Winter TV Preview, Part 2

Right into it, part 2 of the look at winter season TV, back with straight links on Friday:

everyone can use a little more aziz.

everyone can use a little more aziz.

PARKS AND RECREATION (NBC, Jan. 20): We’ll never know if Parks and Rec will have the same kind of steam it had last year when NBC decided it would be a good idea to keep it off the lineup until January. At least it’s back. We can sit here and complain, wonder why NBC would do this and ultimately compare the network’s collective brain power to that of a lunch pail, but it does us no good. We can only be happy Parks and Rec is coming back. Soon.

PERFECT COUPLES (NBC, Jan. 20): The only thing you can look for in a pilot is The Spark. The Hint. The Inkling. Anything that makes you think, “If I keep watching this for the next six weeks, I’ll be rewarded because it will be better.” Community wasn’t very funny at first — but there was The Hint that it could be better. Unfortunately, the Perfect Couples pilot doesn’t seem to have it. The worst part is, the pilot is somewhat funny, and thankfully, has avoided the laugh track. But there just doesn’t seem to be a guarantee of a payoff if I keep watching. It seems like Friends if Friends was only written for women. If that interests you, have at it.

WHITE COLLAR (USA, Jan. 18) and HOT IN CLEVELAND (TV Land, Jan. 19): Two shows I just don’t understand their popularity. White Collar is a cookie cutter USA mystery TV show where there is no chance Tiffani Thiessen can get naked. Pass. Put that show on HBO and I’m there. Thiessen could say, “I’d eat my big toe before I got naked on this show,” and I’d still pony up the subscription cost just in case. Plus, the difference in wife-husband hotness of Thiessen and that FBI guy is on the Eva Mendes-Will Ferrell level — except in White Collar it’s not a joke, you’re supposed to believe Tiff would go from Zack Morris or Dylan McKay to the Guy Who Reverses His Vasectomy in Seinfeld. Not on my watch. Hot in Cleveland is an 80s throwback sitcom that reminds me why I don’t like 80s sitcoms anymore.

PORTLANDIA and ONION NEWS (IFC, Jan. 21): Call if the FX Corollary. I have no idea how funny this will be and I don’t necessarily like Fred Armisen. But after watching Larry Sanders and Mr. Show marathons last weekend and seeing hundreds of commercials for these shows, I almost feel like I need to watch them. It’s not blind faith either, the commercials are pretty funny. And I don’t read The Onion that much, but I can’t remember a time that I read an Onion article without laughing. And I’m the guy that actually thought The Onion Movie was pretty funny. I’m pretty sure there are worse ways to spend an hour.


if you're in Spartacus, you need to get used to showing off your body like this. good job, marisa ramirez.

SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA (Starz, Jan. 21): I’m not sure who to blame for the weird kind of animation you see in things like Spartacus these days. Sin City seemed like it was the first, can we blame it? 300 was the best and most successful, can we blame it? Can we blame Frank Miller, since those belonged to him first? Whoever is responsible, they need to be reprimanded.

THE CHICAGO CODE (Fox, Feb. 7): It’s been done before — multiple times — but as a Catholic, it’s both creepy and totally compelling to see someone walk into church, Rosary in hand, splash some holy water around and then pray for the strength to kill someone. So yeah, I’m in just on the trailer. Of any of the network shows premiering this winter, this is the one with the biggest potential to land on the fall schedule. No stars, but the Shawn Ryan pedigree is enough to get it to September. Ryan is firmly in the Fox family, but it seems the company forced him to show-run for Lie to Me, let him leave to do his own thing, killed off his Terriers show and now held on to this show until midseason. If this show gets a quick execution, Ryan probably won’t be sticking around at Fox much longer. That’s a bigger loss for Fox than it is for Ryan.

MR. SUNSHINE (ABC, Feb. 9): Matthew Perry back doing broad comedy. Count me in. Or at least count me very curious. I’m giving Perry a free pass for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip because he was good in it and because he earned it through however many years of Friends and The Whole Nine Yards. Not The Whole Ten Yards, mind you, that actually makes me want to not give him a free pass. I’ve had the screener sitting around for a while, I’m gonna try and watch it before the premiere. If nothing else, at least the trailer is funny.

JUSTIFIED (FX, Feb. 9): An OK show that turned to must-see TV by the end of its first season. Timothy Olyphant is fantastic as Rayland Givens, but come to think about it, when has Olyphant not been fantastic? The guy made Catch and Release watchable, and despite all the cornball McLane-centric lines he was forced to spout in Live Free or Die Hard, he managed to stay ahead of William Sandler and John Amos on the Best Die Hard Villains list. He wasn’t coming near Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons or the late Alexander Godunov, but still.

THE KENNEDYS (History Channel, March 6): How many takes are there of life as a Kennedy? Can I write one up from scratch and presumably get it on TV within a year? Can a dog or a cat do it? I know they’re America’s most famous family, but really, History Channel, is that all ya got? I have this picture of production meetings where the network was trying to figure out who to feature with its first-ever scripted miniseries, about 20 people in attendance at each. In the back, there was some douche guy who got his job because of his dad, with slicked-back Gordon Gekko hair, who came in late to every meeting while chewing gum. When the ideas started spit-balling, he piped up first and said, “Kennedys, no-brainer.” It was then explained to him the Kennedys have been done 1,000 times and they couldn’t possibly do that again. But at every meeting, he kept saying “Kennedys” not because he believed in it, but because it was the only historical family he ever heard of. All the other people kept rolling their eyes — but couldn’t come up with anything better. After about a month of meetings and no better ideas, everyone just finally said, “Fine, Kennedys.” Everyone hates that guy, but everyone works with a guy like that. Apparently, there’s one of those guys at the History Channel.

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