There are a couple of things I’m really excited about coming up at the end of this month, especially Mercy Street on PBS and The X-Files on FOX, both of which I hope are as good as they ought to be. Fingers crossed!
Incidentally, if you’re looking for a new series to binge-watch on streaming, I cannot recommend highly enough the British mystery River, currently available on Netflix. It’s about a detective (Stellan Skarsgard) who is simultaneously trying to cope with the grief of losing his partner and solve her murder — all while dealing with a fairly brutal mental illness that manifests as visions of dead people (including her). I know it sounds like something you’ve seen before; I almost didn’t bother for the same reason. But as it turns out, while not in any way a happy series, it’s an absolutely beautiful, intelligent one. Well worth checking out if you are a fan of mysteries/crime dramas and damn good writing.
As for what else is new, here we go:
Sunday, January 17
Billions – Showtime – 10pm – The pilot for this series is available for free on Amazon at the moment, so I dipped in to see whether or not it might be good enough to warrant a Showtime subscription. It stars ex-Boyfriend of the Week Damian Lewis as a hedge-fund manager of lax morality being chased by a U.S. Attorney (Paul Giamatti) of dubious morality. Created by New York Times financial reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, I assume a lot of the money stuff is legit, but overall, I didn’t find much to sink my teeth into here. It’s a bunch of rich white guys doing rich white guy stuff, and while I liked Giamatti in this, Lewis is trying to do some kind of New England accent that isn’t workin’ out for him (or me) one bit. If this comes around for free on streaming at some point, I might try episode 2, but it’s definitely not worth another monthly subscription fee.
Mercy Street – PBS – Check local listings – Civil War nurses and doctors: YEP, that could not be further up my alley (I’m a bit of a Civil War junkie, just like uber-cool, longtime reader Liz (hi, Liz!)). Reviews have been fairly good, with caveats that the series tries to cram too much (abolitionists, freed slaves, Confederate sympathizers, wounded warriors, etc.) into the season’s 6 episodes. I’m really looking forward to this one and so, so hoping it’s good. Will report back if so!
Angie Tribeca – TBS – 9pm for 10 eps – Cable television tries to mimic streaming video’s binge-ableness with this cop show parody from Nancy and Steve Carell that will air its first ten episodes all in a row before moving into a regular weekly time slot. I’ve seen the ads a few times, and they did make me laugh. Good sign! Plus the stories center on a female lead (Rashida Jones), which I always appreciate, especially in sit-coms. DVR set to record!
War & Peace – A&E, History, or Lifetime (simulcast) – 9pm – This miniseries has a ridiculously good cast (Gillian Anderson, Jim Broadbent, Stephen Rea, Paul Dano, Lily James, and James Norton), but reviews have been pretty lukewarm. I don’t know how you could manage to put Anderson, Rea, Dano, and Broadbent in a thing together and have it end up being described as “a long, dull slog to Moscow” (Variety), but this miniseries appears to have pulled it off. I’m still planning to tune in so I can see for myself, plus the costumes alone look fun, but I’ll definitely be keeping expectations low.
Thursday, January 21
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – CW – 9pm – Another comic book series, this time starring Brandon Routh (former Superman), Wentworth “Permascowl” Miller, and Victor Garber. If Victor Garber isn’t planning to regularly break out in song, though — and it appears he is not — I just don’t see the point. Victor Garber should only ever regularly break out in song (nobody knows what the hell I’m talking about, but what the hell I’m talking about is Eli Stone). Also, the hero’s name is “Rip Hunter” and the villain’s name is “Vandal Savage”: I know when a thing is not going to be my thing, and this is one of those things that is not going to be my thing.
Baskets – FX – 10pm – This dark comedy co-created by Zach Galifianakis, Louis C.K., and Jonathan Krisel, on the other hand, has a pretty good shot at being exactly my thing. It’s about a lonely, hairy dude (Galifianakis, natch) who decides to move to Paris to become a professional clown. Only, as it turns out, it’s really hard to get work as a professional clown in Paris when you don’t speak any French. Hélas pour moi! Forced to give up on that dream, he moves back home and joins a rodeo in California instead. Louie Anderson plays his mom (yep, you read that right), and the trailer makes this look like it might, in fact, be exactly as weird as it would need to be to be any good I’m in.
London Spy – BBC America – 10pm. This 5-episode series, starring Ben Wishaw, Charlotte Rampling, and Jim Broadbent, is set in LONDON and is about a SPY (I’m guessing, but I feel like it’s a solid bet). Based on reviews after this show aired in the UK, it takes some warming up to but may be worth it in the end. Whishaw has been creeping me out ever since I saw him in Perfume, but I do love a good spy story, and The Guardian described Broadbent’s character as “fully teddy-bear-carrying-a-switchblade,” which sounds lovely. Worth a shot.
Friday, January 22
Mad Dogs — Amazon Streaming — British comedy about four men who “get more than they bargained for on a trip to Belize.” Stars Michael Imperioli, Romany Malco, Ben Chaplin, and Steve Zahn, so I immediately wrote it off as a boring, boring bro-medy. When I saw the pilot was up at Amazon, though, I decided I should at least give it a shot before I bash it. WELL GUESS WHAT! It’s a boring, boring bro-medy! I both love and hate it when I’m right.
Sunday, January 24
THE X-FILES – FOX – 10pm
BOOM. LET’S DO THIS THING.
Monday, January 25
Lucifer – FOX – 9pm – Based on the Sandman comics from Neil Gaiman, this is about the former king of hell after he resigns his throne to go party with the humans in L.A. Since this is network television, of course, he must also solve crimes (I don’t know if that’s in the comics or not, but it’s certainly a requirement of network television, regardless of whether or not it makes any sense). Friends of mine who are comic nerds are peeved. <– This may or may not be useful information.
The Magicians – SyFy – 9pm -Based on the novels by Lev Grossman, the first one of which I really enjoyed, The Magicians is basically Harry Potter set in college, with more drinking and making out. The pilot is online if you want to watch; my husband, who read more of the books than I did, really liked it and intends to keep watching (and this from a man who doesn’t really like TV). The trailer made it look pretty cheesy, but possibly fun enough? Speaking of SyFy, I’m also really enjoying The Expanse these days, though I’m only about 4 episodes in at the moment. Good old-fashioned sci-fi space fun! Anybody else watching that? Did you read the books? Are they good too?
Thursday, January 28
You, Me and the Apocalypse – NBC 8pm – This 10-episode series is set in the days immediately after mankind learns it’s about to be destroyed by a comet. A group of people all hunker down together to try to ride it out. Stars Megan Mullally, Rob Lowe, and Jenna Fisher (as a librarian!). Could be fun; the ads looked promising, and I do love Jenna Fisher (not to mention librarians). God, what’s up with me and sit-coms suddenly? I keep signing on! Are they getting more interesting or am I getting less interesting? Oh, don’t answer that.
Okay, that’s it for new TV in January! I’ll be back (in terms of TV, anyway) the first week of February with more!