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Jack is Back and The Simpsons go Lego; TV must-sees for the week

- May 4th, 2014

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Bill Harris’ top-10 must-sees for the week of May 4

1) 24: Live Another Day
Debut: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has been in hiding for four years, but suddenly he re-emerges in London, England. Is he there to do harm, to do good, or to take the Downton Abbey tour?
When: Monday on Fox, Global

2) Louie
Fourth-season debut with back-to-back episodes: Louis C.K returns with this funny, sad, depressing and uplifting series. Sarah Silverman guest-stars in the first episode, Jerry Seinfeld in the second.
When: Monday on FX Canada

3) The Simpsons
In the 550th episode of this series, Homer wakes up to find everyone in Springfield, include himself and his family, is made of Legos (that’s the family home pictured above). In the corporate toy world, this is what they call synergy.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global

4) Two and a Half Men
11th-season finale: With Kimberly Williams-Paisley continuing her role as Gretchen, the fiancee of Alan (Jon Cryer), her real-life husband – country singer Brad Paisley – makes a guest appearance.
When: Thursday on CBS, CTV

5) Resurrection
First-season finale: Arcadia is in a state of chaos with the return of the dead reaching a critical mass, so Bellamy (Omar Epps) feels he has no choice but to ask for outside help. Not everyone agrees with him.
When: Sunday on ABC, City

6) Veep
Dan (Reid Scott) and Amy (Anna Chlumsky) compete to become campaign manager for Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), but she is being advised that her wisest move might be to dump her entire team.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

7) 2 Broke Girls
Third-season finale: Caroline (Beth Behrs) encourages Max (Kat Dennings) to write the one exam she needs to complete her high school degree. Because if there’s one thing this series is about, it’s education.
When: Monday on CBS, City

8) CSI
14th-season finale: As the team investigates a current-day crime that is linked to a 25-year-old mob heist, Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) faces some tough choices when his daughter attempts suicide.
When: Wednesday on CBS, CTV

9) New Girl
Third-season finale: To make it less weird, Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Nick (Jake Johnson) invite the whole gang to accompany them on a cruise that they booked when they still were together as a couple.
When: Tuesday on Fox, City

10) The Goldbergs
Adam (Sean Giambrone) convinces Erica (Hayley Orrantia) to take him to the premiere of Return of the Jedi. I wonder, if Star Wars movies didn’t exist, where would current sitcoms get most of their material?
When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Spring TV lineup: It’s not just for finales any more

- May 2nd, 2014

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Big TV debuts can “spring” up any time.

Spring used to be reserved for overwrought season finales and the arrival of crappy summer shows. But now there can be major debuts in May and June, as the jockeying for competitive advantage intensifies. Even as the weather warms up, here are some offerings to keep you inside. Keep in mind, networks can change broadcast dates at their whim, so check local listings as things approach:

24: Live Another Day
May 5 on Fox, Global
Jack is back. And as usual, he ain’t happy.

Louie
May 5 on FX Canada
Louis C.K. is back. And as usual, he’s confused.

Penny Dreadful
May 11 on The Movie Network, Movie Central
Horror series stars Josh Hartnett, Eva Green and Timothy Dalton.

Rosemary’s Baby
May 11 on NBC
Two-part mini-series based on the 1967 novel/1968 movie.

Rookie Blue
May 19 on Global
This show has displayed great resilience, heading into season five.

The Maya Rudolph Show
May 19 on NBC
A variety special. Say what?

Gang Related
May 22 on Fox
Action drama about L.A. police battling gangs.

Labyrinth
May 22 on CW
Time-jumping historical mini-series seeks the Holy Grail.

Undateable
May 29 on NBC
New sitcom from creator Bill Lawrence (Scrubs, Cougar Town).

Derek
May 30 on Netflix
Second season of nursing home-set series starring Ricky Gervais.

Crossbones
May 30 on NBC, Global
It’s a pirate’s life for John Malkovich.

Halt and Catch Fire
June 1 on AMC
About the computer revolution, set in the early ’80s.

Mistresses
June 2 on ABC, CTV
Second season of sultry series starring Alyssa Milano.

Orange is the New Black
June 6 on Netflix
Prison does not improve with time.

Defiance
June 19 on Showcase
Second season of sci-fi series starring Grant Bowler.

True Blood
June 22 on HBO Canada
The final blood-sucking season.

Falling Skies
June 26 on Super Channel
The skies are still falling, apparently.

Reckless
June 29 on CBS, Global
Sexy legal drama set in South Carolina.

The Leftovers
June 29 on HBO Canada
After the “Rapture,” these folks didn’t make the cut.

Under the Dome
June 30 on CBS, Global
Were they spared our nasty winter under that thing?

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Here comes the Sunday; John Oliver targets television’s “week spot”

- April 27th, 2014

John Oliver, Last Week Tonight

One only can assume the difference between “daily” and “weekly” will not be lost upon John Oliver.

So this should be a breeze, right?

I’m just kidding. In some ways, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver may be harder to put together than The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, because the choices of what to include may be tougher.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which debuts Sunday, April 27 on HBO Canada – the same date as HBO in the United States – is being billed as a weekly satirical look at the events of the previous week. So, it’s kind of what The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report do now on a nightly basis, snugly stuffed into a once-a-week format.

Oliver, of course, previously was a regular contributor to The Daily Show, as the “senior British correspondent” beginning in 2006. Then Oliver really proved his mettle in the summer of 2013, as he filled in as host of The Daily Show for eight weeks when Stewart was off directing a movie.

Oliver, who also has a recurring role as Professor Ian Duncan on the sitcom Community, obviously was impressive enough hosting The Daily Show that HBO snapped him up. Sometimes timing is everything.

It was in December 2013 that HBO announced it had hired Oliver for this new weekly gig. But then just a few weeks ago in early April 2014, David Letterman suddenly announced he’s retiring from The Late Show, and Stephen Colbert has been hired as Letterman’s replacement, starting some time in 2015.

You just wonder, had HBO not hired Oliver, would he at this moment be the No. 1 candidate to take over Colbert’s time slot?

Well, at least John Oliver has to put on a tie and perform in front of the cameras only once a week now.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Vikings, Musketeers and Americans argue about Who Lives Here? TV must-sees for the week of April 27

- April 27th, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 27

1) Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Debut: With the Jon Stewarts, Stephen Colberts and Bill Mahers of the world, we know there’s a market for this kind of show from Monday to Friday. The question is, what about Sundays?
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

2) Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Canadian Cobie Smulders (pictured above), who was in the pilot episode of this series, returns now that How I Met Your Mother is over. She is welcomed back by someone holding up a blue French horn. I kid, I kid.
When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

3) About a Boy
Marcus (Benjamin Stockham) is excited when his dad (guest-star Tony Hale) makes a surprise visit, but Will (David Walton) has to smooth the path for some much-needed father-son bonding.
When: Tuesday on NBC, Wednesday on Global

4) 24: Live Another Day: Jack is Back
Debut: That’s a lot of colons. But if you just can’t wait the extra 48 hours and need to get a fix, this is a “sneak peek” of the return of 24, with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with cast members.
When: Saturday on Fox, Global

5) Vikings
Second-season finale: Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) and King Horik (Donal Logue) return, and Ragnar is forced to consider some new alliances. You know, Ragnar doesn’t really do the “trust” thing all that well.
When: Thursday on History

6) Fargo
Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) flips the script on the blackmail operation, and predictably there are complications and repercussions when Lester (Martin Freeman) returns to his job selling insurance.
When: Tuesday on FXX Canada

7) The Musketeers
Debut, sort of: So this show debuted last Sunday on BBC Canada, but the more widely available Showcase is airing it a week behind. Are these slick swordsmen purposely trying to confuse us?
When: Sunday on Showcase

8) Who Lives Here?
Debut: This tests how well people’s personalities match their homes. In each episode, five strangers tour each other’s living spaces, and then they must match the right house to the right person.
When: Monday on W

9) The Following
Second-season finale: This was one of the biggest-buzz new series last season, but not so much in season two. I still think it was a mistake to bring back Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). It lowered the stakes.
When: Monday on Fox, CTV

10) The Americans
The Spies are Alright? Won’t Get Turned Again? Reagan, Can You Hear Me? (Compromising) Pictures of Lily? This episode features a new song co-written by Pete Townshend of The Who.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Devious Maids clean up after a Bad Teacher in Salem? TV must-sees for the week

- April 20th, 2014

Ari Graynor in Bad Teacher

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of April 20

1 Bad Teacher
Debut: Based on the Cameron Diaz film, this stars Ari Graynor (pictured above) as a former trophy wife masquerading as a teacher. Wait a minute, isn’t there already a show called Trophy Wife? I’m so confused.
When: Thursday on CBS, Global

2 Devious Maids
Season-two debut: More sexy clashes between the rich and not-so-rich. Marisol (Ana Ortiz) finds a new love, while Zoila (Judy Reyes) discovers that Valentina (Edy Ganem) has returned from Africa.
When: Sunday on Lifetime

3 Salem
Debut: This is a new take on the infamous witch trials of the 17th century, exploring intriguing theories as to why they actually may have taken place. Stars Janet Montgomery and Shane West.
When: Sunday on Space

4 Parks and Recreation
One-hour, sixth-season finale: Leslie (Amy Poehler) ponders her future while Ron (Nick Offerman) has another run-in with ex-wife Tammy 2 (Megan Mullally). Michelle Obama guest-stars.
When: Thursday on NBC

5 Tracy Morgan: Bona Fide
Canadian debut: Standup special sees Morgan performing in his home town of Brooklyn, talking about everything from growing up in the projects to the time he had to be, um, removed from Prince’s house.
When: Saturday on Comedy

6 Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Debut: If you’ve ever wondered what happens to “dead letters,” well, this is not a documentary. Rather, it’s a new series about ridiculously dedicated postal people, starring Eric Mabius and Kristin Booth.
When: Sunday on M3

7 Veep
Dan (Reid Scott) tries to minimize the impact of a Saturday Night Live sketch about Selina (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) just as she is preparing to announce her candidacy for president of the United States.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

8 Black Box
Debut: Kelly Reilly stars as Dr. Catherine Black, a world-famous neurologist intent on unraveling the mysteries of the human brain. But she is hiding the fact that she’s bipolar. Is that good thinking?
When: Thursday on ABC

9 The Returned
Canadian debut: This creepy series from France allegedly breaks conventional zombie stereotypes. I’m just stunned we’re living in a world where conventional zombie stereotypes exist.
When: Saturday on Space

10 True Tori
Debut: I’m not going to lie, while it really doesn’t affect my life one way or the other, I don’t quite get the endless fascination people have with Tori Spelling. What is this, reality show No. 90210 for her?
When: Tuesday on Lifetime

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv