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Mad Men and Orphan Black’s clones visit Fargo; must-sees for the week of April 13

- April 11th, 2014

Jon Hamm as Don Draper

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 13

1 Orphan Black
Season-two debut: Clone-based series sees Tatiana Maslany returning in her signature role as Sarah. And Rachel. And Cosima. And Alison. And on and on and on. I hope Maslany is getting paid accordingly.
When: Saturday on Space

2 Fargo
Debut: This is not a direct remake of the Academy Award-winning movie, but rather a new story, “inspired by” the original. Billy Bob Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo, a dangerous drifter with a cruel sense of humour.
When: Tuesday on FX Canada and FXX Canada

3 Mad Men
Seventh-season debut: This technically is the final “season” for this acclaimed series, but it’s airing over two years, just like Breaking Bad. Last we saw Don Draper (Jon Hamm, pictured above), he was out of a job. Poor ugly schmuck.
When: Sunday on AMC

4 MTV Movie Awards
Live: Conan O’Brien hosts yet another annual hardware handout. So does this officially bring an end to “awards season?” Regardless, scheduled presenters include Kate Upton and Mila Kunis, so count me in.
When: Sunday on MTV

5 Vegas Rat Rods
Debut: No, this isn’t about an infestation of rats in Sin City and the questionable methods used to control them. Rather, it focuses on a company called Welder Up, which specializes in crazy vehicles known as “rat rods.”
When: Thursday on Discovery

6 When Calls the Heart
Canadian debut: Family drama based on a book series by Janette Oke, this stars Erin Krakow as Elizabeth Thatcher, a 19th-century, high-society teacher suddenly living in a coal town. Also with Lori Loughlin.
When: Wednesday on Super Channel

7 Mom
First-season finale: Christy (Anna Faris) and Bonnie (Allison Janney) try to help an emotional Violet (Sadie Calvano) through labour. This series has been renewed, so time to buy some cutesy baby clothes.
When: Monday on CBS, City

8 Unusually Thicke
Debut with back-to-back episodes: This is a reality show with Alan Thicke, his young wife Tanya, and his three sons, including pop star Robin Thicke. I’ll bet Robin gets into more mischief than Kirk Cameron on Growing Pains.
When: Wednesday on Slice

9 Californication
Debut of seventh and final season: As usual, Hank (David Duchovny) is desperate to reunite with his eternal love Karen (Natascha McElhone), while Charlie (Evan Handler) is overcome by performance anxiety.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

10 Nurse Jackie
Sixth-season debut: Jackie (Edie Falco) is “using” again. And lo and behold, she is getting her drugs at the gym. You know, this show seemed a lot more daring and shocking before Rob Ford dulled our senses.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Take a Turn into Silicon Valley and play a Game of Thrones with the Veep; TV must-sees for the week

- April 5th, 2014

Dragon in Game of Thrones

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 6

1 Game of Thrones
Fourth-season debut: Veterinary medicine figured out “dog years” versus “people years. But what of “dragon years?” When do dragons become adults? I’m just waiting for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to turn loose those fire-breathers.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

2 Turn
Debut: Based on the book Washington’s Spies by historian Alexander Rose, this drama set in the 1770s tells the tale of fledgling new-world espionage as the American Revolution becomes a reality. With Jamie Bell, Heather Lind and Samuel Roukin.
When: Sunday on AMC

3 Silicon Valley
Debut: Created by Mike Judge (King of the Hill, Beavis & Butt-Head), this live-action series is about nerdy but brilliant high-tech dudes who are on the cusp of successes they couldn’t possibly handle. Sort of The Big Bang Theory on steroids.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

4 Veep
Third-season debut: Last time we saw VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), she had been handed an opportunity to run for president in the next election. But she doesn’t exactly connect with everyday voters a la Rob Ford, as we soon will see.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

5 The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over
Debut: Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Hanks are among those saluting the DC5 in this new documentary. With 14 top-20 hits in the U.S., the DC5 appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 18 times, more than any other British Invasion group.
When: Tuesday or Friday on most PBS affiliates

6 The Haves and the Have Nots
Canadian debut: Drama series from Tyler Perry is about a rich Georgia family and the servants who serve them. John Schneider – yes, from The Dukes of Hazzard – stars as a powerful judge and family patriarch who is leading a double life. Hey, who isn’t?
When: Tuesday on OWN

7 Jacked
Debut: Jeremy Patterson is the hurricane slayer. Well, no, he doesn’t stop hurricanes. But Patterson and his rag-tag team travel across the continent, raising hope by raising hurricane-damaged houses that many thought were beyond salvage. One inch at a time.
When: Monday on Discovery

8 Win, Lose or Draw
Canadian debut: A revamped version of the 1980s game show, this one is hosted by Justin Willman and features young and current Disney stars teaming up with kid contestants. This definitely is a more high-tech version than the original, though.
When: Monday on Family

9 Being Human
Series finale: It’s a wrap, folks, as this show has been cancelled. In the final episode, Sally (Meaghan Rath) makes a major sacrifice to stop her vision of Aidan (Sam Witwer) killing Josh (Sam Huntington) from coming true.
When: Monday on Space

10 Disaster Decks and Decked Out
Season-two/season-four debuts: One deck-based series wasn’t enough for Paul Lafrance. He needed two, with double episodes of each, airing back-to-back-to-back-to-back. This could lead to some crazy crossover episodes, with famous decks making guest-appearances on the other show.
When: Tuesday on HGTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Black Sails spook The Walking Dead in a House of Cards? TV’s must-sees for the week of Feb. 9

- February 9th, 2014

Beatles Grammys show, low res, two

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Feb. 9

1) The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles
Archival footage from the Fab Four’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show – which occurred 50 years ago, to the exact day and hour – is interspersed with tribute performances by current artists.
When: Sunday on CBS, City

2) The Walking Dead
Return: Eight episodes remain in season four. Following events in the mid-season finale, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) deals with old wounds while members of the prison try to accept their new environment.
When: Sunday on AMC

3) Black Sails
Debut: Taking place 20 years before Treasure Island, this pirate series centres on the tales of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens), who takes on a young addition to the crew named John Silver (Luke Arnold).
When: Friday on Super Channel

4) Dads
One-hour season finale: Eli (Seth Green) ignores David (Peter Riegert), putting one of them in the hospital. And when Crawford (Martin Mull) moves out, Warner (Giovanni Ribisi) has an odd reaction.
When: Tuesday on Fox, City

5) House of Cards
Second-season debut: With Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) set to become vice-president, he’s going to have to fly a little more under the radar with his underhanded shenanigans. Um, right?
When: Friday on Netflix

6) MasterChef Canada
The home cooks prepare lunch at the Air Canada Centre for a delegation from the Toronto Maple Leafs, including current player James Van Riemsdyk and alumni Darryl Sittler and Wendel Clark.
When: Monday on CTV

7) Twisted
Return: Jo (Maddie Hasson) struggles with conflicted feelings – really, are there any other kind on a show such as this? – while Danny (Avan Jogia) overhears some surprising information about his dad.
When: Tuesday on ABC Spark

8) Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
Debut: No, this is not the movie with Robert Redford and Paul Newman. Airing as part of the American Experience series, this documentary about the real-life 1890s outlaws separates fact from fiction.
When: Tuesday on PBS

9) Girls
Hannah (Lena Dunham) gets a job writing advertorials, while shallow Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) reconsiders her breakup with Ray (Alex Karpovsky) in light of his new-found success.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

10) Super Fun Night
Work intervenes as Kimmie (Rebel Wilson) tries to celebrate Valentine’s Day with new boyfriend James (Nate Torrence). But Kendall (Kate Jenkinson) marks the occasion by hosting a sex-toy party.
When: Wednesday on ABC, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax to Childrens Hospital in the Klondike? TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 19

- January 18th, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 19

1 The Following
Second-season debut: The story picks up a year later. Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) has tried to get on with his life. But he becomes obsessed with the notion that Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is still alive.
When: Sunday on Fox, CTV

2 Klondike
Debut: Big-buzz mini-series about the 1897 gold rush airs three nights in a row. Stars Richard Madden, who is best known as Robb Stark on Game of Thrones. Um, guess he had some time on his hands.
When: Monday on Discovery

3 MasterChef Canada
Debut: A Canadian version of the international series that gives home chefs a chance to be tasty. The judges are Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile. Please make your own poutine jokes.
When: Monday on CTV

4 Rake
Debut: Greg Kinnear stars as Keegan Deane, a charming, optimistic and brilliant criminal defence attorney. The thing is, he rarely applies any of that trademark brilliance to his own stormy personal life.
When: Thursday on Fox, Global

5 Sleepy Hollow
Two-hour, first-season finale: Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) and Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) uncover a secret in George Washington’s Bible. Wow, talk about sentences I never thought I’d type.
When: Monday on Fox, Global

6 Childrens Hospital
Fifth-season Canadian debut: I always have loved this hilarious series from Rob Corddry that spoofs the medical-drama genre. Guest-stars in the first episode of the new season include Mad Men’s Jon Hamm.
When: Wednesday on Much

7 NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other
Debut: Of particular interest heading into the Sochi Olympics, as well as more NHL event-style games, this series follows two dozen top players in that “behind the scenes” style that’s all the rage.
When: Thursday on CBC

8 Looking
Debut: Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez and Murray Bartlett star as a trio of San Francisco friends, exploring the varied personal and professional options available to a new generation of gay men.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

9 Brave New Girls
Debut: Reality series follows the glamourous life of transgender model Jenna Talackova, who became famous when she took on Donald Trump for the right to compete in the Miss Universe pageant.
When: Sunday on E!

10 Lizzie Borden Took an Ax
Debut: Christina Ricci plays the title character, who was charged with the gory murder of her father and stepmother in 1892. Her headline-grabbing trial made Lizzie the O.J. Simpson or Amanda Knox of her day.
When: Saturday on Lifetime

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

 

Bonnie and Clyde meet Sons of Anarchy in Lilyhammer; top 10 must-sees for the week

- December 7th, 2013

Emile-Hirsch-and-Holliday-Grainger-play-Bonnie-and-Clyde-in-miniseries

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Dec. 8

1 Bonnie & Clyde
Debut: A four-hour, two-night simulcast over three channels that stars Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger as the infamous Depression-era title couple. Also with Holly Hunter and William Hurt.
When: Sunday on History, Lifetime, A&E

2 Lilyhammer
Second-season debut: Steve Van Zandt, best known as Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist in the E Street Band and Sil on The Sopranos, heads back to Norway for more criminal and cultural clashes.
When: Friday on Netflix

3 Sons of Anarchy
In a special extended episode to wrap up the sixth season, the ramifications of the choices made by Jax (Charlie Hunnam) put his club and his family in jeopardy. Um, isn’t that every episode?
When: Tuesday on Super Channel

4 Kelly Clarkson’s Cautionary Christmas Music Tale
Debut: This is billed as a comedic musical take on a traditional Christmas morality story. Joining Clarkson are the likes of Blake Shelton, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Heidi Klum and Danica Patrick.
When: Wednesday on NBC, Global

5 Dragons’ Den
The Dragons – Arlene Dickinson, Bruce Croxon, Jim Treliving, David Chilton and Kevin O’Leary – get into the Christmas spirit by listening to holiday-themed pitches. Ugly festive sweater, anyone?
When: Wednesday on CBC

6 Civil War 360
Canadian premiere: Hosted by Ashley Judd, Trace Adkins and Dennis Haysbert – all of whom had ancestors who were greatly impacted – this three-part series explores the American Civil War.
When: Sunday on the Smithsonian Channel

7 Cedar Cove
Back-to-back episodes: Olivia (Andie MacDowell) is shocked by the arrival of a pregnant woman with a possible connection to Jack (Dylan Neal). Yep, might put a damper on turkey dinner.
When: Wednesday on W

8 The Sing-Off
Return: Hosted by Nick Lachey, this reality-competition holiday extravaganza for “a cappella” groups will air seven episodes before Christmas, including the two-hour finale on Dec. 23.
When: Monday on NBC, CTV Two

9 Holidaze
Debut: Made-for-TV movie follows Mel (Jennie Garth), an executive who unexpectedly finds herself in her home town trying to convince residents to let her company construct a massive discount store.
When: Sunday on ABC Spark

10 Modern Family
In a holiday episode directed by Bryan Cranston, Gloria (Sofia Vergara) is on edge because her mother is visiting. Likely will be slightly less violent than Cranston’s recent work on Breaking Bad.
When: Wednesday on ABC, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca