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.

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.

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.


  • 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)


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)


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.

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!).

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

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’.


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 

Monday’s Best Reviewed: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Last night’s reviews were all over the board, as all four major shows earning review got at least one rave and at least one downright pan. The winner by default is burgeoning cult classic musical Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s return to camp (with Josh, of course).

Monday, February 1’s Best: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (8.0/10)

besyescrazyMost liked this quirkiest of “love” stories as CEG sent Becca an Josh back to camp. Present in A- praise was AV Club calling it the “latest in a line of strong episodes” for “how nimbly it balances not one, but three big storylines.” Christine Laskodi at TV Fanatic is less enamored, dipping the show into the mid-3s for its “slow start,” but loves the revelations.

The Rest of the Night:

Jane the Virgin – 7.9

JTV‘s 32nd chapter got almost identical grades as Crazy Ex from all comers, save a tenth less of a star from TV Fanatic‘s Amanda Steinmetz who felt “nothing about [Jane’s] two potential suitors interested [her].”

Supergirl – 7.1

Supergirl‘s introduction of their take on the classic Bizarro character was polarizing to say the least. Caroline Siede at AV Club found it “elevates” the series and loved its feminist twist and how Supergirl saw her doppelgangerly opponent as a “victim not a villain.” On the other end of the spectrum, IGN‘s Cliff Wheatley, while recognizing the show caught some of its new villain’s “inherent tragedy,” unloaded on the episode as “rife with melodrama, hammy acting, odd character choices, and relationships we simply aren’t invested in.”

The Magicians – 6.7

IGN, on the other hand, loved the third episode of The Magicians for its penchant to “allow for nice touches for each of the characters.” AV Club was more tepid, issuing a warning to viewers who thought the initial pair of episodes “tore through plot too quickly…that problem is not going away.”


What to Watch: 02/01/2016

We’re halfway through the bitterest Winter months, and there’s a full complement of shows on the air, but sometimes the best call is to bask in classic 1990s movies of all varieties for a few days.

Angie Tribeca (TBS, 7p)
Yes, I know I have been hawking AT at every week’s beginning, but this episode where Tribeca & Giles go undercover as a pair of newlyweds to bring down a coke-smuggling wedding planner is the Naked Gun-esque’s series high point so far.

No Mas Bebes [PBS, 10p]
This doc discusses how Mexican mothers were coerced into getting sterilized in hospitals during the 1960s and 70s. I’m interested to see if they mention how it was also happening in Puerto Rico at the same time but under false pretenses, which is even more devastating.

Dick Tracy [TMC, 6p]
When this violent trainwreck came out in 1990, I wasn’t allowed to see it (for good reason–sex! a muddled plot! violence! terrible acting!), even though all the kids had bright yellow Dick Tracy lunchboxes. Hindsight, paired with Karina Longworth’s You Must Remember This has resulted in relief that I can view this film with a critical, adult lens.


The X-Files improved from its tenth season’s first to second episode, and tonight we see if it can rise anywhere near the delightful insanity of its 1990s episodes (on FOX, of course)…if you enjoy awkward rich Brits, you have a couple choices: if you desire highbrow, Downton Abbey‘s final season marches on over at PBS, but if you feel like descending down to a floor above Benny Hill, check out the delightfully bizarre mock-reality show Almost Royal on BBC.

What to Watch:01/31/2016

On the days of most major NFL games, the rest of the evening’s television can be a bit dud-ish as the networks avoid anything which might be wasted on an audience that’s elsewhere. However, that all goes out the window with the hapless Pro Bowl, and at the very least, it’s a pretty normal day…

Billions [Showtime, 10p]
Showtime’s latest drama takes on the world of high finance and features some great thespian chops in Paul Giamatti and Damien Lewis, and it started out a bit tepid, but came on in a more thrilling second offering. This episode promises political double-crosses galore.

Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry [E!, 10p]
Mediums plus Hollywood entertainers make for an intriguing mix. Honestly, I need to know what Brittany Murphy has to say, don’t judge me!

Jurassic Park [IFC, 6p]
The 1993 original, starring Santa Claus Richard Attenborough.


FOX is certainly not afraid of no football all-stars as they bring out the latest in the let’s-revive-nostalgic-musicals-with-b-level-stars gambit with Grease: Live — I snark, but will I be singing lustily during “Summer Nights” (well, leaving out its objectionable Kenickie line): probably not, because I’ll be watching elsewhere, but it sounds like fun…a bunch of ninjas who fashion themselves warriors will be gathering in the Americas on NBC to select the new GOP presidential candidate on American Ninja Warrior: USA vs. the World…then there’s Naked & Afraid with a marathon ending on an episode titled “Snaketacular Clip Show” and does anything sum up what we think that show might be any better?