What to Watch: 02/09/2016

Tuesdays are turning into a power night with exciting shows of all varieties populating the basic cable line-up. We’re feeling sit-coms tonight, but there’s something for a whole lotta tastes out there, so while you enjoy Rob Lowe’s idiosyncratic TV lawyer giving the Huangs an admiring eyeful, here’s some choice picks.

KATHERINE’S PICK:
Fresh Off the Boat [ABC, 8p]
Honey and Marvin, the sitcom’s second-best couple, watches the Huang children while Jessica and Louis (the sitcom’s best couple) enjoy Valentine’s Day.

JASON’S PICK:
The Grinder [FOX, 9:30p]
Coming fresh off its (quite possibly) defining episode, The Grinder returns with Stewart suggesting his Rob Lowe-y brother Dean rethink embodying the “Grinder” persona. He’s going into therapy, and there’s so many positive directions that could milk for laughs, that I trust the show to deliver within this (albeit overmined) comedy goldmine.

NAVANI’S PICK:
The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story [FXX, 10p]
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the chaos and manipulation from both sides of the O.J. case and a glimpse of Kim Kardashian’s childhood bedroom in this mini-series. Based on the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson.

ALSO ON TAP TONIGHT:

  • Here comes Megan Fox New Girl‘s temporary “New Girl” (don’t worry, Zooey’s not gone forever). Fox is coming to FOX (ugh, I deserve a painful death).
  • Rev up that Bronco, it’s time to watch the famous chase with A.C. and O.J., as seen through the eyes of the creator of American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson on ABC. Meanwhile, current Bills running backs are merely assaulting cops (pass me a tall one, please)
  • Let’s talk about sex, but in a laughy way, with @Midnight‘s reigning “funniest person on the internet,” comedian Nikki Glaser. Not Safe debuts tonight on Comedy Central (I’m ok with this one)

Monday’s Best Reviewed: Jane the Virgin

As long as Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are airing and generating such genuine emotional content (while not sacrificing the comedy at their core), I suspect the CW will be owning the Monday version of this feature with the two shows trading off. Each had arguably its best episode to date with awkward kisses, triumphs, and unravelings galore. Meanwhile, in sci-fi land, The Magicians scored by far its best grades, Supergirl continued to soar, while The X-Files failed to live up to its original (or its prior week’s quirky madness). Also, it was a night of hashtags, but we’ll get to that…

Monday, February 8th’s Best: Jane the Virgin (9.1/10)

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Everyone’s talking about the sweater kiss — oh, and Rogelio’s impassioned moments — on JtV. TV Fanatic hashtags it, and enjoyed the “brand new level of awkward.” Kathryn VanArandonk at Vulture notes how hard it is to “give the audience what it wants and do interesting, new work,” observing the show has “done so with aplomb.” The AV Club‘s Oliver Sava gives the show the lowest grade of the night and still opens with “Is there a network television series on the air right now that is as consistently excellent as Jane The Virgin?”

The Rest of the Night:

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – 8.8

Reveling in all its protagonist’s stories coming to a head as she tries to weather what the musical number’s band argues should be hashtagged either #textmergency or #textastraphe (or #messageocalypse) requiring a #textcuse or #textplanation, AV Club issues an “A” and declares “There’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing something that’s perfect for the first time.”

The Magicians – 8.7

The once eagerly anticipated adaptation of Lew Grossman’s fantasy series finally earns its initial excitement last night, with IGN lauding the show for “taking big gambles that are paying off.”

Supergirl – 8.3

Reviews for the Woman of Steel were a bit more mixed. Vulture‘s Joshua Rivera dubbed it a successful spin on a story “widely accepted as one of the Best Superman Stories Ever,” while Caroline Siede at AV Club believes the titular character shines as usual, but that this episode furthers a laundry list of concerns about the show including how “its various romantic threads are tiresome at best and creepy at worst.”

The X-Files – 7.5

The X-Files remains a bit of a disappointment, but not an outright failure. For example, Zack Handlen of AV Club loves a lot of it, but is “not sure exactly how to explain how little I care about Scully and Mulder’s child.”

 

What to Watch: 02/08/2016

It’s a night full of comedies and dramas, including the latest opening night for a former Daily Show correspondent, for so let’s not waste time:

JASON’S PICK:
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee [TBS, 10:30p]
It’s hard to bet against any Daily Show expat given a new show — particularly true for the faux news juggernaut’s longest-tenured employee, Samantha Bee. Her first episode sets her rapier wit on Jeb Exclamation Point. Granted, it’s an easy target right now, but do you seriously have any doubts she’ll bullseye that son-of-a-pres.

KATHERINE’S PICK:
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend [CW, 8p]
Rebecca accidentally text Josh, making second-hand shame first-hand “OH GOD NOOOOO.”

NAVANI’S PICK:
A Ballerina’s Tale [PBS, 10p]
Nelson George directs this behind-the-scenes look at the career of Misty Copeland, who transcends barriers by becoming the first African-American principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Prepare to be all in your feels.

ALSO ON TAP TONIGHT:

  • Following on the heels of this season’s best episode to date (a Jose Chung-esque classic over-the-top monsterfest), Mulder & Scully investigate an otherworldly political assassination on this week’s X-Files on FOX.
  • For shows that have been solidly hitting their mark these days, there’s the heroic Supergirl on CBS, the unabashedly silly Angie Tribeca on TBS, and the gently inspiring Jane the Virgin on The CW.
  • The NBC one-two punch of Superstore and Telenovela have elements that hint at better shows. Could this be the week they get it together? Magic 8 Ball doesn’t want to be pinned to an answer here, but it guesses its sources would likely say no.
  • Lucifer on FOX and The Magicians on Syfy offer a bit more promise, but haven’t really earned faith based on their initial episodes.
  • The Bachelor‘s on his usual rose-givin’-out trip on ABC, if you like that sort of thing. Millions do.

The Weekend’s Best Reviewed: Downton Abbey

Regularly scheduled TV ground nearly to a halt as the Super Bowl sucked most of the air out of the room, but a few popular shows aired new episodes, all of which to positive reception. While the vaunted Downton Abbey won by a nose, it’s the oft-maligned and shopworn SNL that stole all hearts this weekend with Larry David’s consistently funny return, to go along with the cameo of his presidential candidate doppelganger Bernie Sanders, and it probably would have snatched the crown, if critics grades matched their write-ups

Weekend of February 7th’s Best Reviewed: Downton Abbey (8.5/10)

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As we barrel ahead towards Downton oblivion, it’s unsurprising that the quality would peak in the antepenultimate episode. AV Club loves the recent “more vigorous, more self-aware” Abbey. Jen Chaney of Vulture wins my heart by comparing the visiting hoi polloi of the surrounding villages as “all the Whos in Whoville” while declaring “Hell hath no fury like a Dame Maggie Smith scorned.” TV Fanatic‘s Caralynn Lippo welcomed the drama’s “hilarious as expected” comedic touch as the clueless aristocrats attempted to explain the history of their abode and lifestyle to the locals, not all of whom slack-jawed yokels.

The Rest of the Night:

Saturday Night Live – 8.5

Based on the disconnect between the imperfect grades and glowing prose, I sense that a lifetime of lukewarm SNL has hardened reviewers from giving the show a perfect grade. The AV Club‘s excellent Dennis Perkins stretched to find a worst sketch on a “uniformly solid show,” but then poured praise on said sketch. Gillian Healey of Vulture called Larry David’s turn “A banner episode not soon to be forgotten,” which seems to warrant more than 4 out of 5 stars, but maybe that’s just me. If you want the true measure of this episode against the canvas of years of mediocrity, check the comments section of AV as they are usually pretty brutal on the long-running program, but tonight you had to dig deep to find even one #CancelJost.

Shameless – 8.5

The Gallagher family’s bidding adieu to their abode made for moving television as Myles McNutt of AV Club called it “easily the most emotional Shameless has made [him] in a long time.” At TV Fanatic, Paul Dailly raves in a 5/5 review that “plenty more stories to tell before this one shows any signs of age.”

Billions – 8.0

Even the uneven Billions earned high praise, Vulture labeling its fourth offering a “high-paced, crackerjack episode.”

What We’re Streaming: Key & Peele Commentate the Super Bowl

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Since Key & Peele wrapped up after five brilliant seasons, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have been among the busiest men in show business. On one of the biggest nights in television — and for the second year in a row — the pair spend some extra time focusing their comedic aim on the pigskin sports game airing tonight (this year it’s only streaming online for Squarespace, the online website fixins superstore).

Playing off the legendary litigious nature of a certain bunch of Native Footsports Lawyers, the two will comment on the game in character, but the delightful catch is they cannot mention any of the match events by name. So, as the Cats take on the Horses on the Christian sabbath on a field with numbers and lines to throw an oblong projectile and earn more (but different) numbers — so one of the groups of men can hoist a metallic object as tears and alcoholic beverages from France fly, Key & Peele will have to come up with inventive names to convey the action going on on our national screen. While the able comedians’ imaginations sprint, a lawyer will be on hand to throw some sort of bunched fabric if they get too specific.

In any case, it should be hysterical fun for anyone who loves a certain country’s most popular sport, comedy, and language stretched to its glorious extremes.

 

What to Watch: 02/07/2016

Today’s TV landscape is pretty well dominated by one thing, things parodying said thing, things offering harbor for people who don’t like said thing, but if you are not ready for some of that thing, Katherine and Jason have some other options for you, while Navani suggests you bask in all its extravaganza-of-music-and-funny-ads glory.

NAVANI’S PICK:
Super Bowl 50 [CBS, 6:30]
Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos means Cam Newton dabbing and performances by Coldplay and Beyonce. Is it weird that I’m most excited about the Heinz “Weiner Stampede” commercial though?

JASON’S PICK:
Downton Abbey [PBS, 9p]
C’mon, we gotta know how Lord Grantham comes back from spitting up blood in front of the future Prime Minister. I mean, even if 1920s medical technology can treat him, coughing up fluids at a fancy affair is just not done in their circles. Aw, who am I kidding, while I always say I won’t watch “it” if my team’s not in it (and my team’s never even close and it’s never ended well, when they are), I’ll probably peek into…dammit, watch that big game.

KATHERINE’S PICK:
Pitch Perfect [NBC, 8:30p]
I love apps but hate football. The rise of a fiesty all-girl a capella group is just right for meatballs and cheesy dip!

ALSO ON TAP TONIGHT:

 

What to Watch: 02/06/2016

As the Saturday after yesterday’s Friday, it’s still pretty quiet. For our viewing enjoyment, we’re picking out shows on Lifetime and Hallmark (and one of the longest running shows on network television).

JASON’S PICK:
Saturday Night Live [NBC, 11:30p]
In the classic tradition of celebrities meeting their imitators, teen idol and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will make a guest appearance on tonight’s Larry David-hosted show.

KATHERINE’S PICK:
Appetite for Love [Hallmark, 9p]
With a plot ripped from hundreds of Hallmark Christmas movies, a woman must rebrand a restaurant in her smalltown and manager feelings of disappointment when her longtime beau doesn’t propose on Valentine’s Day. While home, she falls in love with a good ol’ (and too cute for Hallmark, seriously) country boy. But is she from the big city? And will she realize metropolitan areas are full of filth and bad values? Will she give up her lucrative career for her hometown?!

NAVANI’S PICK:
Manson’s Lost Girls [Lifetime, 8p]
Okay, so truth be told I never knew what ‘Helter Skelter’ meant besides the 90s hip-hop duo until today. Now, I’m ready to learn what led up to the hellish murders from Charlie’s Manson’s cult following.

ALSO ON TAP TONIGHT:

  • Sleep. Catching up on sleep. You really should get a good 7-8 a night.