Monday, September 26, 2022

TV Picks - Week of September 26

I have a love/hate relationship with AMC. Following the incredible success of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the cable channel has enjoyed a reputation as a quirky game changer. But for every Dark Winds or Rubicon, there's another The Walking Dead spinoff or a Talking (fill in series name here)… and that's just lazy programming.

The latest title without The Walking Dead in it to enter the AMC rubicon (see what I did there?) is an adaptation of classic novel Interview with the Vampire, which premieres this Sunday at 10pm ET. Lestat fans everywhere, rejoice!

This take on the Anne Rice classic comes out of the gate with high expectations. If the source material wasn't enough, the original adaptation was a 1994 film that starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. That's a nearly unscalable beauty mountain to climb. 

The good news is that vampires age quite well. From Bela Lugosi's Dracula to the ones currently living in the shadows in Brooklyn, our interest in the lives of these nocturnal creatures endures.

How far will AMC take things with this new series? There's plenty of blood, killing and sex in this tale set in raunchy New Orleans. The Walking Dead has proven that the channel can handle the gore, but the eroticism is the challenge here. AMC gets zombies right, but sexy afterlife creatures could be an entirely different matter.

The first season is a quick seven episodes and appears to be setting the stage for further vampire adventures. AMC has acquired Anne Rice's catalog, so get ready for more creatures of the night to strut their stuff on the channel soon.

AMC will be just fine if it stays focused on the original stuff. As for the inevitable Talking Vampires? Count me out.

Here's what else is worth watching this week…

PREMIERES

Hostages (HBO)
Wednesday, September 28th. 9pm ET

This four-part documentary takes us back to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and conjures up some disturbing memories. I was just 11 years old at the time, but I’ll never forget the daily count updates and learning how vulnerable the U.S. could be in this sad precursor of other terrors to come. Watch trailer.

Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Saturday, October 1st 11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT

I'm including this out of obligation and respect. With eight of last year's cast members gone, Season 48 is shaping up to be quite the transition year. The first episode is always worth the watch to see what the writing staff comes up with after having months off. "Live, from New York" still gives me chills after 48 years. Watch preview.

 

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Jungle (PRIME VIDEO)
Friday, September 30th

This is a six-part series from the UK told in rap and dialogue. It profiles a group of strangers in London who are dealing with a variety of struggles. Some of Britain's top rap artists are featured.

THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)

11 Minutes (Paramount+) – A four-part docuseries that digs into the 2017 mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas. Tuesday.

Nick Kroll: Little Big Boy (Netflix) – Nick Kroll is a funny, funny man, and now he takes the stand-up stage with a new special. Good dude who will make you laugh. Tuesday.

The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers (Disney+) – Season one was a surprisingly charming hit. Josh Duhamel replaces Emilio Estevez in season two on ice. Wednesday.

GREATEST HITS
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

This Week's Pick: It's Garry Shandling's Show (Prime Video) - The meta humor starts with the opening theme song and never lets up. This original comedy was one of TV’s first to break the fourth wall and set the standard for non-traditional sitcoms that followed. Many Larry Sanders seeds were planted on a show that features consistent belly laughs.

Previous Picks:
The Office (UK) (Hulu)
The Prisoner (Prime Video)
The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
Rectify (AMC+)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Weeds (Showtime)
Hannibal (Hulu)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
Dexter (Showtime)
Alias (Hulu/Disney+)
The Great (Hulu)
Atypical (Netflix)
Sherlock (PBS)
Magic City (Peacock)
Imposters (Netflix)
Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Damages (Hulu)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
Justified (Hulu)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Bordertown (Netflix)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)

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If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

Get vaccinated and boosted. Stay healthy and safe!

Monday, September 19, 2022

TV Picks - Week of September 19

When I was growing up, this week in September was annually circled on my calendar. Keep in mind that the only calendars we had back then were printed documents on walls or desks.

According to that week's copy of TV Guide, this was when new Fall shows premiered, and favorites would return. There was no staggered schedule. No summer surprises. This was THE week. 

Times have changed, and I'm not just referring to scheduling. The networks are rolling out many of their new and returning programs this week, and there's hardly anything interesting about it. All the FBIs, Chicagos and Law & Orders are back. Looking for innovation? You're looking in the wrong place. And it's one of the reasons why fewer people watch network TV every year.

I've heard it all before. The mass audience needs to be fed. The vast land between New York and Los Angeles prefers these types of shows. People are looking for comfort TV. Those are all lame excuses. 

Quality television can always break through. This Is Us and Modern Family are two recently departed examples of how it's done. Great writing, a good-looking and likable cast, and the willingness to take some chances. Modern Family weaved multiple storylines and spoke directly to the camera. This Is Us employed similar tactics while making time jumps as it maintained the drama.

This isn't a difficult formula to follow. You just need to be willing to take a shot and let programs find their audience. Streaming will take the audience numbers to the next level. Focus on development and spend that network money on new voices.

The latest case in point is Abbott Elementary which premieres its second season on ABC this Wednesday at 9pm ET. The comedy was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons last week following a dismal Emmy broadcast. Some were outraged by Jimmy Kimmel's bit upstaging show creator Quinta Brunson's Emmy win for Best Writing. After winning Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy, Sheryl Lee Ralph's exuberant acceptance speech was noticed for her flare for the dramatic versus the notable achievement.

What got lost is how a network comedy broke through and took home Emmys in its first season. The win for Best Writing is well deserved as the school-based comedy is sharp, witty, and poignant. Sheryl Lee Ralph is one of many talented Abbott Elementary actors who could have taken home a statue of their own last week.

The comedy takes place in an underfunded minority-filled South Philadelphia elementary school. Quinta Brunson plays a new young teacher looking to make a difference and updating the traditional ways of the school she attended as a child. Sheryl Lee Ralph is the long-time legendary teacher who does everything right. Jannelle James is the principal who doesn't deserve her job and is always looking for a good time. The other faculty and support staff are multi-dimensional characters adding to the mix. There's a Parks & Rec feel to it.

Abbott Elementary has plenty of heart, but there's also an edge to its comedy. Stereotypes are tackled and broken down in clever ways. Laughs range from sight gags to snappy comebacks. Flaws are embraced and tackled with empathy. Best of all, it doesn't dumb down the story like most network comedies. It shows its smarts. 

Quinta and crew aren't afraid to take risks with what easily could have been a traditional network comedy. ABC has a rich history of out-of-the-box programming. LOST and Twin Peaks are two shows that come to mind. Many current ABC shows try to recapture this magic but feel derivative (Big Sky) of other programs within the same genre.

Abbott Elementary has proven that a network comedy can be original and successful. Network executives should stop making excuses and start making more shows like this one. Bring the joy back to Fall Premiere week that's been missing since calendars went electronic. 

Speaking of dwindling network numbers, I was one of the less than 6 million people (an all-time low) to watch the Emmy Awards. The only surprises were the speeches, with five of the major category winners being exactly the same as last year. I stated my Emmy case last week. Someone let the Academy know I'm available to consult and make that broadcast what it SHOULD be: the best television show of the year.

Here's what else is worth watching this week…

PREMIERES

Reboot (HULU)
Tuesday, September 20th

Modern Family creator Steve Levitan returns with a reboot of a fictitious family sitcom. A cast returns 20 years later to deal with problems from decades past and rediscover its chemistry. Recent failed reboots leave ample material to work with, and the stacked cast should chew up plenty of real-life issues trying to recapture old TV magic.

Andor (DISNEY+)
Wednesday, September 21

Star Wars has clearly learned its lesson with the success of its made for TV origin stories and prequels. The latest entrant into the galaxy far, far away builds off Diego Luna's character in Rogue One (another prequel) and how he became rebel leader Cassian Andor. The fourth live-action Star Wars series follows the mold of its predecessors much to the delight of fans of The Force. Watch trailer.

THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)

Quantum Leap (NBC) – Reboot of a series that took plenty of chances back in its day. The story continues with Raymond Lee in Scott Bakula's role as the man traveling through time to correct historic mistakes. Monday at 10:00pm ET.

Celebrity Jeopardy! (ABC) – Mayim Bialik hosts a battle between celebs dying to show the world how smart they really are. It's all about the buzzer. Sunday at 8:00pm ET.

 

GREATEST HITS
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

This Week's Pick: The Office (UK) (Hulu) - Many youngsters don't know that The Office, featuring Steve Carrell as Michael Scott, was an American remake of a British series, also called The Office, featuring Ricky Gervais at his finest as David Brent. There's more awkward bite in the original, which is much darker than the US version.

Previous Picks:
The Prisoner (Prime Video)
The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
Rectify (AMC+)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Weeds (Showtime)
Hannibal (Hulu)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
Dexter (Showtime)
Alias (Hulu/Disney+)
The Great (Hulu)
Atypical (Netflix)
Sherlock (PBS)
Magic City (Peacock)
Imposters (Netflix)
Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Damages (Hulu)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
Justified (Hulu)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Bordertown (Netflix)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)

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If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

Get vaccinated. Get a booster (or another one). Stay healthy and safe!

Monday, September 12, 2022

TV Picks - Week of September 12

It's Emmy Time! The 74th Annual Emmy Awards are happening Monday night at 8pm ET live from Hollywood with SNL vet Kenan Thompson hosting.

I can't help but wonder, does anyone even care?

My frustration with The Emmys is well documented and has continued to build over the years. And no, it's not because I was overlooked for hosting Fast Food Maniac back in 2012. The Emmys should be the best TV show of the year. It's a celebration of the most excellent work on television, and the prestige level of current programming is near an all-time high.

So why does this awards show feel like a complete afterthought? Let's break it down:

Timeslot: Monday at 8pm for an awards show? The excuse is Sunday Night Football, but guess what, there's football on Mondays too! The NFL season started last week, so if you're so scared of football, schedule the show before the season starts. Or pre-empt a weeknight of must-see TV to get more viewers. Give this show the prestigious time slot it deserves!

Eligibility: This is my biggest beef with the Emmys. Shows that ended well over a year ago will take home statuettes tonight. Praising programs that aren't on anymore, or a season behind, is not how to get people to watch current TV. These actors and creators should be celebrated while their shows are still on the air. The second season of Only Murders of the Building ended last month, but if it wins Outstanding Comedy tonight, it’ll be for last summer’s Season 1. That's insane.

Categories: The categories and number of nominees vary based on... I'm not sure what. Is it a comedy or drama? Are there 5, 6 or 7 nominees? Why does Saturday Night Live run uncontested? Are there really 7 series worth being nominated for Outstanding Comedy? It's a mess.

Talent: Look who is on TV these days. Big, big stars. Let's feature them at a premiere event. Not another plug for a soon-to-be-cancelled NBC drama or the latest comedy on Peacock.

Innovation: The Grammys completely revamped their show. The Oscars, far from they once were, have innovated over the years. Even The Tonys figured out what audiences want to see. Other than asking winners to send their thank you's in advance, there is nothing new with the current broadcast. The West Wing could take home a trophy tonight and no one would even blink.

Having said all this, my love for TV won't let me not watch. I criticize because I care. Plus, I love trying to pick the winners. Not surprisingly, the Academy and I often disagree.

Who SHOULD win...
Outstanding Comedy Series - Barry
Outstanding Comedy Lead Actor - Nicholas Hoult, The Great
Outstanding Comedy Lead Actress - Jean Smart, Hacks
Outstanding Drama Series - Better Call Saul
Outstanding Drama Lead Actor - Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Outstanding Drama Lead Actress - Laura Linney, Ozark

Who WILL Win...
Outstanding Comedy Series - Hacks
Outstanding Comedy Lead Actor - Jason Sudeikis, Ted Lasso
Outstanding Comedy Lead Actress - Jean Smart, Hacks
Outstanding Drama Series - Succession
Outstanding Drama Lead Actor - Jeremy Strong, Succession
Outstanding Drama Lead Actress - Zendaya, Euphoria

 

Feel free to pencil in wins for This Week Tonight with John Oliver and Saturday Night Live in whatever categories they're nominated in.

It's fitting that the Emmys still air on network television. You know network TV, the one that's lucky to even get nominated for a Emmy these days. It's not too late, Emmys. Be proud of today's programming!

Here's what else is worth watching this week…

PREMIERES

The Handmaid's Tale (HULU)
Wednesday, September 14th

The Emmy-winning drama returns for its fifth season, and the blessed action in Gilead is never boring. June is off to Canada after taking care of Commander Waterford and faces the consequences for what she did. Most of the stellar actresses return to deal with this bizarre world where every decision carries a burden. One more season after this one, blessed be.

Atlanta (FX)
Thursday, September 15th 10:00 PM ET

Donald Glover brings it all home in the fourth and final season of this award-winning FX comedy. The crew is back from Europe for episodes that will take place in the title city. Here's a shout out to FX as a cable network that continues to produce innovative, quality programming. You don't need to stream to make groundbreaking TV. Watch trailer

Los Espookys (HBO) Friday, September 16th

It's season two for this bilingual comedy which finally returns after a long COVID break. It's unique (Fred Armisen produces and co-stars) and guaranteed to make you laugh.

THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)

The U.S. and the Holocaust (PBS) – The Ken Burns crew tackles America's reaction to the horrors before, during and after World War II in this new six-hour limited series. Sunday at 8:00pm ET. Watch trailer

 

GREATEST HITS
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

This Week's Pick: The Prisoner (Prime Video) - An unnamed British intelligence agent resigns and wakes up in a bizarre village he doesn't recognize. So begins the head trip that is The Prisoner. He's known there as Number Six and his captors want information. He won't give it up in what some consider the best TV program ever made.

Previous Picks:
The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
Rectify (AMC+)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Weeds (Showtime)
Hannibal (Hulu)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
Dexter (Showtime)
Alias (Hulu/Disney+)
The Great (Hulu)
Atypical (Netflix)
Sherlock (PBS)
Magic City (Peacock)
Imposters (Netflix)
Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Damages (Hulu)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
Justified (Hulu)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Bordertown (Netflix)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)

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If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

Get vaccinated. Get a booster (or two). Stay healthy and safe!

Monday, September 5, 2022

TV Picks - Week of September 5

Cobra Kai, the best reboot in the business, returns for its fifth season this Friday on Netflix.

When the karate grownups first came on the scene, many scoffed how it was a blatant grab by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka to recapture the magic of the 80's film series. Those Karate Kid films ran their course, but what a novelty it would be 30 years later to see Daniel-san and Johnny Lawrence all grown up.

Four seasons later, Cobra Kai was deservedly nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series at the Emmys. Who's laughing now?

 

Cobra Kai set the bar for a successful nostalgic reboot. Pulling this off is an intricate process, but it can be done. Many more have failed than succeeded. After watching season five, I'm pleased to say the series continues to be smart, funny and the plot keeps moving forward despite feeling like you know where it's going.

The Daniel/Johnny rivalry will always be the heart of the series, but the creators have done a nice job transitioning them into begrudging rivals. That crane kick would be easy to keep going back to, but Cobra Kai has fleshed out new characters that complement the old favorites. For every John Kreese and Terry Silver, there's a Miguel Diaz and Robby Keene.

Focusing on Daniel and Johnny's families was a no-brainer from the start, but the friends of their kids don't come off as forced or cliched. They, like most of the other cast, are three-dimensional characters. The kids get a lot of screen time, but focus never wavers too far from the original archrivals.

 

There are too many callbacks in Cobra Kai to list in one column, and each character returns with flaws of their own. After the initial Facebook "I wonder what this person in high school looks like now" thrill wears off, there's plenty more to their stories. It's explained why the bad guy senseis became who they are, but the good guys at Miyagi Do and White Fang are far from flawless.

The best part of Cobra Kai is that it's fun to watch. The story is based on a fish out of water finding his way with the guidance of a witty bonsai tree maker to win the All Valley karate tournament in his new hometown. Cobra Kai successfully channels that spirit into this reboot with its sense of humor fully intact.

As much as I love the entire cast, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka do an admirable job carrying the show. The clear-cut good guy/bad guy in the original film is washed away as Johnny tries to improve his life while Daniel takes his for granted. Both constantly require wakeup calls and eventually end up squaring off for one reason or another before working together.

 

This new season picks up right where the last one left off. John Kreese is in jail. Terry Silver is expanding Cobra Kai. Miguel is in Mexico. And Daniel is trying to right things with some help from Okinawa. I won't spoil a thing. Just smile and enjoy the karate.

Here's what else is worth watching this week…

PREMIERES

The Good Fight (Paramount+)
Thursday, September 8th

This fantastic spinoff of The Good Wife enters its sixth and final season as dark and witty as ever. Andre Braugher and John Slattery join the cast (of course they do), and if you've missed Eli Gold from the previous series, Alan Cumming is scheduled to guest, as is Carrie Preston as the always entertaining Elsbeth Tascioni. The drama will continue to pull no punches as it bows out as CBS's most successful streaming spinoff. Watch trailer

American Gigolo (Showtime)
Sunday, September 11th 9:00 PM ET

I never saw the movie that made Richard Gere a star and had Blondie playing on radios everywhere. This adaptation of the 1980 film tells the story of Julian Kaye (the great Jon Bernthal) rebuilding his life after serving 15 years in prison for a crime he was framed for. Rosie O'Donnell is the truth-seeking cop who mistakenly put him away. There's a little too much soap opera in the constant reminders of how dark this story is, but Bernthal expertly showcases his versatility.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Wedding Season (Hulu)
Thursday, September 8th

There's a wedding, the husband and his family get killed, and then the wife goes on the run with her secret lover who suspects she's the one who did it in this British 8-parter. Watch trailer

THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT! (Shows That I Hope To Get To!)

Tell Me Lies (Hulu) – A couple meets on campus and embarks on an intoxicating relationship over the next 8 years in this book adaptation. Wednesday.

Last Light (Peacock) - Jack is back! Matthew Fox tries to bring his family together as the world falls apart due to an oil shortage in this new thriller. Thursday.

Gutsy (Apple TV+) - Hillary and Chelsea Clinton bring their book to the screen interviewing trailblazing women young and old. Friday.

The Serpent Queen (Starz) - The rise of Catherine de Medici from orphan to Queen of France in the 16th century. Sunday at 8:00 PM ET.

 

GREATEST HITS
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

This Week's Pick: The Twilight Zone (Paramount+) - After last week's pick, how could I not recommend the original 1959 Rod Serling classic. Some of the best short stories ever told on TV happened in this other dimension. Some episodes feel dated, but others, like “To Serve Man,” “Time Enough At Last,” “The Invaders,” “Eye of the Beholder” and “Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” still pack quite a punch. And there's never been a better on-screen narrator than Rod.

Previous Picks:
Black Mirror (Netflix)
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
Rectify (AMC+)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Weeds (Showtime)
Hannibal (Hulu)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
Dexter (Showtime)
Alias (Hulu/Disney+)
The Great (Hulu)
Atypical (Netflix)
Sherlock (PBS)
Magic City (Peacock)
Imposters (Netflix)
Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Damages (Hulu)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
Justified (Hulu)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Bordertown (Netflix)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)

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If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

Get vaccinated. Get a booster (or two). Stay healthy and safe!

Monday, August 29, 2022

TV Picks - Week of August 29

There's already great debate over the most dramatic battle of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power without a minute of footage even being shown to the public.

I have the answer, and it's a simple one: expectations.

After years of production, this new epic series finally kicks off the month of September this Thursday on Amazon. The budget is said to be twice the amount that was spent on the entire Lord of the Rings film trilogy. The last of those three films took home Best Picture at The Oscars.

Keep in mind that there are already dragons flying all over HBO which wisely premiered its House of the Dragon last week. Westeros has quite the gravitational pull, and we only have so much time for fantasy sagas that took place thousands of years ago.

Big budget. Oscar pedigree. Dragons breathing down your neck. That's pressure, folks.

The first season of The Rings of Power was wisely shot in New Zealand to emulate the stunning cinematography of the Peter Jackson films. The Lord of the Rings in the title guarantees viewers for the first episode on the streamer, but where does it go from there?

This prequel is a brand-new story that takes place in the world of The Hobbit centuries earlier. As the title suggests, Sauron is busy creating the most potent rings to ever occupy the planet. We know how things eventually turn out, but now we'll learn how that powerful jewelry was created... and why.

No one complained about too much Tolkien when the three Peter Jackson films ruled the box office. The Hobbit was a disappointment to many fans of this world, and pushback slowly mounted as the award-winning legacy was tarnished.

This is the most expensive show ever made for television, and I can assure you that cash didn't go to the cast. The Rings of Power will be beautiful to watch, but it's the story that needs to be there.

This latest chapter of The Lord of the Rings isn't directly adapted from the Tolkien books. Game of Thrones had the George R.R. Martin stories to cull from in its early seasons, and when that source ran dry, the story went, uh, elsewhere. GoT was Martin's take on the Tolkien world, so that provides hope for the Amazon series.

The first two episodes premiere this week, with the remainder of the first season rolling out weekly through October. I understand the desire to keep people coming back for more, but Amazon would be better served leaving that to the cable networks. No one is looking for a weekly series on Prime Video. It's like getting part of your delivery from Amazon instead of the entire order. Let us binge, Amazon. Please.

The potential of this ten-part series is enormous, almost as big as the expectations. A second season has already been ordered, but that budget will depend on the success of this inaugural season. The fictional land of wizards, hobbits and elves beckons. Let's see how many viewers choose to occupy this very expensive real estate.

Here's what else is worth watching this week…

PREMIERES

The Patient (Hulu)
Tuesday, August 30th

Steve Carrell stars as a psychiatrist held captive by one of his patients trying to be cured of his homicidal urges. This ten-episode thriller was created by the team who created The Americans, so the drama will be intense.

Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert (Paramount+)
Saturday, September 3rd 11:30am ET

The emotional outpouring from musicians around the world illustrates how beloved the late Foo Fighters drummer was. Music stars from around the globe gather in London to pay tribute to the most well-liked drummer in rock. Spend Saturday afternoon watching the live stream from Wembley.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The Secrets She Keeps (Sundance Now)
Thursday, September 1st

Remember the thriller starring Edith from Downton Abbey kidnapping a beautiful neighbor's baby down under? It's back for a second season. Watch trailer.

THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)

Keep This Between Us (Freeform) – Four-part docuseries about women reflecting on relationships they had with high school teachers and their associated trauma. Monday at 9:00 PM ET.

Pantheon (AMC+) - An animated tale focusing on the idea of uploading consciousness to the cloud. Features an all-star voice cast including William Hurt's final performance. Thursday.

Devil in Ohio (Netflix) - Emily Deschanel (Bones) stars as a shrink whose family life unravels when she shelters a cult escapee. Friday.

McEnroe (Showtime) - Documentary about the world's whiniest and most entertaining tennis star. Sunday at 8:00 PM ET.

GREATEST HITS
(Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

This Week's Pick: Black Mirror (Netflix) - Most "modern day Twilight Zone" takes are failures. This one is anything but. The British anthology series created by Charlie Brooker explores the future of technology. The early episodes are some of the best TV you'll ever see. The satirical series is dark, thought provoking and extremely entertaining.

Previous Picks:
The Leftovers (HBO Max)
Deadwood (HBO Max)
Rectify (AMC+)
House of Cards (Netflix)
Weeds (Showtime)
Hannibal (Hulu)
Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
Downton Abbey (Peacock)
Banshee (HBO Max)
Police Squad! (Prime Video)
Party Down (Starz)
Dexter (Showtime)
Alias (Hulu/Disney+)
The Great (Hulu)
Atypical (Netflix)
Sherlock (PBS)
Magic City (Peacock)
Imposters (Netflix)
Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Abbott Elementary (ABC)
Damages (Hulu)
Luther (HBO Max)
Downton Abbey (Netflix)
Justified (Hulu)
The Good Wife (Paramount+)
Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
The Split (Prime Video)
Bordertown (Netflix)
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)

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If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

Get vaccinated. Get a booster (or two). Stay healthy and safe!