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Tue07262016

Last updateSun, 30 Aug 2015 2pm

TV

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…
13 Jul 2016
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Vice Principals (Sunday, July 17, HBO), series debut: While I still contend that Eastbound and Down was one of the greatest TV comedies ever, I’ll also admit that it was long out of material by its fourth and final season, and that Danny McBride probably shouldn’t carry a series on his own—and, most importantly, that water jetpacks are cool AF. HBO’s new Vice Principals, which re-teams McBride and writer/producer Jody Hill, solves one problem right away by giving McBride’s “new” character—basically Kenny Powers minus the mullet—a foil in Walton Goggins (Justified). The pair play high school vice principals vying to replace the retiring principal (Bill Murray!)—until the school district hires an outsider (Kimberly Hebert Gregory), prompting them to take a break from pissing on each other in staggeringly escalating volleys of vulgarity and instead team up to bring her down. Vice Principals is E&D 2.0; it’s as familiar as it…
06 Jul 2016
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The Night Of (Sunday, July 10, HBO), series debut: One review has already beaten me to the punch in tagging HBO’s new crime miniseries The Night Of as “the longest, bleakest Law and Order episode ever,” but I’ll press on. Novelist/screenwriter Richard Price (Clockers, The Wire) and writer/filmmaker Steve Zaillian (A Civil Action) spend eight episodes chronicling eight bad, bad days in the life of Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed), a New York City college student who thinks he’s lucked into the Manhattan party of the year—until he wakes up covered in blood next to a girl who’s been stabbed to death. Much tense and ssslllooowww drama unfolds from there, with none-too-subtle call-outs to an overtaxed justice system, the constant state of surveillance in which we live, racial profiling and, of course, The Wire (Michael Kenneth Williams!). More so than True Detective, The Night Of is an intricately produced downer of…
29 Jun 2016
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Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (Thursday, June 30, FX), season premiere: The debut of Denis Leary’s Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll last summer presaged two rock-centric dramas, HBO’s just-cancelled Vinyl and Showtime’s currently meh Roadies—and his occasionally haphazard, always-swaggering comedy still nails inter-band relationships better than either. As Season 2 opens, Johnny Rock (Leary) and his Assassins bandmates react to the death of a fellow musician—2016 is the year for it—as only rock narcissists would: We each gotta establish solo-career immortality! (Wiki “Kiss,” “1978” and “mountains of record-company cocaine,” kids.) As terrible/hilarious as that idea sounds, SDRR doubles-down with actor Campbell Scott (as himself) buying the Irish Potato Famine rock opera by bassist Rehab (John Ales) from Season 1 and remaking it as a Hamilton-esque Broadway musical. Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is still gloriously ridiculous—rip off the knob, and turn it up. Greatest Hits (Thursday, June 30, ABC), series debut: In 2015, a study circulated stating that the average person stops…
22 Jun 2016
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Queen of the South (Thursday, June 23, USA), series debut: USA continues to get somewhat browner—this is a baby step for the not-quite-whitest network on cable. (That’d be Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.) In the net’s new Queen of the South, Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) flees to America from Mexico when her drug-dealer boyfriend is murdered, and then plots her bloody revenge upon the cartel that killed him. Queen of the South is flashier and pricier than the Telemundo series, La Reina Del Sur, from which it was lifted, but the grit and pain remain, and Teresa’s transformation from grieving victim to vengeful badass would make Walter White tip his fedora. The initial episodes occasionally feel rushed and jam-packed, as if this production is attempting to squeeze the original’s 63 hours of action and drama into 10, but Braga carries it effortlessly (and sometimes terrifyingly). Now let’s see if USA’s audience…
15 Jun 2016
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Aquarius (Thursday, June 16, NBC), season premiere: When last we (meaning me; I’ve yet to meet anybody who watched Season 1) left Aquarius, it was spring of 1968; Det. Hodiak (David Duchovny) and the Los Angeles Police Department were possibly going under an internal affairs investigation; and milquetoast messiah Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) was finally starting to show some psycho-spunk. (Remember, it took Axl Rose a couple of albums to get there, too.) In keeping with history, the two-hour Season 2 premiere of Aquarius sees the Manson Family moving in with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau), as Hodiak becomes caught up in another missing-girls case while still making time to snark at hippies; and beat cop Tully (Claire Holt) gets in over her head in a dangerous case again because, you know, even the late ’60s still sucked for women. Aquarius may never achieve its five-season plan, but…
08 Jun 2016
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Ride With Norman Reedus (AMC; Sunday, June 12, series debut): The Walking Dead star gets his own motorcycle road-trip series because AMC sure as hell wasn’t going to tell him no. Ride works well enough as a biker-culture travelogue show, as long as Reedus isn’t called upon to talk too much (just like with Daryl Dixon). Guilt (Freeform; Monday, June 13, series debut): A London-set millennial murder-mystery soap about a young woman (Emily Tremaine, Vinyl) out to prove her sister’s innocence with the help of … Billy Zane?! BrainDead (CBS; Monday, June 13, series debut): This government-is-stoopid political dramedy may have a killer cast (including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Danny Pino and Tony Shaloub) and the producers of The Good Wife, but CBS isn’t going to let them get away with anything close to House of Cards or Veep, because, CBS. Uncle Buck (ABC; Tuesday, June 14, series debut): ’Merica has…
01 Jun 2016
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Outcast (Friday, June 3, Cinemax), series debut: While the fanboys are nerd-raging against each other over the authenticity of AMC’s Preacher, here comes another way-adult, based-on-a-comic-book property: Outcast, from Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman—and it’s so gut-wrenchingly creepy that it’ll only fuel the “Preacher shoulda been on premium cable!” fire. Outcast follows Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), a man surrounded by demonic possessions since childhood, who’s drawn out of seclusion when a child on the other side of his rural West Virginia town goes full-on satanic sock puppet. The pilot suffers from unavoidable, but minor, instances of first-episode exposition clunk, but the scares and gore effects could keep even atheists up all night. Don’t watch this alone. Banshee almost did it, but Outcast should be the series to finally make Cinemax a player in the original-programming game. Did I mention … don’t watch this alone? You May Now Kill the Bride…
25 May 2016
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It’s been a rough couple of seasons for broadcast network television. Programming competition from cable and streaming services is at an all-time high, resulting in the era of There’s Too Many Shows. You’d think that, in response, the broadcast networks would raise the quality and imagination going forward into the new fall season, and give viewers a reason to come back. Problem is, you’re thinking. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC? Not so much. (Who would have believed a decade ago that The CW, The C damned W!, would become the visionaries?) Not only have they given up on thinking; the networks have just given up, period: The majority of their proposed 2016-17 season new shows—a relative term, as there’s nary a “new” idea among them—look like complete garbage. A sampling of what’s to come this fall: Conviction (ABC): A hot lawyer (Hayley Atwell) goes to work for a hot district…
18 May 2016
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Preacher (Sunday, May 22, AMC), series debut: The uninitiated have no idea what the hell Preacher is, while the fanboys are convinced that the 1995-2000 Vertigo comic-book series can’t be adapted for any screen, let alone basic-cable TV. And then there are the concerns about stoner-comedy duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg as exec-producers, as well as how an epic heaven-and-hell struggle will be received as a weekly series (even though The CW’s Supernatural has already been mining that territory for a decade). While I can’t speak to the fanboys’ worries—I’ve only skimmed the comics—Preacher will definitely blow some newbies’ minds with its 90-minute premiere, a violent and funny explosion of sharply written characters (including Dominic Cooper in the title role, nearly obliterating his beloved Howard Stark from the Marvel Universe) and slow-burn exposition (Breaking Bad vet Sam Catlin is running the show here, not Rogen and Goldberg). Is the…

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