Review With Forrest MacNeil (Thursdays, Comedy Central), new series: Anyone can be a critic (seriously, anyone), but few have the conviction of Forrest MacNeil, the tenacious “life critic” of Comedy Central’s left-field new hit Review. As MacNeil, Andy Daly takes requests from viewers as to which random life experience he should try out; in Episode 1, MacNeil gave addiction a spin and wound up awarding cocaine “a million stars!” out of five. (Post-rehab, a half star, because no real journalist would hand out zero stars.) In the March 20 episode, he takes on the equally dangerous task of consuming 15 pancakes in one sitting—if that sounds easy to you, MacNeil suggests that your life must be “an unendurable hellscape of excruciating sadness.” (Didn’t I use that line in a review of George Lopez’s new sitcom?) Review review: one green button.
Da Vinci’s Demons (Saturday, March 22, Starz), season premiere: Starz has yet to recapture that Spartacus buzz of a few years ago; the just-completed first season of Black Sails came close, even though the network made the mistake of positioning it as a “serious” period drama when it was really just a CW soap with more blood, nudity, grownups and the bad touch of Michael Bay. Between the hype of those two series, Starz in 2013 quietly launched Da Vinci’s Demons, about the historical-ish Renaissance adventures of a young, sexy Leonardo da Vinci (Tom Riley) as he navigates conspiracies, cults and Catholics, as well as his own genius and bi-curious tendencies. Sure, it sounds ridiculous—ridiculously fun! (See? Anyone can be a critic.) The Only TV Column That Matters™ would usually say “Catch up on Season 1” before recommending jumping into the second, but Da Vinci’s Demons isn’t going to make any more or less sense with the background info.
My Five Wives (Sundays. TLC), new series: Maybe this is where I used “unendurable hellscape of excruciating sadness.” My Five Wives premiered weeks ago, and you’ve probably seen the ads with Utah polygamist Brady Williams, his five “spouses” and their combined 24 kids over and over—and yet you still didn’t reject it as vehemently as you did Chrisley Knows Best. (Thanks for that, ’Merica; I owe you one.) It helps that Williams is more likable than that assclown Kody Brown of TLC’s other polygamy show—yes, we now have to differentiate between polygamy shows—Sister Wives, but, as with 95 percent of all reality-TV series, there’s no reason for My Five Wives to exist. It’s just another contrived, scripted suckfest attempting to make a “real” family seem entertaining. Even multiplied by five, they ain’t entertaining.
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (Tuesdays, El Rey), new series: Prior to the premiere of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series last week, Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network (“Spanish TV for Gringos”—not the official tagline, but I’m willing to sell) mostly showed X-Files and Dark Angel reruns, and obscure kung-fu and horror flicks. In other words, it was the perfect cable channel—and then came From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, which was instantly darker and weirder than Rodriguez’s 1996 cult movie. Psycho Gecko brothers Seth (D.J. Cotrona, a passable George Clooney sub) and Richie (Zane Holtz, leagues more intense than Quentin Tarantino) are fresh out of jail and on a body-stacking crime spree to the Mexican border; however, vampires and twisted Aztec mythologies are about to get in their way. Anyone remotely “good” or “not insane” gets real dead real quick in FDTD, but the real mystery is how Rodriguez can stretch this story over 10 (or more) episodes. So far, I’m in—way in. (By the way, El Rey can be found on Channel 234 and Channel 584 on Time Warner ’round these parts.)
DVD ROUNDUP FOR MARCH 25!
Californication: Season 6
Hank (David Duchovny) attempts to adapt his book into a Broadway musical with the help of an eff’dup British rock star (Tim Minchin) and rehab—naturally, both lead to more sex, booze, drugs and sex. It’s hard to feel sorry for Hank. (Showtime/Paramount)
The Punk Singer
Bikini Kill singer/riot grrrl pioneer Kathleen Hanna gets the full documentary treatment, with classic BK and Le Tigre concert footage, interviews and the real reason she retired in 2005. (IFC/MPI)
Veep: Season 2
Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) deals with midterm elections, an asshole political strategist (Gary Cole), rural ’Merica, the military, the government shutdown and the worst staff in D.C. Probably all (shudder) true. (HBO)
The Wolf of Wall Street
A stockbroker (Leonardo DiCaprio) rises to power on 1990s Wall Street in Martin Scorsese’s epic tale of drugs, debauchery and Jonah Hill’s prosthetic penis. Also starring Matthew McConaughey, because everything does now. (Paramount)
More New DVD Releases (March 25)
Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa: Live in Amsterdam, California Scheming, Continuum: Season 2, Delivery Man, Here’s Lucy: The Complete Series, Key & Peele: Seasons 1 & 2, Machine Head, Welcome to the Jungle.