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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

Aziz Ansari gets Seduced and Abandoned in Bunks; TV must-sees for the week

- October 27th, 2013

Capture

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Oct. 27:

1 Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive

Debut: A standup special filmed in Philadelphia starring Aziz Ansari, who is best known to TV audiences for his role as Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation.

When: Friday on Netflix

2 War of the Worlds: American Experience

Documentary debut: A new look back at the legendary Orson Welles radio broadcast, which caused a widespread panic 75 years ago when rubes didn’t know it was fake.

When: Tuesday on PBS

3  The Governor’s Wife

Reality-series debut: Trina settles into her role as former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards’ spouse. She is 50 years his junior and frozen sperm is involved.

When: Sunday on A&E

4 The Walking Dead

It’s Halloween week, so this seems like a natural. While a group leaves the prison to search for supplies, those who remain deal with recent losses.

When: Sunday on AMC

5 It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Creative differences over what constitutes “tasteful nudity” cause Frank (Danny DeVito) to pull his money out of the proposed Lethal Weapon 6.

When: Thursday on FX Canada

6 Masters of Sex

William Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) arrange for couples to be included in their study of human sexuality. It’s about damn time.

When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Movie Central

7 Chasing Nashville

Reality-series debut: Singers from the Appalachia region travel to the annual Hillbilly Days talent competition and are surprised to learn they may have a shot at a record deal.

When: Tuesday on Lifetime

8 Seduced and Abandoned

Documentary debut: Actor Alec Baldwin and film-maker James Toback travel to the Cannes Film Festival to try to secure financing for a movie.

When: Monday on HBO Canada

9 Bunks

Made-for-TV movie debut: Cheeky, mischievous brothers played by Dylan Schmid and Aidan Shipley accidentally unleash a curse that plagues their summer camp with zombies.

When: Sunday on Disney XD

10 Trophy Wife

In the first Halloween episode of this rookie sitcom, Kate (Malin Akerman) hijacks the holiday when a costume provided by flighty Jackie (Michaela Watkins) is found to be lacking.

When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

Does The Walking Dead still Reign? TV must-sees for the week of Oct. 13

- October 12th, 2013

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Bill Harris’ top 10 TV must-sees for the week of Oct. 13:

1 The Walking Dead

The first episode of the fourth season is titled 30 Days Without an Accident. So why am I thinking the streak is about to end? Followed by the return of wrap-up show Talking Dead.

When: Sunday on AMC

2 Reign

Series debut: Danger, intrigue and romance lurk around every castle corner for Mary Queen of Scots, played by Adelaide Kane. Doesn’t quite pay attention to history, but hey, who does?

When: Wednesday on M3; Thursday on CW and CTV Two

3 The Big Bang Theory

The always awkward relationship between Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) gets even more weird when she takes a job at his university.

When: Thursday on CBS, CTV

4 The Blacklist

Red (James Spader) informs the FBI that the kidnapping of a key witness may have been perpetrated by a criminal known as the Stewmaker. Mmmmmm, stew.

When: Monday on NBC, Global

5 The Biggest Loser

Society does not appear to be running out of contestants for this inspirational show that literally burns fat. Ruben Studdard – a winner back when American Idol still mattered – is on board.

When: Tuesday on NBC, OMNI

6 How I Met Your Mother

As the final season continues, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) helps Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) pick a side in a fight between his mom and Robin (Cobie Smulders).

When: Monday on CBS, City

7 Super Fun Night

A law-firm executive urges Kimmie (Rebel Wilson) to act more professionally, but that won’t sit well with Marika (Lauren Ash) or Helen-Alice (Liza Lapira).

When: Wednesday on ABC, City

8 Vanilla Ice Goes Amish

Series debut: The title pretty much says it all. Vanilla Ice is on a mission to learn the lost art of hand craftsmanship. Feel free to insert your own joke here.

When: Sunday on DIY network

9 Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A woman who is behind a series of high-stakes heists holds a troubling secret that has the potential to ruin Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).

When: Tuesday on ABC, CTV

10 Ironside

Holly (Spencer Grammer) and Ironside (Blair Underwood) follow the trail of a professional poker player with a drug problem. Wow, that really narrows it down. I kid, I kid.

When: Wednesday on NBC, Global

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

‘Walking Dead’ runs away with ratings

- February 11th, 2013

walkingdeadnew

If Grammy organizers are wondering where their viewers went last night, they need only look at ‘The Walking Dead’ ratings to get an answer.

The AMC zombie show has been a monster hit for the network since it debuted back in 2010 and has consistently shattered new records with each new season or mid-season debut.

The third season of  ‘Dead’ resumed Sunday to a basic-cable record 12.3 million viewers in the 9 PM ET slot, with another 4.1 million joining the party when the show repeated an hour later, according to preliminary Nielsen data.

Not too shabby.

‘Dead’ was up 45% in the coveted 18-49 demographic and up 52% in total viewers from the second season premiere last winter.

And guess which show held the previous record for a telecast drama? Yup. It was ‘The Walking Dead’ third season debut episode which nabbed 10.87 millions viewers last year.

Did you watch last night’s episode? What did you think about it?

How long do you think these ratings will last?

Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

Boobs really ARE the answer; a look back at TV trends in 2012

- December 23rd, 2012

lena dunham emmys

In his opening monologue at the Emmy Awards in September, host Jimmy Kimmel noted that cable networks accounted for all the shows in the outstanding drama category in 2012.

“The Academy is sending a clear message,” Kimmel said. “And that message is, ‘Show us your boobs.’ ”

That’s Lena Dunham of Girls in the above picture, by the way, taking Kimmel’s advice to heart – or is it having her cake and eating it, too? – in the opening bit that kicked off the Emmys.

True enough, boobs are the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems, to paraphrase Homer Simpson (he was talking about alcohol). But it actually is more complicated when it comes to TV.

The calendar year 2012 continued the trend of viewers peeling off to specialty programming and specialty channels, as the big broadcast networks try to figure out where they fit in the future of television.

The past year also saw a significant increase in the amount of internet-first “TV” programming, through services such as Netflix and the like.

Genre-wise, there has been a notable push in the past year toward fantasy, at least when it comes to drama. Shows such as Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time and American Horror Story remind us that when real life gets boring, we always can make something up.

Isn’t it strange that in some ways we now expect our comedies to be more grounded than our dramas? When an alien-based sitcom like The Neighbors comes along, many people turn up their noses because it’s too “ridiculous.” But some of those same people happily will watch Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead and think, “Wow, great art.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just amusing when you think of it that way.

So looking back at TV in 2012, we’ll remember zombies and dwarves, good wives and mad men, drug dealers and high-class schemers, butlers and bootleggers.

And boobs. Lots and lots of boobs.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv