What to Watch This Weekend: Portlandia, Merlin, and Downton Abbey's Season Premieres and the Returns of Revenge and OUaT

By Andy Daglas

Jan 04, 2013

What to watch on Friday, January 4...

9pm, CBS
CBS crime dramas are loving them some mathematical symbols in their episode appellations this week. Yesterday’s Person of Interest boasted a pi in the title, and tonight’s CSI:NY is called “Command+P.” The team investigates two murder victims linked by the same unusual weapon—so, based on the title, I’m guessing they were printed to death?

The final series of swordplay and assorted wizardry kicks off with “Arthur’s Bane, Part 1.” Camelot’s Golden Age is underway, but Arthur and his trusty knights must still stave off threats from sorceress Morgana, who's taken several of their compatriots prisoner. Meanwhile, Guinevere is hunting for a traitor in the kingdom’s midst, quite possibly with the help of Ye Olde Medieval Corkboarde.

Back-to-back new episodes begin with “Take Back MTV,” in which Iris and Spyke assemble a veritable Expendables of former veejays to reclaim the once-proud channel from today’s dreaded Young People. Then at 10:30pm, Portland’s mayor dispatches Fred and Carrie to Seattle to sell its Emerald Citizens on relocating to their quirky neighbor to the south in “Missionaries.”

– Courteney Cox, Joy Behar, and Youngblood Hawke on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 11:35pm, NBC
– Tracy Morgan, Marv Albert, and Everest on Late Show with David Letterman, 11:35 am, CBS
– Bill Cosby, Tempestt Bledsoe, and Grace Potter on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, 12:37am, NBC


What to watch on Saturday, January 5...

8pm, MTV
Daphne must choose between Todd and Miles, while Sophia’s book is released and Louis applies to grad school in “The Message.” Elsewhere, perhaps, the gang is confronted by a band of oldsters from Portland brandishing pitchforks and babbling about something called Headbangers Ball.

9pm, Fox
The Mob Doctor
Oh, Canceled Flop Theater, how you taunt us with your status of being the only scripted, primetime network programs to air new episodes on Saturday night. Tonight’s TMD installment is titled “Resurrection,” which, given the ratings, is almost surely a concept you’ll never again hear linked to this show.


What to watch on Sunday, January 6...

8pm, ABC
Once Upon A Time
In “The Cricket Game,” Regina is accused of bumping off a beloved character, but Emma believes she’s innocent. Things are even grimmer for her Evil Queen alter ego, as Snow White and Prince Charming set about planning her execution. I’ve never been on an execution planning committee, but I imagine a lot of it comes down to arguments over whether to serve regular cupcakes or “theme” cupcakes decorated to look like tiny, delicious decapitated heads.

8pm, Fox
The Simpsons
Tom Waits guest-stars as a survivalist leader who inspires Homer to join a doomsday prepper cult in “Homer Goes to Prep School.” We make fun of ol’ Homer for getting roped into one wacky corner of the zeitgeist after another every week, but admit it, you too would join a cult if Tom Waits was leading it.

9pm, CBS
The Good Wife
A rainmaking case is at stake for Will, so naturally Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) rears his charmingly nefarious head to muck things up in “Boom De Ya Da.” Meanwhile, Eli grapples with an old nemesis, and Will and Diane make a stand against Clarke.

Downton Abbey
Cinch up your corsets, starch up your collars, and get ready to join #TeamFreeBates or #TeamHangTheBloodyValet as Downton returns to American airwaves with a two-hour premiere. As the family and staff prepare for Lady Mary and Matthew’s impending nuptials, Cora’s mom arrives in the person of none other than Shirley MacLaine to stir up some drama, Yankee-style.

9pm, ABC
In “Power,” while Emily takes aim at a new target, Victoria concocts a scheme that will rope in her revenging rival. Elsewhere, Declan unearths information that could threaten the future of the bar, and we can only hope that the information in question is that even the Revenge writers’ room no longer cares about what happens to the damn bar.

9pm, Fox
Family Guy
“Space Cadet” finds Chris shuffled off to space camp, which accidentally sends the Griffin clan ad astra for real. Brian Williams makes a guest appearance, as his ratio of on-air time spent as a newsman to on-air time spent as his own comedic alter ego steadily nears 1:1.

10pm & 10:30pm, ABC
Happy Endings / Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23
ABC burying new episodes of its high-wire Tuesday comedies on Sunday night—when roughly 47 shows are kicking off new seasons or returning from winter break—is not a great sign for the future of either anemically rated sitcom. So enjoy Jane and Dave playing matchmaker for Max in the former’s “Fowl Play / Date,” and June befriending a new co-worker in the latter’s “Paris...” while you can.

10pm, TLC
Best Funeral Ever
In this hour-long special—and a looser definition of the word “special” I can hardly conceive—TLC takes you inside Dallas’s Golden Gate Funeral Home, which turns humdrum last rites into extravagant theme parties. Featured mementos mori include a Christmas-y ceremony with elves and reindeer, a state-fair-style send-off complete with rides and games, and a barbecue-themed service boasting a fountain of sauce.


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