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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Riverdale (Thursday, Jan. 26, The CW), series debut: It’s exactly what you think it is—Archie Comics given a dark ’n’ broody CW-teens makeover, like Twin Peaks meets Gossip Girl. Riverdale is also far better than most are going to be willing to give it credit for: It’s sharply written (though the first ep is exposition-heavy, because kids today) and winkingly self-aware murder noir dressed up in muted-classic Archie couture that firmly states, “Yeah, we’re actually doing this—and we’re going hard.” The gang’s all here, including a ripped-but-sensitive Archie (K.J. Apa), a mysterious Jughead (Cole Sprouse), a jittery Betty (Lili Reinhart), a seductive Veronica (Camila Mendes) and an ambitious Pussycats-fronting Josie (Ashleigh Murray), and they all arrive as surprisingly fleshed-out characters. Riverdale will be the first TV obsession of 2017—count on it.

iBoy (Friday, Jan. 27, Netflix), movie: Because AndroidBoy didn’t quite have the same ring to it, here’s iBoy: British teen Tom (Bill Milner) gets a Limitless-ish upgrade when an intended kill-shot from a gangster explodes his iPhone into his brain, essentially turning him into a human Internet hotspot. Instead of using his new powers to dominate trivia night at the local pub, Tom becomes a Kick-Ass-style vigilante bent on taking down the baddies who shot him and assaulted his friend, Lucy (Maisie Williams). Whereas Black Mirror would have twisted this into a bummer treatise on connected tech, iBoy cranks the tension and action to 11, never pausing to consider the deadly ramifications of future OS updates. It’s dumb fun; just go with it.

To Tell the Truth (Sundays, ABC), new season: Yes, ABC has had a rough season, launching only one semi-hit (Designated Survivor, aka Not the Mike Pence Story as Far as We Dare Hope) while canceling a pair of dogs (Conviction and Notorious—’member those?). But are schedule-fillers like Match Game and To Tell the Truth really the answer? Revivals of decades-dead game shows that were pure cheese even in their day? If so, I demand a reboot of the greatest game show of all time, 1974-1975 landmark The Money Maze, wherein couples would race like rats through a shoddily constructed maze to push a cash-prize button at the end. Throw in celebrity couples (Kanye and Kim! Barack and Joe!) and a new host (Mitt Romney!), and make this happen, ABC!

The Bachelor (Mondays, ABC), new season: As with the previous, what? 48? seasons of The Bachelor, this column chose to ignore the Hot Tub STD Machine’s latest premiere. BUT! Along came Corrine, the most glorious trainwreck ever to (dis)grace the mansion. A blonde time-bomb of sex, audacity, insecurity and sheer crazy who makes for great TV, Corrine stands out in this season’s bland, interchangeable pack of women by seemingly channeling Haley, the oft-naked suitress of the classic Bachelor parody Burning Love (Hulu it). Bachelor Nick, a master of understatement if not styling gel, simply calls her “fun,” despite their every meeting being like an all-expenses-paid excursion to a strip club VIP room. Sure, The Bachelor is still a terrible, terrible, terrible show with zero societal value … but, as performance art, I’m currently all in for #MCGA (Make Corrine Great Again).

The 100 (Wednesday, Feb. 1, The CW), season premiere: The 100, now entering its fourth (!) season, is a future-set sci-fi series about 100 pretty juvenile space delinquents exiled to Earth, since rendered “uninhabitable” by a nuclear apocalypse (likely triggered by a 3 a.m. tweet), to survive and figure who to hook up with before one or the other gets killed (which happens often; they’re currently The 44). After three seasons of fighting off Grounders (meanies left behind on the planet back in the day), Mountain Men (ditto), a mind-controlling artificial intelligence (huh?) and split ends (everybody’s hair still looks fantastic), now the kids have to deal with residual planetary radiation. (There goes the hair.) As dystopian soap operas go, The 100 is smarter and more complex than most—check it out before it’s too late.

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The Grim Sleeper (Saturday, March 15, Lifetime), movie: Believe it or not, The Only TV Column That Matters™ is developing a real affinity for Lifetime movies—better hurry up with Sharknado 2, Syfy. In the nicely titled The Grim Sleeper, a far-too-good-looking L.A. Weekly reporter (Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23’s Dreama Walker, unbelievably pretty even by Los Angeles journalism standards) investigates a string of unsolved murders with a 14-year gap and learns that the cops have kept a serial-killer spree quiet—it’s True Detective without all of the thinky exposition and bad hair. The Grim Sleeper is based on a true story, wherein the recently apprehended suspect hasn’t even gone to trial yet. Oh, Lifetime!

Crisis (Sunday, March 16, NBC), series debut: The kids of Washington, D.C.’s elite politicos, CEOs, diplomats and even the president have been kidnapped by a mysterious mastermind bent on causing chaos on ’Merican soil, and it’s up to a Secret Service newbie (Lance Gross, House of Payne) and an FBI agent (Rachel Taylor, 666 Park Avenue) to get them back—well, not just those two, but you get he idea. Crisis is faster-paced, more tense and about 70 percent less ridiculous than CBS’ similarly themed Hostages, with better dramatic support in the form of Gillian Anderson (who exhibits only slightly more facial movement here than she does on Hannibal) and the anti-Dylan McDermott, Dermot Mulroney (playing a character named Thomas Gibson, which is the real name of the star of Criminal Minds—What! Is! Happening?!). The show has a killer pilot, but can Crisis sustain this intensity over 12 more episodes? And what happens if there’s a Season 2? “Dear Washington, I have your pets …”

Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe (Tuesday, March 18, ABC), special: So what if it’s an infomercial for Marvel/Disney’s upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? It’s an hour of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers: Age of Ultron! And, yeah, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe goes behind the scenes of films going back to 2008’s Iron Man (No Ghost Rider? Damn it!) and tries to explain the myriad connections of the Avengers. Like the geeks don’t already know, and like casual fans of bright colors and ’splodey stuff care. Excelsior!

Doll and Em (Wednesday, March 19, HBO), series debut: If your Emily Mortimer tolerance is maxed out by the end of any given episode of The Newsroom … not saying that’s me; just putting it out there … Doll and Em, a semi-improvised docu-style comedy starring her and Dolly Wells (Bridget Jones’s Diary) maybe isn’t for me … I mean, you. Mortimer plays Em, a British actress working in Hollywood who hires her just-dumped, heartbroken best friend Doll (Wells) as her personal assistant, resulting in far less of a par-tay situation than Entourage. Em’s “old”! Doll’s a “paid friend”! Cry, hug, scene. Doll and Em has its moments, but the female-buds comedy bar has already been set by Broad City—sorry, ladies.

The 100 (Wednesday, March 19, The CW), series debut: In the future, 100 pretty space kids are exiled to long-abandoned Earth to survive, maintain perfect hair and have pensive, dewy-eyed moments. Sure, I can’t tell any CW series that isn’t Arrow or Supernatural apart from another, but I’m also not in the target demographic—these shows are for, whaddya call ’em? Tweens? Millennials? Spores? Anyway, they’ll probably enjoy The 100 just as much as they do The Vampire Diaries of the Star-Crossed Tomorrow People or Reign of the Beauty and the Beast Originals in the Hart of Dixie.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR MARCH 18!

American Hustle

A con man (Christian Bale) and his faux-British partner (Amy Adams) work with an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) to bring down a corrupt politician (Jeremy Renner) while Jennifer Lawrence chews scenery. Winner of 10 Wiggy Awards. (Sony)

Cybergeddon

A Fed (Missy Peregrym) and a hacker (Kick Gurry) race to stop a cyberterrorist (Oliver Martinez) from wreaking havoc IRL. No, this is not a movie from 1999, but a recent Yahoo! Web series—with the tagline “There is no ESC.” Ha! (Arc)

Frozen

Anna (the voice of Kristen Bell) sets off to stop her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), who’s trapped the kingdom in eternal winter and, even worse, won’t stop singing that damned song. Contrary to reports, Frozen will not turn your kids gay (wink, wink). (Disney)

Return to Nuke ’Em High Vol. 1

Two lesbian bloggers (!) must fight a mutated glee club and the Tromorganic Foodstuffs Conglomerate to save Tromaville High School (not Nuke ’Em High? WTF?) and the world from Lloyd Kaufman. Most troubling, this is just Vol. 1! (Anchor Bay)

Surf Party

A chill bro (Khan Chittenden) is looking forward to a summer partying at the beach in 1980s So Cal—until his surfboard is stolen! Bummer! Can he and his stoner buds get it back and save summer? And what the hell is Joan Jett doing here? (Green Apple)

More New DVD Releases (March 18)

20ft Below, American Virgins, Atlantis: Season 1, Battle of the Undead, Contracted, Devious Maids: Season 1, Here Comes the Devil, Kill Your Darlings, Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz, Reasonable Doubt, Saving Mr. Banks, Sparks, Swerve, Tentacle 8.

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