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The Flash feels The Strain as a Million Dollar Critic of American Horror Story; television this week

- October 5th, 2014

Grant Gustin as The Flash, two

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Oct. 5

1 The Flash
Debut
Yup, more superheroes on TV. Barry Allen (Grant Gustin, pictured above) gains powers when lightning strikes him during a freak storm. Almost immediately, those raw new powers are needed.
When: Tuesday on CW, CTV

2 American Horror Story
Fourth-season debut
A “freak show” struggles to stay in business as TV conquers showbiz in the early 1950s. The likes of Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Evan Peters are back again, in new roles.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

3 Homeland
Fourth-season debut, back-to-back episodes
Carrie (Claire Danes) makes a critical decision, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) struggles with his new role in the private sector and Quinn (Rupert Friend) spirals out of control.
When: Sunday on Super Channel

4 The Strain
First-season finale
Eph (Corey Stoll) and Fet (Kevin Durand) prepare an assault that Setrakian (David Bradley) assures them will kill the Master. Um, what’s the betting line on that one?
When: Sunday on FX Canada

5 Murdoch Mysteries
Eighth-season debut
While investigating the murder of a merchant, Detective Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) uncovers possible connections to the assault on Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig).
When: Monday on CBC

6 Arrow
Third-season debut
With crime at an all-time low, Oliver (Stephen Amell) lets his guard down. You know, given all of my TV-watching experience, I’d wager that turns out to be a really bad idea.
When: Wednesday on CW, CTV

7 Strange Empire
Debut
A fateful convergence of lost souls near the Alberta-Montana border in 1869 leads to tragedy and a struggle for survival. Cara Gee, Melissa Farman and Tattiawna Jones star.
When: Monday on CBC

8 Million Dollar Critic
Debut
Giles Coren reviews food hot spots across North America, but in the first episode he meets Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to discuss where the city’s best hot dog can be found.
When: Tuesday on W

9 Cristela
Debut
Sitcom stars standup Cristela Alonzo. In the pilot, she gets an offer for an internship at a law firm, but her traditional Mexican-American family doesn’t quite understand.
When: Friday on ABC, CHCH

10 Mulaney
Debut
Sitcom stars former SNL staffer John Mulaney. In the pilot, he gets a writing job that turns out to be less glamorous than he expected. That sounds preposterous to me, boss.
When: Sunday on Fox, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

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