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TV

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,…
01 Mar 2017
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Making History (Sunday, March 5, Fox), series debut: After Frequency (R.I.P. at The CW), Timeless (the best of the lot, but struggling at NBC) and Time After Time (more in a moment), Making History finally lightens up the current TV season’s glut of time-travel shows, even though the timeline-twisting consequences are no less dire. When Massachusetts college employee Dan (Adam Pally) discovers a time-traveling duffle bag (just go with it), he begins making regular, continuum-cocking trips to the 1700s to visit his easily impressed new colonial girlfriend (Leighton Meester). No sooner than you can say “Hot Tub Time Machine meets Drunk History,” Dan’s dragging a history professor (Yassir Lester) back in time with him to re-reset the outcome of the American Revolution, lest the USA come to be ruled by a … psychotic dictator. Anyway: Making History is a funny, Fox-y comedy, unlike … Time After Time (Sunday, March 5,…
22 Feb 2017
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The Blacklist: Redemption (Thursday, Feb. 23, NBC), series debut: While hardcore Blacklist fans are asking, “How’s this spin-off going to work?” casual viewers are curious to know: “How many encoded tattoos can she fit on her body?” For the latter: That’s Blindspot, dumbasses. For the former: Undercover op and ex-Blacklist bad hombre Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) has a wife and a baby at home, but now he’s going to be traipsing around the world with mom “Scottie” Hargrave (Famke Janssen) on missions the U.S. government won’t avow, because, karma. It’s best to forget the parenting logistics of The Blacklist: Redemption and just go with the action (which will only span eight episodes, so Tom will be back with Liz and Agnes on The Blacklist proper soon enough). But if Redemption is a hit—which it could be; Blacklist faithful won’t be disappointed—they’re going to have to work out a nanny schedule…
15 Feb 2017
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Britney Ever After (Saturday, Feb. 18, Lifetime), movie: Britney Spears is a decent pop icon. She barely contributed to the writing of her own music; her singing is at maybe a semi-pro karaoke level; and her attempts at being “edgy” and the perpetual “comebacks” are as laughable as they are tiresome. But! To a generation of young women, Spears is still as important as Madonna was a decade prior. (Side note: Madge, it’s time to give it up … seriously.) A Lifetime biopic was inevitable, so here’s Britney Ever After, a cheap flick that stinks of rush-job non-urgency and, blech, Canada. (Production began just five months ago in Vancouver.) Since Spears’ entire life and career have been over-documented in the media, there are no new revelations in Britney Ever After other than a sad reminder that Kevin Federline was once a thing. The Good Fight (Sunday, Feb. 19, CBS), series…
08 Feb 2017
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Girls (Sunday, Feb. 12, HBO), season premiere: Yes, Girls creator/star Lena Dunham has made some astoundingly stupid statements on social media—isn’t that what social media is for?—but she’s also cranked out a half-dozen solid seasons of an HBO series, so she’s far more than just a “privileged snowflake.” Season 6 will be the last for Girls (though there may be a follow-up movie), and Brooklynites Hannah (Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) are totally different, and somehow exactly the same, as they were in the beginning. Girls’ infamously un-glam sex scenes and monologues continue, but it’s Dunham’s nimble comedy writing that deserves the attention—lines like “I don’t give a shit about anything, yet I simultaneously have opinions about everything” are as funny as they are instantly relatable (to some of us writers, anyway). Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Monday, Feb. 13, HBO), documentary: Locally…
01 Feb 2017
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Powerless (Thursday, Feb. 2, NBC), series debut: Rebooted before it even premiered: Powerless, which exists somewhere within the DC Comics universe, was originally a deadpan workplace comedy à la The Office, about an insurance firm that handled cases of civilians affected by superhero vs. supervillain battles—real catastrophic damage. Now, it’s about Wayne Security (as in, Bruce Wayne and Wayne Enterprises), a company specializing in tactical-tech personal-protection devices for non-superhumans. It’s a faster-paced, colorful upgrade that the cast (Vanessa Hudgens, Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi, Ron Funches and Christina Kirk) delivers on hysterically—when the material’s there. Unfortunately, Powerless’ writing isn’t as consistent as that of recent NBC comedy breakouts Superstore and The Good Place, so it’ll have to be carried by its stars for now. Superior Donuts (Thursday, Feb. 2, CBS; moving to Mondays on Feb. 6), series debut: Sitcoms like NBC’s The Carmichael Show and CBS’ Mom have shown that it’s…
25 Jan 2017
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Riverdale (Thursday, Jan. 26, The CW), series debut: It’s exactly what you think it is—Archie Comics given a dark ’n’ broody CW-teens makeover, like Twin Peaks meets Gossip Girl. Riverdale is also far better than most are going to be willing to give it credit for: It’s sharply written (though the first ep is exposition-heavy, because kids today) and winkingly self-aware murder noir dressed up in muted-classic Archie couture that firmly states, “Yeah, we’re actually doing this—and we’re going hard.” The gang’s all here, including a ripped-but-sensitive Archie (K.J. Apa), a mysterious Jughead (Cole Sprouse), a jittery Betty (Lili Reinhart), a seductive Veronica (Camila Mendes) and an ambitious Pussycats-fronting Josie (Ashleigh Murray), and they all arrive as surprisingly fleshed-out characters. Riverdale will be the first TV obsession of 2017—count on it. iBoy (Friday, Jan. 27, Netflix), movie: Because AndroidBoy didn’t quite have the same ring to it, here’s iBoy: British…
17 Jan 2017
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When I interviewed local music legend Jesse Hughes in August 2015, he was in good spirits and quite excited about the then-soon-to-be released Eagles of Death Metal album, Zipper Down. “This album is like John Holmes, only with a bigger dick,” Hughes told me. “I’ve never been one of those dudes who has tried to change or do something different. I pretty much want to make Little Richard proud, and I feel that this album has gotten me closer to that goal than any other record.” Sure enough, the Eagles of Death Metal made waves with the release of Zipper Down—the band’s first new release in seven years. In fact, the Palm Desert-born band was enjoying the most critical acclaim it had ever received. This high would not last: On Nov. 13, 2015, during an EODM concert in Paris at the world-famous Bataclan, the venue was attacked by terrorists. While…

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