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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

On this week's environmentally friendly weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World listens in as two Republicans discuss abortion laws; Jen Sorensen shares her hopes regarding Joe Biden; (Th)ink looks at a Re-Public-an transit map; Red Meat gets excited about a hot date; and Apoca Clips asks Li'l Trumpy what he thinks about the first Republican congressman to call for impeachment.

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On this week's held-in-contempt weekly Independent comics page: Apoca Clips says goodbye to that big TV show with the help of a Trump-aided fashion show; Red Meat enjoys some arts and crafts; Jen Sorensen ponders the gradual erosion of Roe v. Wade; The K Chronicles deals with package-tampering; and This Modern World shares the latest adventures of The Unbelievable Trump.

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There may be a future version of this column that covers streaming content, and only streaming content, because that’s where we’re headed. (Some of you are already there; the Cord-Cutter Cabal constantly tells me, “But I don’t have regular TV anymore! What about meee?!”) There will be no networks, only on-demand platforms where everyone watches whatever at their own pace—it could be an HBO series from three years ago, or last week’s Bachelor in Paradise, or the latest TMZ report on Bachelor in Paradise STI stats; who knows? Anyway: Party Boat (movie premiere Thursday, Aug. 24, Crackle) is an ’80s-riffic movie about a party boat, on streamer Crackle. You’ll probably check it out in 2021.

A Netflix comedy starring Kathy Bates as a marijuana shop proprietor? How could this possibly suck? Easy: It’s created and produced by the king-daddy laugh-track-hack himself, Chuck Lorre. Disjointed (series debut Friday, Aug. 25, Netflix) stars Bates as a Los Angeles “weed legend” who opens her cannabis dispensary with her recently graduated son and sundry “budtenders”; lazy, outdated hippie yuks and mellow-harshing canned laughter ensue. Disjointed is no Weeds or High Maintenance—hell, it’s not even The Big Bang Theory, Lorre’s pinnacle achievement in co-opting a richly eccentric niche of society and dumbing it down for ’Merica. Bates bailed on American Horror Story for this?

This column reviewed the first live-action take on cartoon hero The Tick back in 2001, an initial Fox failure that’s now a beloved cult item for legions of fans (unlike this column, the continued existence of which is usually met with: “You still doing that?”). For The Tick (series debut Friday, Aug. 25, Amazon Prime), creator Ben Edlund is back onboard and determined to make it stick this time, delivering a darker and slightly more serious tone—more Christopher Nolan Batman, less Adam West Batman. The shift showed in the 2016 Amazon pilot, and carries through the new series; Peter Serafinowicz is no Patrick Warburton, but this isn’t the same Tick. We’ll get over the absence of Batmanuel.

Instead of my usual bitching about the Best “Rock” Video category (Coldplay and Fall Out Boy still in … I’m out), I’ll focus on the performers at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards (Sunday, Aug. 27, MTV). Host Katy Perry will obviously have to show up and lip sync, but will Miley Cyrus make it after bailing on the Teen Choice Awards? The closest thing to a rock band performing this year is 30 Seconds to Mars, which reminds me: Have you seen the 2012 documentary Artifact, about the band’s battle with the record company? It’s 10 percent valuable music-biz lesson, and 90 percent Jared Leto in ridiculous hats and scarves, which I believe to be a performance-art piece within the doc. Watch that instead.

Right about now is when the Thronies start losing their shit. Game of Thrones (Season 7 finale Sunday, Aug. 27, HBO) is closing its penultimate chapter, so cue the handwringing: “Why is this season only seven episodes long?!” Because that’s how many they made. “Why do we have to wait a whole year for the final season?!” Because that’s how long it’ll take to make it. “But why does Game of Thrones have to end?!” Because the show runners have to get to work on their brilliant, already-so-well-received idea for a series about a Confederate United States. “But what will I watch now?! There’s literally nothing else on!” If only there were a guide, perhaps in weekly written form, recommending good TV shows. If only.

In honor of the 100th episode of Suits (Wednesday, Aug. 30, USA), this column will attempt to answer the question, “So, what the hell is Suits?” The crux of the story is that a big-deal Manhattan lawyer (Gabriel Macht) hired a young law-school dropout (Patrick J. Adams) to work in his corporate law firm/apparent modeling agency … and 99 episodes later, here we are! A whole lotta posing, hair-tossing and exclamations of, “I’ll see you in court!” happened between then and now; fortunately, USA’s White Collar ceased to be a point of series confusion years ago. (White Collar was about beautiful FBI agents and a rogue outsider—totally different.) Happy 100th, Suits!

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Friends From College (series debut Friday, July 14, Netflix), from Neighbors and Forgetting Sarah Marshall producer Nick Stoller, might have made a better movie than an eight-episode streamer. Or not: Who needs another outlet on any platform for pretty, well-off 30-somethings (the College was Harvard, and the Friends live in, of course, New York) to marinate on the hardships of adulting? Despite a killer cast (including Keegan-Michael Key, Cobie Smulders, Annie Parisse, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage and Jae Suh Park), Friends From College doesn’t make a case to give a shit about any of them—or its worst-of-the-’90s Spotify soundtrack.

Yet again, HBO has decided that TV critics don’t need to see any of the new Game of Thrones (Season 7 premiere Sunday, July 16, HBO), and that’s cool with me. Anything that annoys tubby TV critics (who, despite the rise of Peak TV, still haven’t reached the level of self-grandeur of movie critics—sad!) should be applauded. Anyway: What’s known about the penultimate season of the ultimate blood ’n’ boobs fantasy series is … well, nothing. Sure, there’s speculation on everything from the inevitability of Daenerys finally crossing paths with Jon Snow (duh) to the idea that Ned Stark is still alive (oh, shut up, nerds), but I’ll be watching Twin Peaks.

Eternal darkness has fallen, and a totalitarian regime that rules though fear and intimidation has taken command. Relax; it’s just The Strain (Season 4 premiere Sunday, July 16, FX)—what did you think I was talking about? You’re watching too much fake news. The fourth and final season of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire-apocalypse epic finds our heroes Eph (Corey Stoll), Fet (Kevin Durand) and Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) seemingly defeated by the Strigoli, who are thriving in the nuclear winter, but the war between humans and bloodsuckers isn’t over yet. Hulu Seasons 1-3; The Strain is better than any of that zombie fluff.

“The story of four tech entrepreneurs and childhood friends who, on the heels of selling their gaming company, become multi-millionaires and are forced to deal with the pitfalls that come with being an overnight success.” Is it Silicon Valley? Halt and Catch Fire? No, just British import Loaded (series debut Monday, July 17, AMC), which is neither as funny as the former nor as dramatically compelling as the latter—but it does have Mary McCormack as a deliciously nasty boss lady. (“Think of me as a sexy Darth Vader, because yesterday, you got bought out by the Empire, and behind me, there’s an emperor.”) She’s the reason to check out Loaded.

The network won’t acknowledge it, but Shooter (Season 2 premiere, Tuesday, July 18, USA), based on the 2007 Mark Wahlberg flick, is a hit with conservative Flyover America. Since the debut of its first season was delayed from summer to post-election 2016 due to, you know, actual shootings around the country, Shooter’s semi-jingoistic edge long preceded the “Should we Satanic Hollywood Liberals address whatever the hell falls between New York and California?” discussion. Politics aside, star Ryan Phillippe is far better as a Marine sniper on the lam than Wahlberg was, and Shooter’s worth a look. You can watch it with your parents instead of Fox News!

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After a fall-winter-spring blur of Too Many Shows, you’re thinking to yourself, “Summer is finally here—I can take a break from TV. Praise the Lord!”

Sorry. Your god has abandoned you: Here are 32 new and returning series you’re going to have to watch this summer, because peak TV knows no season.

In the unexpected return of Flaked (Season 2 premiere; Friday, June 2; Netflix), Chip (Will Arnett) heads back to Venice to rehab his ruined Local Hero status, if not his booze problem. Matters are even more dire for the gang on Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3 premiere; Sunday, June 4; AMC), as vigilante Build the Zombie Wall border patrollers won’t allow them to cross back over from Mexico. It could be worse; they could be struggling comedians in 1970s Hollywood—which is the setting for I’m Dying Up Here (series debut; Sunday, June 4; Showtime).

Tim Heidecker re-ups for more ultra-violent spy action in Decker: Unclassified (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, June 4; Adult Swim), while Aussie comic Jim Jefferies takes another stab at ’Merican TV with late-night talker The Jim Jefferies Show (series debut; Tuesday, June 6; Comedy Central). Latina heroine (?) Teresa (Alice Braga) continues her quest to rule the drug trade in Queen of the South (Season 2 premiere; Thursday, June 8; USA), and the ladies of Litchfield are still doing time in Orange Is the New Black (Season 5 premiere; Friday, June 9; Netflix), hackers be damned.

The ragtag crew of ridiculously good-looking intergalactic criminals remain lost in space in Dark Matter (Season 3 premiere; Friday, June 9; Syfy), and TV’s coolest demon hunter is back and gunning for souls in Wynonna Earp (Season 2 premiere; Friday, June 9; Syfy). Meanwhile, the end is near for the Clone Club in the final run of Orphan Black (Season 5 premiere; Saturday, June 10, BBC America), and even nearer for frenemies Billie and Gene in the two-weekend burn-off of Idiotsitter (Season 2 premiere; Saturday, June 10; Comedy Central).

An all-star cast chews scenery and buffs cuticles in new Florida nail-salon dramedy Claws (series debut; Sunday, June 11; TNT), and primetime goes grindhouse with Blood Drive (series debut; Wednesday, June 14, Syfy), about a cross-country death race where the cars run on—what else?—blood. The Mist (series debut; Thursday, June 22; Spike) rolls out more subtle Stephen King-y scares, and the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling finally get their ’80s-spandexed due in the Alison Brie-led docu-comedy GLOW (series debut; Friday, June 23; Netflix).

Fiddy Cent’s nightclubs ’n’ drugs drama Power (Season 4 premiere; Sunday, June 25; Starz) finds kingpin Ghost (Omari Hardwick) caught in the middle of a, yep, power struggle, while Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy finally hit the road looking for God in Preacher (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, June 25; AMC). Liza (Sutton Foster) deals with the fallout of her bestie Kelsey (Hilary Duff) learning her dark, old secret in Younger (Season 4 premiere; Wednesday, June 28; TV Land), and everybody’s favorite ragtag trio of ridiculously good-looking interplanetary bounty hunters gear up to fight the good-ish fight in Killjoys (Season 3 premiere; Friday, June 30; Syfy).

John Singleton’s Snowfall (series debut; Wednesday, July 5; FX) dramatizes the crack-cocaine epidemic of ’80s Los Angeles, while modernized period piece Will (series debut; Monday, July 10; TNT) juices the legend of a young William Shakespeare as he arrives in the, wait for it, “punk-rock theatre scene of 16th century London.” Back in the present, a pair of college eggheads break it to the White House that an asteroid is six months away from mercifully colliding with Earth in Salvation (series debut; Wednesday, July 12; CBS).

Game of Thrones … yeah, nothing more needs to be said here (Season 7 premiere; Sunday, July 16; HBO). In the final stretch of The Strain (Season 4 premiere; Sunday, July 16; FX), nuclear winter is in full effect; the Strigoi vampires have seized the planet; and our heroes are down for the count—but are they, really? Meanwhile, Ballers (Season 3 premiere; Sunday, July 23; HBO) and Insecure (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, July 23; HBO) are paired up for the most incongruent HBO hour ever, while Midnight, Texas (series debut; Monday, July 24; NBC) takes Charlaine Harris’ supernatural novels for a TV spin.

Would you believe … Sharknado 5 (movie premiere; Sunday, Aug. 6; Syfy)? Marvel’s The Defenders (series debut; Friday, Aug. 18; Netflix) finally brings together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist for a dysfunctional superhero team-up, while the 21st go-round of South Park (season 21 premiere; Wednesday, Aug. 23; Comedy Central) attempts to find the funny in Trump’s America—if he’s still in office at that point. Fortunately, Abbi and Ilana drop the long-long-long-awaited comeback of Broad City (Season 4 premiere; Wednesday, Aug. 23; Comedy Central), and the new take on The Tick (series debut; Friday, Aug. 25; Amazon Prime) may reunify the country, after all. Spoon!

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Game of Thrones (Sunday, April 24, HBO), season premiere: What comprehensive information do I have on the Season 6 premiere of Game of Thrones? None? What critical motivation do you need to watch it anyway? None. In 2015, HBO mailed out DVDs of the first four episodes of Season 5 for review. Those episodes were immediately uploaded to torrent sites by asshats who are likely members of the Television Critics Association, an elitist club of tubbies into which I—a TV reviewer with GoT discs in-hand who did not rip ’em and ship ’em to the pirate-verse—have been previously denied entry. Shortly afterward, HBO switched to difficult-to-copy, online-streaming-only advance screeners for critics to avoid another leak. This time around, HBO isn’t even allowing access to that, releasing only a plot synopsis for Season 6’s premiere, “The Red Woman”: “Jon Snow is dead. Daenerys meets a strong man. Cersei sees her daughter again.” Yeah …

Silicon Valley (Sunday, April 24, HBO), season premiere: After narrowly beating the Hooli lawsuit last season, the Pied Piper gang has fired Richard (Thomas Middleditch) as CEO, but at least offered him a lesser role as CTO (Creepy Twitchy Operator? I’m not up on corporate-speak). Erlich (T.J. Miller) and the O.G. Pied Piper team are questioning their loyalty to the company and, even worse (or better, depending on which side of the creative/business line you reside), their new heavy-hitter CEO (Stephen Tobolowsky) is bent on transforming their ramshackle startup into a slick enterprise, whether they like it out not (mostly not). Winter is coming hard in Season 3 of Silicon Valley—but, fortunately, Miller’s Erlich is as unreal, and kamikaze-hilarious, as ever (and, thanks to Deadpool, more than just an underground delight). Unlike Pied Piper, Silicon Valley deserves more mainstream love, as does …

Veep (Sunday, April 24, HBO), season premiere: We’re entering Season 5 of Veep, and there are still those who think the last thing Julia Louis-Dreyfus did was Seinfeld, or at least The New Adventures of Old Christine with that Coulson guy from S.H.I.E.L.D. While Veep isn’t the new Seinfeld—that would be It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a far superior comedy to Seinfeld (I said it; you read it)—it is a hysterically accurate portrayal of vein-blowing frustration with the idiocy of daily life in, and out of, Washington D.C., with more F-bombs and slashing insults than HBO as seen since the days of Deadwood. More so than House of Cards, this is the fantasy election cycle—in which former Vice President Selena Meyer (Dreyfus) is desperately clinging to the presidency that was handed to her—that’s even more entertaining than our current real political sitcom.

TURN: Washington’s Spies (Monday, April 25, AMC), season premiere: Things may finally be getting at least somewhat interesting here. First season … I didn’t care about a Revolutionary War espionage drama. Second season … to avoid being confused with a NASCAR reality show, the title was upgraded from TURN to TURN: Washington’s Spies, and Ksenia Solo (Lost Girl, Orphan Black) was added to the cast—that got me to at least take a look. Now, Season 3 is set to blow up with not only the long-teased defection of Benedict Arnold, but also the arrival of George Washington’s right-hand man, Alexander Hamilton (yes, he of that Broadway musical). History nerds are positively turgid.

Mike and Molly (Monday, April 25, CBS), spring premiere/final episodes: Six years ago, I wrote an investigative piece about a plausible Mike and Molly conspiracy theory: It’s really a leftover UPN sitcom from 1998, recycled and repackaged for 2000s CBS. The facts: UPN and CBS were/are owned by the same corporation; the laugh track is cranked to tellingly ’90s levels; Mike and Molly, despite featuring several talented comic actors, is painfully unfunny—just like every comedy ever produced by UPN (with the exception of the criminally underrated Shasta McNasty). Maybe the theory is true, maybe not, but Mike and Molly still sucks. But! Not as hard as most sitcoms CBS has introduced since 2010—most notably The Odd Couple, Angel From Hell and, sweet Jesus, Rush Hour. So, with the last seven M&M episodes upon us, this column offers a heartfelt-ish Sorry Not Sorry.

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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.”

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The Comedians (Thursday, April 9, FX), series debut: “Comedy is like heart surgery—it gets botched all the time,” says Josh Gad (as Josh Gad) in the pilot episode of The Comedians. “But, if you keep it loose and don’t overthink it … you can fix people’s hearts.” Gad is the other half of The Billy and Josh Show, a fictional FX variety series that was forced upon Billy Crystal (as Billy Crystal) after his one-man-show version was soundly rejected by test audiences, and The Comedians is the fictional behind-the-scenes doc—follow? Even funnier than the idea that FX would buy a dated trainwreck like Billy and Josh are Crystal and Gad’s clashing heightened-character comedic styles: Crystal plays “Billy,” old-school and only mildly self-absorbed, whereas Gad goes all-in to make “Josh” a delusional man-child idiot (a role he’s played before, but takes to a whole new, creepy level here). The Comedians may not fix hearts, but it could fix Crystal’s comedy cred after years of lazy hackery. (Take note, Steve Martin.)

Louie (Thursday, April 9, FX), season premiere: After last season’s hard departure into the artsy (read: not always necessarily funny), Louie returns to more familiar comic waters with Season 5 opener “Potluck,” which re-establishes that no one can weave a wildly random series of situations into a satisfying storyline quite like Louis C.K.—with a tasty fried-chicken tutorial, no less. And yes, the “Brother Louie” theme song and opening montage are back.

Game of Thrones (Sunday, April 12, HBO), season premiere: Finally, GoT truthers (“I refuse to watch anything until Game of Thrones returns!”) have something to live for once again. You know, there are other worthwhile series on TV—I write about ‘em here every week, but I digress: With the none-too-dignified escape of Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) complete, Varys (Conleth Hill) provides him with a new mission beyond drinking himself to death in hiding. (“Can I drink myself to death on the road?” he asks.) Meanwhile, Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) rule in Meereen is being undermined—and don’t even ask about the dragons. Among the questions not answered in Game of Thrones’ Season 5 premiere: Which will crash first under massive demand, HBO Go or HBO Now?

Silicon Valley (Sunday, April 12, HBO), season premiere: Speaking of “datageddon” (my new favorite tech-nonsense term, courtesy of “Hooli” CEO Gavin Belson), every venture-capitalist company in Silicon Valley is now courting Richard (Thomas Middleditch), Erlich (T.J. Miller) and their startup Pied Piper, while thinly veiled Google stand-in Hooli is plotting to crush them before they can even begin. As he did with corporate culture in Office Space, Silicon Valley creator Mike Judge has painted a hilariously real picture of code monkeys as ill-equipped superstars, full of overly lavish (and overly awkward) parties and gone-in-a-nanosecond tech victories. The stakes are even higher in Season 2—or at least the jargon is deeper.

Veep (Sunday, April 12, HBO), season premiere: If you thought the country was screwed with House of Cards’ Frank Underwood as the commander in chief, wait until you get a load of Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her SuperCut ascending-by-default to the office of president: She and her staff discover something they’re even more inept at than managing the vice presidency. This leads to glorious excesses of profanity, trash-talking (Veep staples) and a scriptless Selina faking her way through her first speech as president. (“I detest jazz, but this is impressive,” quips her strategist, played by the indispensible Gary Cole.) Now it’s up to this motley crew to get Selina elected for real; she’ll be campaigning and “building a roadmap to peace” simultaneously … all of which will probably end in more frightening political truth than House of Cards, if not C-SPAN.

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True Detective (HBO): Creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto probably screwed himself by launching this mesmerizing crime anthology with stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson at the top of their respective games. Good luck following up these eight near-perfect episodes.

Banshee (Cinemax): This left-field, visceral mashup of Justified, Twin Peaks and Fight Club went pulp-gonzo harder in Season 2, expanding the world of Banshee, Penn., just enough to introduce even more Amish mobster/Ukrainian thug mayhem. It’s that weird, and that cool.

Shameless (Showtime): Things somehow got worse as they got better for the Gallagher clan in Season 4, with William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum delivering alternately heartbreaking and hilarious performances. This is America’s family.

Justified (FX): Star Timothy Olyphant put his boot down and rescued Justified from becoming entirely the show of Boyd (Walton Goggins) in its fifth and penultimate season, and brought some new colorful characters along for the ride.

Broad City (Comedy Central): Few comedies arrive as fully-realized as Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City (though it did have a head-start as a Web series); their broke Brooklynites are the female flipside of Workaholics, only smarter, funnier and occasionally grosser.

Helix (Syfy): This Arctic Andromeda Strain/Walking Dead hybrid from Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) crept up with no big splash, but it did earn a second season for 2015—catch up on Netflix now.

The Americans (FX): Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys continued to out-spy Homeland while still stuck in Cold War 1981, facing down more danger (and wigs) than Carrie and Brody could ever imagine.

Archer (FX): Meanwhile, Archer (code-named Archer Vice) blew up its spy premise and dove face-first into cocaine and country music. Literally.

House of Cards (Netflix): Vice president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) delivered a shocking twist in the first episode of Season 2, and the train didn’t stop a-rollin’ from there. As with actual D.C. politics, it’s best not to think too hard about the machinations en route to the presidency

Fargo (FX): Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton), Lester (Martin Freeman) and Deputy Molly (Allison Tolman) shut down the “You can’t touch that movie” doubters from frame one with this dark, funny adaptation that faltered fewer times than True Detective. Oh, you bet’cha.

From Dusk Till Dawn (El Rey): Another film-to-TV transition that defied the haters, From Dusk Till Dawn expanded the 1996 cult classic into an even crazier, racier 10-episode ride where the definition of “the good guys” is subjective.

Game of Thrones (HBO): Like anyone’s going to make a list without Game of Thrones. Get real.

Silicon Valley (HBO): Mike Judge finally, if not intentionally, created the sequel to Office Space with Silicon Valley, a hysterically profane (and tech-jargoned, at least at first) saga about programmers in waaay over their heads. If only Halt and Catch Fire had been half this much fun.

Veep (HBO): Speaking of profane: VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her team continued to fail upward in Season 3, from WTF? to the brink of POTUS. Pray for your country.

Bates Motel (A&E): Murder, drugs, love triangles, commercial zoning disputes—Bates Motel has it all! Norman (Freddie Highmore) became as intriguing as mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) in Season 2, no small feat, as did some of the supporting players. Why wait for Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival? It’s already here.

Mad Men (AMC): Splitting the final season in half was a lousy idea (the Mad Men buzz is pretty much nil at this point), but those first seven episodes provided a course-correcting jolt that should make for a hell of a 2015 finale, whenever that happens (hopefully, not in the ’70s).

Orphan Black (BBC America): See Game of Thrones.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO): Sure, it’s a Daily Show knock-off with F-bombs—but those rants! Corporations, media, condiments—suck it! Everything the overblown Newsroom attempted over three seasons, Oliver nailed in 30 minutes.

Legit (FXX): Poor Jim Jefferies. His Louie-like Legit finally got good by the end of its first season, then FX exiled it to the untested FXX for Season 2: no promotion, no viewers, just yelling into a vast, empty room. See what you missed on Netflix (along with Jeffries’ stand-up specials).

Playing House (USA): Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham as almost-uncomfortably close BFFs failed on network TV, but found a niche on cable with Playing House, which could be the first series ever to make pregnancy play funny and inclusive.

Parks and Recreation (NBC): While as excellent as ever, Season 6 probably should have been the last (maybe even halfway through), but at least we’ll get a proper sendoff for NBC’s last great Must-See comedy in 2015.

Rick and Morty (Adult Swim): Few “get” Community, but Dan Harmon’s other TV project, the animated, and simultaneously brainy and crude Rick and Morty—imagine Back to the Future with more universes, booze and malicious aliens—clicked immediately on Adult Swim.

Louie (FX): Louis C.K. made us wait two years for a new season, then delivered 14 arty-if-not-always-funny installments of Louie, which were rightfully hailed as “brave,” “experimental” and “mostly free of black T-shirts.”

Maron (IFC): Marc Maron didn’t stray too far from the formula of his debut season in his second go-round—regarding how difficult it is to be Marc Maron, specifically, and a middle-aged white dude with a podcast in general. Still brilliant.

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix): Season 2 leaned more dramatic than comedic, and pulled killer performances from everyone in (and out) of Litchfield Penitentiary. Creator Jenji Kohan is well on her way to achieving the heretofore-thought impossible: Topping her previous series, Weeds.

The Leftovers (HBO): Life sucks when you’re not Raptured, and The Leftovers was the ultimate summer-bummer wallow, not to mention the vehicle that finally made Justin Theroux matter.

Rectify (Sundance): And while we’re on the topic of dramas filmed in Depress-o-Vision … damn.

Longmire (A&E): In its third season, Longmire fully broke away from its Justified Out West trappings and became a gripping, dusty crime drama in its own right. A&E rewarded this creative triumph—and high ratings—with a cancellation notice in order to make way for more Duck Dynasty. Fortunately, Netflix came to the rescue, and Season 4 will be streaming by late 2015. I’m beginning to understand you cable-cutters …

Coming next week: Part 2—even more shows!

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Game of Thrones (Sunday, June 15, HBO), season finale: Not only has this been the most rape-y and head-popping season of Game of Thrones yet; it’s also the most-watched: Season 4 has averaged 18.4 million viewers, beating out The Sopranos as HBO’s highest-rated series. (Just imagine the numbers if HBO Go actually worked.) So now HBO has even less incentive to send preview screeners out to TV critics—all I’ve received is this synopsis of the season finale, “The Children”: “An unexpected arrival north of the Wall changes circumstances; Dany (Emilia Clarke) is forced to face harsh realities; Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) learns more of his destiny; Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) sees the truth of his situation.” Wild speculations: Wreck-It Ralph; split ends; an Animal Planet reality series; he’s screwed.

Louie (Monday, June 16, FX), season finale: It’s over already, and while not every episode of the year-delayed fourth season of Louie has been “funny,” “cohesive” or, in some cases, “watchable,” at least Louis C.K. took a chance or 14 and created some of the weirdest television of the year—here’s hoping FX doesn’t reward him with a new timeslot in Comedy Purgatory (aka FXX). Overlooked in all of the critical analysis, C.K. also deserves credit for letting this season’s guest stars (especially Sarah Baker, Todd Barry, Yvonne Strahovski, Ellen Burstyn, Ezter Balint, Charles Grodin and, closing it out tonight, Pamela Adlon) outshine him. Hell, he even dragged a decent performance out of Jerry Seinfeld, something no one’s seen in years.

I Love the 2000s (Tuesday, June 17, VH1), series debut: About as necessary as VH1 itself in 2014, the I Love series was at least mildly entertaining when it was looking way-way back (although I fail to see anything snark-worthy about the ’90s—I’ll take Zima and grunge over Bud Light Lime and pansy-ass coalminer pop any day). But the idea of talking-head comedians riffing on 2000-2009 sounds as enticing as a second look at Paris Hilton’s sex tape, which holds up only slightly better than Napoleon Dynamite … damn it, now I’m doing it …

Rizzoli and Isles, Perception (Tuesday, June 17, TNT), season premieres: It’s not the best series about female buddyhood—that would be USA’s Playing House, which you should be watching, and then re-watching, much harder—but TNT’s resilient Rizzoli and Isles is the only current cop drama that gets the dynamic right without being preachy about it. As Season 5 opens, Boston homicide detective Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) is pregnant; medical examiner Isles’ (Sasha Alexander) relationship with Rizzoli’s brother is heating up; and you’re still probably not going to believe that R&I is one of the highest-rated cable series of all-time—just ask your mom, or HBO. Even harder to swallow: Perception is still a thing.

Fargo (Tuesday, June 17, FX), season finale: That full-year time-jump freaked everyone out a few weeks ago, but there should be no doubt that Deputy Molly (secret-show-lead-all-along Allison Tolman) is finally going to get her man. Or there should be plenty of doubt: Fargo has been nothing if not unpredictable; perhaps a tidy conclusion like that of fellow anthology series True Detective (which, it’s odd/funny to note, only had a fraction of Fargo’s body count) isn’t in the cards. Malvo/Dr. Michaelson (Billy Bob Thornton, who’s been fantastically evil) may well take out Salesman of the Year/wife-killer Lester (Martin Freeman) before Molly hauls him in, but The Only TV Column That Matters™ gave up making plot predictions the second Lester eyed that hammer in Episode 1.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR JUNE 17!

Authors Anonymous

A group of unpublished writers welcome in a newbie (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting), who then becomes a best-selling overnight success. Will they let jealousy destroy them? They’re writers—of course they’ll let jealousy destroy them. (Screen Media)

Four of Hearts

A couple looking to spice things up has a four-way with uninhibited friends, and everything’s just fine. Kidding! The relationships turn weird and uncomfortable, further proving that porn is preferable to romantic drama. (Image)

The Lego Movie

An average Lego dude (the voice of Chris Pratt) is mistakenly drafted into an epic quest to bring down an evil bastard (Will Arnett). Likewise, an average writer dude is drafted into a quest against unwarranted all-caps. (It’s Lego, not LEGO!) (Warner Bros.)

No Clue

A mysterious woman (Amy Smart) hires a detective (Brett Butt—yes, really) to find her missing brother. Thing is, he’s actually just an adman who works across the hall from the real detective. He takes the case; nothing as funny as “Brett Butt” ensues. (eOne)

Walk of Shame

After a one-night stand, a TV news reporter (Elizabeth Banks) is stranded in downtown L.A. without a phone or ID—will she make it back to the station in time for her big anchor break? It’s After Hours in a ridiculously tight dress. (FilmDistrict)

More New DVD Releases (June 17)

Assumed Killer, Blood Soaked, Dark Souls, A Fighting Man, The Grand Budapest Hotel, House of Cards: Season 2, Joe, Joy Ride 3: Roadkill, Judex, Meth Head, Regular Show: Season 3, Teen Wolf: Season 3 Pt. 2.

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