Month: June 2016

What to Watch: 06/30/2016


Preacher [AMC, 8p]

AMC’s Preacher has combined a compelling dramatic core with delightfully unsettling narrative shifts and comic book quirkiness to create one of the most exciting shows of the Summer. If you’ve missed it, here’s your chance to catch up, with a re-showing of the first couple episodes. If you’ve been watching, these episodes are enhanced and feature fun featurettes extending the world around conflicted “hero” Jesse Custer.


The Big Lebowski [Fuse, 7:30p]

The only problem with the Coen Bros. best movie is that we can’t all stop at In-N-Out.



  • Quietly, David Duchovny-fronted Aquarius has been doing its little 1960s period piece for a second season, and this week it uncovers one of the Manson-murder houses – before it was occupied by Sharon Tate.
  • British import, Thirteen, airing logically enough on BBC America is getting more-than-solid reviews, and as it’s only the second episode, it’s early enough to hop on the train of the thriller about a 26-year-old woman experiencing the world after 13 years of imprisonment.
  • Lifetime is intent on crushing the hopes and dreams of, well, anybody who might hold to hopes and dreams. Tonight, I Love You…But a Lied and My Crazy Ex both return to put a few more dents in Cupid’s armor.
  • We’d like to stop recommending Lip Sync Battle, but they keep booking such fun stars – which this night includes one of the most successful comedians in creation. Kevin Hart vs. Olivia Munn tonight on Spike.


What to Watch: 06/29/2016

There’s no theme running through tonight’s shows – which range from gaudy reality shows to neurotic comedy to dark drama – so we’re not even gonna pretend.

Maron [IFC, 9p]
As the title suggests Marc is at the making amends point in his sobriety and during this time of finally getting his ish together discovers he is a father. Cue gasp.

MasterChef [Fox, 8p]
Aarón Sánchez is this week’s guest judge, as we whittle the contestants down from 17 through the 60-minute Mystery Box Challenge.

Glengarry Glen Ross [Flix, 8p]
New, original programs?! New, original programs are for closers! Who drink coffee! And who ABC…easy as…1… Anyway, I’m not over-enthused by the night’s fare, so why not watch this classic collection of rhythmic and angry Mamet-at-his-apolitical-prime dialogue wrapped around the shattered lives of some really truly sad people. Second prize is hosting the new version of the Match Game.



  • Sort-of-reality maybe-parody Barely Famous returns to VH1 for a double-shot to start its second season. They’re also airing two episodes of that other “reality” show which I’d rather not name, but people are naked and date on it.
  • The reviews were not overly kind to CBS summer replacement gory procedural American Gothic, but reviewers aren’t always right, even if they are so tasty.
  • Speaking of tepid TV page-turners, FOX has a new helping of Wayward Pines tonight.

Our Tuesday Reviews

The Mindy Project – A-

0629mindybox.jpgMoving to Hulu has been especially advantageous for The Mindy Project_, which is suddenly, well, funny. The second half of the season has been especially on-the-nose, delivering laughs and satisfying character development, while staying true to the Fox iteration fans loved so much, and yet, Tuesday’s “TK” was a sweet return to the Mindy of yore, as Morgan goes on a caper to meddle in the ashes of Mindy and Danny’s romance, believing more than they do that Mindy and Danny belong together. (And yet, at no point did anyone say, “We have a child together, of course she’ll always be in my life!”) Mindy is embarking on a new relationship while Danny is engaged to a nurse at his new practice, a bombshell gracefully dropped at the end of the episode in a way that was bittersweet and charming, a reminder of the leaps and bounds Mindy has taken this season.
– Katherine M. Hill

Hey Ma, Can You Undo This Mess?

Lifetime Movies are the seeds of happy memories. Tori Spelling’s greatest hits, Co-Ed Call GirlA Friend to Kill For, and 1996’s Mother, May I Sleep With Danger awaken the synapses in my brain, and my heart, which respond to lowbrow culture. The made-for-TV genre, popularized by Lifetime’s second-run airings are easy to learn and appreciate; it’s hard for me to know where to point my finger and assuage blame for my unrepentant awe for a beautifully filmed Oscar contender. Films aired by Lifetime, which are oddly paced, poorly written, and badly acted, are delightful in their awfulness. (Usually the films that have liberally borrowed from the murders and assaults of real people deviate so strongly in names and narratives that the story of the victims are lost, and hopefully less disrespected.)

I grew up the youngest of three bright, intelligent daughters who love these made-for-TV films. For me, with little to do on the weekend in a small town, beyond wander the mall and see second-run films, bingeing on Lifetime was a viable option. Oh, the joy and laughter shared over the oeuvre of ’90s idols, not just for myself, but for my generation, and the one that followed and came before, led to last year’s A Deadly Adoption. One assumes that the sensation of Will Ferrell, playing straight to a wild TV drama is how Lifetime allowed James Franco to reinterpret the 1996 parable about obsessive boyfriends to include deadly, blood-sucking, 20-somethings. What did I ever do to you, Lifetime, to deserve this?

The bloodsucking youths at the box office, via The Neon Demon, are meant to be a metaphorical parable about beauty and Los Angeles. But there’s no defending this 2016 homage, which cruelly stomps on the hearts of the Lifetime faithful. Everything about this movie was wrong, and nothing made sense, not even by the shambled standards of the Lifetime network. (Have you noticed my picks? I love Just Wright! I have no shame!) It’s like Tommy Wiseau was hired to remake The Godfather III.

Mother is a confusing, shambling mess. It would make more sense to believe that this was a separate film with a reunited cast with the title slapped on after the fact. Missed opportunities abound: Tori Spelling’s character is not the grown version of her character 20 years ago; there is no connection to the professor, played by Ivan Sergei—he’s credited only as “Teacher.” How great would it have been if Sergei was secretly the father of Leila George’s Leah, the protagonist? And Sergei and Spelling were Billy and Laurel? And that’s why Spelling’s mother is controlling and anxious?

Worse, the film is confused about what it is trying to say. At most, the film says, James Franco liked Twilight: While aspiring to be more than a TV Movie, the film is about a violent but occasionally benevolent pack of revenge-driven vampires. Leah also has a weird argument that Twilight is about the danger and thrills of sexuality. (It’s not.) Just when you think the film has the thread of a point to be made, it chooses to take up the banner for the opposing side; Leah finds true love and eternal life with her girlfriend, who was compelled to turn Leah against her will; the pack of evil vampires, which had been targeting creepy dudes, attack Leah’s stalker after he drugs Leah and assaults her, yet they also make him their leader; the revolutionary plan to crown a woman as MacBeth leads…nowhere.

Oh, Lifetime. How will we repair the damage now that it’s done?

What to Watch: 06/28/2016

We’re gonna mix the old and the new here today with our suggestions for this evening, so here goes nothing.

Dead of Summer [Freeform, 9p]
Freeform takes on the horror-at-camp subgenre. A long dormant summer camp reopens, and only one counselor, who isn’t a veteran, realizes that evil lurks on the grounds! Pass the popcorn.

Wrecked [TBS, 10p]
This oddly timed Lost parody has mostly worked, and tonight’s episode focuses on what’s clicked best, the relationship between Zach Cregger’s Owen and Brian Sacca’s Danny.

George Lopez [TV Land, 8:30p]
George is stuck with a co-manager that he ever so blatantly tries to vet while having them over for dinner. Hilarious antics ensue.



  • CBS’ series based on James Patterson’s 3620th novel Zoo survives for a second season. That starts tonight.
  • Hey Pretty Little Liars, I believe in you … hard not to as its little mystery has survived how many seasons now – not to mention the change of its home from ABC Family to Freeform.
  • Early reviews on the TV adaptation of Aussie indie crime drama Animal Kingdom has received decent reviews so far. Its fourth installment is tonight on TNT.

Our Monday Reviews


0628unrealbox.jpgOh, Quinn, we knew you were a sociopath, but there’s a need for a modicum of composure (i.e. not smiling from ear to ear) when you’ve just deliberately tried to paralyze an NFL quarterback – and when doing so by stoking anti-muslim fears is just the icing on the depraved-as-fuck cake. Ok, that last part was more engineered by Chet, with an assist by Madison – who, by the way, is taking to the sleazy manipulations like Andy Cohen to a feigned shocked look; our favorite pig-tailed protege pops up with a drink at the ready to entice London, the token Pakistani, to abandon her religion’s basic tenets, take a swig, and loosen up because the suitor might choose her if she’s not too uptight. And just like that we have a series wrap on London (is just everything Brit-related falling apart this week?).

Unfortunately, therein lies the problem – and one that’s hopefully not fatal – with UnREAL after a season and a half. While the labyrinth of battling egos and swirling deceptions is amazingly well constructed and the drama is mesmerizing, eventually it becomes formula, and desensitizing formula at that. Seeing just how low Quinn or Chet or Rachel (or Madison?!?!?!) will descend into the depths is fascinating, but it can become a distracting game. While admittedly the whole reality scene is this game, UnREAL exists beyond its source material as such an exquisitely written drama that there is a danger when it collapses into a ping-pong match as it did at times this episode. However, Rachel’s last volley, her convincing Darius to risk his health for an epidural that numbs his pain, does set up quite the next level showdown between the players.
– Jason Thurston

What to Watch: 06/27/2016

It’s Monday, or as we like to say here at Screen Scholars, UnREAL Day. So, we’ll start there, but we’ve also got reality, high-concept comedy, cutting political commentary, dark sci-fi, and beyond…

UnREAL [Lifetime, 10p]
Just how far will Quinn go to win? I feel like this is just the beginning.

Top Gear [NBC, 9p]
Testing supercharged cars becomes all that more exciting when you know how much the actor and presenter celebrity hosts despise each other.

Shallow Water Invasion [Discovery, 8p]
Great Whites swim in the shallow Guadalupe waters. Beautiful but terrifying.



  • Is John Oliver or Samantha Bee the true heir apparent of Jon Stewart? We just want both on more than one day, but we’ll take the Full Frontal with Samantha Bee that is on tonight on TBS.
  • Also on TBS, Angie Tribeca has grown more silly and more brilliant in its second season. Tonight, they take on a case of a dead centenarians.
  • This week on 12 Monkeys, the leads go into both their and our distant past, 1957.

Sunday’s Best Reviewed: Game of Thrones

On the busiest night in June, pretty much all the show gets solid to rave reviews, except for Ray Donovan, and, well, that’s probably because Ray Donovan. It was a night of season finales on HBO, with its signature show taking the recap night with an episode that set up a couple new thronesitters, and sowed seeds for an epic battle. Tech comedy Silicon Valley might have won a different night with a rare evening that found the gang in charge of their own destiny. As AV Club‘s Les Chappell mused, it’s a surprisingly satisfying “finale that pays off virtually all of the season’s running threads and character connections, and despite the “everything old is new again” shading of events, it feels like exactly the place the show needs to be.” HBO’s remaining show, Veep, earned fewer raves, but mostly positives. Even Jessica Goldstein at Vulture, who gave it 5 out of 5 stars, called it a “totally brutal finale.”

Sunday, June 26th’s Best: Game of Thrones (9.6/10)

0627yesbesthrones.jpgGame of Thrones, the TV series, finally outpaced its source material – with George R.R. Martin still being cagy about his next book’s release date – but it hasn’t lost a step yet. Vulture‘s Jen Chaney declares “after more than 50 episodes of buildup, we have finally arrived at a climactic moment. Winter is no longer merely coming. Winter is here.” Matt Fowler at IGN added the “big reveals and revenge kills that helped everything add up to a very surprising and satisfying season finale.”

The Rest of the Night:


Silicon Valley – 9.1

Veep – 8.3

Preacher – 8.0

Ray Donovan – 6.5

Our Sunday Reviews

Veep – B+

0627veepbox.jpgSo, now what? Viewers who didn’t know Veep has already been renewed for a sixth season could be forgiven for thinking this was a series finale. The Julia Louis-Dreyfus fronted series pretty well blew up its premise and sent its vaunted ensemble tumbling to the winds of various new lives. As the episode began, as Ben reminded us in the “previously,” “we are staring down the barrel of a Tom James (Hugh Laurie) presidency.” The wheels of democracy turn swiftly, and within minutes Selina Meyer is about to return to a familiar position – the one laid out in the series title – just as we’d all been expecting. As would-be Prez James himself observes between cackles, she’s swallowing her dignity, but she’s about to free Tibet, cementing her legacy.

But that wasn’t what this episode would be about, and as it turns out, while endlessly affable and notably noble, Tom James is far from the Master of the Senate he’s been sold as. When the votes are actually counted, it’s Laura (pronounced with the most affected of accents) Montez on top, as the forgotten man, VP Doyle has engineered the ultimate coup, gaveling in the mysterious opposition veep (too many veeps…too many veeps) candidate as the 45th President of the United States (and don’t even try to unravel where the fictional and real timelines diverge). While it does allow for an epic Gary explosion – and Tony Hale breaking a simpleton veneer to launch into a vulgar rant has become almost a TV Trope of its own – these deals and deceptions highlight one of my central problems with this show’s excellent fifth season. What just happened would be the real world equivalent of Joe Biden conspiring to elevate Ted Cruz to power at the expense of, say, Elizabeth Warren. While I get that the Veep universe is fiction, its writing traffics in satirizing modern U.S. politics, and the breaking down of party lines is the opposite of what happens in real life, and, worse, feels more like a lazy contrivance to move the plot to its means.

Nonetheless, you got to hand it to a program that would so fearlessly wander into a next season that is practically a blank slate. There’s a few telegraphed mysteries floating around in the episode – the biggest of which being the missing hard drive containing Catherine’s documentary, and a ton of material that would send the press swooning. Most of all, however, we’re left with the biggest mystery of all being just what exactly will Veep be next year.
– Jason Thurston

Silicon Valley – A

0627siliconbox.pngAfter all that, Dinesh finally gets the biggest win of the season – and in classic Dinesh style, he isn’t even allowed to celebrate. There’s a lot of heartache in “Uptick,” but so much beauty, including something of a Hollywood Rom-Com twist ending moment encased in an absolute assassination of that very type of moment – ah, poor, lovelorn Evan … wait a tic, who the hell is Evan?

There’s a flapping butterfly feel to the episode as we open on Gavin Belson’s prop elephant leading to his abiding assistant Patrice (kudos to Jill E. Alexander) finally having had enough. Her “appreciated” honesty earning her the door, Patrice reveals the pachyderm felling to Erlich Bachmann’s blog, which is in turn sold to Hooli for two million, making Erlich and Big Head rich again. This follows a falling out between Erlich and Richard after the latter reveals the truth about Pied Piper’s new users to potential VC Series B investors, effectively tanking the last embers of industry faith in his company. Somewhere in there, we are treated to a classic Erlich overblown speech – this time thankfully with no Action Jack to interrupt.

This all sets the stage for a Raviga board meeting – Jared’s first, and possibly last, as everyone in the room and watching on HBO expect Laurie to allow Hooli to absorb Pied Piper for a cool mil, in the process handing a humiliating final defeat to our coding heroes. But wait, Monica, at the price of her cush job, can’t possibly vote to screw Richard. No worries for Laurie as she replaces Monica with “man” (no, seriously, that’s how she summons him), a Raviga employee on his first day. So, the die is cast…but wait, um, again! The until-now pretty much silent Evan professes his love for Monica and his inability to make her sad. As Jared asks, “are all board meetings like this?” Ah, sweet, genuine Jared, how many ways do I love thee?” Anyway, before Laurie can drag in the receptionist, Richard ends the agony by voting yes. We have three votes, and Pied Piper is now the property of…Bachmanity, LLC.

So, as we wrap up the third season, Pied Piper is owned by Erlich Bachmann and Big Head, Pied Piper is pivoting to streaming video thanks to the fruits of Dinesh’s misdirected lusting, and in a rare move the gang can be happy as they navigate and negotiate the new reality after an episode stuffed with so many hysterical moments as to warrant multiple viewings to catch all the asides.
– Jason Thurston

Game of Thrones – A

Revenge! Explosions! A new King of the North! The season finale of Game of Thrones did not disappoint as the pieces begin to finally come together.
– Brad Filicky