Tag Archives: Vikings

Appealing TV: The Following, Playing House, and Vikings

The pickings are starting to get slim, as the lights are starting to flicker and dim on the 2013 – 2014 television season, right as the days start to get longer. And as the days get longer, assuming you subscribe to the Alanis Morissette interpretation of what irony is, it’d be a little bit ironic, dontcha think? Okay, that was a few too many hoops to jump through in order to force the the Morissette issue, but still.

So, what else is on?

Monday, April 28
The Following (9pm, FOX, season finale)
The Following is like some awkward guy named Dartanian with a predilection for throwing smoke bombs at people in order to mask the fact that despite his leather trench coat and five hundred dollar fedora, there is no substance behind what in his mind should be projecting a totally dark and moody, old soul, kind of vibe. And when called out on his shit, Dartanian can only proclaim, I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, DAD. I LEARNED IT FROM YOU. The fact this Kevin-Bacon-starred loopy cult murder porno has made it this far defies logic, and will only offer further fuel to angry TV fans upset over the cancellation of their favorite show as this remains on the air.

Tuesday, April 29
Playing House (10pm, USA, series premiere)
Because I don’t get to say it enough, I’m going to call it, and say that Playing House is the spiritual successor to the blink-and-you-miss-it Best Friends Forever, which ran as a midseason replacement on NBC’s 2012 schedule. Which makes sense as real life best friends Jessica St. Clair (who you might have seen lately on Comedy Central’s Review with Forest McNeil!) and Lennon Parham both created, starred, and wrote both shows. Playing House features St. Clair and Parham moving back to their hometown in order to raise Parham’s child after divorcing her husband. If the promotions from USA are to be believed, the cast is a deep bench of people who we’ve seen in other places.

Game of Arms (10pm, AMC, season finale)
Well, Game of Arms is still technically a show from the network that brought you Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I believe I am paraphrasing Joe Rogan when he says you could be the best at breaking rocks, but that doesn’t mean I’d want to watch it (in reference to watching the Tour de France). And no matter how gritty and sporting you can make arm wrestling look, or how many puns of other television show titles you can make, maybe the stink of Sylvester Stallone’s Over the Top still hangs over the proceedings to this day. Anyway, I am writing about the finale to let you know that June 1 will be the premiere of AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, starring Lee Pace, which people are saying is the best show AMC has put out since Mad Men.

Wednesday, April 30
The Ultimate Fighter: Team Penn vs. Team Edgar (10pm, Fox Sports 1)
I can’t front at all, the first season of the Ultimate Fighter that ran on fringe-y man-centric channel Spike TV back in 2005 was the reason I got into Mixed Martial Arts. And nine years later, here we find ourselves with the UFC in a broadcast deal with FOX, and the show that thrust the sport into the mainstream soldiers on. It’s another season of a bunch of up-and-coming fighters that producers will try to hem and haw that these will be the future champions in the UFC, but the reality of the situation (assuming they even get signed to a contract with the UFC and that they don’t wash-out after going 0-2 on the preliminary card) is that they’ll probably end up fighting on local regional cards, using the tune of appearing on the show as a value proposition. Not BAD, per se, but maybe, just maybe this show has outlived its usefulness. De we need regional specific iterations of the show now that most people know about MMA and the UFC and don’t buy John McCain’s human cockfighting line?

Thursday, May 1
Portlandia (10pm, IFC, season finale)
We can thank Fred Arminsen and Carrie Brownstein for inspiring an entire generation of out-of-touch aunts and uncles to tell their hip nieces and nephews to put a bird on it at Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes the gulf of aloofness and lack of communication is too wide to traverse without pop culture lubricant.

Sirens (10pm, USA, season finale)
The freshman sitcom, produced by Denis Leary and Bob Fisher (which I just learned was an adaptation of the 2011 British comedy-drama of the same name) about a trio of emergency medical technicians in Chicago ends its run tonight.

Vikings (10pm, History, season finale)
The scripted, dramatic show about vikings on the channel that used to be all about canned documentaries about Hitler’s secret link to the occult and is now known for fake reality series about oafs pricing inanimate objects that may or may not have existed in the Antebellum South ends it second season run. History is a part of all of us! Also, it should be noted that Donal Logue, who portrays Danish King Horik in the series, has been cast as Detective Harvey Bullock in FOX’s straight-to-series order for Gotham, the whole prequel, sexy Batman show set to debut next season. And listen, anytime I get to write about Donal Logue is a good day.

Friday, May 2
The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall (11:59pm, Comedy Central)
This documentary about the hallowed stand-up comedy club, co-produced with Comedy Central and cable channel Epix, will feature some of your favorite comedians talking about getting their start the vaunted club.

Saturday, May 3
OMG EMT (10pm, TLC, series premiere)
Something like OMG EMT is just a way for TLC to remind people that there was a time that TLC was called The Learning Channel, and that it showed childbirth at 7 in the morning, many moons ago. Maybe TLC is saying it is more than a parade of mutants from the Midwest, and that it is trying to rebrand, much like Ronald McDonald. Or not! Maybe this four-part series is really just another permutation of the whole hospital freak show subgenre TLC is becoming known for, when not showing willful parent child abuse at children’s beauty pageants. Anyway, here is an ‘ambulance selfie‘ (his words not mine) from UFC fighter Ike Vallie-Flagg who most recently suffered a broken orbital bone from Japanese MMA legend Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi at this past Saturday’s UFC 172 in Baltimore. I figure ambulance selfie is something that OMG EMT would be all about.

Sunday, May 4
The Simpsons (8pm, FOX, 550th episode)
The 550th episode feels like an odd number to commemorate (I think of Patton Oswalt’s ‘you are only allowed twenty birthdays‘ bit), but in honor of this institution of a television show, it will be in Lego. Which hey, did you know you can buy The Simpsons house on Lego for two hundred dollars? Now you do.

Resurrection (9pm, ABC season finale)
Resurrection is a show about the dead coming back to life, that stars Kurt Lockwood (aka Red Forman from That 70′s Show and Clarence Boddicker from Robocop) and it is not very good and this is merely a PSA that if you want to watch a show about the dead coming back to life, you are better off watching French series The Returned on Netflix or BBC America’s In The Flesh (the second series starts next Saturday on BBC America). Or, in the genre of mystery missing people, hold off for HBO’s The Leftovers in the summer, or watch some old episodes of USA’s The 4400.

See you next Monday!

Appealing TV: The Americans, Portlandia, and The Red Road

This week’s television midseason bounty is like being found by a St. Bernard in the alpine slopes but instead of carrying booze he has television, and instead of the alpine slopes its our Bay Area winter-not-winter (try not to think about that awful drought).

So, what else is on?

Monday, February 24
Dallas (9pm, TNT, season premiere)
The continuation of the continuation (not reboot) of the saga that started in 1978 resumes with the sexy oil-rich sociopathic Ewings throwing shade and slaps in the name of soapiness, hamminess, horny-ness, and greed. Someone once said that Dallas contains all of the pretension of LA, without any of the things LA actually has.

Also, a million Bison Dollars to the person who can decipher the following trailer for the premiere.

Rupaul’s Drag Race (9pm, Logo, season premiere)
I’ve never seen an episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race, but I am really glad this show exists.

Late Night with Seth Meyers (12:35am, NBC, series premiere)
Long time SNL Weekend Update anchor gets the call up to fill the Late Night shoes that Jimmy Fallon leaves behind, and he’s brought Fred Armisen with him as musical director and band leader of the 8G Band. First night’s guests are: Amy Poehler, Vice President Joe Biden and musical act A Great Big World.

Tuesday, February 25
Glee (8pm, FOX, spring season premiere)
Glee returning with new episodes is kind of a punchline in and of itself, right?

Mind Games (10pm, ABC, series premiere)
Created by Kyle Killen, who brought us beloved and doomed from the start (because television viewers cannot have nice things all the time) Lone Star and Awake, Mind Games has Christian Slater and Steve Zahn as brothers who use behavioral science and con artistry to manipulate people, for good! Also Steve Zahn is bipolar, which adds another wrinkle to the proceedings.

Game of Arms (10pm, AMC, series premiere)
The only way to help reconcile the continuing dissonance that the same network that gave us Mad Men and Breaking Bad is now peddling a reality show about arm wrestlers the name of which is really just a pun of another show on another (premium) network is to think of AMC as the kid that peaked in high school. The kid that everyone thought was gonna do great things, but twenty years later ends up working in accounts receivable and sometimes does paintball on the weekend. You run into ‘voted most likely to succeed HBO’ twenty years later at the grocery store and you lie through your teeth and say you should have lunch and catch up, but you wonder where it all went wrong.

Wednesday, February 26
The Americans (10pm, FX, season premiere)
My favorite show of 2013 returns for a second season of glorious, glorious Soviet wig technology (as Grantland’s Andy Greenwald describes it). Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are KGB spies posing as a married couple with kids (who don’t know their parents are spies) in 1981 Cold War suburban Virginia. While transcending the already compelling cloak-and-dagger espionage premise, The Americans shines with a through line of relationships being a Cold War of their own (which sounds way less cringe-worthy than it reads – performances by Russell and Rhys sell the hell out of it).

Legit (10pm, FXX, season premiere)
Legit is a show I want to like more than I actually do. Comedian Jim Jeferies’ cringe comedy returns with a second season on television’s new Siberia, FXX. As a pudgy man, I am all for seeing another fellow pudgy man carouse with women out of his league, but beyond that, I didn’t find any of the heart that would have set it apart from all the other shows about straight white men drinking, doing drugs, and screwing.

Ali G: Rezurection (10:30pm, FXX, series premiere)
Everything old is repurposed as new but you get that sinking sensation there is a reason why they kept it hidden in the first place. Ali G: Rezurection isn’t so much a reboot or continuation of the early 2000s comedy that broke Sacha Baron Cohen into mainstream consciousness, as a broadcast of the original run of Da Ali G Show from UK’s Channel 4 in 2000. We’re promised never before seen in the US segments, akin to the lost episodes of Chappelle’s Show.

Thursday, February 27
Portlandia (10pm, IFC, season premiere)
The real triumph in Portlandia is that it’s able to milk so much comedy from a single, laser focused premise and not fall into into pandering, low-hanging histrionic ‘fucking hipsters amirite.’ This comes from strong writing and solid performances from Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein.

Vikings (10pm, History, season premiere)
History’s first foray into scripted programming was a solid success, and any show that gives me the opportunity to marvel at Donal Logue is already automatically aces in my book.

The Red Road (10pm, Sundance, series premiere)
After its totally out of nowhere 2013, SundanceTV (formerly Sundance Channel) prepares to swing its big swaggering dick into 2014 prestige with The Red Road, starring Khal Drogo himself, Jason Momoa, along with Martin Henderson, Julianne Nicholson, and Tom Sizemore (remember him?). Ex-con (Momoa) and cop (Henderson) are forced to work together after a tragedy strikes in order to cover up their haunted secrets.

Friday, February 28
Hannibal (10pm, NBC, season premiere)
It is fitting that a show this much about death gets placed in the Friday Night Death Slot. The surprise critical darling from NBC returns for a second season about sadness and murder and (in)sanity. Hannibal earns its bleak outlook and grotesque imagery, taking an adult look at the emotional toll dealing with death can take on the human psyche is usually seen only on cable television (which is more than I can say about a certain other network show about death whose name rhymes with “The Swallowing”).

Saturday, March 1
Deion’s Family Playbook (10pm, OWN, series premiere)
Professional athlete Deion Sanders has a reality about being a single father, and it’s called Deion’s Family Playbook because he used to play sports, and in sports they use a playbook.

Sunday, March 2
The 86th Annual Academy Awards (8:30pm, ABC)
Ellen Degeneres hosts the Oscars for a second time, putting a button on this year’s award season.

See you next Monday!