Keeping Warm in the Winter with TV and Movies

(This is a preview of Sunday’s PopRox column in the Pocono Record.)

When you live in northeast Pennsylvania, you’re used to hunkering down in the winter, boarding up the windows and doors and hoping you don’t have to go outside for any other reason than a beer run.

Luckily, TV and movies are around to help us get through to that time when we can actually be happy about cutting the grass again.

It’s not the most impressive schedule you’ll ever see, but there are some events we can look forward to when we go into the single digits this week:

ok, fox, you win. i'll watch the following even though it sounds a little too close to the killing.

The Following (Fox), premieres Monday
Last May, critics hailed this Kevin Bacon-hunts-a-serial-killer show as the best new show of the year … then Fox kicked it back to a midseason replacement, we’ve forgotten about all the buzz it got and we’ve seen the other pilots this season. Let’s just say we’re obviously unimpressed since there isn’t a hit in the bunch. So calling this the best new show of the season is setting the bar a little low. Still, Fox has done a great job with the show’s marketing and Bacon’s first TV series alone is enough to give it a shot.

The Americans (FX), premieres Jan. 30
It’s a nice little racket FX has going. You watch its more popular shows like Sons of Anarchy, American Horror Story and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and you’re so besieged by commercials for its next big show, that you’re basically compelled to watch. Such is the case with The Americans. Nobody is tuning in to see Keri Russell in anything anymore, and I seriously doubt anyone cares about the gay brother from Brothers and Sisters. I can’t even remember his name on the show without looking it up. Scotty was his boyfriend … Kevin? Wait, lemme check … yup, it was Kevin. Yet here we are, setting our DVRs for a full season of The Americans, a Cold War spy story, almost like we’re in some sort of trance. Must … watch … show …

30 Rock finale (NBC), Jan. 31
It’s no secret 30 Rock has seen better days. You can only watch Tracy Jordan spout nonsense, Liz Lemon whine about her lack of luck and Jack Donaghy be Jack Donaghy for so long before you have to wonder why you’re still watching. Not one character has grown or shown any inclination of growth in seven years, so don’t think for second that you’ll see Kenneth all of a sudden decide to pull a Woody Boyd and run for New York City Council. No, these lovable imps are going to stay the same in the series finale, and we’ll give them a pass for it because we want to feel that final bit of 30 Rock comfort before we go back and watch the reruns and remember five years ago when it was probably the funniest show on TV.

please, one more paintball episode!

The return of Community (NBC), Feb. 7
NBC had the chance to capitalize on its hot mess of a low-rated critical darling by getting it back on the air in the fall, but it decided to push the season premiere to February. In the meantime, the show (finally) decided to part ways with Chevy Chase, watched as NBC’s Thursday sitcom lineup audience amazingly has eroded even further and its hardcore fans have become so frustratingly fed up that they may not even bother showing up to watch this death march of a fourth season. I guess what I’m saying is, CAN’T WAIT!!!

A Good Day to Die Hard, releasing in theaters Feb. 14
Presumably the last time Bruce Willis will be the top-line star of the Die Hard franchise, he’s about to hand it off to Jai Courtney, who plays his full-grown son, Jack. Don’t worry about the fact that we haven’t seen him since the original Die Hard when he was like 4 and Thornburg was trying to bust into his Los Angeles home in the middle of the night. Now he’s all big and bad, and possibly the person to lead the franchise in its post-Willis days. Just typing that almost brought a tear to my eye.

Argo on DVD, Feb. 19
Fine. I didn’t see it in the theaters, OK? You got me. I said for weeks, months even, that I was going to see it, and I never did. Now I’m stuck sitting around twiddling my thumbs waiting for it to hit Redbox. Although that’s how I enjoyed Ben Whofleck’s other two directorial efforts, so maybe I’ll just make this a tradition.

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