Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Television 2014

Critic's Notebook: The Network Upfronts
(By Matt Roush, TV Guide, May 16, 2014)

A curious rite of mid-May: Even as the broadcast networks are wrapping their regular seasons with a flurry of cliffhangers and finale events — farewell, Cristina Yang, and a toast to those soon-to-be-newlyweds Mitch and Cam — all eyes in the industry are already looking to the future, with a just-concluded Upfront Week of noisy presentations in New York in which new series and schedules are announced with a fanfare that probably beats the alternative: blowing taps for all the failed series announced last year at this time.  Superheroes are hot. So, refreshingly, is diversity, with more minority leads and casts than any time in recent memory. And now that we have a clear picture of how the nets, and the nights, are lining up, here are some very preliminary first impressions from having seen clips and sifting through the hype. How did the networks rate (in order of presentation)? NBC: Most derivative. Fox: Most unusual. ABC: Most daring. CBS: Most consistent. The CW: Most surprising.  Let's take it night by night:


When you've got it, flaunt it. Or clone it. NBC is back with another cycle of The Voice — not yet diminished by overexposure, but how long before the clock begins ticking? — featuring new coaches Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani in the revolving chairs (replacing Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera). For the first two months of the season, breakout hit The Blacklist will be back, soaking up that powerful Voice lead-in. The success of The Blacklist (and to varying degrees Scandal and pay-cable's Homeland) has inspired NBC to order a number of series involving international intrigue, espionage and conspiracy. Diminishing returns may set in soon, because the show replacing The Blacklist in November, State of Affairs, seems a blah fill-in, asking us to accept Katherine Heigl (dressed as if she's going to a cocktail soiree) as the top CIA analyst who prepares the daily briefing book for the president (the more intriguingly cast Alfre Woodard).

After a season of free fall on Mondays, CBS makes a bit of history by reducing its two-hour comedy block to a single hour for the first time since the mid-'80s. With Thursday Night Football taking up CBS's top-rated real estate on that night, The Big Bang Theory moves in to give the underrated Mom a powerful boost for eight weeks. That's going to take a bite out of The Voice (and Dancing With the Stars) at least through October. A new procedural, Scorpion, looks like a promising mix of humor and action, as a team of brilliant misfits unites to help Homeland Security (in the form of Robert Patrick) tackle high-tech security threats. Perfectly suited for CBS. And filling the recent ratings abyss of 10/9c, a transplanted NCIS: Los Angeles, which finally makes CBS competitive with Castle and Blacklist.

Adding to the competitive swirl, Fox hopes to capitalize on the surprise breakthrough of last season's wildly entertaining supernatural fantasy Sleepy Hollow by pairing it with Gotham. This dark and deluxe Batman prequel focuses on pre-Commissioner James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, resurfacing from the acclaimed Southland), back in his detective days, coping with the festering corruption and crime of Gotham City (which claims the life of young Bruce Wayne's parents), while providing origin stories of many of the Batman franchise's most memorable super-villains. This looks stunning.  And here's a surprise: The other new Monday show I'm most excited to see is from The CW: Jane the Virgin, a telenovela-inspired hourlong comedy in the Ugly Betty vein, about a virtuous girl from a strict Latino family whose chastity is besmirched when she is accidentally artificially inseminated. It's funnier than it sounds. In fact, it's kind of adorable.


CBS will once again dominate with viewers in a procedural three-for-all led by the undying NCIS, its latest spin-off (NCIS: New Orleans) and the marvelously unconventional Person of Interest. NBC stresses stability with The Voice and Chicago Fire bookending the night, and pairing returning midseason charmer About a Boy with one of this season's way-too-many wacky yet generic rom-coms: Marry Me, from the creator of Happy Endings, featuring the appealing Casey Wilson and Ken Marino as a longtime couple with incredibly bad timing when it comes to big gestures like proposals. Not an exciting premise, but not nearly as annoying as ABC's Manhattan Love Story, a gimmicky misfire that lets us hear (through voice-over) every unguarded thought of a newly dating couple. You can't even tell them to shut up. They'd just think louder.  Next!

Would you believe a modern-day twist on My Fair Lady, reinvented for the age of social media? ABC's Selfie sitcom stars Karen Gillan (best known as Doctor Who's beloved Amy Pond) as narcissist Eliza Dooley, in need of a makeover after a viral Epic Fail, with marketing expert Henry Higgins (John Cho) to the rescue. Cute, different, but is it a self-starter on a tough night?  Avoiding a superhero showdown, ABC shifts Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which enjoyed a late-season creative surge, to the 9/8c hour, opening the field at 8/7c for The CW's spectacular looking The Flash, starring the likably boyish Grant Gustin as "meta human" speed freak Barry Allen, who stole Felicity's (and more than a few viewers') heart in several Arrow episodes this season. The Flash trailer is as impressive as Gotham's, and that's saying something.  Fox will likely struggle to keep its strange new reality concept, Utopia, from ratings limbo, as it follows a group of castaways building a civilization from scratch. Imagine the whiplash as the network shifts gears to its perilously low-rated quirk-coms New Girl and The Mindy Project. As a lead-in, Utopia could prove hellish. This is what we get for cheering when Fox canned The X Factor.


I still wish ABC had tried airing Trophy Wife a few times on this night, but having failed that, it makes sense for The Goldbergs to take up residence between durable comedy tentpoles The Middle and Modern Family. The new Wednesday comedy, Black-ish, is one of ABC's bolder strokes, a family comedy about racial identity starring Anthony Anderson as an affluent dad who despairs when his kids refuse to embrace their heritage.  The night's riskiest new show? Unquestionably Fox's Red Band Society, a dramedy set in a hospital's pediatric ward, where a group of kids bond forever as patients, tended by nurse Octavia Spencer and doctor Dave Annable. (Not to mention executive producer Steven Spielberg.) Narrated by a boy in a coma, this could be either a maudlin train wreck or the next Party of Five feel-good tearjerker. At least it's different.

Which is more than you can say for NBC's The Mysteries of Laura, starring Debra Messing as a homicide cop who's better at nabbing criminals than wrangling her obnoxious twin boys and estranged husband on the home front. If Laura is too cute a procedural, CBS's Stalker (designed as a companion piece to the repulsive Criminal Minds) is too much, a weekly wallow in deranged voyeurism, with Nikita's Maggie Q and a cocky Dylan McDermott leading the charge against deadly stalkers. Clips featured one terrorized victim being torched inside her car. Made me want to attach a rape whistle to my remote.


How Shonda-riffic! ABC goes all Shonda Rhimes all night long, with the power producer's ever-popular duo of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal each bumped an hour earlier — temporarily fixing the network's pesky 8/7c pm problem — with a new Rhimes show in the 10/9c hour, led by Oscar nominee Viola Davis as a badass leather-wearing criminal-law professor teaching her students How to Get Away With Murder. Sounds perfectly outrageous to me.  CBS makes waves on one of TV's most combative and lucrative nights, causing even more headaches for its rivals by scheduling eight weeks of Thursday Night Football at the start of the season. (The regular series lineup will resume Oct. 30 with one new addition: the Irish family comedy The McCarthys, which appears to be less shrill and silly than The Millers, but give it time. Tyler Ritter, yet another charming offspring of the late John Ritter, stars as the gay son, with Laurie Metcalf as the loudly outspoken mom.)

Fox counters with the nomadic, long-running Bones and what now seems a pointless remake of the brilliant British crime drama Broadchurch, here titled Gracepoint, a 10-episode whodunit featuring David Tennant (reprising his detective role from the original, albeit masking his Scottish brogue with a flat American affect) and Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn as his inexperienced partner. NBC more or less gives up, breaking up its comedy block by starting the night with The Biggest Loser, then airing two pointless new comedies: Bad Judge starring Kate Walsh in the self-explanatory debauched title role (no more amusing than CBS's Bad Teacher), and another rom-com, A to Z, starring Mad Men's Ben Feldman and How I Met Your Mother's poorly used Cristin Milioti as apparent soulmates.  At least NBC's Parenthood gets a proper send-off with a shortened final season, to be replaced at midseason by Allegiance, a spy drama that might sound fresh if FX's brilliant The Americans hadn't already mined this territory of deeply embedded Russian spies.


ABC continues its diversity campaign with the Latino sitcom Cristela, about an ambitious law student living with her traditional family. Nothing groundbreaking here, but "T.G.I.F." is all about comfort-food TV, and the plucky star Cristela Alonzo could develop a following.  CBS moves The Amazing Race from Sundays, which might feel like marginalizing the Emmy-winning franchise, but at least fans won't have to endure those aggravating NFL overruns in much of the country. And good luck to Fox's Utopia on this purgatorial night, airing a second weekly installment opposite Friday's dominant reality player, ABC's Shark Tank.  NBC has found a nice niche for dark fantasy on Fridays, and may have developed a strong companion for Grimm with the DC Comics-inspired Constantine, based on the Hellblazer comics and starring Matt Ryan as a wry demon hunter confronting forces of evil on a weekly basis. As one does. (Of course, I'll be counting the weeks until the astonishing Hannibal presumably spells it at midseason.)




Animation is no longer quite such a dominating factor on Fox's Sunday lineup, with the award-winning freshman police comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine separating The Simpsons and Family Guy, and another live-action sitcom, Mulaney, presenting affable stand-up and Saturday Night Live veteran writer John Mulaney in a Dick Van Dyke Show-like situation as he kowtows to an egomaniacal TV comic (Martin Short). Fox rather wishfully describes this as "a Seinfeld for a new generation," but I can't help but see it as more of a (Rob) Petrie dish.  CBS is taking the most risks on its highest-quality night, bridging 60 Minutes and the better-than-ever The Good Wife with a new drama, Madam Secretary, starring the alluring Téa Leoni as a newly installed Secretary of State. Depending on how this develops — I'm hoping the political White House skirmishes will take precedence over earnest international trouble-shooting — she and Alicia Florrick could make a winning combo. And the latest long-running procedural to inherit the precarious 10/9c time period that is particularly vulnerable to sports overruns: the original CSI, which when it finishes its 15th season will be replaced by new spinoff CSI: Cyber. Because that's how CBS rolls.

No real room to elaborate on the midseason offerings, but among the more intriguing teases: CBS's character-driven crime drama-with-humor Battle Creek, from Vince Gilligan and David Shore, feeling more Northern Exposure than Breaking Bad; Fox's sexy hip-hop family saga Empire, starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson; NBC's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt from 30 Rock's Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, starring The Office gamine Ellie Kemper as an innocent on the loose in the Big Apple; The CW's whimsically high-concept iZombie, with a touch of Pushing Daisies as the undead heroine helps solve crimes after gaining insight from ingesting victims' brains; and a handful from ABC: an Asian-family sitcom about culture-shock assimilation, Fresh Off the Boat; the warped medieval musical Galavant; the racially charged American Crime (sending off a very cable vibe); and the creepy The Whispers, based on a Ray Bradbury story, about aliens using children to do their sinister bidding. Looking forward to checking out all of these.

Checking In On Fall’s New Shows: What’s Canceled, Renewed, In Limbo As Midseason Begins
(By Emily Yahr, Washington Post, 21 February 2014)
R.I.P. (probably) "Super Fun Night" (Nicole Wilder/ABC) R.I.P. (probably) “Super Fun Night” (Nicole Wilder/ABC)
“Super Fun Night” came to an end Tuesday, but it’s okay if you barely noticed — less than 3 million people watched the freshman comedy’s finale. And to think, it was supposed to be ABC’s best hope for a new comedy, getting the glorious post-”Modern Family” spot. (And helped seal the fate of “Happy Endings.” No, we’re not still bitter.) 

But that was last fall — a mere six months ago, yet so far in the distant past, where Rebel Wilson leading her own comedy series without her native Australian accent seemed like a good idea. A whopping 27 new shows premiered on the broadcast networks. How many will live to see a second season? Now that we’re at the point where midseason is really kicking into high gear (and serve as the fall shows’ main competition when it’s time for execs to plan next season), here’s the slate of the 2013-2014 new broadcast shows and where they stand.
"The Goldbergs" (Craig Sjodin/ABC) “The Goldbergs” (Craig Sjodin/ABC)

ABC (0/8 Already Renewed, 2 Canceled, 6 Pending)

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”: Still airing, status unknown. Seems to have the best shot at renewal.

“The Goldbergs”: Still airing, status unknown. Critics really like this one. (Not counting our own Hank Stuever.)

“Lucky 7”: Canceled after two episodes in October.

“Trophy Wife”: Still airing, status unknown. A critical favorite.

“Back in the Game”: Canceled in November, supposed to air all 13 episodes. (Aired 10 so far.)

“Betrayal”: Ended Jan. 19, status unknown. But people are surprised it lasted that long.

“Super Fun Night”: Ended Feb. 19, status unknown. Not great.

“Once Upon a Time in Wonderland”: Still airing, status unknown.

Fox (2/5 Already Renewed, 3 Pending)

“Sleepy Hollow”: Renewed for a second season.

“Dads”: Ended Feb. 11, status unknown. Critics hated it a tiny bit less at the end of its run, but still doesn’t look good.

“Brooklyn Nine Nine”: Still airing, status unknown. But with two “Golden Globe” wins and a post-Super Bowl slot, it looks all but certain to return.

“Masterchef Junior”: Renewed for a second season.

“Almost Human”: Finale March 3, status unknown. No one’s sure on this one.
"Brooklyn Nine Nine" (Eddy Chen/Fox)“Brooklyn Nine Nine” (Eddy Chen/Fox)
NBC (1/6 Already Renewed, 4 Canceled, 1 Pending)

“The Blacklist”: Renewed for a second season.

“The Michael J. Fox Show”: Pulled off the schedule this month, effectively canceled.

“Ironside”: Canceled in October after four episodes.

“Welcome to the Family”: Canceled in October after three episodes.

“Sean Saves the World”: Canceled, production shut down in January.

“Dracula”: Ended Jan. 24, status unknown. Ratings were okay and NBC may need it for next year.
"Hostages" (Nicole Rivelli/CBS)“Hostages” (Nicole Rivelli/CBS)
CBS (0/5 Already Renewed, 1 Canceled, 4 Pending)

“Hostages”: Ended Jan. 6. This was always billed as a “miniseries”; coupled with low ratings, this one is basically a goner.

“Mom”: Still airing, status unknown. It’s a Chuck Lorre show, and those never die.

“The Crazy Ones”: Still airing, status unknown. Robin Williams > Michael J. Fox this season.

“We Are Men”: Canceled in October after two episodes.

“The Millers”: Still airing, status unknown.

CW (2/3 Already Renewed, 1 Pending)

“The Originals”: Renewed for a second season.

“Reign”: Renewed for a second season.

“The Tomorrow People”: Still airing, status unknown. Depends on how CW’s midseason shows do.


A Crowded Mid-Season: A Guide To What’s On TV This Winter And Spring
(By Hank Stuever, Washington Post, 03 January 2014)

If this year’s TV mid-season has anything going for it, it’s quantity. I’m not sure I’ve seen a more crowded field of new series and special presentations in January and February (and continuing on into March and April). Here’s my attempt to at least make some sense of the coming flood, which abates a bit during the Sochi Olympics.  I’ve included short reviews of some shows I’ve already watched (Fox’s “Rake,” starring Greg Kinnear and the CW’s “The 100,” about post-apocalyptic teens, are among the best so far), as well as dates for some annual events (Golden Globes, Super Bowl, Oscar night). Click here for a list of dates and times of all your favorite returning shows.

Sunday, JAN. 5

“Blood, Sweat and Heels” (Bravo at 9 p.m.) Follows a group of black women described as “movers and shakers” in the New York fashion, real estate and media scenes. The usual.

Tuesday, JAN. 7

“Intelligence” (CBS at 9 p.m.; moves to its regular time Monday, Jan. 13, at 10 p.m.) “Lost’s” Josh Holloway returns to series TV in this espionage drama as Gabriel, an intelligence agent who is the first human to have a supercomputer implanted in his brain. He can mentally sort through heaps of data with a wink-blink of his pretty eyes. “CSI’s” Marg Helgenberger stars as his boss at a clandestine government cybersecurity agency; Meghan Ory plays a tough Secret Service agent assigned to protect Gabriel from an array of foreign bad guys who want the billion-dollar science project inside his head. Complicating things is Gabriel’s heartsick obsession with his wife, who turned out to be a terrorist.

So there you have it. Holloway is pretty much his usual simmering self, as is Helgenberger. The technology in the show displays the very latest in what-the-. . .?, as far as TV’s hyperactive imagination goes. (If we’d had the Internet in 1974, this is what “The Six Million Dollar Man” might’ve looked like.) On the whole, “Intelligence” trafficks in the usual request to suspend your disbelief and then some, but it’s also mildly intriguing — especially in the idea that its macho lead character is also treated as a vulnerable prize who needs to be protected at all costs. Grade: C+

“Killer Women” (ABC at 10 p.m.) The show’s title and advertising seemed to suggest something much saucier and violent, but this lady-cop drama (co-produced by “Modern Family’s” Sofia Vergara) is a fairly straightforward and briskly perfunctory affair about a gutsy Texas Ranger named Molly (Tricia Helfer), who chases after criminals while trying to put her own life back together. She wants a divorce from her politician husband and she’s having secret trysts with a handsome DEA agent. (“Dangerously handsome,” the press release insists. Hmm, if you say so.)

Like all shows set in Texas, “Killer Women” is cooked through with too much yee-haw sauce and a whole lot of urban-cowgirl chic, but Helfer (“Battlestar Galactica”) ably carries off the assignment and keeps the momentum going. “Killer Women” is one belt notch tighter and better than some of ABC’s already-forgotten fall dramas. Grade: B-

“100 Days of Summer” (Bravo at 10 p.m.) A group of self-absorbed, 30-something Chicago strivers mate and grate during the city’s much-welcomed months of sunshine.

“American Experience: The Poisoner’s Handbook” (PBS, check local listings) A documentary about Charles Norris, who in 1918 became New York’s first official medical examiner and developed forensic techniques that sent otherwise-elusive criminals to the electric chair.

“Being Mary Jane” (BET at 10 p.m.) New series based on the TV movie starring Gabrielle Union as a busy news anchor who juggles family and work.

“Escaping the Prophet” (TLC at 10 p.m.) This six-part docu-series follows former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints member Flora Jessop as she helps others break away from Warren Jeffs’s strict religious community.

Wednesday, JAN. 8

“Mind of a Man”(GSN at 8 p.m.) It may sound like the premise for an “SNL” sketch, but in this actual game show, two female contestants try to figure out the male thought process, aided by a panel of celebrities.

“The 40th Annual People’s Choice Awards” (CBS at 9 p.m.) Favorite movie, music and TV performances, as selected by those of you who voted online.

“Chasing Shackleton” (PBS, check local listings) Five adventure-seekers follow the treacherous 1914 Antarctic journey of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew. A three-part docu-series.

“Chicago P.D.” (NBC at 10 p.m.) Creator Dick Wolf (“Law and Order”) spins off his “Chicago Fire” into a drama about an intelligence unit that investigates the Windy City’s biggest crimes, contrasted with the work of the uniformed beat officers in the same precinct.

Thursday, JAN. 9

“The Spoils of Babylon”(IFC at 10 p.m.) Tobey Maguire stars in this comedy spoof of those sprawling, 1970s miniseries based on tawdry bestselling novels about the rich and powerful — in this case, “The Spoils of Babylon,” written by one Eric Johnrosh (Will Ferrell), who exhumes the film reels of the never-aired series (the networks deemed it “too long”) that he directed himself.

So that’s the set-up. The cast includes a whole lot of familiar faces — Kristen Wiig, Molly Shannon, Michael Sheen, Tim Robbins, Haley Joel Osment, Val Kilmer, David Spade and so on. Though I admire the show’s commitment to form in satirizing an entire genre, something about “Babylon’s” overall shtick wears immediately thin. Part of the joke is that “The Spoils of Babylon” was utterly unwatchable, and that’s why the network never showed it; it seems they achieved that goal a little too well. Grade: D

Friday, JAN. 10

“Enlisted” (Fox at 9:30 p.m.) It’s a comedy about three Army brothers (Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, Parker Young) stationed at a rear-detachment base in Florida. ”Enlisted” was originally scheduled to premiere in November; in The Post’s fall season guide, yours truly negatively compared the show to old “Beetle Bailey” comic strips and gave it a C+. But having seen some more episodes, I think they’ve charmed their way up to at least a Grade B-.

“$10 Million Bigfoot Bounty” (Spike at 10 p.m.) The sasquatch pursuit never ends. Actor Dean Cain hosts this weekly competition show in which hunters must deliver proof of the elusive creature.

“Helix” (Syfy at 10 p.m.) A team of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travels to the Arctic and finds something that could wipe out all of us. Billy Campbell (“The Killing”; “Once and Again”) stars in this drama/thriller.

Saturday, JAN. 11

“When Calls the Heart” (Hallmark at 9 p.m.) A new original series about a young teacher (Erin Krakow) who leaves big-city life to teach in a small frontier prairie town in the 19th century.

Sunday, JAN. 12

“The 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards” (NBC at 8 p.m.) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler return to host this loosey-goosey night of film and TV honors.

“True Detective” (HBO at 9 p.m.) Highly touted eight-episode crime drama stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as Louisiana detectives investigating a macabre murder that has obsessed them for nearly two decades. The narrative hopscotches around from 2012 to 1995 to 2002.

Monday, JAN. 13

“Chozen” (FX at 10:30 p.m.) An animated comedy about a gay white rapper (voiced by “SNL’s” Bobby Moynihan) who goes by the name Chozen, fresh out of prison and now seeking another chance at fame.

“Don’t Trust Andrew Mayne” (A&E at 10 p.m.) In this goofy reality show, a magician uses his talent to assist people seeking revenge on others.

“Bitten” (Syfy at 10 p.m.) Based on Kelley Armstrong’s novels, in which a young woman leaves behind her werewolf pack (and the man who turned her into a howler) for a new life in the big city.

Tuesday, JAN. 14

American Experience: 1964” (PBS, check local listings) Documentary (based on Jon Margolis’s book “The Last Innocent Year)” explores a pivotal 12 months in American politics and culture.

“Friday Night Tykes” (Esquire at 9 p.m.) A 10-part docu-series about the super-serious world of the Texas Youth Football Association, where the players are all 8- and 9-year-old boys.

“Building Wild” (National Geographic Channel at 9 p.m.) Two home-building experts tackle jobs from clients who want to build cabins in challenging locations.

“Inside Job” (TNT at 9 p.m.) Job-seeking execs live together and vie for a six-figure corporate position in this reality show — but one of them is a mole who is spying on the others’ behavior.

“Save Our Business” (TNT at 10 p.m.) Yet another show where a successful entrepreneur administers advice and tough love to struggling business owners.


“Crazy Hearts: Nashville” (A&E at 11 p.m. ) Reality series follows a group of musicians trying to make it in country music. Moves to its regular slot at 10 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16.


“Under the Gunn” (Lifetime at 9 p.m. ) Tim Gunn calls in former “Project Runway” winners to provide guidance to young designers in a new fashion competition.

“SWV Reunited” (WEtv at 10 p.m.) The ’90s R&B trio get its act together (after a tense breakup 15 years ago) in hopes of a comeback. Or maybe just getting a reality series will suffice?

“Tabloid” (Investigation Discovery at 10 p.m.) Jerry Springer hosts this look into some of the wildest stories and claims found in supermarket tabloids.


“The Square” (Netflix) From the filmmaker of “StartUp.com” and “The Control Room,” a documentary about Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the “Arab Spring” uprising.

“The Diamond Collar” (OWN at 10 p.m.) Reality series about James “Head” Guiliani, a former associate of Mafia man John Gotti who now runs a dog-grooming parlor in Brooklyn.


“June in January” (Hallmark at 7 p.m.) In this new movie, a busy bride-to-be (Brooke D’Orsay) has her ideal June wedding all planned out, but her husband is transferred and she has to move her special day to January.

“Flowers in the Attic” (Lifetime at 8 p.m.) A new movie version of V.C. Andrews’s popular mystery/horror novel, starring Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn and Kiernan Shipka (“Mad Men’s” Sally Draper).

“My Gal Sunday” (Hallmark Movie Channel at 9 p.m.) Adventures of husband-wife crime solvers (Rachel Blanchard and Cameron Mathison), based on short stories by Mary Higgins Clark.

“HitRECord on TV” (Pivot at 10 p.m.) Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings his online project to TV, in which Web users collaborate on short films and videos around an assigned theme.

“Mom’s Got Game” (OWN at 10 p.m.) Reality series follows former WNBA basketball star Pamela McGee and her 25-year-old son, JaVale McGee, a center for the Denver Nuggets.


“#RichKids of Beverly Hills”(E! at 10 p.m.) This docu-series follows a clique of fancy kids who gain Internet notoriety by promoting their every action and thought on social media. You can only hope one of them is named Ja’mie, but probably not.

“Looking” (HBO at 10:30 p.m.) A new dramedy about three gay men in San Francisco who are at different stages of life and emotional issues.


“The Powerpuff Girls: Dance Pantsed” (Cartoon Network at 7:30 p.m.) Fifteen years after their debut, the heroic Powerpuff Girls return with a new special and a new computer-generated animation style. Original characters/voices return to do battle with Mojo Jojo; Ringo Starr provides the voice of Townsville’s “flamboyant mathematician.”

“Klondike” (Discovery at 9 p.m.) Richard Madden (Robb Stark from “Game of Thrones”) stars as one of two adventurers who head for the Yukon in 1890 during the gold rush. It’s Discovery’s first original miniseries drama.


“American Masters: Salinger” (PBS, check local listings) Television premiere of Shane Salerno’s 2013 documentary about the reclusive author, with 15 minutes of new material included. (That might not be such great news: “While some of the stories are interesting, the film is much longer than it needs to be,” The Post’s Stephanie Merry said in her review when the film played in theaters last fall.)


“Broad City” (Comedy Central at 10:30 p.m.) Upright Citizens Brigade alums Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer bring their critically acclaimed online series to Comedy Central.

“The Wahlburgers” (A&E at 10:30 p.m. ) Brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg head back to Boston to join forces with their brother Paul and open a hamburger restaurant.

“Treasure King” (Reelz at 10 p.m.) Accompanied by his comely “Gallery Girls,” globe-trotting collector Richie Marcello seeks to buy and sell pop-culture treasures and memorabilia that were thought to be lost.


“Rake” (Fox at 9 p.m.) Greg Kinnear happily and believably sinks his pearly whites into this amiably sharp drama (based on a hit Australian series) about a criminal defense attorney who finds trouble everywhere: He’s up to his ears in gambling and IRS debts, drinks way too much, lives in a ratty apartment above a restaurant and is hopelessly in love with the prostitute he pays for conversation and backgammon games. His therapist is also his ex-wife.

“House” comparisons will surely abound, but “Rake” is easily one of the more confident network dramas to come our way of late. It’s a procedural (in an episode shared with critics last year, Kinnear’s character — Keegan Deane — defends a cannibal against murder charges), but it’s just un­or­tho­dox enough to make me eager to see more. Grade: B+


“Mitt” (Netflix) Straight off the bill at the Sundance Film Festival, this documentary follows the unsuccessful Romney presidential campaign of 2012 and tries to get into the mind and personality of the man himself.


“Black Sails” (Starz at 9 p.m.) At first glance, this is a sprawling, big-budget pirate drama series that somehow manages to feel too cheap. “Black Sails” follows several bands of Caribbean-based pirates in 1715, “the golden age of pirating.” When the British Navy starts to crack down on these legendary criminals, the pirate Capt. Flint (Toby Stephens) allies with the daughter of New Providence Island’s crime kingpin to chase after the ultimate treasure.

There’s a whole lot else going on in just the first episode, with too many indistinguishable characters; at times “Black Sails” feels like it wants to be taken seriously as a complicated, premium cable drama (a la “Game of Thrones”). At other times, it feels more like cheesier, more niche material (a la “Spartacus”). I’ll watch a few more episodes, but walking the plank seems more tempting. Grade: C-

“Lizzie Borden Took an Ax” (Lifetime at 8 p.m.) Christina Ricci stars in this made-for-TV movie as the infamous woman charged with ax-murdering her parents in 1892.


“The 56th Annual Grammy Awards” (CBS at 8 p.m.) LL Cool J returns to host the music industry’s biggest awards night.


“Herblock: The Black and the White” (HBO at 9 p.m.) Documentary about the prolific Washington Post editorial cartoonist.

“The 2014 Breakthrough Prizes” (Science Channel at 9 p.m.) An awards show for scientists in which six researchers each get $3 million grants as prizes. Hosted by Kevin Spacey.


“The Capones” (Reelz at 10 p.m. ) Docu-series about a “larger-than-life” family (translation: yells and fights with one another a lot) who run a pizzeria and claim to be distantly related to the famous mobster.


“Hawking” (PBS, check local listings) A new one-hour documentary about the famed physicist.

“Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond” (BBC America at 10 p.m.) Four-part miniseries drama about the real-life inspiration for the 007 character — a sophisticated maverick whose life was upended by World War II.


“Oscar” (TCM at 8 p.m.) A documentary about the history of the Academy Awards.


“Super Bowl LXVIII” (Fox) Lots of Roman numerals, a Bruno Mars halftime show, the spendy Madison Avenue commercials and — oh, right —a professional football championship game. And don’t forget “Puppy Bowl” (Animal Planet at 3 p.m.) and, for some reason, “Kitten Bowl” (Hallmark at noon).


“American Experience: The Amish — Shunned” (PBS, check local listings): Documentary explores the worlds of women and men who found themselves banished from their Amish communities.


“The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” (NBC at 11:35) Jay says goodbye. (For the second time.)


“XXII Olympic Winter Games” (NBC) From Sochi, Russia. Will it be as grim as some people expect it to be?


“The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles” (CBS at 8 p.m.) All-star concert will commemorate 50 years (exactly) since the Fab Four appeared on Ed Sullivan’s show.


“Star Crossed” (CW at 8 p.m.) Two Baton Rouge teens experience some angsty, sci-fi themed “Romeo and Juliet”-type issues because the boy (Matt Lanter) belongs to an alien race of refugees called the Atrians and the girl (Aimee Teegarden) is the daughter of the commander tasked with keeping the aliens in line.

As part of an integration effort, the gorgeous Atrian teens (who come with their own natural neck and face tattoos) are bused in every day to a local high school, where they try to fit in. “Star Crossed” hews hard to outsider themes and a nominally relevant exploration of civil rights history — amped up in CW’s instinctive flair for stylish (and predictable) teen melodrama. One imagines the screenplay being written in purple ink and very loopy handwriting, intercepted by the English teacher wearing the “Battlestar Galactica” T-shirt. Grade: C+

“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” (NBC at 11:35) The affable host reboots his late-night talk show, now from New York instead of Burbank, Calif. (And the Roots are sticking with him.)


“Late Night With Seth Meyers” (NBC at 12:35) The “Saturday Night Live” writer and “Weekend Update” anchor takes over Fallon’s old spot.


“Mixology” (ABC at 9:30 p.m.) This new comedy is set in a bar called the Mix, where 10 single people have random encounters and conversations in their unending quest for love. If I understand the concept correctly, the entire season (however long it lasts) takes place on a single night.


“Review” (Comedy Central at 10 p.m.): Andy Daly stars as a “life critic,” who reviews experiences instead of arts and culture.


“The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards” (IFC at 10 p.m.): The casual, Oscar-eve awards show for the cool movies that cool people liked. Hosted by Patton Oswalt.


“The 86th Annual Academy Awards” (ABC at 8 p.m.) It’s Oscar night! Get ahold of yourselves!


“Sirens” (USA at 10 p.m.) Denis Leary co-produces this new comedy about three EMT dudes in Chicago.


“Resurrection” (ABC at 9 p.m.) The residents of Arcadia, Mo., react to the fact that a young boy who died 32 years ago has returned — unchanged — from the dead. (Not to be confused with the excellent French miniseries “The Returned,” but it looks a little bit like it.)


“Mind Games” (ABC at 10 p.m.) Steve Zahn and Christian Slater star as Clark and Ross Edwards, two brothers who run an agency that helps clients fix their problems through psychological ma­nipu­la­tion and influence. (Zahn plays the goofy, genius one.)


“The 100” (CW at 9 p.m.) A refreshingly taut and well-executed futuristic sci-fi series about a group of 100 jailed juvenile delinquents who are banished from an orbiting space-station colony and sent to live on Earth — 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse.

They’ve barely crash-landed when things get pretty “Lord of the Flies,” but a determined young woman (Eliza Taylor) tries her best to stick to the group’s real mission: Locate a mountain bunker and determine whether or not the rest of the humans on the dying space station above can join them on land. What they discover — along with mutant deer — is that Earth is not as depopulated as they were led to believe.

I realize that sounds like a lot to chew on, but “The 100” does an excellent job of launching a CW-style take on bigger-budgeted ad­ven­ture series like “Lost” or “Terra Nova” or “Revolution,” with a little “Hunger Games” thrown in. But unlike “Terra Nova” and “Revolution,” it’s got characters you can actually care about. Maybe I’ve been too eager for an addictive sci-fi series that doesn’t feel instantly dumb, but I raced through the first several episodes of “The 100” with pleasure. Grade: A-


“Story of the Jews” (PBS, check local listings) Author Simon Schama explores Jewish culture and history in this five-part (two-night) documentary series.


“Friends With Better Lives” (CBS at 9 p.m.) A new sitcom about six pals, premiering after the one-hour “How I Met Your Mother” series finale. Takes over the 8:30 p.m. slot on April 7.


“TripTank” (Comedy Central at 10:30 p.m.) Yet another venue for edgy, animated shorts.


“The 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards” (CBS at 8 p.m.) Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan will return as hosts.


“The Address” (PBS, check local listings) Ken Burns’s film about a small boys school in Vermont where the students memorize, practice and recite the Gettysburg Address.


These shows haven’t been given an air date as of press time, but they’re expected sometime before May . . .

“The Red Road” (Sundance Channel) Drama series about a small-town cop who also patrols a nearby Indian reservation.

“Game of Arms” (AMC) Reality series about competitive arm-wrestling.

“Turn”(AMC) Drama about spies in the Revolutionary War.

“Gang Related” (Fox) Cop drama. An elite LAPD officer has a past with Latino gangs.

“Surviving Jack” (Fox) Comedy set in the 1990s about a father and his teenage son.

“Us and Them” (Fox) Comedy starring Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel as young lovers.

“Crisis” (NBC) Drama in which a bus carrying children of the D.C. elite — including the president’s son — is taken hostage. Gillian Anderson stars.

“The Night Shift” (NBC) Drama about the overnight staff at a San Antonio hospital.

“About a Boy” (NBC) Comedy based on Nick Hornby’s novel.

“Growing Up Fisher” (NBC) Jenna Elfman and J.K. Simmons star in this comedy about a family going through divorce.

“Penny Dreadful” (Showtime) Described as a “psychosexual” horror series about the origin of monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein) in Victorian England.

“Salem” (WGN) More witches.


When Are Your Favorite Mid-Season Shows Returning In 2014?
(By Hank Stuever and Emily Yahr, Washington Post, 03 January 2014)

Premiere dates for returning mid-season shows . . .

“@midnight” (Comedy Central at midnight) Monday, Jan. 6

“The Americans” (FX at 10) Wednesday, Feb. 26

“American Idol” (Fox at 8) Wednesday, Jan. 15

“Archer” (FX at 10) Monday, Jan. 13

“The Bachelor” (ABC at 8) Monday, Jan. 6

“Banshee” (Cinemax at 10) Friday, Jan. 10

“Bates Motel” (A&E at 9) Monday, March 3

“Being Human” (Syfy at 9) Monday, Jan. 13

“Billy on the Street” (Fuse at 11) Wednesday, March 12

“Californication” (Showtime) April, date to be announced

“Call the Midwife” (PBS at 8) Sunday, March 30

“Comic Book Men” (AMC at midnight) Sunday, Feb. 9

“Community” (NBC at 8) returned Jan. 2

“Cougar Town” (TBS at 10) Tuesday, Jan. 7

“Dallas” (TNT at 9) Monday, Feb. 24

“Downton Abbey” (PBS at 9) Sunday, Jan. 5

“Episodes” (Showtime at 10:30) Sunday, Jan. 12

“Face Off” (Syfy at 9) Tuesday, Jan. 14

“The Following” (Fox at 9) Sunday, Jan. 19

“Game of Thrones” (HBO) April, date to be announced

“Girls” (HBO at 10) Sunday, Jan. 12

“Hannibal” (NBC at 10) Friday, Feb. 28

“The Haves and the Have Nots” (OWN at 9) Tuesday, Jan. 7

“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (TLC at 9) Thursday, Jan. 16

“House of Cards” (Netflix, all episodes) Friday, Feb. 14

“House of Lies” (Showtime at 10) Sunday, Jan. 12

“Inside Amy Schumer” (Comedy Central at 10:30) Tuesday, April 1

“Inside Comedy” (Showtime at 11) Monday, Feb. 3

“Justified” (FX at 10) Tuesday, Jan. 7

“Kroll Show” (Comedy Central at 10:30) Tuesday, Jan. 14

“Lost Girl” (Syfy at 8) Monday, Jan. 13

“Love Thy Neighbor” (OWN at 9) Wednesday, Jan. 8

“Mad Men” (AMC) Scheduled for spring, date to be announced

“Men at Work” (TBS at 10) Wednesday, Jan. 15

“Nurse Jackie” (Showtime) April, date to be announced

“Mr. Selfridge” (PBS at 9) Sunday, March 30

“Orphan Black” (BBC America at 9) Saturday, April 19

“Perception” (TNT at 10) Tuesday, Feb. 25

“Portlandia” (IFC at 10) Thursday, Feb. 27

“Rectify” (Sundance Channel) Scheduled for spring, date to be announced

“Rizzoli and Isles” (TNT at 9) Tuesday, Feb. 25

“Shameless” (Showtime at 9) Sunday, Jan. 12

“Sherlock” (PBS at 10) Sunday, Jan. 19

“Suburgatory” (ABC at 8:30) Wednesday, Jan. 15

“Suits” (USA at 9): Thursday, March 6

“The Taste” (ABC at 8): returned Jan.2

“Teen Mom 2” (MTV at 10) Tuesday, Jan. 21

“Teen Wolf” (MTV at 10) Monday, Jan. 6

“Tosh.0” (Comedy Central at 10) Tuesday, Feb. 18

“Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor” (TLC at 10) Thursday, Jan. 16

“Veep” (HBO) April, date to be announced

“Vikings” (History at 10) Thursday, Feb. 27

“The Walking Dead” (AMC at 9) Sunday, Feb. 9

“Workaholics” (Comedy Central at 10), Wednesday, Jan. 22

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