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Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Friday, April 14, Netflix), season premiere: While MST3K O.G.s Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett continue their movie-mockery biz at a staggering pace with RiffTrax, Mystery Science Theater 3000 proper is still missed. Netflix, proving that not all pop-cultural reboots are heinous abominations, picked up the 1988-1999 series after creator Joel Hodgson sparked a revival firestorm via Kickstarter. Hodgson has also recast the show, with comedian Jonah Ray as the new astro-host on the Satellite of Love, as well as new ’bot voices (Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn as Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo, respectively), and Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt as MST3K’s new “Mads.” Exactly which cinematic disasterpieces the crew will be viewing and skewering in these 14 fresh episodes are currently unknown, but who cares? New MST3K!

Doctor Who (Saturday, April 15, BBC America), season premiere: After Series 10—that’s U.K. for Season 10—latest Doctor Peter Capaldi is outta here. For his final go-round of 12 episodes, Capaldi will joined by a new companion, Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie). Nardole (Matt Lucas) and Missy (Michelle Gomez) are still around, as are those steel salt shakers of evil, the Daleks. With Capaldi set to exit Doctor Who after the 2017 Christmas episode, the question of, “Who’s going to be the next Doctor?” has pointed up a whole lotta British actors you’ve never heard of, but also a few intriguing U.S.-known quantities: Former Agent Carter Haley Atwell, Supergirl’s David Harewood and The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade. After 50+ years of white guys in the lead, could we finally get a female or black Doctor? Nah; it’ll probably be a ginger.

The Leftovers (Sunday, April 16, HBO), season premiere: Now that Rectify is done, The Leftovers could claim the Most Depressing Show on TV crown—or at least battle it out with Mama June: From Not to Hot. While the existential drama—about those left behind after a seeming Rapture took 140 million from the planet, if you recall—did lighten up in Season 2, there’s still plenty to ennui on about in this third and final run: The seventh anniversary of the event is looming; the pesky Guilty Remnant cult has invaded the new Miracle, Texas, hometown of Kevin (Justin Theroux); Kevin Sr. (Scott Glenn) is searching for an apocalypse-stopper in Australia; and creator/producer Damon Lindelof has asked the “Critical Community” to not spoil anything else. Fine. Except for this: Australia does not exist. (Look it up!)

Veep (Sunday, April 16, HBO), season premiere: In these stoopid political times, the phrase, “Now, more than ever,” gets tossed around frequently in regards to art-imitates-life shows like House of Cards, The Man in the High Castle—hell, maybe even The Last Man on Earth (which was the first series to “kill off” the Trump administration, after all). But it’s modern comedy treasure Veep that will carry the burden of detracting from real politics, and Season 6 continues to go gloriously blue while largely ignoring the New Orange Order. Ex-president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) may be out to heal the world in public, but she’s out for private, personal vengeance against old pains-in-the-ass like now-Congressman Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons): “I want to let you know that I will destroy you in ways that are so creative, they’ll honor me for it at the Kennedy Center.” Now, more than ever.

Fargo (Wednesday, April 19, FX), season premiere: It’s been a while—16 months since the end of Season 2, give or take—but Fargo has earned its Game of Thrones-esque lag time. Season 3 is set in 2010, and concerns the soon-to-be criminal misadventures of “The Parking Lot King of Minnesota,” Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor); his bridge-loving parolee girlfriend, Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead); and Ray’s loser brother, Emmit (also MacGregor). On opposite lawful sides of this trio of hilarious clothes and hair are this season’s Endearing Cop, Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon), and Greasy Villain, V.M. Vargas (David Thewlis). It’s another taut tale of small-town good vs. evil vs. dim, and since Fargo is an anthology with no obligation to keep characters around for next season, anyone could meet their bloody end at any time. Yes, even Gloria’s doughy deputy (doughy Jim Gaffigan).

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No, not all of the great shows are here; 2016 served up too much quality TV to contain in this space, while not all of the great shows rise to the level of year-end best lists. (Too many other critical lists are surrendering space to Stranger Things; just sayin’.)

These 16 shows are binge-worthy alternatives to holiday family time—Merry Xmas!

Westworld (HBO): This Westworld was smarter, sleeker and more terrifying than its 1973 origin flick, but it also imbued the Wild West park’s androids with a tragic “humanity.” (Evan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton for all of the awards.) It also reminded us that actual flesh-and-blood humans are just the worst.

Veep (HBO): Now more than ever, huh? Vice president-turned-president-turned-footnote Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) suffered an exhausting political beating months before the rest of us did in 2016, but at least hers was funny (and slightly more F-bomb-heavy). Forget IdiocracyVeep is our republic’s true guide.

BoJack Horseman (Netflix): Animated series BoJack Horseman has always been about the aggressive shallowness of Hollywood and celebrity, but Season 3 went deeper and darker (and more experimental, including a dialogue-free underwater episode) than ever before. It’s also funny as hell. OK, it’s everything as hell.

Lady Dynamite (Netflix): Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite was a meta-comedy that did for bipolar disorder what BoJack Horseman did for depression and Jessica Jones did for PTSD: It made entertaining, thoughtful art out of the usually “too heavy” to talk about. Both way surreal and way real … sounds good, feels right.

Quarry (Cinemax): This overlooked, 1972-set crime-noir series is grittily crafted down to the most minute details, spun with jarring twists, and anchored by Logan Marshall-Green’s intense, mercurial performance as a reluctant hit man. It’s the Memphis-barbecued second season of True Detective you really wanted.

Better Call Saul (AMC): The debut of Better Call Saul was a fantastic surprise that expanded upon Breaking Bad, building its own pre-Heisenberg world. From hilarious to heartbreaking, Season 2 further transformed small-time Albuquerque lawyer Slippin’ Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) into future legal shark Saul Goodman.

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC): Behind Saul, Halt and Catch Fire is AMC’s best drama, even if it doesn’t generate Walking Dead numbers. The ’80s-set computer-revolution saga moved to Silicon Valley in Season 3, amping the startup fireworks between Mackenzie Davis and Kerry Bishé, who overshadowed even Lee Pace (!).

Mr. Robot (USA): Elliot (Rami Malek) and hacker group fsociety brought down E(vil) Corp at conclusion of Season 1, but it just caused more problems than it solved. Mr. Robot 2.0 was less buzzy, and trickier to follow, but it gave Elliot’s circle (especially Carly Chaikin and Portia Doubleday) space to shine.

Goliath (Amazon Prime): David E. Kelley and Billy Bob Thornton streamed a classic Los Angeles legal-noir drama that overcame a middling plot with killer performances from Maria Bello, Molly Parker, Nina Arianda, Tania Raymonde, William Hurt and, of course, Thornton himself. Binge with a stiff drink—or eight.

Atlanta (FX): Donald Glover’s Atlanta wasn’t what anyone expected. Something far more than a comedy (though there are hilarious moments) or a drama (ditto, heavy moments), it unfolded like an indie flick in no hurry to get any Big Moments, and depicted the flat-broke-and-black experience with unflinching detail.

Better Things (FX): One of the rawest comedic TV portrayals of single motherhood ever, Pamela Adlon’s Better Things swung from sweet to sad to snarky with an assured precision that her creative partner, Louis C.K., never quite nailed with Louie. Subtle jabs at Hollywood’s treatment of women are just a bonus.

You’re the Worst (FXX): The Only Anti-Rom-Com That Matters got back on track after some downer detours last year—which isn’t to say You’re the Worst didn’t take chances in Season 3. Gretchen (Aya Cash) and Jimmy (Chris Geere) may never work out, but it’s sweet (and profanely hilarious) to watch them fail.

Shameless (Showtime): Emmy Rossum, who’s played Shameless’ surrogate Gallagher mom Fiona for seven seasons now, recently got a pay bump to at least equal co-star William H. Macy’s salary. Coincidentally, she also turned in her best, most heartbreaking work this year. ’Merica isn’t Modern Family; it’s Shameless.

The Good Place (NBC): Kristen Bell and Ted Danson are an unbeatable comic combo, and fears that afterlife sitcom The Good Place would be too weird for broadcast TV were apparently unfounded: It’s a (relative) NBC hit and, even better, the Jesus people are mightily offended by this inclusive version of “Heaven.”

Wynonna Earp (Syfy): If you were somewhat disappointed with Syfy’s recent zero-fun heroine epic Van Helsing—I know I was was—look back a little further in 2016 for Wynonna Earp, a Buffy the Gunslinger supernatural series that star Melanie Scrofano tore up with quippy glee. Also: hot Doc Holliday!

Not Safe With Nikki Glaser (Comedy Central): Nikki Glaser’s Not Safe was a sex-and-relationships talk show that combined intelligence, real information and filthy comedy that more than lived up to the show’s title. So, of course, Comedy Central canceled it after 20 episodes to make room for more Tosh.0. For shame.

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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, April 6, HBO), season premiere: “Two Swords” is as lighthearted and humorous as Game of Thrones gets, thanks mostly to series vets Peter Dinklage (Tyrion is the master of the stoic WTF? face) and Lena Headey (have another drink, Cersei), though The Only TV Column That Matters™’ new favorite character has to be The Hound: Rory McCann kills it, in every sense, in a late-episode scene that’s essentially a death-brawl over chicken. Meanwhile, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) learns it’s easier to control a growing army than growing dragons (spoiler: they’re assholes)—and you still get your standard GOT allotment of weird sex and nudity (to ease the transition from Girls).

Silicon Valley (Sunday, April 6, HBO), series debut: Mike Judge nailed the corporate-cubicle-farm ennui of the 1990s with Office Space, and it’s easy to see the line from there to his new Silicon Valley—and you know where you are, because someone says “this is Silicon Valley” every five minutes in the pilot. For those not up on all things Google, Microsoft and TED Talks, much of Silicon Valley will sound like tech-gibberish at first, but once the groove is established, it’s as relatable as Office Space: A programmer nerd (Thomas Middleditch) toiling for a Google-like behemoth and crashing at the “Hacker Hostile” of a dotcom millionaire (T.J. Miller) inadvertently creates a game-changing algorithm and suddenly finds himself in the middle of a corporate bidding war. Will he sell out and cash in, or build his own company with his fellow underdog housemates? Stick with it—the comedy soon outweighs the jargon in Silicon Valley—and how can you not love the sight of Kid Rock playing to a thoroughly disinterested code-monkey house party? You can’t.

Veep (Sunday, April 6, HBO), season premiere: As Season 3 opens, vice president Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is on a hellish—meaning “public”—tour promoting the autobiography she “didn’t even write,” Some New Beginnings: An American Journey, which the president’s chief of staff (Kevin Dunn) points out “is so full of shit, they put a colon right in the middle.” The rest of Selina’s staff is desperately awaiting news of the still-unseen-on-the-series president’s re-election plans, as well as her possible competition for the nomination should he not run. (He’s not, as if there were any doubt—Selina and the show need new venues in which to fail upward.) Veep is as hysterically mean as ever, and still the most profane HBO series since Deadwood—and probably closer to the truth of Beltway politics than anyone would care to admit.

Granite Flats (Sunday, April 6, BYUtv), season premiere; BYUtv is available in Palm Springs on DirecTV and cable: BYUtv isn’t screwing around with promotion for the Season 2 premiere of Granite Flats—hell, they even got my attention. At the heart of the 1960s-set series is an annoying Kids As Detectives conceit, but beyond that, Granite Flats is a semi-dark tale of Cold War paranoia that even dares to take on the infamous (at least in conspiracy circles) MKUltra program, in which the U.S. government secretly tested mind-control drugs its own military and civilians. This, of course, led to the creation of contemporary country music …

Academy of Country Music Awards (Sunday, April 6, CBS), special: So we’re to believe that there’s an actual “academy” recognizing such genius lyrics as “This brand new Chevy with a lift kit / Would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it” (Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”) and “Might sit down on my diamond plate tailgate / Put in my country ride hip-hop mixtape / Little Conway, a little T-Pain, might just make it rain” (Luke Bryan, “That’s My Kind of Night”)? And what is it with hicks and their trucks? Is this why locking gas caps were invented?


DVD ROUNDUP FOR APRIL 8!

513 Degrees

After doing prison time for a crime he didn’t commit, Mike (Avelawance Phillips) and his brother (Malik Barnhardt) agree to make one last “delivery” for underworld criminals, because … ? Like every DVD, also starring Danny Trejo. (Entertainment One)

Apocalypse Kiss

A serial killer with OCD sets out for vengeance against the two lesbians who are taking credit for all of his kills in the future-noir thriller that wants to be Sin City, but isn’t even as smart as Sim City. Strangely enough, no Danny Trejo. (Maxi/Midnight)

Back in the Day

Michael Rosenbaum and Morena Baccarin star in the story of a loser actor (Rosenbaum) going to his high school reunion to get his one-time Dream Girl (Baccarin). Also starring Emma Caufield, presumably as his Nightmare Girl. (Screen Media)

Bad Ass 2: Bad Asses

’Nam vet and boxing trainer Frank Vega (Danny Trejo—there he is) teams with his old pal Bernie (Danny Glover) to beat up the no-good East L.A. punks who killed his favorite student and probably set foot on his lawn, too. Damn punks. (Fox)

Nurse

By day, nurse Abby (Paz de la Huerta) attends to patients at All Saints Memorial Hospital; by night, she tracks, seduces and kills unfaithful men in bars. But would they have been unfaithful without being seduced? And where’s Danny Trejo? (Lionsgate)

More New DVD Releases (April 8)

August: Osage County, Best Night Ever, Cavemen, Dead on Appraisal, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Holy Ghost People, Justin Bieber’s Believe, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, My Name Is Paul, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Sheriff of Contention, Snake & Mongoose, Zero Charisma.

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Review With Forrest MacNeil (Thursdays, Comedy Central), new series: Anyone can be a critic (seriously, anyone), but few have the conviction of Forrest MacNeil, the tenacious “life critic” of Comedy Central’s left-field new hit Review. As MacNeil, Andy Daly takes requests from viewers as to which random life experience he should try out; in Episode 1, MacNeil gave addiction a spin and wound up awarding cocaine “a million stars!” out of five. (Post-rehab, a half star, because no real journalist would hand out zero stars.) In the March 20 episode, he takes on the equally dangerous task of consuming 15 pancakes in one sitting—if that sounds easy to you, MacNeil suggests that your life must be “an unendurable hellscape of excruciating sadness.” (Didn’t I use that line in a review of George Lopez’s new sitcom?) Review review: one green button.

Da Vinci’s Demons (Saturday, March 22, Starz), season premiere: Starz has yet to recapture that Spartacus buzz of a few years ago; the just-completed first season of Black Sails came close, even though the network made the mistake of positioning it as a “serious” period drama when it was really just a CW soap with more blood, nudity, grownups and the bad touch of Michael Bay. Between the hype of those two series, Starz in 2013 quietly launched Da Vinci’s Demons, about the historical-ish Renaissance adventures of a young, sexy Leonardo da Vinci (Tom Riley) as he navigates conspiracies, cults and Catholics, as well as his own genius and bi-curious tendencies. Sure, it sounds ridiculous—ridiculously fun! (See? Anyone can be a critic.) The Only TV Column That Matters™ would usually say “Catch up on Season 1” before recommending jumping into the second, but Da Vinci’s Demons isn’t going to make any more or less sense with the background info.

My Five Wives (Sundays. TLC), new series: Maybe this is where I used “unendurable hellscape of excruciating sadness.” My Five Wives premiered weeks ago, and you’ve probably seen the ads with Utah polygamist Brady Williams, his five “spouses” and their combined 24 kids over and over—and yet you still didn’t reject it as vehemently as you did Chrisley Knows Best. (Thanks for that, ’Merica; I owe you one.) It helps that Williams is more likable than that assclown Kody Brown of TLC’s other polygamy show—yes, we now have to differentiate between polygamy shows—Sister Wives, but, as with 95 percent of all reality-TV series, there’s no reason for My Five Wives to exist. It’s just another contrived, scripted suckfest attempting to make a “real” family seem entertaining. Even multiplied by five, they ain’t entertaining.

From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (Tuesdays, El Rey), new series: Prior to the premiere of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series last week, Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network (“Spanish TV for Gringos”—not the official tagline, but I’m willing to sell) mostly showed X-Files and Dark Angel reruns, and obscure kung-fu and horror flicks. In other words, it was the perfect cable channel—and then came From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, which was instantly darker and weirder than Rodriguez’s 1996 cult movie. Psycho Gecko brothers Seth (D.J. Cotrona, a passable George Clooney sub) and Richie (Zane Holtz, leagues more intense than Quentin Tarantino) are fresh out of jail and on a body-stacking crime spree to the Mexican border; however, vampires and twisted Aztec mythologies are about to get in their way. Anyone remotely “good” or “not insane” gets real dead real quick in FDTD, but the real mystery is how Rodriguez can stretch this story over 10 (or more) episodes. So far, I’m in—way in. (By the way, El Rey can be found on Channel 234 and Channel 584 on Time Warner ’round these parts.)


DVD ROUNDUP FOR MARCH 25!

Californication: Season 6

Hank (David Duchovny) attempts to adapt his book into a Broadway musical with the help of an eff’dup British rock star (Tim Minchin) and rehab—naturally, both lead to more sex, booze, drugs and sex. It’s hard to feel sorry for Hank. (Showtime/Paramount)

The Punk Singer

Bikini Kill singer/riot grrrl pioneer Kathleen Hanna gets the full documentary treatment, with classic BK and Le Tigre concert footage, interviews and the real reason she retired in 2005. (IFC/MPI)

Veep: Season 2

Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) deals with midterm elections, an asshole political strategist (Gary Cole), rural ’Merica, the military, the government shutdown and the worst staff in D.C. Probably all (shudder) true. (HBO)

The Wolf of Wall Street

A stockbroker (Leonardo DiCaprio) rises to power on 1990s Wall Street in Martin Scorsese’s epic tale of drugs, debauchery and Jonah Hill’s prosthetic penis. Also starring Matthew McConaughey, because everything does now. (Paramount)

More New DVD Releases (March 25)

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa: Live in Amsterdam, California Scheming, Continuum: Season 2, Delivery Man, Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series, Key & Peele: Seasons 1 & 2, Machine Head, Welcome to the Jungle.

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Arrow (The CW): The comic-book superhero series that got it right in its first year has been on fire in Season 2, jacking up the action to thrillingly visceral levels, as well as giving both our hero’s allies (love that Felicity) and enemies (hate that Malcolm) generous chunks of screen time. Oh, and the Flash!

Justified (FX): Despite the guns, guns, guns promos, Justified is all about the consequences and the dialogue, and Season 4—which had to follow a landmark “just try and top that” season—had plenty for Marshal Raylan, Boyd and anyone unlucky enough to be attached to them. FX’s best drama, period.

Banshee (Cinemax): This gritty-weird series about an ex-con assuming the identity of a small-town sheriff to reunite with his former lover/partner—and their loot—should have been a pulp-crime mess, but the deepening story (and the hyper-violent action) can’t be denied.

Shameless (Showtime): The Gallaghers continued their grimy reign as America’s Family, and Season 3 injected all-too-real drama and fallout for their many, many questionable actions. No other series can match Shameless for sheer volume of yeah-it’s-cable-but-they-can-get-away-with-that?! situations.

Bates Motel (A&E): Sure, it seemed a like terrible idea at first, but the subtle, creeping terror of Psycho: The Wonder Years worked, thanks to Vera Farmiga’s sympathetic but wildly unpredictable Norma Bates. We know where it’s all going, but the ride so far is addictive.

Archer (FX): Season 4 kicked off with a hysterically blatant nod to star voice H. Jon Benjamin’s other series, Bob’s Burgers, and ended with a tribute to obscure Adult Swim series Sealab 2021. The characters are idiots, but Archer’s scripting is stoopid-smart.

Veep (HBO): Speaking of hapless dumbasses guided by comedic genius, Veep’s second season stayed the course of Vice President Selina Meyer’s slog through deflating beltway politics and worse PR. It’s funny, profane and probably closer to the truth than C-SPAN.

Breaking Bad (AMC): Obviously. Breaking Bad’s final season may have tied up more neatly than logically, but a drama this perfectly executed over five years earned more than a few last Wile E. Coyote outs. Go back and re-watch the whole series without the weekly critical media over-over-analysis; you’ll enjoy it even more.

The League (FXX): Even a gonzo throwaway episode dedicated entirely to peripheral characters Rafi and Dirty Randy couldn’t distract from the scarily consistent and ruthless comedy of The League’s fifth season. It’s finally a viable heir to the Sunny in Philadelphia crown—or Shiva.

Ray Donovan (Showtime): Gigantically-noggin-ed Liev Schreiber is an unlikely leading man, but his portrayal of Ray Donovan, a Hollywood “fixer” with a family from hell (Bah-ston, actually), kills. Even better is Jon Voight’s giddy, nothing-to-lose performance.

The Blacklist (NBC) After two years of empty talk, NBC finally made good on the idea to produce “cable-quality” programming, first with Hannibal, then the superior crime serial The Blacklist. The series doesn’t shy from intensity and violence, and James Spader is, well, James Spader.

Parks and Recreation (NBC): On the flipside, now that NBC has discovered the ratings gold of ineptly staged musicals, smart underperformers like Parks and Recreation are likely doomed. Too bad; Seasons 5 and 6 have been the comedy’s strongest yet, even with the impending losses of Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe.

Masters of Sex (Showtime): A semi-factual ’50s period piece with the warm look (and contentiously slow pace) of Mad Men, Masters of Sex delivered on the years-building Lizzy Caplan hype and, even though it’s as much soap opera as historical document, radiated raw humanity. The (purely clinical) nudity and sex didn’t hurt, either.

13 Runners-Up: The Americans, American Horror Story: Coven, Bob’s Burgers, Eastbound and Down, Grimm, House of Cards, Maron, New Girl, Orange Is the New Black, Raising Hope, Rectify, Sons of Anarchy, Trophy Wife.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR DEC. 31!

CBGB

The story of Hilly Kristal (played by Alan Rickman) and the legendary ’70s punk club that launched thousands of bands. Also starring Taylor Hawkins as the worst Iggy Pop ever, and Opie from Sons of Anarchy as, natch, a biker. (Xlrator)

Don Jon

Porn aficionado Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and rom-com lover Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) try to make a relationship work despite unrealistic expectations on both sides and the fact that she’s Scarlett Goddamn Johansson. (Relativity)

Hell Baby

When an expectant couple (Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb) moves into a cursed house, it’s up to a pair of Vatican exorcists (Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon) to vanquish the evil. It’s Reno 911! meets The Exorcist meets House Hunters. (Millennium)

InAPPropriate Comedy

A tablet full of offensive apps becomes the excuse for a random series of comedy sketches starring Adrien Brody, Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan and others. Directed by the ShamWow guy, so you know it’s funny. (Freestyle)

Sweetwater

An ex-prostitute (January Jones) makes a new life for herself and her husband in 1800s New Mexico, only to have it ripped away; bloody, horrific vengeance and Jones’ bloody horrific acting ensue. Yet it’s still better than The Lone Ranger. (Arc)

More New DVD Releases (Dec. 31)

Angel of the Skies, Black Angel, Cassadaga, Last Love, Love Marilyn, Ninja II: Shadow of a Tear, Percentage, Sanitarium, Shaolin Warrior, Sister, When Calls the Heart, Zombie Hamlet.

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