It's back-to-school time! Time to ship the kids off on the bus, practice turning "F"s into "A"s on report cards, and start tenderizing that horse haunch (that last one applies to cafeteria ladies only). It's also time for television shows to make sure their performances are worthy of gold stars, because we can smell the fall season from here and we're playing the role of hot teacher. However, there will be no grades handed out in our weekly breakdown of what was good and bad in on television, because TV.com operates on a
pass/fail FTW/WTF system. Let's see what's moving to the top of the class and what's being held back...
Sarah Silverman's obituary for her dog
Duck—who you may know as Doug from The Sarah Silverman Show—passed away at the old doggy age of 19 this week, and the comedian penned a short and sweet ode to her best friend of 14 years. We're going to go find a dog to hug now.
Now that Breaking Bad is (practically) over, the Schraders are done
@deanjnorris I was thinking of you the whole time, baby. You were under the dome, I was on the other side of the dome...it's complicated. X— Betsy Brandt (@betsy_brandt) September 4, 2013
Paul F. Tompkins as Boardwalk Empire's Richard Harrow selling murder
No description necessary for this one.
Luther returns to the U.S., creating a great end-of-summer event
Luther's final season relied quite a bit on the charisma and depth of its leading man Idris Elba, but the last four episodes in the show's run were the typical mix of insanity and ugliness. Best of all? BBC America's aired all four hours in a single week, giving us one heck of a send-off to summer TV.
Andy Samberg's broiling of James Franco
Comedy Central's much-hyped Labor Day roast of the multi-hyphenate actor was largely predictable, as far as topics and crassness are concerned—and as such things are wont to be—but Samberg's bit was a nice touch. As was Bill Hader's stint as the president of Hollywood.
Elizabeth Berkeley Lauren is already a Dancing With the Stars MVP
Confirming her involvement in the upcoming season of the ABC reality competition, the Bayside Tiger turned Showgirl took to Twitter and dropped possibly the most quoted Saved by the Bell line ever, in the form of a self-deprecating hashtag: "#imsoexcitedimsoscared" Here's hoping this isn't a cry for help or admission to using caffeine pills, though we wouldn't blame her if it was, as the lineup announcement this week introduced some very stiff competition (ahem Bill Nye).
Jon Stewart channels Miley Cyrus in his return to The Daily Show
Having finally come back from his directing hiatus in the Middle East, the host struggled in his efforts to become "re-Americanized," babbling unintelligibly in a foreign tongue. It took the efforts of John Oliver, correspondent Jessica Williams, and two Big Macs rigged up to a defibrillator to cycle Stewart through a number of American-related personae, including a racist, Paula Deen supporter, and Miley Cyrus—complete with foam-fingered antics. Finally, the brutal love of one Stephen Colbert in a Hazmat suit jolted him back to his regular self, and all was well in talk show land once again.
Bob Odenkirk's impending return to sketch comedy
We're excited about The Birthday Boys for a number of reasons, the first of which is the Mr. Show vet's first post-Saul gig, as highlighted in this first-look clip.
Futurama says farewell, for real this time (probably)
In more ways than one, “Meanwhile” ended a frequently cynical show on a disarmingly optimistic note. Fry and Leela found meaningful closure, Prof. Farnsworth cruised through a maze of quasi-science-y mumbo-jumbo, the rest of the Planet Express crew was frozen in a moment of triumph after Bender led them to save the day, however briefly. And then the episode dropped in a reset button ex machina, because nothing ever truly ends in fictional universes like this one. Oh, Futurama, we'll miss your shiny metal ass.
The joke's on Dee!
Kaitlin Olsen is so good, you guys. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's season premiere was a pretty typical episode, but Dee as a burgeoning standup comic who didn't shy away from sound effects was just tops.
The League brandishes a mighty trident made of dildos
Ruxin's brief membership in Rafi's Domination League was the highlight of the fantasy football show's solid Season 5 premiere. The League has gotten weirder and weirder over the years—and that's just how we like it.
PBS finally gives us the first national news show anchored by two women
Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff are taking over as co-hosts of Newshour week, making it the first national news program to be anchored by two women. On one hand, that's pretty cool, right? Especially for a show traditionally hosted by two men. But on the other hand? It's 2013—how is this just now happening?
Wilfred gets all dark and weird again
The second half of Season 3 got weirder and darker as it progressed, and Thursday's finale ended on quite a mind-gamey note. Death! And a bizarre cliffhanger involving a mysterious symbol and a fallen statue of... a man dressed in a dog suit. While we love the the ongoing questions of whether Ryan is sane and Wilfred is real, this season overall was a little too uneven in its attention to those topics. Now we're just hoping not only that Season 4 will happen, but that it'll actually pick up where Season 3 left off and stick with the Ryan's psyche storyline instead of trading it for more "normal" dog hijinks after the premiere.
Ryan Searest invades NBC's NFL festivities
The diminutive robohost walked onto the field during Thursday's season opener to slyly promote the upcoming Million Second Quiz ("I only know of one other countdown that might be as exciting as this..."), confirming that no job is out of reach for the American Idol emcee, and that NBC has no shame. At least the fans in Denver booed him.
Here come the Downton spoilers (though not in this tame new trailer)
Once again, Downton Abbey is set to premiere in its native land months before it lands on PBS here in the U.S., and U.K. broadcaster ITV has released a new trailer to celebrate (which they obviously did over Labor Day weekend, as if to rub it in our Yankee faces). It's only a so-so look at what's ahead—there is going to be lots of crying in Season 4! But lots of smiling, too! And also some jazz, it looks like.
Anyway, we know it's not a qualm for some of our more "internet-savvy" readers, but we're totally jealous that the Brits among you will be getting back to the Estate in just a few weeks while we have to wait until next year (especially since the show has such an increased presence at the Emmys these days). Whatever you do, just try not to ruin Christmas for the rest of us, okay? (And that goes for you too, Julian Fellowes.)
The Walking Dead gets its own (officially sponsored) college course
UC-Irvine has announced that it will offer an massive open online course built around the universe of AMC's The Walking Dead. It's not news for major higher-ed institutions to offer courses based on television shows; what is news is that the course is actually being developed in partnership with AMC. The class is free to anyone who's interested, which makes sense considering that it's basically a new form of advertising.
Say it isn't so: Neeko was hoarding food on Siberia
At this point in Siberia's bonkers reality-TV-competition-turned-found-footage-horror-extravaganza, the reveal that Neeko was keeping a
food stash for himself was hardly a "big" bomb, especially since we got a
look at the folks making all those weird tracks at the end of the
episode. But since Neeko had been the group leader who
emphasized sharing and togetherness as a survival tactic, it was a fall
from grace that even hardened Sabina was dismayed by. Turns out that even the best
among us are focused on themselves when the chips are down. At least
Johnny and Sam have turned their relationship completely around!
LeBron James is executive-producing a sitcom at Starz
Survivor's Remorse is about what happens when kids who suffer rough childhoods/grow up in bad neighborhoods "make it out" and achieve success. Which—we're not saying it can't be good, especially since Mike O'Malley is also attached—but James' ego doesn't need an EP credit just so the network can get some publicity out him. Let him consult or something and see if he actually deserves it first.
What's on YOUR list of TV loves and hates this week?