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The Art of More (Thursday, Nov. 19, Crackle), series debut: Small-time crook Graham Connor (Christian Cooke, Witches of East End) slips into the high-end art world of the super-rich—but if the dark side of the auction house doesn’t sting him first, his shady secret past will. The slick and sexy Art of More is relatable to your life in no way whatsoever (sure, Graham came from nothing, but he’s still ridiculously good-looking), but the show is deeper than you’d expect luxury porn to be, and the supporting cast (Dennis Quaid, Kate Bosworth and Cary Elwes) ain’t bad for a show on a streaming service you’ve barely heard of, either. Given the app/network’s (appnet?) recent surge in original programming, it looks like reports of parent company Sony’s lack of interest in Crackle are greatly exaggerated. Also: There’s now really Too Much TV.

Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Friday, Nov. 20, Netflix), series debut: It’s going to be tough to follow-up Daredevil, especially with a lesser-known character like Jessica Jones—but Marvel’s too big to fail, so why worry? Based on Brian Michael Bendis’ darkly fantastic Alias series, Jessica Jones stars Krysten Ritter as an ex-superhero trying to lead a relatively normal existence as a private detective, even though most of her clients end up being of the super-powered variety. Also impeding her process of powering down and fitting in: Jessica has more issues than, well, the Marvel Universe. Considering Netflix’s Daredevil revelation, as well as the show’s creator (a former Dexter writer) and the solid cast behind the always-winning Ritter (David Tennant, Carrie-Anne Moss and future Luke Cage Mike Colter), Jessica Jones is another gritty smack upside the head. Or in the SUV door, whichever you prefer.

The Man in the High Castle (Friday, Nov. 20, Amazon Prime), series debut: In an alternate universe where the Germans won World War II, early-’60s USA is halved into the Greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States—and yes, of course there’s an underground resistance working to take back ’Merica. The Man in the High Castle’s production and attention to detail is impressive, bringing the 1962 Philip K. Dick novel to full-blown life, even as the lead actors appear lifeless. (You could have done better than Pretty Little Liars’ Luke Kleintank and Mob City’s Alexa Davalos, Ridley Scott.) Atmosphere and high concept mostly win out, however; just set aside any Danger 5 nutty-Nazi memories—this is serious business!

Northpole: Open for Christmas (Saturday, Nov. 21, Hallmark), movie: The crime here isn’t that Hallmark is dropping a new Christmas movie on Nov. 21—it’s that the network already began the jingle-blitzkrieg three weeks ago! On Halloween! Northpole: Open for Christmas is just another one of the Mad-Libbed holiday-rom-com-shot-up-with-fuzzy-feels treatises on the True Meaning of Christmas that we’ve come to expect/endure from Hallmark (and ABC Family, Lifetime, etc.) every year the millisecond a leaf turns brown. Says here, “Dermot Mulroney stars as Ian, a small-town handyman who comes to the aid of Mackenzie (Lori Loughlin) to help restore a cherished local inn she inherited, but wants to sell. Unbeknownst to Ian and Mackenzie, Santa sends his trusted elf Clementine (Bailee Madison) on a special mission to help Mackenzie rebuild and rediscover the magic of the holidays.” By not selling her rat trap? Maybe she wants out of this money pit and into a new condo on the gentrified side of town, next to the microbrewery and the artisan crepery! You don’t know, Santa! Damned hippie …

The Last Man on Earth (Sunday, Nov. 22, Fox), continuing series: Is this show about to blink out of existence? Fox’s revamped schedule (coming in January, because who cares about December?) will involve moving Brooklyn Nine-Nine back to Tuesdays to help New Girl save Grandfathered and The Grinder; debuting two-years-on-the-shelf animated series Bordertown on Sundays; kicking off the final American Idol death march; reinstating The X-Files; and pretending Minority Report never happened. Meanwhile, there are no plans for The Last Man on Earth. It’s too weird to slot anywhere but Sunday amongst the cartoons, and too healthily (relatively) rated to outright cancel. Glimmer of Hope: Last Man’s “replacement,” Cooper Barrett’s Guide to Surviving Life, is even worse than the title suggests. Tandy and the gang could/should be back by February.

Published in TV

After “Are you still writing for that paper?” and “Why did I assume you were dead?” the question I’m most often asked is: “So, what’s good on TV?”

Sure, I write a readily available weekly column about what’s good on TV (and not-so-good), and produce a podcast (TV Tan—look it up on iTunes and Stitcher) covering the same, but you can’t be expected to keep up with it all. Quality programming? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

You do, actually: Let’s pretend that daily “live” TV viewing didn’t die along with print journalism several years ago, and let’s scroll through the week with a day-by-day breakdown of what to Watch (good stuff deserving of your attention) and, for the hell of it, Hate Watch (stuff so terrible that it’s fun to mock) right now. Or DVR it all for a weekend binge—I don’t know your lifestyle.

Thursday: Even though the network tried to kill its biggest hit by moving it to Thursday nights, The Blacklist (NBC) is still a must-Watch. TV critics are divided on The Comedians, but I say it’s a worthy lead-in to Louie, and that’s all that matters (FX). On the Hate Watch front, there’s Lip Synch Battle (Spike), a “singing” competition that’s done away with singing altogether. Jimmy Fallon’s next “viral innovation”: Celebrity Naptime.

Friday: Real Time With Bill Maher and Vice (HBO) for politicos and news junkies, The Soup (E!) for pop-culture catch-upists, and The Grace Helbig Show for … well, I’m not sure who this is for yet, but Helbig’s YouTube-to-TV transition is, more often than not, as funny as it is brain-implodingly awkward (E!). Also, Childrens Hospital (Adult Swim), because even you have 11 minutes to spare. Hate Watch: The Messengers (The CW), wherein impossibly pretty CW actors fret about the rapture and a desolate Friday-night timeslot.

Saturday: Orphan Black (BBC America) is one of the rare sci-fi dramas that lives up to its hype. Don’t be put off by all of the clone characters (most played fantastically by Tatiana Maslany)—if you can follow Game of Thrones, you can follow this. Same goes for the time-jumping Outlander (Starz), the lushly-produced Scot-drama that earns its nickname Fifty Shades of Plaid. For Hate Watching, My Cat From Hell (Animal Planet), because no one seems to realize that you can find a new, less-hellish kitty, oh, anywhere.

Sunday: A busy night, with Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, Veep and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO); Mad Men (AMC); Salem (WGN America); Bob’s Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Last Man on Earth (Fox); Mr. Selfridge (PBS); and now the new Happyish (Showtime) all vying for discerning eyeballs. Set aside some Hate Watch moments for A.D. The Bible Continues and American Odyssey (NBC); they’ve really earned it.

Monday: Bates Motel has cranked its simmering insanity up to full-tilt bonkers this season, while The Returned continues its supernatural slow-burn—together, they constitute the creepiest two-hour block of the week, not counting Sunday-morning news shows (A&E). Hate Watch Turn: Washington’s Spies (AMC), which is as obtuse as a tri-corner hat and somehow even duller than actual American history.

Tuesday: Catch up on your streaming—there are unseen episodes of Daredevil (Netflix) and Community (Yahoo Screen) still waiting for you. Hate Watch: Powers (PlayStation Network), the comic-book adaptation that can’t even.

Wednesday: Heard of Big Time in Hollywood, FL? It fills the sick-wrong-funny gap left by Broad City where Workaholics failed (Comedy Central). The obvious Hate Watch is CSI: Cyber (CBS), the stoopidest depiction of tech-terrorism since every “cyberpunk” movie produced in 1995. Do not, repeat, do not respond to any e-mails from your parents re: “Black Hat Hackers.”

Published in TV

House of Cards (Friday, Feb. 27, Netflix), season premiere: It’s always been crazy-good, but is House of Cards now more crazy than good? The rise to the top by now-President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) has seen him plowing through one deliciously ridiculous politico-soap-opera scandal after another, as well as a slew of unsatisfying toothless opponents. At the outset of Season 3, it seems his only equal in the Beltway is his wife, Claire (Robin Wright), who has ambitions of her own beyond simply being First Lady. House of Cards is still entertaining as hell—like The West Wing with the idealism extracted and replaced with Itchy and Scratchy bloodlust—but it’s time to dial back those Prestige Television expectations.

Sex Box (Friday, Feb. 27, WE), series debut: When cane-wagging “watchdog” groups are outraged, I’m interested—thanks for drawing my attention to Sex Box, Parents Television Council. Not that there’s much to be worked up about here: In Sex Box, couples enter an opaque, soundproof box on a stage in front of a studio audience, knock one out, then emerge to discuss their “feelings” with “celebrity” relationship experts, none of whom you’ve ever heard of. There’s more visible sex happening on network TV every night, and yet the PTC is going after what would/should have been a blip on a cable channel that few even know exists. Like everything else on WE, Sex Box is terrible, but worth your ratings point to give the finger to the PTC.

Battle Creek (Sunday, March 1, CBS), series debut: Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul’s Vince Gilligan created Battle Creek more than 10 years ago, and it’s finally made its way to broadcast TV. Dean Winters (Law and Order: SVU, Rescue Me) and Josh Duhamel (Transformers, Las Vegas) star as mismatched law-enforcement partners in the titular bankrupt Michigan city; grizzled local detective Russ Agnew (Winters) is suspicious of clean-cut FBI newcomer Milt Chamberlain (Duhamel), but is forced to work with him because he has access to shiny federal resources that the broke Battle Creek cop shop doesn’t. They proceed to butt heads and match wits on odd cases (first up: a maple syrup cartel—yes, really) so far outside the usual CBS procedural parameters that you have to wonder why Battle Creek didn’t end up on Fox. (This series is probably what Backstrom was shooting for and missed by miles.) Even with Gilligan’s Breaking Bad-isms toned down, Battle Creek is a fun ride. Get onboard before CBS figures that out.

Secrets and Lies (Sunday, March 1, ABC), series debut: This cat-and-mouse mystery pits a possibly innocent family man (Ryan Phillippe) against a determined homicide detective (Juliette Lewis) in what looks like a direct-to-Blockbuster Video potboiler from the ’90s (and even then, Secrets and Lies would be a lousy title). Phillippe and Lewis act as hard as they can against each other, but this is just midseason filler worth no DVR (or VHS) space.

The Last Man on Earth (Sunday, March 1 , Fox), series debut: It’s been a looong while since Fox made a truly weird live-action comedy, and they’re making up for lost time with The Last Man on Earth, starring ex-Saturday Night Live player Will Forte as Phil Miller, who appears to be the lone human left (at least in North America) after a virus sweeps the planet in 2020. Other than growing an impressive hipster beard and inventing mankind’s final crowning achievement, the Margarita Pool (complete with salt rim), Phil’s resigned to keeping himself entertained by playing explosive car-bowling, mocking Tom Hanks in Castaway and wallowing in loneliness in his hometown of Tucson. While the first episode is a one-man show, which Forte carries well, more characters do eventually show up to provide some “only other people make us a better person” perspective and future episode fodder—though only four have been produced so far. Which is fitting, since The Last Man on Earth plays more like a comedic indie flick than a 13-episode TV series. Try it out; it won’t be a long commitment.

Published in TV