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Bad Feminism, great TV, Tina and Amy host SNL, and Sean Penn gets presidential for HBO.

Thursday December 17th 2015

People Talking About TV

“Hollywood remains determined to make more TV shows than anyone could possibly watch. According to the crack research team at FX Networks, a whopping 409 scripted comedies and dramas aired on cable, broadcast, and streaming outlets in 2015 — easily a record number, and nearly twice as many as aired during the first year of the Obama administration.” This number probably means for some that we are at “peak TV,” but for others it just means we have even more choices when it comes to great TV. As long as we still get shows like Rectify and Master Of None I am happy. On a similar not, here's Tim Goodman's 46 best shows of 2015.

“Self-taught experts and avid fans have advanced literally hundreds of theories about the past and future of the story, from slam-dunk analysis that’s been all but accepted as fact to tinfoil-hat crackpottery that makes the Kennedy assassination look as clear-cut as an episode of Murder, She Wrote. The sensation of stumbling across this incredibly vast trove of deep-cut knowledge for the first time is a memory many readers share: “Holy shit — Ned Stark isn’t Jon Snow’s dad?”” The fans have had many years to think it over, so obviously there are many, many fan theories about the Game Of Thrones books. It’s possible some of these might urn out to be correct, so if you don’t want to know, don't click.

“For too long, strong female TV characters were basically just male characters in drag. Frequently created by male showrunners, they worked among men, threw punches like men, even had men’s names. (Why is every heroine in a law enforcement drama named Alex?) But this year, a new wave of tough heroines actually acted like women—reprehensible women. They operated within unabashedly girly spaces: a TV dating show, a sorority house, a hair salon. Their preferred form of violence was emotional, not physical, and their victims were often other women, despite their insistence that they supported the sisterhood. And the worse these characters behaved, the sharper the show’s commentary about the ruthless forms that female empowerment can take within a male-dominated world.” This piece on bad feminism, but great TV at Entertainment Weekly gave me another chance to remind you to watch UnREAL. Yes, even though it’s on Lifetime.


The Business

They shoot episodes only in the winter, so Fargo will return for a third season in early 2017. It will be set in 2010, and might intersect with characters we’ve seen before, but they won’t be the leads.

Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors ended up with some pretty big viewership numbers once the live plus 3 numbers were added in.

Amazon is developing a “limited bio-series” about the Grateful Dead. Bob Weir will be the executive producer and will oversee all the music.

I applaud Vin Diesel’s devotion to the Riddick movies, but I’m still not watching a TV version.

Casting: Sean Penn will play Andrew Jackson in HBO’s adaptation of American Lion. That’s actually an excellent bit of casting. Regina Hall has booked an arc on Grandfathered, as a potential love interest for John Stamos’ character. Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw will both star in an episode of Black Mirror.

The Nightly Show’s Larry Wilmore will be the host of the White House Correspondent’s Association Dinner.

FOX will air The X-Files on the same day in 60 countries, but people are still going to download it.

TNT renewed The Librarians, Murder In The First and Major Crimes, but they also cancelled Agent X, Legends and Public Morals. Anyone watching any of these?

NBC has cancelled Best Time Ever, but still have plans to work with Neil Patrick Harris on another show.


What To Watch

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are the hosts of this week’s episode of SNL, which is great news for fans of Weekend Update. Here’s the promos. I would expect a lot of returning cast members and friends of the show.

 A new Luther episode airs tonight on BBC America. Here’s a review, but if you are a fan you probably don’t need it, so how about a trailer?

Making A Murderer arrive on Netflix tomorrow, and Margaret Lyons at Vulture says it’s at least as good, and sometimes better, than both Serial and The Jinx. I am going to watch this one, but I just know it’s going to make me super angry.

Saturday is the season two finale of The Returned on Sundance, which means I can finally binge watch it. I’ve been hoarding episodes because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to wait every week for the next one.

Here’s a ranking of every episode of Hannibal, which is still available on Amazon Prime, and still criminally overlooked despite it being one of the best shows on TV.

Did you miss the premiere episode of The Expanse? Or did you watch it and immediately wish you had more episodes? Then I have some good news! Syfy has put the first four episodes online.

James Poniewozik at the New York Times has some suggestions for some less hyped comedies available on streaming, and I completely agree about Casual and Catastrophe.

The second season of Broadchurch arrives on Netflix tomorrow, and sure it's kind of depressing, but at least you get to hear David Tennant’s real accent. Not that they let him say anything in the trailer.

Critics loved Deutschland 83 when it aired earlier this year, and if you miss The Americans then this drama about spies in East and West Germany might be just the thing. It’s on Hulu as of tomorrow.

If you haven’t burned out on holiday movies yet Indiewire has a ranking of all the stop motion specials, and I love that one of the categories is the “WTF moment” because there’s always at least one of those.

If the mention of the 409 scripted TV shows hasn't made you clean out your DVR, then maybe this list of all the new and returning shows for the first three months of 2016 will. Lots of good stuff on the horizon.

Here’s everything that’s arriving on Amazon Prime in January.

Decider looks at which Amazon Prime add-on is the one for you, Starz or Showtime. I’m not sure how I’d pick if I had to choose between Penny Dreadful and Outlander.

Mark your calendars: House Of Cards will return on March 4th, and I can’t wait.


Odds and Ends

If you enjoy terrible puns and Star Wars, then this UK based weather report is for you.

In the '70's, if you wanted to make your own (Fourth) Doctor Who scarf, you could write to the BBC and they’d send you the instructions.

The Tonight Show got the cast of the new Star Wars movie, with a lot of help from The Roots, to sing an acapella version of all the music from the movies.

Jonathan Groff stopped by the Late Show to talk about the Looking movie, and also to teach Stephen Colbert how to do the walk from Hamilton.

Jimmy Kimmel Live has the details of this year’s prank war between Jimmy and John Krasinski. The final two pranks mean next year’s pranks are going to be insane.

Trailers: There’s finally a teaser for Sundance’s Hap and Leonard, which I was going to watch anyway, based on the cast. Season two of Man Seeking Woman looks about as weird as season one. Portlandia season six, which is about 4 more seasons than I thought this concept could sustain, arrives next month and there’s a new trailer. Netflix’s Fuller house will arrive in February, and there’s a teaser trailer.

The A.V. Club talked to the music supervisor for Fargo, and unlike most of these types of articles it’s more than two paragraphs. It’s cool if you’ve ever wondered how this sort of thing works.


Expect a round-up of all the Best Of lists next week, of which there are many, and then I will return with the usual schedule on January 5th. Happy Holidays!

-Alana Cloutier

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