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Marvel’s Iron Fist (Friday, March 17, Netflix), series debut: Well, this sucks. Of all the Netflix/Marvel adaptations, I was most looking forward to Iron Fist, one of my favorite comic-book titles from back in the day. Where Daredevil was a fantastic surprise and killer introduction to this Marvel microverse, and Jessica Jones and Luke Cage delved even deeper into characters and motivations, Iron Fist is just … there. “Cultural appropriation” bullshit aside, the story of rich kid Danny Rand (Finn Jones) being orphaned in the Himalayas and trained in supernatural-adjacent martial arts (which includes manifesting a literal “iron fist”) to Save This City is one that’s been reinvented successfully ad infinitum, from Batman to Arrow. Unfortunately, Iron Fist’s “deadly kung-fu action” is mostly backyard pro wrestling-level. Jones is too bland to carry the dramatic side, and the exposition-heavy writing is more like Ham Fist. Sigh. On the upside, it’s the final lead-in to The Defenders team-up—maybe this Iron Fist will work better within an ensemble. In the background. Silently.

Into the Badlands (Sunday, March 19, AMC), season premiere: Now this is how you do deadly kung-fu action. Since the first season of Into the Badlands aired way back in 2015, long before we entered our own dystopian future, I’d suggest a Netflix refresher of those six episodes, which introduced Sunny (Daniel Wu), a bullet-biking warrior who serves one of seven warlord barons who rule future eff’dup ’Merica. Sunny’s looking for a way out of the Badlands for his pregnant wife, and his super-powered protégée M.K. (Aramis Knight) knows a place away from the despotic dickheads. (Canada?) Meanwhile, warlord The Widow (Emily Beecham) has a different plan: Kill off the other six, and take it all for herself. The plot isn’t always easy to track, but Into the Badlands’ martial-arts sequences are stunning—and a fun break from The Walking Dead’s gun-crazy melodrama.

Cosplay Melee (Tuesday, March 21, Syfy), series debut: Syfy’s previous foray into costume reality, 2013’s Heroes of Cosplay, was an overly staged pile of hot garbage that made all involved look like pissy idiots—you know, a basic, successful reality show. Despite its clunky title (“What’s a ‘me-lee?’” asks the average American who can’t place apostrophes correctly or differentiate “lose” and “loose”), Cosplay Melee is at least an improvement, focusing on Face Off-style competition rather than manufactured drama. Yvette Nicole Brown hosts, but the real reason to watch is judge LeeAnna Vamp, a pro cosplayer who must be seen to be believed. Oh, and it’s pronounced “may-lay.”

Shots Fired (Wednesday, March 22, Fox), series debut: Oh look, another cop show. But this one is about race relations, and social unrest, and media bias, and everything else that broadcast TV never gets right (with the possible exception of ABC’s kinda-preachy American Crime). Shots Fired—billed as an “event series,” code for “we’ll be lucky to air 10 episodes”—centers on two murders in a small North Carolina town: a white college student and a black teen, both at the hands of police officers; much hand-wringing and “ripped-from-the-headlines” pontificating ensue. Again, American Crime does it better, but, if you’re a fan of Richard Dreyfuss’ overacting, tune right in.

Rogue (Wednesday, March 22, Audience/DirecTV), season premiere: So, what’s going with Rogue? It began as the story of undercover Oakland cop Grace (Thandie Newton) out to avenge her son’s death, but then she became an FBI agent in San Francisco and hooked up with mysterious security consultant Ethan (Cole Hauser), eventually following him to Chicago and—spoiler—winding up dead in a Dumpster so she could move to Westworld. Then, a new fed (Sarah Carter) and a new femme fatale (Ashley Greene) entered Ethan’s vaguely criminal life to carry Rogue through Season 3. Now, for the fourth and final season, we’re back in San Francisco with a pair of new cops (Meaghan Rath and Neal McDonough) on Ethan’s ass—if Greene (really, the only worthwhile part of Rogue anymore) doesn’t put him in the ground first. FYI: This paragraph is the most that’s ever been written about Rogue.

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Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys (Sunday, May 25, Animal Planet), movie: So … Animal Planet is in the original-movie game now? At least it’s not another season of (Never) Finding Bigfoot. The exhaustingly titled Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys (they’re slimy, toothy, eel-like fish—not unlike Ryan Seacrest) looks like Syfy B-flick cheese, because it’s “from the creators of Sharknado,” and stars Shannen Doherty (whom you’d expect to be here) and Christopher Lloyd (wha?). The surprises end there: Bikini babes and hapless townies get chomped via lake, swimming pool and, yes, toilet (top that, Sharknado 2), while Doherty and Lloyd (re)act and wait for the checks to clear. In case you hadn’t noticed, terrible TV movies are replacing terrible reality shows as social-media “events,” which is a step … up?

Petals on the Wind (Monday, May 26, Lifetime), movie: Speaking of trainwreck cable flicks as hashtag bait, remember January’s loony-tunes Flowers in the Attic, starring Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn? There’s a sequel! Based on the second installment of a book series The Only TV Column That Matters™ will now never, ever have to read—thanks, Lifetime—Petals on the Wind picks up a decade after the three Dollanganger kids escaped the attic. Believe it or not, years of abusive captivity and incestuous liaisons have left them not quite right, so eldest Cathy (Rose McIver) returns to Foxworth Hall to exact revenge on Grandma (Burstyn) and, specifically, Mom (Graham), by seducing her husband (Dylan Bruce, who presumably signed on to this franchise before Orphan Black became a thing). Happy Memorial Day!

The Night Shift (Tuesday, May 27, NBC), series debut: It was too much to hope that The Night Shift would be the long-long-overdue TV adaptation of the 1982 Henry Winkler/Michael Keaton comedy of the same name. Instead, it’s just another Pretty Doctors Who Barely Have Time to Bang Between Traumatic Events dramedy tossed out as summer filler until someone at NBC figures out where they misplaced those leftover episodes of The Michael J. Fox Show. Will these docs who “work hard and play harder” run afoul of their new no-nonsense boss? Will old loves/lusts be rekindled? Will anyone notice The Night Shift before it’s canceled in two weeks? Yes, yes and Chicago Fire reruns are locked and loaded.

I Wanna Marry “Harry” (Tuesdays, Fox), new series: In what I really want to believe was originally called Royally Screwed, 12 ’Merican women are flown to England to court “Prince Harry,” who’s actually just a nobody ringer. It’s been about 10 years since Fox brought us reality dating fake-outs Joe Millionaire and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, and there have been plenty of suckers born every minute since—but people believe that a British royal is going wade through the skank factory of U.S. reality TV to find love? That’s as realistic as thinking that you are all following my advice and not watching I Wanna Marry “Harry.”

Rogue (Wednesday, May 28, DirecTV), season premiere: In the 2013 debut season of DirecTV’s Audience Network original Rogue, Thandie Newton starred as a darkly eff’dup Bay Area cop on leave working undercover in a Russian drug ring to find the killer of her young son. Ten episodes and as many double-crosses, dead bodies, duplicitous sexual encounters and inexplicably nonlethal bullet wounds later, she was, naturally, promoted to the FBI. Rogue may be a ridiculous, just-go-with-it action thriller, but Newton’s (mostly) restrained performance is undeniably magnetic, deeper than the “supermodel Jack Bauer” first impressions. And yes, that is Vancouver trying to pass for San Francisco—don’t dwell.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR MAY 27!

Buttwhistle

When a college student (Trevor Morgan) saves a teen girl (Elizabeth Rice) from a suicide attempt, she turns out to be a clingy, crazy hot mess who makes his life hell. If that’s not enough, there’s also talking soap and exploding heads. (Breaking Glass)

Gambit

A remake of the 1966 film you’ve never heard of: A master thief (Colin Firth) plots to rip off a rich widower (Alan Rickman) with the help of a woman (Cameron Diaz) who resembles his late wife. Written by the Coen Brothers, no less! (Sony)

Independence Daysaster

Faceless alien invaders of indeterminate origin attack on the Fourth of July, and it’s up to the president, a firefighter and a gorgeous blonde scientist to save the day. But it’s not Independence Day; that’s a matter for the lawyers. (Anchor Bay)

Journey to the West

A young Buddhist demon hunter defeats and then reforms/recruits three demons, then embarks on said Journey to the West … or something. It’s directed by Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle), so there’s plenty of action and distractions. (Magnolia)

Run and Jump

After her husband has a debilitating stroke, a housewife (Maxine Peake) struggles to keep her family together and strikes up an unconventional relationship with a lonely neurologist (Will Forte). Neither running nor jumping are involved. (MPI)

More New DVD Releases (May 27)

24 Exposures, The Bob Newhart Show: The Compete Series, Blue Movie, Cheap Thrills, Claire, Could This Be Love, Covert Affairs: Season 4, Endless Love, Suits: Season 3, Tapped Out, Tokyo Stray Girls, The Trials of Cate McCall, Wishes.

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Sirens (Thursday, March 6, USA), series debut: The network is touting Sirens—based on a British series of the same name—as an “edgy” and “unrestrained” comedy produced by Denis Leary, now moving from New York firefighters (Rescue Me) to Chicago EMTs. “Edgy” and “unrestrained” on USA is nowhere near what Leary got away with at FX, but Sirens still has its funny/raunchy moments; it’s just closer to Brooklyn Nine-Nine than the dark, eff’d-up recesses of Rescue Me. As USA’s first half-hour original comedy since, oh, forever, Sirens is a strong play to get back in the game—and, at the very least, it’s one less Modern Family rerun on the schedule. (Seriously, USA—dial it back.)

Saint George (Thursday, March 6, FX), series debut: Why any network outside of CBS is making sitcoms with laugh tracks in 2014 is beyond The Only TV Column That Matters™. But … FX? Sure, they accommodated Charlie Sheen for his Anger Management (which tonight hits the halfway point in its 100-episode contractual death march), but the network that brought you Louie should not be stooping to using any more canned yuks. Especially not for George Lopez, who, like Sheen, is a veteran of the old sitcom model who won’t/can’t adapt to modern comedy. Saint George is another tired family ’com, albeit it one with the odd co-casting choices of David Zayas (Dexter, Oz) and Danny Trejo (everything), two actors not exactly known for bringing the funny. However, I’d watch the hell out of a Machete sitcom—get on that, FX.

Resurrection (Sunday, March 9, ABC), series debut: Did you find The Returned on Sundance too French and creepy? ABC’s far-more-’Merican Resurrection is (maybe) for you. The residents of small Missouri town Arcadia are shocked when dead loved ones from decades ago suddenly reappear, un-aged and unaware of what’s happened; an unsure mashup of warm-fuzzy weepiness, X-Files sci-fi and subtle religious undertones ensue. Resurrection may be attempting too many directions at once, but the cast (which includes Omar Epps, Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher) is strong enough to see it through the limited series’ planned eight episodes—if ABC doesn’t pull the plug or, worse, try to extend the show if it’s a hit. Learn a lesson from Under the Dome, already.

Believe (Monday, March 10, NBC), series debut: In other high-concept, You Will Feel All the Feels news, here’s Believe, from J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón (who just won an Oscar for directing Gravity). The story centers on Bo (Johnny Sequoyah—yes, Johnny Sequoyah), a 10-year-old girl with X-Men-level superpowers being pursued by evil forces (mainly, Kyle MacLachlan). But wait, there’s more: Her entourage, the True Believers, think they’ve found the one man capable of being Bo’s protector/mentor, a longhair (Jake McLaughlin) wrongfully imprisoned on death row; once they break him out, the gang travels from town to town helping folks while staying one step ahead of the bad guys. Believe is even more directionally confused than Resurrection, but, thanks to the influence of Abrams and Cuarón, it looks fantastic.

Chrisley Knows Best (Tuesday, March 11, USA), series debut: I was predisposed to hate new reality series Chrisley Knows Best from the promos alone. After seeing the pilot, I asked the True TV design team to come up with a stronger ratings bug then the red “stop” button, something that signified taking one’s television to the backyard, spraying it with gunfire, setting it ablaze, burying it, salting the earth and rounding up every dog in the zip code to urinate on the shallow grave. They were stumped, so red button it is.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR MARCH 11!

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Victors Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) spark rebellion in the Districts, so President Snow (Donald Sutherland) devises a surprise, brutal Hunger Games All Stars to shut ’em up. So, kids watch this? (Lionsgate; March 7)

Lloyd the Conqueror

A community-college slacker (Evan Williams) enlists the help of a self-defense instructor (Tegan Moss) and a retired gaming wizard (Brian Posehn) to defeat his medieval-lit professor in a LARPing showdown. So, adults watch this? (Freestyle)

Rogue: Season 1

A troubled Oakland undercover cop (Thandie Newton) reluctantly works with a crime boss (Marton Csokas) to find her son’s killer, even though she believes it was her own fault—hence, she’s troubled, but really, really good-looking. (E1)

Siberia: Season 1

When 16 Survivor-style TV contestants on are dumped in Siberia, bizarre events and bloody deaths begin to happen—finally, a reality show with a body count! Sadly, it’s not real, but Siberia is surprisingly engaging. And canceled. (Lionsgate)

Sorority Horror House

During pledge week, a Kappa (Alessandra Torresani) suspects that her head mistress (Morgan Fairchild) is behind a series of gruesome murders around campus. The perfect Halloween movie for spring break … or something? (MTI)

More New DVD Releases (March 11)

Armistice, Beyond Outrage, The Book Thief, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Contract Killers, Dark House, Easy Money: Hard to Kill, End of the World, Enemies Closer, Homefront, The Hungover Games, Inside Llewyn Davis, Out of the Furnace, Puncture Wounds, Time Warrior.

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