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Archer and Agent Carter read The Book of Negroes and start an Empire with Glee; TV for the week of Jan. 4

- January 4th, 2015

Anna Faris, Allison Janney, People's Choice Awards

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 4

1 Marvel’s Agent Carter
Debut
Decades before the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, there was Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). She pledged a similar oath, but as a female in the 1940s, she had to fight from being marginalized when all the men returned home from World War II.
When: Tuesday, Jan. 6 on ABC, CTV

2 Downton Abbey
Fifth-season debut
Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) feels a bit insulted when the townspeople choose someone else to head up a local project. Meanwhile, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) has trouble keeping her distance from her big secret.
When: Sunday, Jan. 4 on most PBS affiliates

3 People’s Choice Awards
Live
From the Nokia Theater in L.A., awards season kicks off by honouring fan favourites in movies, music and TV. Anna Faris and Allison Janney (pictured above) from the sitcom Mom are the hosts, with musical performances from Iggy Azalea and Fall Out Boy.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on CBS, Global

4 The Book of Negroes
Debut
Six-part mini-series follows the harsh journey of Aminata Diallo (Aunjanue Ellis), who was abducted and enslaved as a child, but eventually returns home to West Africa. Also with Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lyriq Bent and Allan Hawco, among others.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on CBC

5 Empire
Debut
Music-company kingpin Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) learns he has a disease and must choose one of his three sons to take over. But it gets even messier when Lucious’ ex-wife re-emerges unexpectedly and is determined to claim her share.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on Fox

6 Archer
Sixth-season debut
Notice something different about this long-running animated series? The producers announced last fall that the spy agency no longer will be called the International Secret Intelligence Service – a.k.a., Isis – for obvious reasons.
When: Thursday, Jan. 8 on Teletoon

7 Sunnyside
Debut
Canadian sketch series featuring Kathleen Phillips and Pat Thornton centres on a quirky town where, for example, a voice from an open manhole replaces the internet. It’s the voice of Norm Macdonald, so I assume it’ll be sarcastic.
When: Thursday, Jan. 8 on City

8 Say Yes to the Dress Canada
Debut, back-to-back episodes
Set at a Toronto bridal boutique, Canadian brides must be more patient and polite than their American counterparts, right? Hello? Well, maybe brides are brides wherever you go, and they all speak the international language of tension.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 7 on W

9 UFOs Declassified
Debut
“Take me to your leader” aside, this six-episode series purports to present a balanced examination of the subject matter, with state-of-the-art CGI based on both eyewitness accounts and government/military documentation.
When: Friday, Jan. 9 on History

10 Glee
Sixth-season, two-hour debut
Upon learning that Sue (Jane Lynch) has banished the arts at McKinley High, Rachel (Lea Michele) endeavours to re-establish the glee club. More and more of the old gang will return home to help. Thank goodness this is the final season.
When: Friday, Jan. 9 on Fox, City

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv​

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

Modern Family gets Cook’d in a Labyrinth; TV must-sees for the week of May 18

- May 16th, 2014

rookie blue small

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of May 18

1 Rookie Blue
Fifth-season debut: Andy (Missy Peregrym) and Dov (Greg Smith) try to pull themselves together at a diner, but let’s just say some Pulp Fiction-style complications ensue.
When: Monday on Global

2 Labyrinth
Debut: A four-hour historical Holy Grail-themed mini-series airing over two nights, starring Jessica Brown-Findlay, who played the ill-fated Lady Sybil Crawley on Downton Abbey.
When: Thursday and Friday on CW

3 Modern Family
Fifth-season finale: Wedding-day chaos threatens everything, but an unexpected turn of events gives Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Cam (Eric Stonestreet) the ceremony they’ve dreamed about.
When: Wednesday on ABC, City

4 Last Comic Standing
Eighth-season debut: The new judges are Russell Peters, Roseanne Barr and Keenen Ivory Wayans. The new host is J.B. Smoove. But it’s the competitors who’ll have to be funny.
When: Thursday on NBC

5 Cook’d
Debut: Kids can be the pickiest eaters in the world, so why not make a TV show about it? Each week celebrity chefs prepare meals in the hopes of impressing a panel of jaded juvenile judges.
When: Tuesday on YTV

6 Gang Related
Debut: An action drama centring on Detective Ryan Lopez (Ramon Rodriguez), a rising star on L.A.’s gang task force whose gang connections might be a little too good, if you know what I mean.
When: Thursday on Fox

7 Buy It Fix It Sell It
Debut with back-to-back episodes: More “junk TV,” so to speak. Pro “fixers” battle over auction items that need just a little love before hopefully becoming money-making masterpieces.
When: Friday on HGTV

8 Shannon and Sophie
Debut with back-to-back episodes: This essentially is a delayed spinoff of Gene Simmons Family Jewels, starring Gene’s wife, model/actress Shannon Tweed, and their daughter Sophie.
When: Tuesday on W

9 The Middle
One-hour fifth-season finale: After Sue (Eden Sher) wins a family trip, the Hecks must overcome a series of setbacks if they want to enjoy their time at Walt Disney World.
When: Wednesday on ABC

10 The Maya Rudolph Show
Debut: Yet another attempt to revive the so-called variety-show format that basically has been co-opted by all the late-night dudes. Rudolph is joined by Andy Samberg, Kristen Bell and more.
When: Monday on NBC

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

agents-of-shield-cobie-smulders

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

Bomb Girls consult The Audience about Surviving Jack; TV must-sees for the week of March 23

- March 23rd, 2014

BettyAli_Liebert__GladysJodi_Balfour_work_the_floor

Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of March 23

1 Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy
Finale: In a two-hour made-for-TV movie to wrap up this previously cancelled series, it’s the spring of 1943, and Gladys (Jodi Balfour, pictured above right) covertly is recruited to sniff out a traitorous saboteur working at Victory Munitions.
When: Thursday on Global

2 Girls
Third-season finale: Self-obsessed Hannah (Lena Dunham) gets some news that could change the direction of her stalled career on the very day that her boyfriend Adam (Adam Driver) is set to debut on Broadway.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

3 Surviving Jack
Debut: It’s the early 1990s – that’s what the music tells us, anyway – in this sitcom about a gruff dad, played by Christopher Meloni, who suddenly must take more of a day-to-day interest in the lives of his teenage kids.
When: Thursday on Fox, CTV

4 Brooklyn Nine-Nine
First-season finale: An investigation by Jake (Andy Samberg) into a popular civic leader is shut down by higher-ups. When Jake won’t drop it, there could be serious consequences – well, “sitcom serious,” anyway.
When: Tuesday on Fox, City

5 Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge
Debut: Cookie Monster had to start somewhere. This reality-competition series sees 10 hopeful innovators vying for jobs in magical Muppet-land. One of the judges is Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson.
When: Tuesday on Space

6 Kroll Show
Second-season finale: Sketches include the PR tag team known as PubLizity (Kroll and Jenny Slate) organizing a red-carpet gala for Blisteritos. Also, C-Czar graduates from Dad Academy and Rich Dicks throw a party.
When: Tuesday on Much

7 Kids’ Choice Awards
Live: This 27th annual event is hosted by Mark Wahlberg, who is no kid any more. But the focus of the evening will be all those pop-culture things that most adults likely don’t understand, and the second you do understand them, they’re passe.
When: Saturday on YTV, Nickelodeon

8 Charley Boorman’s Extreme Frontiers: South Africa
Debut: As a follow-up to his cross-country adventures in Canada, Boorman and producer/director Russ Malkin embark upon a similar trek in distinctly different territory. To sum up, fewer polar bears, more tigers.
When: Wednesday on Discovery World

9 Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan
Second-season debut: The host embarks upon a Kenyan safari to track down the aggressive and deadly giant spitting cobra. And for anyone who didn’t see the first season, yes, Monaghan is doing this on purpose.
When: Tuesday on OLN

10 The Audience
Debut: Faced with life-changing decisions, individuals volunteer to have their situations scrutinized by 50 strangers. At the end of each episode, a verdict is delivered. Because group choices always are the best choices … right?
When: Thursday on W

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv