. 21, Netflix), season premiere: Charlie Brooker’s near-futuristic Black Mirror anthology series has been creeping out both technophobes and technophiles since 2011, kicking off with an episode wherein the prime minister of Britain was forced to have sex with a pig on live TV. (That seems quaint given our own Election 2016 cycle, doesn’t it?) The series’ third season is only slightly less pessimistic about today’s/tomorrow’s oversharing online society; one out of the six episodes actually highlights some positive, non-horrific application of smartphone tech, so that’s … something. Among the doomed digerati of Season 3 are Bryce Dallas Howard, James Norton, Mackenzie Davis, Eve Alice, Wyatt Russell and Hannah John-Kamen, starring in a swath of stories that subtly filter film genres through a “Social Media Can and Will Kill You” narrative. At least there are no pigs this time around. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Saturday, Oct.…
12 Oct 2016
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Falling Water (Thursday, Oct. 13, USA), series debut: In the time of Too Many Shows, it’s almost suicidal to drop a new series that won’t get to the damned point by the middle of the first episode; USA needs to hook ’em fast, because viewers have a dozen other choices tonight (except for Notorious, which still sucks). Falling Water follows three seemingly unrelated people (Lizzie Brochere, David Ajala and Will Yun Lee) who come to realize that they’re all dreaming parts of the same dream, and said dream relates to “the fate of the world.” How? That’s annoyingly unclear, but the three are definitely dreaming—so much so that it’s impossible to tell what’s “real,” but at least the imagery is gorgeous. (If you have access to 4K HD and “herbal” medication, you’ll probably enjoy this more than most.) Falling Water has nine more episodes to establish a plot; otherwise, there…
05 Oct 2016
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Divorce (Sunday, Oct. 9, HBO), series debut: Hopeless romantic Carrie Bradshaw is dead; meet Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker), a far-less-perky shadow of her former Sex and the City self. HBO’s new dark comedy Divorce delivers exactly what the title implies: 10 episodes of Frances and husband Robert (Thomas Haden Church) doing their damnedest to separate, or reconcile, or just figure out why and how they should do either. Like another of creator Sharon Horgan’s series, cult British import Catastrophe, it’s as messy as it is funny, and Parker and Church are fantastically nimble at darting between emotional states and situations. Unlike similarly black-to-absurd-and-back comedy You’re the Worst, however, Divorce doesn’t always work when the focus is off the central pair: Molly Shannon and Tracy Letts don’t add much as Frances and Robert’s married friends. (Hell, Church’s mustache is a more fully developed character than either of them.) Still, Divorce is…
28 Sep 2016
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Marvel’s Luke Cage (Friday, Sept. 30, Netflix), series debut: No, I don’t know what the Netflix/Marvel release schedule is anymore, either, but here are Luke Cage; Iron Fist, The Punisher, more Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and the long-teased Defenders will show up eventually. Luke “Power Man” Cage (Mike Colter) is now a few months removed from the events of Jessica Jones, relocated to Harlem and trying to lead as normal of a life as a mega-strong, bullet-proof, street-level superhero can. He’s soon drawn into a soul-of-the-neighborhood battle with a charismatic gangster (Mahershala Ali, House of Cards), which only sounds like Daredevil’s debut season. Luke Cage was Marvel’s first-ever black headliner in the ’70s; appropriately, this series is the most ’70s, the most New York, and the most straight-up black entry into the modern Marvel cinematic universe yet. It’s also a worthy follow-up to Daredevil and Jessica Jones—you’re three-for-three, Netflix. Now…
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…

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