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09 Apr 2014

True TV: The Beginning of the End of 'Mad Men'; 'Fargo' Restarts the Wood Chipper

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Mad Men is about to embark on its final season (which will be spread out over two years, of course). Mad Men is about to embark on its final season (which will be spread out over two years, of course).

Mad Men (Sunday, April 13, AMC), season premiere: The seventh and final season of Mad Men, the series that made AMC legit years before the money-printing machine of The Walking Dead fired up, will split 14 episodes over this spring and next, because why not? You put up with it for Breaking Bad, so AMC assumes you’ll do the same for ad man Don Draper. The network has requested the omission of certain plot points in reviews; The Only TV Column That Matters™ requested review materials in a timely manner, and we all failed. Season 7 opens in January 1969, two months after last season left off, and the series’ long-dreaded pre-’70s fashion catastrophes are in full effect (the horror, the horror). Don (Jon Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) are now in California, as is Pete (Vincent Kartheiser), while Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) is still in New York, banging her head against the glass ceiling of SC&P (now minus the Draper “D”). The stacked-deep storylines of “Time Zones” suggest no obvious conclusion for which Mad Men is headed, other than the trip being more important than the destination. God, that is sooo California.

Nurse Jackie, Californication (Sunday, April 13, Showtime), season premieres: Edie Falco’s Nurse Jackie has now run as long as her previous series, The Sopranos—six seasons, with a seventh already announced—and we still don’t know if it’s a comedy or a drama. Californication, on the other hand, has always been squarely about the funny with a small side of serious, and Season 7 (the last—they mean it this time) brings it back to Santa Monica Cop, the film Hank (David Duchovny) wrote for hip-hop superstar Samurai Apocalypse. He’s hired by a TV showrunner (another Sopranos alum, Michael Imperioli) to turn it into a series—and after books, music, movies and theater, how can Hank possibly blow a television gig? Obviously, he finds a way. (Other) critics be damned—I still love Hank and Californication, and it’ll suck to see ’em go after 11 more episodes. Here’s hoping for some final appearances from Lew Ashby (Callum Keith Rennie) and Eddie Nero (Rob Lowe).

Rocky Mountain Bounty Hunters (Sunday, April 13, Animal Planet), series debut: Why is this new reality series about human rednecks on Animal Planet? Because “when fugitives disappear into the immense wilderness inhabited by predators like black bears and mountain lions, it takes a special type of hunter to bring these fugitives to justice.” And one of the bounty hunters’ nickname is “Animal.” That’s it. Thus concludes today’s lesson in Why All Cable Channels Will Soon Be the Same Cable Channel.

Fargo (Tuesday, April 15, FX), series debut: This show offers the same setting and tone as the 1996 movie, but a different story and characters. And what characters they are: Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton), a manipulative drifter who has his own definitions of “law,” “order” and “fun”; a put-upon insurance-salesman schlub (Martin Freeman) whom Lorne introduces to the Dark Side; a recently-widowed ex-Vegas stripper (Kate Walsh) who’s just now realizing what a terrible idea it was to move to Minnesota; local cops of varying intelligence (Bob Odenkirk and Colin Hanks); hitmen Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench (Adam Goldberg and Russell Harvard); a local supermarket magnate (Oliver Platt) with a secret; a dim personal trainer with crime in mind (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Glenn Howerton) and more—yes, more. At 10 initial episodes, FX’s Fargo will tell a more expansive story, but the overly accented, near-cartoon acting and clever cinematography and dialogue are pure, old-school Coen brothers (who are onboard with this TV adaptation as executive producers). In other words, it’s okey-dokey.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR APRIL 15!

Better Living Through Chemistry

A dull pharmacist (Sam Rockwell) is drawn into an affair of meds, martinis and sex with a sultry prescription addict (Olivia Wilde)—until the Drug Enforcement Administration comes around. If you buy Rockwell and Wilde as bored suburbanites, you’ll buy this. (Universal)

Date and Switch

High school buds Michael and Matty (Nicholas Braun and Hunter Cope) make a pact to lose their virginities by prom night—then Matty announces he’s gay. If you buy these two (and Dakota Johnson) as teens, you’ll buy this. (Lionsgate)

Flowers in the Attic

A flighty widow (Heather Graham) leaves her children (including Kiernan Shipka) with her crazy mother (Ellen Burstyn), who abuses them and locks them in her attic for years. Based on the “gothic teen incest classic” (!) of the same name. (A&E)

Ride Along

A police academy newbie/Chris Tucker impersonator (Kevin Hart) goes on a ride-along with his girlfriend’s veteran cop brother (Ice Cube) to prove his worth, and all the crazy shit you’d expect happens over the next 24 hours. (Universal)

Trap for Cinderella

After awakening from an accident with amnesia, a woman (Tuppence Middleton) tries to piece her life back together with the help of a childhood friend (Alexandra Roach); deception and psycho-sexual lesbian obsession ensue. Of course it’s French. (MPI)

More New DVD Releases (April 15)

Anger Management: Vol. 3, Camp Dread, Confine, Copperhead, Death Do Us Part, The Formula, Great Expectations, Interior. Leather Bar., Legend of the Red Reaper, Mobius, Not Safe for Work, The Nut Job, Philomena, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

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