What to Watch: HBO gets topical – on a weekly basis

We’re going to head up into the premium, pay channels for this week’s “LK Pick of the Week,” but there are plenty of other great offerings on the lower channels too. There are several notable premieres, including “Black Box” on ABC and “Deadliest Catch.” You can hear my “LK Pick of the Week” and more each Monday on Q98.5 FM’s “Pat and JT in the Morning.” You can read more in-depth TV highlights every day in “What to Watch” on the back page of the Omaha World-Herald’s Living section and on Omaha.com.

JohnOliver

LK PICK OF THE WEEK: “Last Week Tonight” 10 p.m. Sunday, HBO (New, series premiere). I’ve always been a fan of John Oliver (and not just because I’m an Anglophile). He has a way with his comedy that is smart yet a bit silly, which is what I’m looking for when I’m getting my “news” at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central. Let’s not pretend there isn’t a sizable group of Americans getting their update on current events from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” both comedy shows using topical events for humorous commentary. There are times when that commentary says what the mainstream media cannot (or will not), and hits it out of the park. Last summer, while “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart was directing a feature film, Oliver took over “Daily Show” hosting duties and performed beautifully. Granted, he did have the “Carlos Danger” scandal and the birth of Prince George (which played to his strengths as a Brit himself) to thank for plenty of great jokes, not to mention a particularly funny dance. That hosting gig was enough for HBO to offer him his own show, which premieres this week on HBO. It’s format is similar to “Daily Show” in that it uses news, politics and headlines for satire, but Oliver’s show will be a weekly affair rather than daily. I’m confident he’ll manage just fine, and push the envelope a bit since he’s on premium cable, something his competitors can’t do on basic.

MONDAY APRIL 21
“The Voice” 7 p.m. to 9:01 p.m., NBC (New, live). It’s down to the Top 12 singers and it’s time for the viewers to vote for them starting tonight.

“Dancing with the Stars” 7 p.m. to 9:01 p.m., ABC (New, live). Tonight’s theme is “Party Anthems,” but isn’t every night in the ballroom a party?

“The Blacklist” 9:01 p.m., NBC (New). The team goes after a pair of brothers who specialize in abducting high-profile marks, but Liz is patiently investigating her shady husband on the side. Continue reading

What to Watch: An FX series? You betcha!

The phrase “Golden Age of TV” has been tossed around a lot lately, and rightly so. There is quality TV on channels ranging from broadcast networks to premium cable and everywhere in between. One network who is leading the way is FX, who debuts another promising series this week, and it earned a spot as my “LK Pick of the Week.” There’s plenty of other great TV this week if you’re not in the mood to try something new. You can hear my “LK Pick of the Week” and more each Monday on Q98.5 FM’s “Pat and JT in the Morning.” You can read more in-depth TV highlights every day in “What to Watch” on the back page of the Omaha World-Herald’s Living section and on Omaha.com.

LK PICK OF THE WEEK: “Fargo” 9 p.m. Tuesday April 15, FX (Series premiere). Don’t come to this series thinking you’re going to see a small-screen version of the 1996 Coen brothers’ movie. You won’t. Yes, you”ll see the same accents (“Yah, you betcha.”) and the same landscape (barren, snow-covered). But you’ll also see a whole new story and cast of characters, expanding the universe created in the movie and intersecting in a way that remains under wraps. The 10-episode “limited series” is about a beaten down insurance salesman (Martin Freeman) who partners with a manipulative drifter (Biilly Bob Thornton) to take care of the man who has bullied him his whole life. As the murder plot unfolds, we meet the bully’s wife (Kate Walsh) and local law enforcement (Colin Hanks) in addition to several other quirky characters. It looks dark, as the promo abpve eludes to, and it looks different. It looks like another quality series for FX, who has never steered me wrong before (see “Justified” and “American Horror Story,” among others). For 10 episodes, that’s enough for me to give it a chance.

MONDAY, APRIL 14
“Dancing with the Stars” 7 p.m. to 9:01 p.m., ABC (New, live). It’s Disney night in the ballroom, where the couples will interpret music from the classic films. Warning: There will be princess gowns.

“Bones” 7 p.m., Fox (New). When a woman’s remains are found in a swamp it leads to the investigation of a cryogenic freezing facility.

TUESDAY, APRIL 15
“Pioneers of Television” 7 p.m., PBS (New, season premiere). The fourth season starts with a look at stand-up comedians who morphed into sitcom stars. Featuring interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Tim Allen, Ray Romano and Bob Newhart as well as clips from their shows. Continue reading

Justified recap: Finale sets up an amazing season six

jst_513_Restitution_0660

Best of Boyd: “You want to put me out of my misery? How bout you stop running your goddamn mouth and do whatever it is you got to do.”

Last night’s “Justified” season finale seemed to be less about this season and more about next season, which will be the series last. It was as if the show was shedding its characters baggage and winnowing down to its core: Raylan and Boyd and the hold of Harlan County, Kentucky. Let’s talk about the highlights from last night and the peeks at next season that were offered, which promised an amazing bookend to the story of this world.

  • RIP Jimmy. Boyd looked genuinely sad when the cartel shot his right-hand man in his office. They were wise to Wynn Duffy’s lie about Boyd being dead and offered him a quick (real) death if he could produce Darryl Crowe. It doesn’t matter that Darryl was the one who shot those men in Mexico; Boyd was the one who did all the talking so they will both pay. Here’s where Boyd is street smart: He changes Raylan’s contact info on his phone to read “Darryl C” so that when Alberto sees who he’s texting he’ll think it’s Darryl on the other end and not Raylan.
  • But Raylan is a bit busy to answer Boyd’s texts because he’s putting the squeeze on Kendal, who is just learning he’s going to be charged as an adult, something Darryl didn’t account for. As Wendy observes them from behind the two-way mirror, Raylan and Kendal discuss what it’s like to grow up with a father figure who forces you to make bad choices. Raylan relates what it was like to kill a feral pig for the first time and how he might have become a lawman to spite Arlo. Despite that, though, Raylan still felt as sick to his stomach the first time he killed someone in the line of duty as he did when he killed that pig. But Kendal doesn’t bite. With teary eyes he recites his story just as before. Continue reading

What to Watch: It may surprise you

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. “Mad Men” returns this week. But you may be surprised to see that its season premiere is not my LK Pick of the Week. Why? Well, I never got on that train and don’t watch it so if you came here for “Mad Men” you’re going to be disappointed. Instead, I’ve got some other interesting and, in some cases, amusing picks for the week in TV. You can hear my “LK Pick of the Week” and more each Monday on Q98.5 FM’s “Pat and JT in the Morning.” You can read more in-depth TV highlights every day in “What to Watch” on the back page of the Omaha World-Herald’s Living section and on Omaha.com.

Scandal

LK PICK OF THE WEEK: “Scandal” 9 p.m., ABC (New). I’m going to this well again because this season is off-the-rails nuts. But I’m enjoying it – almost as much as I’m enjoying the ways they’re camouflaging Kerry Washington’s pregnancy. And I really enjoyed watching Mellie smack Fitz across the face last week. That episode was when a lot of fans declared they were done with Fitz. Count me among them. His whiny, petulant child, ”but I love you” shtick is getting to be grating. And the fact that Olivia isn’t calling him out on it goes against her ”strong female” character. The latest hold-your-breath moment is the fact that there’s a bomb headed for the president courtesy of Olivia’s terrorist mother and her cohorts. To make matters worse, Olivia’s team shut down B613, the one organization that can stop it. I hope they do go ahead and kill off Fitz. That would inject some juice into the show, and put to rest the groping in the Oval Office so Olivia and the rest of Pope Associates can get back to ”fixing” things.

MONDAY, APRIL 7
“Dancing with the Stars” 7 p.m. to 9:01 p.m., ABC (New, live). Ready? Set? Switch! The new pairings are revealed and we get to see how well they worked. Also, former DWTS pro Julianne Hough returns to be a guest judge.

“Kitchen Casino” 8 p.m., Food Network (New, series premiere). In the search of more creative ways to conduct culinary competitions, enter this series where the challenges are based on casino games. That is not a typo.

TUESDAY, APRIL 8
“The Goldbergs” 8:01 p.m., ABC (New). Adam faces that age-old question: Have a birthday party with laser tag or making out with girls in the basement. His father, meanwhile, is busy watching the opening of Al Capone’s vault on live TV.

“Justified” 9 p.m. to 10:13 p.m., FX (New, season finale). Raylan is barreling toward a showdown with this season’s bad guy, Darryl Crowe, and setting his sights on finally taking down Boyd. Continue reading

Justified recap: A gathering storm

starvation

Best of Boyd: “Storm clouds are gathering, son, and I think this flood is going to be epic.”

The anger in Raylan’s eyes. The tension. The stride of Boyd Crowder as he waltzed into the marshals office. The blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “American Hustle” reference. Can you feel the momentum building? Do you think maybe this whole season was one giant stall for a final season that is looking more and more like a final showdown between Raylan and Boyd? That’s the direction I’m leaning. They could have ditched the Mexican cartel storyline, compacted some of the episodes together into one and had one super-sized fifth season to end the series. Not that I want the series to end. Never. I love Boyd too much. And Boyd needs some love, he’s in a big pot of hot water and the noose looks to be closing around his neck with Raylan wearing the hangman’s hood. Let’s break down the highlights from last night’s “Starvation,” the last episode before next week’s finale.

  • The Mexican cartel is in Harlan and they want blood skin for the bodies Boyd left in his wake during his trip south. Wynn Duffy is doing his best to talk them out of killing him, telling them that he killed Boyd and that Picker’s dead, too. But we know only half of that is correct. Now that Boyd’s dead everything’s even. Right? The cartel decides that they’ll be even Duffy brings them Darryl Crowe instead.
  • While Duffy is filling Boyd in on his ”death” and figuring out how to track down Darryl, Raylan, Tim and Rachel board the camper. I was laughed out loud at Boyd’s reaction to the intrusion: “You stick a GPS up my ass while I wasn’t looking?” The marshals are putting the squeeze on Darryl Crowe’s known business associates until one of them yells ”uncle,” starting with repossessing Duffy’s camper for expired tags. As for Boyd? Raylan’s ready to bring out his file and use it to finally bring him in.

    Continue reading

‘CSI,’ why can’t I quit you?

csi

“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” is my TV comfort food. You know what you’re getting (killer-of-the-week procedural) and you’ll always leave the table satisfied (an arrest… sometimes). C’mon, you know you have those shows too. They’re just there on the DVR for a free moment folding laundry or cleaning the house. Background. When do you cut the chord? Can I?

I’ve been with the show from the beginning, but I’m starting to ask myself “Why am I still watching this?” I can almost time out the episodes: At minute 20 there will be a forensic evidence montage to rock music, minute 30 or so an interrogation, minute 42 the “twist,” minute 53 the killer reveal. And the plots seem to produce more eye rolls and groans than raised eyebrows.

But I can’t bring myself to delete that series timer on my DVR. Continue reading

What to Watch: Comedy with wit and class

There were a lot of strong contenders this week for my LK Pick of the Week, but my ultimate choice won because of its wit and below-the-radar appeal. Yes, it’s won a lot of awards, but have you watch it (and laughed your head off) yet? You can hear my “LK Pick of the Week” and more picks each Monday on Q98.5 FM’s “Pat and JT in the Morning.” You can read more in-depth TV highlights every day in “What to Watch” on the back page of the Omaha World-Herald’s Living section and on Omaha.com.

veep_season_2

LK PICK OF THE WEEK: “Veep” 9:30 p.m., Sunday, HBO (New, season premiere). I was a late-comer to this smart comedy, which is a surprise given how much I enjoy its star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who is the bumbling vice president always looking to move up another rung but whose (hilarious) antics end up undoing her progress. This is not an obvious, hit-you-over-the-head comedy. In fact, I’ve had to rewind episodes to catch the full thrust of a joke – most often because I’ve been laughing at a previous one. It’s smart, dry, witty, refreshing, classy. There’s a reason Louis-Dreyfus has won an Emmy for this role. The supporting cast is also brilliant, most noticeably Tony Hale as Selina’s bag man (literally) and veep whisperer during events. This season, the vice president is hitting the campaign trail, but she may also be feeling out her own bid for the White House, on the down-low of course. Unfortunately, she may have to eliminate some of her longtime staffers in order to get ahead. Trust me, you’ll enjoy this show. And wish – just a little – that you could be as, ahem, candid as Selina.

MONDAY, 3/31
“How I Met Your Mother” 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., CBS (New, series finale). Finally, finally, Ted finishes telling his children how he and their mother became a couple. Want to bet that Ted has never said “To make a long story short…”?

“Friends with Better Lives” 8 p.m., CBS (New, series premiere). One sitcom about a group of young adults ends, another begins. This one with a married couple at its center who marvel at the wild lives of their single friends.

TUESDAY, 4/1
“The Goldbergs” 8 p.m., ABC (New). Adam is afraid to take the Presidential Physical Fitness Test (remember that?), so he gets his doting mom to write him an excuse. But the gym teacher has Adam convinced he needs a presidential pardon to be excused.

“Justified” 9 p.m. to 10:05 p.m., FX (New). Raylan makes good on his promise to put Darryl Crowe away. Boyd and Wynn Duffy make an unlikely ally. Continue reading

Justified recap: Boom!

boyd

Best of Boyd: “I may not know a lot about a lot of things but I do know how to blow shit up.”

Now that‘s the “Justified” I came to see. Good thing, I was beginning to worry that this season was going to be a dud. But this week’s episode, “The Toll,” got back to what the show does best, and put the gas pedal on the floor as we speed toward the finale in two weeks. Oh, and Boyd flexed his explosives know-how. Boyd has been subdued this season, unmoored without Ava, almost restrained. But last night, as he said himself, he’s going to make “some changes.” Then there’s Raylan and Darryl Crowe, moving closer and closer to an inevitable showdown. The staredown at the elevator was classic “Justified.” Let’s break down “The Toll.”

  • The shooting involving Art is what grounds this episode. It happens when Art is getting Alison out of her apartment and to a safe location after Raylan expresses concern that the Crowes may retaliate against her for harboring Kendal when he briefly ran away. During the shootout we never see the shooter and Art is such a stud that he didn’t even know he had been shot, until he sees his abdomen covered in blood.
  • As the marshals and other offices rally to catch the shooter, Raylan is bringing Mrs. Art to the hospital. This scene sums up the struggle Raylan has had this season, namely that he’s not where he should be with his ex-wife and daughter in Florida. And he wasn’t where he should have been when Art was shot either. The symbolism of Art as Raylan’s father figure is a bit much this season (we get it already), but it puts Raylan in a place that will take him where he needs to be by the finale, which I’m assuming is a showdown with Darryl.
  • The two main suspects in the shooting are Darryl and Theo Tonin, Continue reading

What to Watch: ‘Dead’ is about being alive

Basketball continues so some networks’ regular programs are still on hold, but there’s plenty of good stuff elsewhere. There are literally hundreds of channels after all. My “LK Pick of the Week” this week is a favorite, but a show that is dividing its fans. You can hear my “LK Pick of the Week” and more picks each Monday on Q98.5 FM’s “Pat and JT in the Morning.” You can read more in-depth TV highlights every day in “What to Watch” on the back page of the Omaha World-Herald’s Living section and on Omaha.com.

TWD_season4_rick

LK PICK OF THE WEEK: “The Walking Dead” 8 p.m. Sunday, AMC (New, season finale). The fourth season of the “zombie show” has been divisive for fans. On one side are those who want the rise and fall of action related to killing zombies and fleeing to the next location. On the other side are fans who are relishing the deep-dive episodes that explore the pasts and motivation for the individual characters – some of which have been on the show since episode one, season one. I fall in the latter camp. “The Walking Dead” is not just a zombie show, it’s a study of human character and decency and will to survive. It continually asks “How far would you go to survive?” Sometimes that takes the form of killing a friend who has turned or becoming an unwilling leader of others. Because the show looks at what makes us human as well as what’s making the people zombies, it needs to be quiet sometimes, and slow, and meticulous. If you came to “The Walking Dead” hoping for week after week of zombie kills and blood spatter and gore you came to the wrong place. This show is about what resides deep down inside all of us and how that changes, or doesn’t, when we’re put in such a dire situation. This week, the season ends with reluctant leader Rick Grimes being pushed to the limit, according to show runners, even more so than he’s already been. And he’s faced with sheer brutality as multiple paths collide. At Terminus? Just outside the mythical safe haven? Nothing about living in the world of “The Walking Dead” is ever easy so don’t expect an ending for Rick that is wrapped up in a tidy bow. If you want that, head over to the broadcast networks and take your pick of crime procedurals.

MONDAY, MARCH 24
“Dancing with the Stars” 7 p.m. to 9:01 p.m., ABC (New, live). The couples dance for a second time, after which a celebrity will be eliminated and have to leave the alternate reality of the ballroom.

“Worst Cooks in America” 8 p.m., Food Network (New). The final four cooks prepare dishes for their loved ones during a blind taste challenge to determine the finalists. Because eating their dishes blindfolded may be the only way they can get them down (cue rim shot).

“The Blacklist” 9:01 p.m., NBC (New). A high-tech cyber defense asset is stolen and clues are pointing to a Russian terrorist as being responsible. The disappearance of Jolene is shedding some light on the mysteries involving Liz’s husband, Tom. Continue reading

Justified recap: Some goodbyes and a hello

justified

R.I.P. Danny Crowe (and your nasty dog, Chelsea). We only knew you as a quick-triggered moron, but we knew you. His death sort of puts Darryl in a tailspin regarding the stability of his family, and it ends up putting Kendal on the path to being a lifelong criminal. There was some real ying and yang with Boyd and Ava this week, with one showing mercy while the other took one step further into the dark side. So let’s get to the highlights.

  • It’s “golden times” for Dewey Crowe as he speeds down the road with a car full of Boyd’s dope. But he makes a big mistake by trusting Dickie Bennett (welcome back, Dickie!). Once again, poor Dewey sees his dreams evaporate when he takes the drugs to an old Bennett dealer. After the dealer calls Darryl, Danny is sent to take care of things. The only thing Dewey leaves with is a head start.
  • Dickie was quick to turn on Dewey. His “help” involves calling Raylan (“You have a collect call from… ‘Raylan Givens don’t hang up! It’s Dickie Bennett!’… an inmate at Tramble Federal Penitentiary.”) When Raylan visits Dickie, he tells Raylan he knows where Dewey is. Raylan doesn’t fall for his demands of better prison accommodations and figures out that Dickie probably sent Dewey to an old Bennett dealer who would call Darryl or Boyd right away anyway.
  • Boyd (finally) visits Ava in prison with news that he’s figured out the location of the prison guard who put her in the state pen - and he’s pretty confident he can get the guy to recant his story (using his witty charms, I’m sure, not a gun or anything). But Ava has come up with a solution to her problem, including doing whatever needs to be done in order to protect herself. Then she breaks the news to Boyd that she’s decided to make the best of her situation instead of wishing it would end. And part of that is to tell Boyd goodbye. Whatever loose grasp Boyd has on normalcy slips away as he yells after Ava’s back as she walks away. Continue reading