What to Watch: 02/05/2016

It’s the Friday before the Super Bowl and after the Iowa Caucuses, so if you aren’t interested in seeing people shout over each other their opinions about sports and/or politics, the pickings are somewhat slight, but we’ve got some things for you, whether you’re yearning for supernatural adventure, real life financial drama, or a wistful romance. If it’s anything else, well, you have some nerve!

JASON’S PICK:
Sleepy Hollow [FOX, 8p]
I almost feel irresponsible for suggesting this often ridiculous program, but when it’s working, the adventures of Detective Ichabod Crane in the 21st Century can be a wacky wonder of the television world. Its Winter return finds Crane crossing realms to reunite with his partner Abbie.

NAVANI’S PICK:
Shark Tank [ABC, 9pm]
Are “smart” gloves for the ski slopes the next big thing? Maybe it’s a decluttering service or handbag company that uses upcycled materials. I always wonder how many of my random ideas could’ve gotten funded watching this show.

KATHERINE’S PICK:
Love’s Complicated [Hallmark, 8p]
Holly Marie Combs is a woman whose boyfriend enrolls her in a conflict resolution class so she can find herself and inner peace.

ALSO ON TAP TONIGHT:

  • Friday is the night for creatures, detectives, and miles-over-the-top plotlines, so if Sleepy Hollow is not enough for you, flip over to NBC where Grimm has got you covered. This week, it’s a lake monster.
  • For a change of pace, there’s Second Chance. This detective’s back from the dead. It’s actually supposed to be fairly good. It follows Sleepy Hollow oon FOX, so it might seem relatively grounded.
  • If you’re in the mood for love, or just want to see some families debating over fashion — especially if there’s a Southern lilt in their passive-aggressive intonations — TLC’s got a whole bunch of Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta coming atcha.
  • ABC s got Last Man Standing and Dr. Ken, soooooooo…

Thursday’s Best Reviewed: Colony

It says something about yesterday’s line-up that — well,of the shows with more than one online graded review — the least complex is the one named after a physics theory vis a vis the creation of the universe. Luckily, Thursday’s child is full of grace. Ratings wizard The Big Bang Theory intro’d Sheldon’s “meemaw” to mixed reception (although everyone seemed tickled by the nickname). Meanwhile, The 100 built its burgeoning cult legend with sparks flying by all sorts of definition. However, the night was won by Colony, as its dystopian landscape has so far lived up to the hope and excitement stirred by the re-teaming of Lost‘s Carlton Cuse and Josh Holloway.

Thursday, February 4th’s Best: Colony (8.8/10)

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The players are digging deeper into the muck as they take sides, and of course assuredly no one will be who he or she seems, as almost one year into their arrival, the mysterious and murderous “hosts” hover over everything. Vulture lauds Colony for “present[ing] its humane side, articulating the matters of trust that ground other dramas — The Americans and Homeland, in particular — and mak[ing] this dystopian nightmare intimately relatable, if a bit contrived.” While TV Fanatic simply adds the “show gets better and better.”

The Rest of the Night:

The 100 – 8.1

You, Me, and the Apocalypse – 7.7

Baskets – 7.5

Elementary – 7.0

The Big Bang Theory – 6.7

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – 6.2

What to Watch: 02/04/16

We’re 3-for-3 in touting groundbreaking half-hour comedies — two in their initial stages, and one conquering veteran (but a program that’s wildly reinventing itself in its sixth season in a most exciting way).

KATHERINE’S PICK:
You, Me and the Apocalypse [Fox, 8p]
It’s not as good as it could be–except Megan Mullaly, who outshines everyone every precious moment she’s onscreen.

JASON’S PICK:
Baskets [FX, 9p]
Martha, the world’s most pliant and patient insurance adjuster — and one of television’s terrific new characters, teams up with titular clown Chip Baskets to solve a murder. This is gonna be fun — very moderately paced fun.

NAVANI’S PICK:
Portlandia [IFC, 10p]
Our favorite tree hugging-hipsters are back to show us the ways of life in Portland.

ALSO ON TAP TONIGHT:

  • Beat Bobby Flay. You know you want to. It’s on Food Network.
  • Dapper and versatile Paul F. Tompkins returns to the telly with his team of debating puppets on Fusion’s No, You Shut Up!
  • Animal lovers should really boycott Comedy Central’s Workaholics (they know what they did), but the Stoners Three admittedly are a funny lead-in to one of the most inspired new shows, coming off its crazy coming-of-age funeral road trip, Idiotsitter.

What to Watch: 02/03/2016

Welp, we’re not caught in a time loop, and most celebrity barnyard animals are predicting an early Spring. While everything’s coming up Milhouse, here’s a couple suggestions of what to watch tonight. And, oh yeah, apparently Ice-T’s got no time for Jay Baruchel’s angst.

JASON’S PICK:
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit [NBC, 9p]
Ok, while the Kitty Genovese tragedy is ripped from the very-not-recent headlines, the fear of bearing true witness to violence is sadly evergreen. Tonight’s SVU uses that as backdrop for what should be a thrilling episode right in the veteran show’s wheelhouse.

NAVANI’S PICK:
Man Seeking Woman [FXX, 10:30p]
I was ready to give up on this season but then last week’s brilliant episode that focused solely on Josh’s sister reeled me back in. Tonight Josh struggles with a major career decision.

ALSO ON TAP TONIGHT:

  • The second iteration of ABC’s anthology American Crime turned thrillingly last week on a few shocking twists and revelations, and the provocative show remained one of the most captivating (if prone to melodrama) programs on TV, and this week’s episode should continue that.
  • There’s plenty of light comedy tonight, ranging from the charming Younger on TV Land to the pleasant Mike & Molly on CBS to the racist 2 Broke Girls also on CBS.
  • If you crave darker laughs, It’s Always Sunny… sees the gang escape Paddy’s Pub for a home in the suburbs.
  • There’s even more drama tonight as violence creeps inside the hospital while romance blooms on CBS’ new-ish series Code Black. And the usual blue shield machinations abound over on NBC’s Chicago P.D. (I’m holding out til the Windy City Municipal Series collection expands to Chicago Transit Authority)
  • Speaking of drama, they’re still culling the last batch of hopeful singers on American Idol [FOX, where else?]
  • If you want to scream at trees, there’s part 1 of Madoff on ABC at 8 p.m.

Tuesday’s Best Reviewed: The Expanse

For the second week in a row, Syfy’s quickly-emerging-as-cult-classic space opera, The Expanse, wins the night, and this evening’s prime time programming was dense and mostly well-reviewed. The Muppets reboot of a reboot (well, mostly just tinkering) didn’t particularly inspire, but left room for hope. Rob Lowe’s up-til-now affable sitcom, The Grinder, may have just found its meta voice on its best episode to date — one which benefits from a game performance by Timothy Olyphant as a slicker version of himself. New Girl continued to do just fine without its titular character, while Fresh Off the Boat dug into a holiday rarely, if ever, used before as TV comedy fodder. Perhaps the biggest debut of the night, anticipated mini-series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story opened promisingly.

Tuesday, February 2nd’s Best: The Expanse (9.5/10)

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The Expanse closes out its surprisingly successful first season with a flourish as its two-hour finale receives our best score to date (granted, its a small sample size). IGN dubs the episode “amazing” for its knack at “filling in some of the holes in the story that we’ve had from the start of the season. AV Club also touts the upswing, noting the “signs of the writers getting more adventurous in the season’s latter half; here’s hoping the trend continues,” before descending into a reverie about “blue stuff.”

The Rest of the Night:

The Grinder – 9.5

Marvel’s Agent Carter – 8.9

The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story – 8.5

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – 8.3

New Girl – 8.0

Fresh Off the Boat – 8.0

iZombie – 7.8

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 7.5

The Flash – 7.0

The Muppets – 6.7

The Shannara Chronicles – 6.5

…ly Ballou Out. RIP Bob Elliott (1923-2016)

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Long before there was Monty Python or Mr. Show or Tim & Eric or The Kids in the Hall or Comedy Bang! Bang! (and its extended podcast universe) or any of the awkward comedy that feasts on laughter in the silent spaces in between and mistimed cues and odd dissonant interactions and mismatched characters conversing past one another, there was the comedy team of Bob & Ray.

Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding started as members of the Boston radio community in the 1940s. Their casual banter on one another’s shows earned them their own show by 1946. Bob & Ray’s broadcasts were mixtures of largely improvised running soap opera parodies that would go on for years, downright bizarre man on the street interviews, and whatever else captured their comedic whimsy.

Goulding passed away in 1990, but Bob Elliott continued to show up around television. Elliott revived classic roving reporter Wally Ballou, still jumping the gun on his intro, for Al Franken’s short-lived series Lateline. He backed up his son Chris in the inimitable and grossly under-appreciated Get a Life, portraying, fittingly, ne’er-do-well protagonist adult paperboy Chris Peterson’s begrudgingly tolerant dad. I was lucky enough to see him, alongside Chris and his granddaughter Abby (they are almost certainly the only three generations of a family to appear on Saturday Night Live) at NYC’s Paley Center talking about his career in radio.

While it feels a bit silly to be sad over the death of a 92-year-old man I never met (other than a quick handshake at the aforementioned Paley Center event) — especially one whose worldly accomplishments were so lofty and lasting. Part of it is that he’s one of the last living links to a long-ago era. More so, it’s the fact that tapes of grainy recordings of Bob & Ray’s sketches lent to me by my superfan uncle got me through many a long car trip, and cheered me up at many a low moment — as great comedy should — so it feels almost like the loss of a cherished friend.

Here’s Bob (& Ray) improvising as NASA mission control reporters in a forgotten great TV Movie from 1972, Between Time & Timbuktu, with a fittingly kooky plot of a citizen astronaut being launched into Kurt Vonnegut’s stories…

 

 

What to Watch: 02/02/2016

It’s a densely packed little Wednesday, as the darkest Muppet timeline returns, critically heralded The Expanse hits the end of its season (and contracts?), we begin to relive the Crime of the 20th Century: 90s Edition with all its speeding vans and Kato Kaelins, and we all anxiously await the shadow judgments of Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck, and all the other revered rodents across this great land. Our recommendations are a couple of ongoing programs of excellence and one perfectly on-the-twitchy-nose holiday movie classic. But we better get going with this What to Watch if we want to stay ahead of the weather.

KATHERINE’S PICK:
Groundhog Day [Comedy Central, All Day]
It’s a Groundhog Day marathon! Watch Phil live his life over, and over again. (Only three months until spring!).

JASON’S PICK:
New Girl [FOX, 8p]
Last week’s first edition of New Girl minus the new girl was so wonderful, partially due to the brilliant pairing of Cece and Winston. This week promises more of that, as the duo hunts down her wedding dress. It also implies farce and…”wife” swapping(?!) in its title “Bob & Carol & Nick & Schmidt

NAVANI’S PICK:
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce [Bravo, 10p]
Things are heating up as Jo’s English playboy baker professes his feelings for her and Abby puts Dr. Harrie through the ‘boyfriend test’.

ALSO ON TAP TONIGHT:

As seen above, ABC brings back a revamped Muppets, Syfy closes up the first season of The Expanse, and the highly anticipated true crime mini-series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story commences on FX…there’s continuing faithful shows like The GrinderiZombie (our hero takes on the characteristics of an erotic fiction author tonight — could be fun), Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fresh Off The Boat and Marvel’s