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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Did you miss Dryuary, the annual self-imposed month of abstaining from alcohol? Yeah, me too.

Entering the New Year sober is an admirable, if misguided, practice. February, aka Sobruary (I am still workshopping a “sober” title), is a far better month in which to eschew the booze. For one, it’s shorter; secondly, it’s not as long. Don’t try and tell me that liquor affects cognition, you no-drinkin’ squares.

In that spirit (get it?!), here are eight series that deal with the concept of sobriety; stream them in February while sucking down shaky tumblers of club soda.

Flaked (Seasons 1-2 on Netflix): In underappreciated 2016-17 Netflix series Flaked, allegedly recovering alcoholic and Venice Beach knockabout Chip (Will Arnett) chugs wine from a “kombacha” jug, lies to his AA compatriots, and sleeps with clueless women half his age—but redemption is only a Pavement song away. Bonus: Flaked was apparently filmed entirely through an exquisite sunset Instagram filter.

Mom (Seasons 1-5 on Hulu): As much as TV critics hated Flaked, they love CBS sitcom Mom—probably because of the non-sociopathic characters … so predictable. Despite its hacky laugh-tracked setting, Mom (which stars Anna Faris and Allison Janney as a formerly estranged, newly sober daughter and mother) tackles dark material, addiction and beyond, consistently hilariously. It’s also dirty as fuck.

Loudermilk (Seasons 1-2 on DirecTV Now): Sam Loudermilk (Ron Livingston) is a former alcoholic and, even worse, former rock critic who’s prone to rants against modern culture and rumpled flannel shirts. He also runs a recovery group and lives with two sketchy ex-addicts (Will Sasso and Anja Savcic). Sounds like a downer, but Loudermilk is sneakily funny and smart, with dashes of heart and High Fidelity music nerdiness.

Maron (Seasons 1-4 on Netflix): Speaking of cranky, opinionated Gen-Xers with substance-abuse pasts, here’s Maron. Marc Maron’s 2013-16 series is an exaggerated version of his daily life as a comic, podcaster and sober societal pariah—kind of a West Coast Curb Your Enthusiasm … until the dark fourth and final season, that is, when “Marc” relapses spectacularly. Still, it’s easier to watch in retrospect than Louie.

Recovery Road (Season 1 on Freeform.com and Freeform app): At this point, you may be thinking “What’s with all the olds? Aren’t there any rehab shows about teens?” Here’s one for you, Braxxton: 2016’s Recovery Road, about vodka-swigging high-schooler Maddie (Jessica Sula) being forced to do 90 days in a sober-living facility. Sula is captivating, and Recovery Road’s writing mostly transcends the usual teen-soap angst. Yep, insta-cancelled.

Shameless (Seasons 1-8 on Netflix): In its early seasons, one of the funniest aspects of America’s Greatest TV Family was their comically casual alcoholism. (They’re Irish living on the south side of Chicago; it’s sorta-science.) It catches up to a few members of the Gallagher clan later as they bottom-out and attempt to clean up, making for some heartbreaking drama between the laughs. Shameless USA blows away the UK original—fight me.

Intervention (Seasons 1-10 on Hulu; Seasons 1-19 on AETV.com and A&E app): Sure, it’s exploitative as hell—how else could Intervention last nearly 20 seasons? Families confronting loved ones about their booze and drug problems is a natural fit for reality TV, but Intervention also covers addictions to food, gambling, plastic surgery, sex, video games and even exercise. A&E has an evil knack for producing, ahem, addictive reality shows; Intervention is the best/worst of them all.

Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew (Seasons 1-6 on Amazon and iTunes): At least seven subjects of 2008-12 reality series Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew are no longer abusing alcohol or drugs—because they’re dead, so … success? While Celebrity Rehab’s collective results are a mixed bag, the show did at least provide new insights into the recovery process. On the downside, it also extended the 15 fame minutes of Shifty Shellshock and Crazy Town. For shame, Dr. Drew.

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Waaay back in September of last year, The Only TV Column That Matters™ passed judgment on all of the new series premiering on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and The CW for the 2013-2014 television season.

Though the majority of my pilot reviews were, of course, dead on, a handful of the shows drifted into disappointing territory—or, in some cases, a whiplash-inducing tailspin of suck—as the weeks wore on.

Now that we’re past the midpoint of the season, here’s where I was …

Wrong!

Sleepy Hollow (Fox): I was iffy on Sleepy Hollow in the beginning, believing it might be too “thinky” as escapism fantasy. Nope. The good-lookin’ time-traveler/good-lookin’ cop/good-lookin’ murderous torso triangle blew up into a hit and earned a second season. (It only had to sustain its crazy-ass storyline for 13 episodes instead of the usual 22, but that’s nitpicking.)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC): Since ABC didn’t allow critics to see it before the premiere, the general speculation on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was, “It’s Marvel; it’s Joss Whedon; it’ll be awesome!” So far the only “awesome” aspect of the series is the divide between fans and haters of character Skye (True TV is on Team Skye, FYI—back off), but it’s still Marvel, and it’s still Joss Whedon, so …

Super Fun Night (ABC): Good god. The rapid decline of Super Fun Night is either the result of micromanaging network notes (“Can you make them … less pathetic?”), or our too-high expectations of Rebel Wilson as a show lead after only proving herself a reliable second banana. Or both.

The Michael J. Fox Show (NBC): The Peacock wanted a bridge between the smart comedy of Parks and Recreation and the less-smart/more-watched comedy of Must-See Yesteryear; instead, they got The Michael J. Fox Show, which leans too hard into “family” comedy with a dulled edge. Playing it safe gets you nowhere—or on to CBS.

Dracula (NBC): Much sound and fury (and blood and boobs) signifying nothing. Dracula was never going beyond one season, anyway, as NBC reportedly had to tell star Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, “When you finish all 10 episodes, you can have your drugs back, mm-kay?”

Enlisted (Fox): I wrote it off as just a Stripes rip-off, but Enlisted got damned good, damned quick, balancing sharp humor, subtle sentimentality and real military issues like a boss. Too bad Fox has nowhere else to slot it but Fridays with the equally-funny/equally-doomed Raising Hope.

But, in Most Cases, I Was … Right!

The Blacklist (NBC): The best new show of the season—and it keeps getting better every week. It’s no surprise that James Spader is killing it, but co-star Megan Boone (and, yes, her wig) has consistently stepped up to match his game. Surprisingly, NBC hasn’t screwed this up. Yet.

Mom (CBS): Then: “Another disposable, canned-laughs yuck machine.” Now: “Another disposable, canned-laughs yuck machine that’s somehow still on.”

Dads (Fox): Then: “I have a suspicion that Seth MacFarlane produced this on a dare.” Now: “I know Seth MacFarlane produced this on a dare.”

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): Awarding Brooklyn Nine-Nine a couple of instant Golden Globes may have been premature, but it’s still the best new comedy that Fox—or, really, any network—has produced in years. As of February, it also gets a sweet new timeslot after New Girl. (Sorry, Mindy Project.)

The Crazy Ones (CBS): The surprise isn’t that Robin Williams’ crapfest holds on to Two and a Half Men’s lead-in audience; it’s that Two and a Half Men still has any audience. But seriously: The Crazy Ones suuucks.

Sean Saves the World (NBC): [The sound of a toilet handle jiggling.]


DVD ROUNDUP FOR FEB. 11!

The Americans: Season 1

Two deep-cover Russian spies (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) pose as a suburban married couple in 1980s Washington, D.C. But in their mission to destroy America, did they count on … falling in love? No, no they did not. Also: wigs. (20th Century Fox)

Anna Nicole

The true-ish story of Anna Nicole Smith (as played by Agnes Bruckner), the stripper-turned-supermodel who fell into a life of sex, booze, drugs, rich geezers and fame addiction before overdosing in 2007. Not sensationalized in the least. (Sony)

The Counselor

Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz star in Cormac McCarthy and Ridley Scott’s tale of Tex-Mex drug trade gone bad, with more weird hair and clothes than American Hustle. Story, not so much. (20th Century Fox)

Ender’s Game

In the future, the fate of the planet lies in the toggle mitts of “Ender” Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), the Chosen One who can defeat the alien invasion. Any resemblance to The Hunger Games is wishful thinking on Orson Scott Card’s part. (Summit/Lionsgate)

The Returned: Season 1

The creepy hit French series about people trying to come back home to a small village, only to learn that they’ve been dead for years—and, if that weren’t enough, there’s a serial killer, too, as well as a Mogwai (!) soundtrack. (Music Box)

More New DVD Releases (Feb. 11)

All is Lost, Austenland, The Best Man Holiday, Chastity Bites, Dallas: Season 2, Diana, GBF, Grace Unplugged, Haunter, I Heart U, Jewtopia, Killing Kennedy, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, The Reverend, Sherlock: Season 3, Sorority Party Massacre.

Published in TV

Dexter (Sunday, Sept. 22, Showtime), series finale: Since it has been going head-to-head with the fiery final episodes of Breaking Bad every Sunday, Dexter has become an unfortunate study in How Not to End a Series. Dexter (Michael C. Hall, obviously already checked out) could have split Miami long ago with Hannah (Yvonne Strahovski), but instead, he just had to stick around to take out the Brain Surgeon, his dullest serial-killer nemesis since, well, the last one. (Not to sound like a, blech, TV critic, but it’s been quite a vanilla streak since the Trinity Killer.) And sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) and her ridiculous season-long “journey” from lost lush to reinstated cop could have been its own telenovela, La Suerte Puta. Still, The Only TV Column That Matters™ is just as curious to see how the eighth and final season of Dexter concludes as you are. Will Dex finally be caught, executed or just sail away? Will Deb die, and Hannah live happily ever after with Dexter? Or vice-versa? Who’s li’l Harrison going to kill first? Let’s all find out together, remember the good times, and never speak of Seasons 5-8 again.

Mom, Hostages (Monday, Sept. 23. CBS), series debuts: Moneybags CBS can afford to throw crap at the wall and see what sticks, and they’re certainly taking advantage of it with Mom. A recovering-alcoholic comedy? How edgy—so what if Rude Awakening already did it 15 years ago? It’s not that Anna Faris and Allison Janney aren’t good; it’s that the Chuck Lorre sitcom hackery around them is so far from even “meh.” Same goes for Hostages, a political drama that should be at least tolerable due to the presence of Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott. Nope.

The Blacklist (Monday, Sept. 23, NBC), series debut: Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), one of the FBI’s most wanted, suddenly turns himself in and makes an offer to help them catch even bigger fish, including a previously untouchable mega-terrorist. The one condition: For no (yet) given reason, he only deals with a specific new profiler fresh out of Quantico (Megan Boone). Like her character, newcomer Boone is mostly crowded off the screen by vet Spader’s Acting!, but The Blacklist is instantly slick and engrossing. She’ll likely get a full season to up her game, as the show’s only Monday competition is ABC’s Castle (now rolling its Jazzy into Season 6) and CBS’ Hostages (again, nope).

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Tuesday, Sept. 24, ABC), series debut: Since the pilot was withheld by Marvel and ABC, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only new fall TV show I haven’t seen—and it’s also the one I’m most looking forward to … so their ploy worked, damn it.

Trophy Wife (Tuesday, Sept. 24, ABC), series debut: A single party girl (Malin Akerman) falls in love with and marries an older man (Bradley Whitford), much to the dismay/disgust of her best friend (Natalie Morales) and his ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins). With the exception of the equally smart ’n’ sassy Super Fun Night (premiering Oct. 2), Trophy Wife has the best setup, cast and writing of any new ABC comedy. It also has the worst title and time slot (after ABC’s middling new The Goldbergs and against Fox’s The Mindy Project), so expect some Cougar Town-ish indifference from viewers.

Season Premieres This Week

Friday, Sept. 20: Last Man Standing, The Neighbors, Shark Tank (ABC)

Monday, Sept. 23: Castle (ABC); How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls (CBS); The Voice (NBC)

Tuesday, Sept. 24: NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Person of Interest (CBS); Chicago Fire (NBC)

Wednesday, Sept. 25: The Middle, Modern Family, Nashville (ABC); Criminal Minds, CSI (CBS); Revolution, Law and Order: SVU (NBC).


NEW-RELEASE ROUNDUP FOR SEPT. 24!

Apartment 1303

A creepy Detroit apartment is driving tenants to commit suicide—sure, it’s the apartment, not the living-in-Detroit part. Then Mischa Barton (remember her?) shows up to investigate the death of her sister and her own career. (Phase 4)

Hannibal: Season 1

An FBI agent (Hugh Dancy) teams up with a psychiatrist (Mads Mikkelsen) to catch serial killers—and since the profiler-shrink just happens to be Dr. Hannibal Lecter, things get bloody weird from there. How’d this get on network TV? (Lionsgate)

I Spit On Your Grave 2

In the sequel to the 2010 remake of the 1978 revenge classic (follow?), a brutalized New York model (Jenna Dallender) settles the score with her attackers in the most twisted and violent ways imaginable. Don’t forget to smize! (Starz/Anchor Bay)

Iron Man 3

In the sequel to the 2010 sequel to the 2008 superhero epic (follow?), a brutalized Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) settles the score with his attacker, with an assist from Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow). Aw, cute. (Disney/Marvel)

Redemption

In yet more revenge news, a former Special Forces officer (Jason Statham) sets out to avenge the murder of his friend, but soon finds himself sucked even deeper into the London crime underworld. No, you haven’t seen this one before. (Lionsgate)

More New DVD Releases (Sept. 24)

2 Broke Girls: Season 2, American Dad: Vol. 8, Bloody Homecoming, Euro Trapped, Family Guy: Vol. 11, Fill the Void, Hawaii Five-0: Season 3, The Kings of Summer, Law & Order: SVU: Season 14, Modern Family: Season 4, The Neighbors: Season 1, South Park: Season 16, V/H/S/2.

Published in TV