CVIndependent

Fri11152019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Bill Frost

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.

Love (Friday, March 10, Netflix), season premiere: In its 2016 debut season, Judd Apatow’s Love received wildly mixed reviews from real people and TV critics (who, it should always be noted, are not real people) alike. I was on the positive side—but, then again, I also liked Will Arnett’s universally despised Netflix baby Flaked, so there’s obviously something wrong with me. Lovebirds Micky (Gillian Jacobs) and Gus (Paul Rust) still aren’t exactly right, either, but they’re giving the committed-relationship thing a go with predictably messy/hilarious/sad results. Both Jacobs and Rust (and an ever-expanding guest list) are fantastic; at its best, Love plays like an introverted cousin of couplehood-is-hell MVP You’re the Worst. A great place to be in Season 2, and the haters are still gonna hate.

Samurai Jack (Saturday, March 11, Adult Swim), return: A long, long time ago, I wrote about a Cartoon Network series called Samurai Jack, which premiered way back in 2001. Also more than a decade ago, friends would ask me: “Are you still doing that little TV review thing?” with the same regularity that they do now … sigh. Anyway: Samurai Jack was a simply plotted tale of a time-traveling warrior fighting his way through monsters, robots and general dystopia, as well as all-powerful villain Aku. While the stories were rudimentary (or often indecipherable), Samurai Jack’s dense, mind-tweaking animation set a standard that’s still rarely matched today; Hulu the original five seasons, and behold for yourself. This final chapter of the saga looks to be up there with Logan in terms of brutality and finality. Catch up.

Trial and Error (Tuesday, March 14, NBC), series debut: How to follow the season finale of all-the-feels tearjerker This Is Us? With wacky midseason filler! Trial and Error, a probably-funnier-on-the-drawing-board hybrid of Making a Murderer and The Office, gives proven comedic talents (including John Lithgow, Jayma Mays and Sherri Shepherd) a prime setup, but little material to work with, emphasizing “small-town quirkiness” over what could have been biting comedy with a dark, media-overkill backhand (which It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia already did earlier this year). Lithgow goes big as a maybe-wife-killing poetry professor (!), but Trial and Error definitely won’t be a part of NBC’s comedy rebuild.

Hap and Leonard (Wednesday, March 15, Sundance), season premiere: Missed Season 1? Of course you did—it was on Sundance, and who has that? After you check out the six-episode origin story of ’80s Texas ne’er-do-wells Hap (James Purefoy) and Leonard (Michael Kenneth Williams) on Netflix, come back for another installment of comic criminality that nearly rivals Fargo in sheer volume of WTF? twists. Hap and Leonard Season 2 picks up with a new mystery to unravel (the death of Leonard’s uncle) and a new cast of unsavory characters to butt heads with. (Spoiler: few not named Hap or Leonard made it out of Season 1 alive.) They’re just good(ish) guys in a bad, bad world; when you do get around to this series (because, again, Sundance), you’ll love ’em.

Modern Family (Wednesdays, ABC), contract crisis: Currently in its eighth season, Modern Family has (or had, depending upon when you get around to reading this) a problem: The contracts for stars Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Jessie Tyler Ferguson and Ed O’Neill are up, and signing them all for the inevitable Season 9 would be almost as expensive as a Trump weekend getaway—give or take bronzer budget. The obvious solution? Kill the adults off-camera in a plane crash during the show’s annual Disney-vacation infomercial episode, and refocus Modern Family on the kids. Haley, Alex, Luke, Manny and Lily could easily take over and Party of Five the situation—hell, I’d watch a Lily solo series, even. You’re welcome, ABC.

Making History (Sunday, March 5, Fox), series debut: After Frequency (R.I.P. at The CW), Timeless (the best of the lot, but struggling at NBC) and Time After Time (more in a moment), Making History finally lightens up the current TV season’s glut of time-travel shows, even though the timeline-twisting consequences are no less dire. When Massachusetts college employee Dan (Adam Pally) discovers a time-traveling duffle bag (just go with it), he begins making regular, continuum-cocking trips to the 1700s to visit his easily impressed new colonial girlfriend (Leighton Meester). No sooner than you can say “Hot Tub Time Machine meets Drunk History,” Dan’s dragging a history professor (Yassir Lester) back in time with him to re-reset the outcome of the American Revolution, lest the USA come to be ruled by a … psychotic dictator. Anyway: Making History is a funny, Fox-y comedy, unlike …

Time After Time (Sunday, March 5, ABC), series debut: Ugh. Based on the slightly less-terrible 1979 time-travel movie of the same name, Time After Time follows a pretty H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) tracking a pretty Jack the Ripper (Josh Bowman) from 1800s London to present-day New York City, because god forbid we have a TV crime drama not set in NYC. What follows is the expected “What sorcery is this?!” marveling at modern technology, and the gentlemanly wooing of 21st century womenfolk that Sleepy Hollow already does waaay better. As with Making History, there’s the nagging question of: “How do you get 13, or more, episodes out of this?” Time After Time should be gone after three, so problem solved.

Feud: Bette and Joan (Sunday, March 5, FX), series debut: On one hand, Ryan Murphy’s new secondary career as History-As-Meme TV director is already getting tiresome—FX already has, like, 12 seasons of American Crime Story planned, and the first sucked (admit it). On the other, watching stars playing dress-up as classic pop-culture fixtures is irresistible (The People v. O.J. Simpson was a visual hoot, at least). The eight-episode Feud: Bette and Joan chronicles the legendary Hollywood rivalry between Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon), who also battled sexism, ageism and every other -ism the early ’60s dished out. Predictably, Lange and Sarandon chew scenery portraying famed scenery-chewers, but at least there are some crumbs left for Sarah Paulson, Alfred Molina, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stanley Tucci and Kathy Bates. Resistance is futile, darling.

The Arrangement (Sunday, March 5, E!), series debut: The producers and stars of The Arrangement insist that E!’s new scripted soap is not based on Tom Cruise and Scientology … but it’s totally based on Tom Cruise and Scientology. Rising Hollywood starlet Megan (Christine Evangelista) is offered a $10 million contract to “marry” A-list actor Kyle (Josh Henderson), a member of a sketchy “church” called The Institute of the Higher Mind (!). The Institute’s leader, Terrence (Michael Vartan), also manages Kyle; Terrence’s wife, DeAnn (Lexa Doig) is Kyle’s producing partner; they all have secrets, as well as an interest in keeping up appearances with Megan (who has her own skeletons, because, drama). There’s a lot going on in The Arrangement, and, like The Royals, the series is surprisingly well-executed, for E! (read: not reality trash). Check it out before the lawsuits fly.

The Americans (Tuesday, March 7, FX), season premiere: Everything Cold War is new again, right? Much like daily news-cycle life in 2017 ’Merica, every season of The Americans is a white-knuckle ride through ’80s Soviet Union fear and loathing, and Season 5 (the series’ second-to-last) cranks the anxiety yet again. Suburban Russian spies Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) have begun training teen daughter Paige (Holly Taylor, slowly becoming the real star of the show) in the ways of the KGB, but can they keep her away from the cute boy next door who happens to be the son of an FBI agent? Of course not—devushkas will be devushkas.

The Blacklist: Redemption (Thursday, Feb. 23, NBC), series debut: While hardcore Blacklist fans are asking, “How’s this spin-off going to work?” casual viewers are curious to know: “How many encoded tattoos can she fit on her body?” For the latter: That’s Blindspot, dumbasses. For the former: Undercover op and ex-Blacklist bad hombre Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) has a wife and a baby at home, but now he’s going to be traipsing around the world with mom “Scottie” Hargrave (Famke Janssen) on missions the U.S. government won’t avow, because, karma. It’s best to forget the parenting logistics of The Blacklist: Redemption and just go with the action (which will only span eight episodes, so Tom will be back with Liz and Agnes on The Blacklist proper soon enough). But if Redemption is a hit—which it could be; Blacklist faithful won’t be disappointed—they’re going to have to work out a nanny schedule for future missions.

Sun Records (Thursday, Feb. 23, CMT), series debut: Many a dramatized biopic and miniseries have tackled the rock ’n’ roll legend of Elvis Presley—but none have brought together the “Million Dollar Quartet” that also includes Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. Sun Records attempts to contain all of these personalities and chronicle the civil rights movement of late-’50s Memphis, and fares mostly better than expected for reality-damaged CMT (which, as a reminder, still stands for Country Music Television, not Cheerleaders, Mullets and Trucks). The Quartet members are portrayed well-if-not-vacantly-pretty enough, but it’s the turn by Billy Gardell (Mike and Molly) as Elvis manager Colonel Tom Parker that provides Sun Records’ real spark.

The 89th Annual Academy Awards (Sunday, Feb. 26, ABC), special: More than just another overlong awards show wherein rich celebrities exchange trophies for being rich celebrities who put out semi-commercially viable content last year, The 89th Annual Academy Awards will also be an overlong soapbox for rich celebrities to rail against the rich celebrity currently residing in the White House (or Mar-a-Lago, or wherever). As boring as that sounds, it’s nothing compared to the snooze-inducing qualities of several of this year’s Best Picture nominees: The most—really, only—exciting part of Arrival was Amy Adams’ CGI floaty-gravity hair; La La Land somehow made jazz, and musicals, even more unpalatable; and Manchester by the Sea … WTF was that mumble-y tone poem of tragedy? Have fun watching the dresses and No Orange Order rants.

Taken (Monday, Feb. 27, NBC), series debut: Bryan Mills, the man with a very particular and dangerous set of skills who still couldn’t protect his daughter and wife from being kidnapped and/or killed over the course of three movies, is back! More accurately … was back? Doomed TV knockoff Taken is a prequel, set 30 years before the films, starring Clive Standen (Vikings) as a younger, fashionably bearded Mills, who’s recruited into the CIA after his sister is gunned down by terrorist goons on his watch. (It does not pay to be related to this guy.) Soon, his covert-agency boss (Jennifer Beals) is putting him through the usual crime-drama-case-of-the-week grind, leaving fans of far-more-ambitious timeslot occupant Timeless to wonder, “NBC cut the season short for this?”

President’s Address to Congress (Tuesday, Feb. 28, many channels), news special: What’s President … yep, still funny … Donald Trump going to pull out of the pocket of his ill-fitting big-boy suit this time? Another attack on real information leaks that somehow led to fake news? More victory laps for winning so hard/narrowly months ago? A eulogy for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Celebrity Apprentice? A declaration of war on New Mexico? (“So much more advanced and dangerous than old Mexico, believe me.”) As thrillpressing (thrilling + depressing, new term) as the many, many, many possibilities are, The Only TV Column That Matters™ suggests watching the new Roger Corman cinematic masterpiece Death Race 2050 on Netflix instead. It’s the best indicator of where ’Merica is headed since Idiocracy, believe me.

Britney Ever After (Saturday, Feb. 18, Lifetime), movie: Britney Spears is a decent pop icon. She barely contributed to the writing of her own music; her singing is at maybe a semi-pro karaoke level; and her attempts at being “edgy” and the perpetual “comebacks” are as laughable as they are tiresome. But! To a generation of young women, Spears is still as important as Madonna was a decade prior. (Side note: Madge, it’s time to give it up … seriously.) A Lifetime biopic was inevitable, so here’s Britney Ever After, a cheap flick that stinks of rush-job non-urgency and, blech, Canada. (Production began just five months ago in Vancouver.) Since Spears’ entire life and career have been over-documented in the media, there are no new revelations in Britney Ever After other than a sad reminder that Kevin Federline was once a thing.

The Good Fight (Sunday, Feb. 19, CBS), series debut: “Remember how great The Good Wife was? Wasn’t Julianna Margulies awesome? And Archie Panjabi, Alan Cumming, Josh Charles and Jeffrey Dean Morgan? So how about a spinoff with none of those stars, on a pay-per-stream platform you’ve never heard of? Here’s The Good Fight!” CBS’ $5.99/$9.99-per-month All Access streamer was supposed to be good ’n’ launched by now with Star Trek Discovery, but that’s been pushed back to a star date in a galaxy far, far away. The Good Fight finds Wife attorney Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) starting over at another Chicago law firm and … I’m already asleep. Regular TV is already clogged up with legal dramas and Chicago procedurals; no one needs to pay extra for another.

Big Little Lies (Sunday, Feb. 19, HBO), series debut: Writer/producer David E. Kelley came back hard last year with Amazon Prime’s Goliath, a standard legal drama juiced with tight scripting and star power. Big Little Lies doubles down on the big names (Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley, among several others), if not the writing; this could have easily been condensed from a seven-hour nonsensical series into a 90-minute nonsensical movie. The pretty, rich white folk of pretty, rich Monterey and their pretty, rich white kids at pretty, rich Otter Bay Elementary are embroiled in a who-among-us-done-it? murder mystery, impacting their daily lives of back-biting, gossiping and screwing (the parents, not the kiddies), and … who cares? The actors work their tiny, toned asses off, but Kelley’s cliché-soaked plot devices can’t be overcome.

Billions (Sunday, Feb. 19, Showtime), season premiere: The battle between semi-shady New York hedge-fund billionaire Bobby “Axe” Axelrod (Damian Lewis) and frothily dogged U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) continues—cue the all-caps ACTING! Billions is dropping its second season of Big Money v. Big Law in a real-life political climate with eerie mirrors, though Bobby may not be as untouchable as the Cheeto-in-Chief: Chuck now has a smarter game plan in mind, while Bobby’s longtime ally—and Chuck’s wife—Wendy (Maggie Siff) has walked away from the men’s Season 1 wreckage, and Bobby’s heretofore loyal wife, Lara (Malin Akerman), might be next. It’s a soapy, twisting power struggle that, while not quite as unpredictable as current reality, digs its hooks in hard.

The Detour (Tuesday, Feb. 21, TBS), season premiere: In its debut season last year, The Detour took its National Lampoon’s Vacation inspiration and exploded it into countless directions over 10 half-hours as new weirdness about harried couple Nate and Robin (Jason Jones and Natalie Zea) was revealed in every episode. The road trip may be over, but Season 2 builds on last year’s cliffhanger revelation about Robin’s mysterious past by moving the family to Manhattan and introducing a new crop of guest stars to clash against (including John Oliver, Laura Benanti, James Cromwell and Jones’ wife/Detour co-creator Samantha Bee). I’ve already repeatedly told you to Hulu Season 1 … and now I am again.

Girls (Sunday, Feb. 12, HBO), season premiere: Yes, Girls creator/star Lena Dunham has made some astoundingly stupid statements on social media—isn’t that what social media is for?—but she’s also cranked out a half-dozen solid seasons of an HBO series, so she’s far more than just a “privileged snowflake.” Season 6 will be the last for Girls (though there may be a follow-up movie), and Brooklynites Hannah (Dunham), Marnie (Allison Williams), Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) and Jessa (Jemima Kirke) are totally different, and somehow exactly the same, as they were in the beginning. Girls’ infamously un-glam sex scenes and monologues continue, but it’s Dunham’s nimble comedy writing that deserves the attention—lines like “I don’t give a shit about anything, yet I simultaneously have opinions about everything” are as funny as they are instantly relatable (to some of us writers, anyway).

Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Monday, Feb. 13, HBO), documentary: Locally born party-rockers Eagles of Death Metal were a cult band, more or less, prior to the November 2015 terrorist attack at a Paris concert that claimed 89 lives—now, they’re a slightly more-notorious cult band who, surprisingly, still haven’t been sued by Don Henley of the Eagles proper. Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) isn’t just about the Bataclan incident and the band’s subsequent return to play for Paris fans; it also explores the decades-long, yin-yang friendship between EODM founders Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age). It’s a sweet and sometimes harrowing story with a triumphant conclusion. If Nos Amis inspires some more sales of Eagles of Death Metal’s four excellent, ramshackle rock ’n’ roll records, even better.

Humans (Monday, Feb. 13, AMC), season premiere: Before HBO’s Westworld, AMC’s Humans was delving into lifelike-androids-among-us drama in a more understated manner. (Four whole episodes passed in Season 1 before someone had sex with a robot.) Busy London couple Joe and Laura (Tom Goodman-Hill and Katherine Parkinson) bought a refurbished “Synth” (a human-like robot servant, Mia, coolly/creepily played by Gemma Chan) who displayed flashes of organic emotion and passive-aggressive tendencies. (Never, ever buy “refurbished”; eBay 101.) What could go wrong? Everything, of course, and now Mia and her like-minded “family” of Synths are loose in the populace with the “consciousness code” (a backdoor switch that could make all Synths “wake up” and toss off their servitude). It’s going to be a looong time before Westworld returns—get some Humans in your life.

You Me Her (Tuesday, Feb. 14, Audience/DirecTV), season premiere: Last year’s surprise polyamory rom-com (!) played wacky-to-serious-and-back-again hijinks out over 10 near-perfect episodes that rung comically real. Then, You Me Her was about an unexpected love triangle between bored Portland couple Jack (Greg Poehler) and Emma (Rachel Blanchard), and free-spirited escort Izzy (Priscilla Faia), and their anxiety over hiding this new relationship, whatever it was, from their friends and family. Now, in Season 2, it’s about going public and, perhaps even harder, dealing with Izzy as a full-time housemate. The only predictable aspect of You Me Her is that the guy is going to screw things up, and inadvertent third wheel Jack is right on schedule. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Doubt (Wednesday, Feb. 15, CBS), series debut: TV's latest attempt to make Katherine Heigl a thing is yet another pretty-lawyers show—but with a twist! Attorney Sadie Ellis (Heigl) falls in lust/love with her client, a charismatic doctor (Steven Pasquale) accused of murdering his girlfriend years ago. Did he do it? Can she trust him? Will CBS somehow drag 13 episodes out of this? Meanwhile, the rest of her law firm (which includes Dulé Hill, Elliott Gould, Dreama Walker and Laverne Cox) are … around. Doubt has all of the sexy banter, perfect hair and designer clothes required of modern legal soaps, but it’s all as empty as a showroom briefcase. Quit dicking around, and just get Heigl a Fox comedy (à la The Mick) or back on Grey’s Anatomy, Hollywood.

Powerless (Thursday, Feb. 2, NBC), series debut: Rebooted before it even premiered: Powerless, which exists somewhere within the DC Comics universe, was originally a deadpan workplace comedy à la The Office, about an insurance firm that handled cases of civilians affected by superhero vs. supervillain battles—real catastrophic damage. Now, it’s about Wayne Security (as in, Bruce Wayne and Wayne Enterprises), a company specializing in tactical-tech personal-protection devices for non-superhumans. It’s a faster-paced, colorful upgrade that the cast (Vanessa Hudgens, Alan Tudyk, Danny Pudi, Ron Funches and Christina Kirk) delivers on hysterically—when the material’s there. Unfortunately, Powerless’ writing isn’t as consistent as that of recent NBC comedy breakouts Superstore and The Good Place, so it’ll have to be carried by its stars for now.

Superior Donuts (Thursday, Feb. 2, CBS; moving to Mondays on Feb. 6), series debut: Sitcoms like NBC’s The Carmichael Show and CBS’ Mom have shown that it’s possible for smart comedy, serious issues and … ugh … laugh tracks to coexist. But why, why, WHY?! Same goes for Roman numerals and the Super Bowl; it’s 2017—start using ’Merican numbers before I tweet at Uncle Cheeto to sign an executive order (and you know he’d do it). Anyway: Superior Donuts centers around a crusty old donut-shop owner (Judd Hirsch) in a gentrifying Chicago neighborhood who begrudgingly hires an ambitious millennial (Jermaine Fowler) to update his business. Hot-button issues like race, guns and cronuts are tackled between punchlines, but Superior Donuts tries a little too hard to be Important Commentary. (It is based on a play, after all.) I will just lean into the funny, and maybe forgive the laugh track. Maybe.

Santa Clarita Diet (Friday, Feb. 3, Netflix), series debut: Netflix’s slow reveal of just what is the diet of Santa Clarita was a shrewd move, teasing with an appealing-odd actor combo (Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant) and vague hints at suburban shenanigans for almost a year. The plot-bomb finally dropped a few weeks ago: SoCal Realtor couple Sheila (Barrymore) and Joel (Olyphant) see their painfully dull lives upended when Sheila contracts a mild case of zombie-ism and a hunger for human flesh. Thing is, she’s never felt better, and life is a whole new, if murder-y, adventure for the couple. Santa Clarita Diet contains traces of Desperate Housewives, Dexter, Weeds and iZombie (no Walking Dead, fortunately), but remains its own unique, bizarro thing. Most surprisingly, drama vet Olyphant consistently upstages Barrymore, letting his comedic freak flag fly like a loose-limbed maniac.

APB (Monday, Feb. 6, Fox), series debut: Even with 45 cop shows currently set there, Chicago is still a crime-ridden hellscape—will APB finally clean up this town? Probably not, but it’ll at least kill an hour after 24: Legacy for a few weeks. Much like—OK, exactly like—CBS’ now-canceled Pure Genius, ABP finds a tech billionaire (Justin Kirk) buying a failing enterprise (a Chicago police precinct instead of Pure Genius’ hospital) and outfitting it with ultra-high-tech gear to save and/or end people. (Pure Genius only flatlined itself.) Despite all its flashy screen grids, drones and the “game-changing” APB app (you’re outta luck, flip-phoners), APB is just another cop show with an outsider consultant.

Legion (Wednesday, Feb. 8, FX), series debut: It’s an X-Men TV series … but not. Legion, based on the Marvel comics, follows David Haller (Dan Stevens), who was diagnosed as a schizophrenic as a child and has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for decades. When a disturbing encounter with new patient Syd (Rachel Keller) explodes his mind-numbed world, David realizes that his inner voices and visions are real. (Don’t say “mutant powers,” because, lawyers.) Like creator Noah Hawley’s previous FX hit, Fargo, Legion looks and feels outside of its defined time, and is more of an inward psychological trip than a blockbuster Marvel flick. Not that there isn’t action and comic relief (like Aubrey Plaza as David’s perkily-unhinged hospital pal), but don’t expect Wolverine.

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.

Baskets (Thursday, Jan. 19, FX), season premiere: When Baskets premiered last January, it appeared to be a loony lark, like someone dared Zach Galifianakis to create a comedy bizarre enough to make even FX flinch: Aspiring artiste Chip Baskets (Galifianakis) flunks out of a prestigious French clown academy and returns home to uncultured Bakersfield to become a crestfallen rodeo clown. Oh, and the black comedy also features an undercurrent of commentary on the decline of Western civilization and the futility of artistry, as well as Galifianakis playing his own twin brother, Dale, and Louie Anderson in drag as their mom—comedy gold, right? Actually, yes. Baskets’ weirdness was balanced with a certain sweetness, and Anderson’s hyper-quotable “Christine” became the unlikeliest breakout character of the year. At the outset of Season 2, Chip attempts to flee Bakersfield (hobo-clown-style riding the rails, of course), and Christine finds romance (and water aerobics). So, yeah, still bizarre.

Beaches (Saturday, Jan. 21, Lifetime), movie: The original 1988 Beaches, from a different time when Garry Marshall movies weren’t complete shit (too soon?), is a cheesy-weepy classic that needs no “reimagining.” But since we’re in the post-imagination 2010s, here’s a new Beaches, complete with remade songs. While it’s tough to argue with the smart casting of Idina Menzel and Nia Long in the iconic Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey roles—not to mention cred-to-burn director Allison Anders replacing Marshall—is a note-for-note re-creation of this lifelong gal-pals tale really necessary? Nope, but Beaches will be an easy hit for Lifetime, which means we can probably look forward to an update of Pretty Woman, re-written by and starring Lena Dunham, by fall.

Hunted (Sunday, Jan. 22, CBS), series debut: Unfortunately, this is not a second season of Melissa George’s cool 2012 spy series of the same name, which was wrongfully cancelled and … I’m just talking to myself here, aren’t I? Anyway: This Hunted is a reality show that pits teams of regular folk against pro investigators in an elaborate game of digital-age hide-and-seek; the fugitive squad that can stay off the grid and avoid being caught for 28 days wins $250,000. Hunted offers a valuable lesson about the liability of your digital footprint (not to mention reality-TV camera crews and trucks—wouldn’t they be a dead giveaway?). You may need to disappear yourself sometime in the next four years, so pay attention.

Outsiders (Tuesday, Jan. 24, WGN America), season premiere: The 2016 epidemic of Too Many Shows caused the debut season of Outsiders to slip by me—but it was discovered by a record-setting number of WGN America viewers who instantly latched onto this Appalachian hill-folk drama like it was Sons of Anarchy in overalls. (Coincidentally, SOA’s Ryan Hurst is one of the stars.) Outsiders is rife with juicy hillbilly family drama and stick-it-to-the-man anti-authoritarianism, as well as the most mud-flinging ATV action you’ll see outside of the Outdoor Channel. The story: The isolationist, mountain-dwelling Farrell clan (with the patriarch an unrecognizable David Morse) wants nothing to do with modern society in lowland Kentucky—then along comes Big Coal, aided by local police, to run them out of their centuries-long home. It’s a visceral, pulpy ride—catch up on Season 1 on Hulu.

The Magicians (Wednesday, Jan. 25, Syfy), season premiere: Essentially “sexy Harry Potter goes to Hogwarts College,” the first season of The Magicians introduced a pretty, angsty cast with plenty of personal probs and supernatural challenges, if not much humor or personality (which would have made it more of a Freeform show than a Syfy series, but whatever). Season 1 did, however, find some footing by its closing episodes, resulting in a relatively spectacular finale that could have launched a promising second season. Early S2 signs point to more perpetually grey skies and hair-in-the-eyes moping, but with flashier, Doctor Strange-lite special effects and a slightly clearer dramatic path forward. Nice trick (sorry, illusion).

My Kitchen Rules (Thursday, Jan. 12, Fox), series debut: This what the “celebrity” competition show has come to: a cook-off. In a borrowed Australian format, this show features teams of two taking turns hosting dinner parties for their competitors and judges—you suck, you go home. The “star” duos of My Kitchen Rules are N’Sync’s Lance Bass and his mom, bro-and-sis singers Brandy and Ray J, comedian Andrew Dice Clay and Mrs. Clay, Real Housewife of Who Gives a Shit? Brandi Glanville and some dude, and singer Naomi Judd and her long-suffering husband. Judges Curtis Stone and Cat Cora, chefs who are arguably bigger celebrities than everyone else in this clown car, could keep it interesting, but what’s next? Landscaping With the Stars? Celebrity Dog Wash? Or …

Caraoke Showdown (Thursday, Jan. 12, Spike), series debut: I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, this is exactly like James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke!” Wrong-o, you cynical dolt! It’s totally different, because there are no celebrities! Also, the host is Craig Robinson! It’s like comparing the bassline of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”—the ocean of disparity between the two is staggeringly vast! Incomprehensibly colossal! Goddamned yuge! How dare you suggest that Spike has given up on original ideas because of the success of Lip Sync Battle, which is just a stolen Jimmy Fallon bit! We’re making America great again here, people—you can either get onboard with Caraoke Showdown, or sit over there on the wrong side of history like a chump! Sad!

Homeland (Sunday, Jan. 15, Showtime), series premiere: After losing touch with/interest in terrorism soap Homeland a few years ago when—spoiler!—Damian Lewis’ co-lead character Brody was killed off, I’ve recently gotten caught-up on the Crazy Carrie (Claire Danes) solo-album seasons. Much to my surprise, Homeland has held up well without Brody—and Danes, who was great to begin with, is fan-damn-tastic on her own and unencumbered by that ginger dead weight. (Lewis is better off on Showtime’s Billions, anyway.) Season 6 finds Carrie back stateside after last year’s harrowing Berlin arc, but all isn’t well in the U.S.: A new president has been elected (!), and the transfer of power is looking to be tense and rocky (!!). If that’s not eerily real enough, this season will take place entirely between Election Day and Inauguration Day (!!!). Hell, let’s just go full bizarro and stage a crossover with Billions, already.

Teachers (Tuesday, Jan. 17, TV Land), season premiere: Last January, TV Land quietly debuted this raucous mashup of Super Troopers, Bad Teacher and Broad City from six-woman comedy-improv troupe The Katydids (all of their first names are variations on “Katherine”), a hilariously wrong half-hour that almost elicits sympathy for their elementary-school pupils—until you remember that, oh yeah, they’re elementary-school pupils. The Teachers rank at varying levels on the Hot Mess Scale, but no Katydid (Caitlin Barlow, Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O’Brien and Kathryn Renée Thomas … whew) outshines another in the ensemble, reminiscent of old-school cable anarchy-com It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Your homework: binge Season 1.

Six (Wednesday, Jan. 18, History), series debut: A SEAL Team Six action drama? “Inspired by real missions”? Like USA’s military-leaning Shooter, Six has experienced setbacks and delays. (Original star Joe Manganiello dropped out during filming, causing Six to scrap its planned July 2016 premiere.) Also like Shooter, which has become an underreported stealth hit, Six has just enough jingoistic grit and brothers-in-arms heart to appeal to a flyover ’Merica wary of the dark geopolitical ambiguousness of shows like Homeland (though both share a director, Lesli Linka Glatter). In a lucky get, Walton Goggins (Justified), an actor who can do no wrong, has replaced Maganiello as captured SEAL Team Six leader “Rip” Taggart, adding some serious gravitas to this modern Saving Private Ryan riff. Big words aside: Much yellin,’ explodin’ and killin.’