What to Watch: Behind the atom bomb

I’m keeping things short and sweet this week. It’s the middle of summer and, frankly, I’m coasting until the fall shows return, taking a break from anything too heavy-handed or serious. One of those is my “LK Pick of the Week,” and it’s the first time I’ve featured a program from this channel. You can hear this pick and more each Monday on Q98.5 FM’s “Pat and JT in the Morning.”

Manhattan

LK PICK OF THE WEEK: “Manhattan” 8 p.m. to 9:10 p.m., Sunday, WGN America (New, series premiere). While the United States government used the Manhattan Project to create an atomic bomb, there was an entire town that sprung up around the facility in New Mexico where they were making it. And in any community, there will be scandals and interplay amongst its citizens, even if they are scientists. This series has a very period feel. At its center is a self-destructive professor who is leading the Manhattan Project while dealing with the ups and downs of marriage to his botanist wife. The show has some good pedigree (“The West Wing” director) and a vintage feel that TV fans are drinking up like Old Fashioneds. But instead of the chauvinistic world of advertising in the 1960s we get transported to the desert of New Mexico during the 1940s when the world was at war and where scientists were the rock stars.

MONDAY, JULY 21
“American Ninja Warrior” 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., NBC (New). Last week, Kacy Catanzaro became the first woman to advance this far in the competition. The video (which you can watch below) went viral. Yes this is a summer competition show, but it can also inspire you to get off your butt.

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First ‘AHS: Freak Show’ teaser

It may only be 19 seconds long, but as we’ve seen with past seasons, FX packs a lot of creepy into those seconds and whets our appetite for more about the latest season of this anthology.

The fourth season, which premieres in October, will be set in the 1950s amongst one of the last carnival freak shows in the country. Jessica Lange and Sarah Paulson are returning as is Evan Peters from previous AHS seasons. Michael Chiklis and Kathy Bates are also part of the cast. Creator Ryan Murphy has hinted that this “Freak Show” season will be closer in tone to “Asylum” than “Coven,” which will probably mean less camp and more disturbing horror. We also know there’s a terrifying clown on deck for this season, who we get a glimpse of in the teaser below. (Like clowns aren’t scary enough.)

The folks behind AHS will have a panel at San Diego Comic Con on July 26 and I’m hoping it will include a longer preview or at the very least more details about the season. Until then, cross your fingers and watch these 19 seconds to tide you over.

What to Watch: History with a hint of vodka

Take a break from all the serious stuff and have a chuckle with this week’s “LK Pick of the Week.” You can hear this pick and more each Monday on Q98.5 FM’s “Pat and JT in the Morning.”

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LK PICK OF THE WEEK: “Drunk History” 9 p.m. Tuesday, Comedy Central (New). Usually, watching drunk people talk when you yourself aren’t inebriated is annoying and frustrating. But there’s something about these guests’ drunken retelling of history that makes the experience funny. Don’t count on this show to teach you anything, because, really, how much can you trust a history lesson told by a man lying on his floor holding an empty bottle of vodka? Doesn’t matter, when the actors reenacting the stories being told “lip sync” the guests words in character, there’s just something funny about it. Tonight, host Derek Water’s (pictured above) guests discuss pivotal moments in American music, including the rise and fall of Alan Freed (played by Jack McBrayer), an interaction between Kris Kristofferson and Johnny Cash (played by Johnny Knoxville) and a tale about Sylvia Robinson’s role in the formation of the Sugarhill Gang.

MONDAY, JULY 14
“Backpackers” 7:30 p.m., The CW (New, series premiere). A new comedy about two best friends head off on a backpacking trip across Europe to search for one of the men’s missing fiancée. But the trip turns out leaving the men questioning their futures.

“24: Live Another Day” 8 p.m., Fox (New, series finale). It’s the end of the work day for Jack Bauer. It’s been typical, thwarting terrorist attacks, saving lives, lots of running. But Jack’s final decision to save the world is one he might not be prepared to make.

“Under the Dome” 9 p.m., CBS (New). Meet the Chester’s Mill barber (Dwight Yoakum), and learn that not even rain is a benign event in the cursed town. Continue reading

‘Orphan Black’ was robbed! (and other Emmy snubs)

Well those Emmy nominations were predictable and shocking at the same time. But they usually are. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is notorious for being behind the curve when it comes to TV trends and cutting-edge television. This year’s crop of nominees is a poor reflection of the bounty of wonderful television that can be found right now (most of which is not located on your broadcast networks. Sorry, it’s just not.)

Instead of rehashing all of the nominations, which you can see here, I’m going to look only at my perceived snubs and pleasant surprises. If you disagree, hey, that’s what the comments are for. Discuss.

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SNUBS

“Orphan Black” – This show is my everything right now. Tatiana Maslany (pictured above) is doing some amazing work as not one but at least five characters, all different (yet the same?) on this sci-fi thriller about genetic clones. I get it, Emmy voters don’t dig science fiction. But come on, how many actresses can be three different characters in the same scene and have you believing you’re watching three different people? Not many, not even the academy’s precious Claire Danes. And the show itself? Just the right pacing at 10 episodes a season versus the standard 22 or more for a network show. No episode is a throw-away. Every scene feels like it means something. This show was robbed on so many levels. Continue reading

A zombified Fourth of July

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Nothing says Fourth of July like hot dogs, bunting, fireworks, watermelon, humidity and zombies. At least that’s how you could describe this year’s holiday thanks to AMC’s “The Walking Dead” marathon beginning Friday, July 4.

If you’d like to relive the horror and heroism of the Grimes Gang you can start with episode one, season one on July 4 and end with a special “Talking Dead” episode on Sunday, July 6. You’ll no double be left with more questions than answers when showrunner Scott M. Gimple visits the show to drop hints about the upcoming season 5. Remember, we last left Rick, (most of) his group and a few new members (hello, Abraham!) in a train boxcar with few options an a creepy group watching over them who may or may not be cannibals. So, yeah, there are some questions to ask. I, for one, was one of those fans who poured over screen shots and devoured blog posts about “what it all means.” So I want answers, Gimple! But I’ll mostly likely get just enough to ratchet up my anticipation.

But the season 5 preview isn’t all AMC has planned, there’s “Inside the Walking Dead” on July 8 at 8 p.m. that shows how the series is made, including mapping out the show, production design, special effects and makeup. Then “Inside the Walking Dead: Walker University” on July 15 will follow the journey from extra to “walker.” Yes, there is motivation behind those shuffles and groans and the actors must attend Zombie School to master it. Hey, the zombies need to be realistic.

Summer just started, let’s look at the new fall shows

We’re barely two weeks into “summer” TV, but thanks to the recent “Upfronts Week”we have a sneak-peek at the new shows coming this fall. The trailers I’ve included are brief and leave a lot to interpretation, but they give you an idea of what the shows will be like. Below are the fall schedules for the big five networks. New series are noted in red, all caps.

Monday
7 p.m. “The Voice” (NBC): Featuring new coaches Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams
“GOTHAM” (Fox): In case you missed the memo, superheroes are the witches of 2014. This series is an origin story of the villians and vigilantes of DC Comics, centered on James Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie, “Southland,” “The O.C.”) rise from rookie detective to police commissioner. Donal Logue costars as his veteran partner Harvey Bolluck and Jada Pinkett Smith plays the crime boss looking to corrupt them all. We also get to see young, prepubescent in some cases, Batman, Catwoman and Penguin, among others, with Gordon’s friendship with a young Bruce Wayne at the heart of the drama. “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC)
“The Big Bang Theory”/”2 Broke Girls” (starting Oct. 30) (CBS)
“The Originals” (The CW) Continue reading

Summer TV best bets

We’ve all heard the complaints about summer TV: Too much reality, not enough substance. But here’s a handful of shows that might be worth your time and DVR space. Most of them are new, but I’ve thrown in a few returning shows that are worth a second look.

7. “Under the Dome” (CBS, June 30). This show based on the Stephen King novel started out promising but went way, way, way off the rails by the end of the first season. Is the dome a living thing? Where do these new characters/citizens keep coming from if this small town is trapped inside a dome? I’m interested to see where they take this train: Will we go straight through Crazytown to Nutsville or get back on track for some quality sci-fi fun? It’s hard to tell, but it’s a good summer TV distraction all the same.

6. “The Quest” (ABC, Thursdays premiering July 31). It’s a reality competition staged in an elaborate fantasy world – think cos-play enthusiasts competing in “The Amazing Race” on the set of “Game of Thrones.” The “Heroes” (contestants) have to save a kingdom full of various obstacles from being conquered by dark forces.

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Finally! Walton Goggins gets some awards love

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What Walton Goggins has done with his Boyd Crowder character on FX’s “Justified” has been amazing to watch over the seasons. Boyd literally went from a one-episode character to nearly stealing the show from lead Timothy Olyphant. Now, Goggins has been nominated again for his portrayal of the criminal you just love to root for (he was previously nominated for a Golden Globe). The Critics’ Choice Television Awards not only nominated Goggins for his portrayal as Boyd, but for his guest turn on the recent season of “Sons of Anarchy.” The man is everywhere! Let’s hope his streak continues when Emmy award nominations are announced in June.

For a complete list of nominations, which also included another favorite Hugh Dancy of “Hannibal,” see the list here.

Memorial Day TV marathons

This weekend may be the kickoff to summer, but not everyone is a fresh-air sort of person. If you’d rather binge on reality TV or rediscover some classic movies, here’s a guide to some of the marathons on TV this weekend. You’re welcome.

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Saturday, May 24
TCM 72-Hour Memorial Day Weekend Marathon (starts at 5 a.m. on TCM). Three days of classic movies (both comedies and dramas) about service men and women, including “The Dirty Dozen” (1967), “No Time for Sergeants” (1958) and others.
Classic War Saturday (starting at 5 a.m., AMC). More war movies, including “The Sands of Iwo Jima (1950)” and “Heartbreak Ridge” (1986).
“WWII in HD” (8 a.m. to 6 p.m., History)
“Pawn Stars” (6 p.m. to 3:02 a.m. , History)
“Being Mary Jane” (11 p.m.- 9 p.m., BET)
“Catfish” (10 a.m.- 3:15 p.m., MTV)
“Criminal Minds” (3 p.m.- 11 p.m., A&E)
“Deadliest Catch” (2 p.m.- 9 p.m., Discovery)

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