Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, July 20, and Saturday, July 21. All times are Eastern.
Portlandia (IFC, 11 p.m.): Representing the type of hubris only two Emmy nods can produce—so what if this one-hour special was scheduled before the primetime award nominees were announced?—Portlandia expands its second-season finale into a 60-minute extravaganza replete with behind-the-scenes footage and pancake-making tips from Bobby Flay. “Brunch Village” wasn’t the most-beloved book in the show’s feminist book store, but maybe additional locally raised, organic, free-range footage will lead to more charitable opinions of Peter and Nance’s epic journey. (And the footage is local? And is it USDA organic, Oregon organic, or Portland organic? And how large is the area where the footage is allowed to roam free?)
Lost Girl (Syfy, 10 p.m., Friday): Suddenly realizing it had a cult-ready genre series airing outside of cult-ready-genre-series-friendly Friday nights, Syfy moves its Canadian import from the beginning of the workweek to the beginning of the weekend. Kevin McFarland is grateful that the network at least waited to do so after the Pitchfork Music Festival.
Twenty Twelve (BBC America, midnight, Saturday): What’s the difference between the guns used in Summer Olympics shooting events and the pistols that signal the beginning of the game’s track-and-field sports? Those starter pistols usually don’t carry live ammunition—outside of the second of tonight’s Twenty Twelve installments. Erik Adams hopes “Catastrophisation” doesn’t shoot blanks.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Babylon 5 (11 a.m.): “Signs And Portents” gets a solo spotlight, while Rowan Kaiser mulls over the importance of those titular prophecies to the series as a whole.
Firefly (1 p.m.): Here’s Firefly! Returning from a brief hiatus, Noel Murray and Donna Bowman rendezvous with the Serenity just as it brings aboard a familiar (in 2012, not 2002) passenger: Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks.
Chappelle’s Show (3 p.m.): The first edition of “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories” both completely derailed Chappelle’s Show and brought the sketch-comedy series to new heights of notoriety. “Catchphrase is a hell of a drug,” Ryan McGee says, by way of the late Rick James (bitch).
Animaniacs (11 a.m.): In a bit of eerie X-Files synchronicity (the work of The Syndicate, perhaps?), the Warners are abducted by little green men from outer space. Genevieve Koski believes the truth (in addition to the first of Pinky And The Brain’s brilliant Orson Welles sendups) is out there.
The X-Files/Millennium (1 p.m.): The Syndicate’s actually at rest in The X-Files/Millennium universe this week, ceding its scheming time to creepy cases involving kids. At least one of those cases also involves Bruce Campbell, to which Todd VanDerWerff says, “Groovy.”
Pulling (3 p.m.): “A reformed flasher” joins the ranks of Pulling’s less-than-winning romantic suitors. For comedy’s sake, Margaret Eby hopes the show offers a glimpse into how one “reforms” that particular habit.
WHAT ELSE IS ON?
King Of Dirt (DIY, 9 p.m., Friday): Brooklyn contractor Gino Panaro bulldozes his way through a new season of landscaping challenges. You can hope that he’ll keep the sleeves on his shirt, but it’s Panaro’s destiny to be the King Of Dirt.
Whale Wars (Animal Planet, 9 p.m., Friday): When is a White Whale not a whale at all? When it’s the massive whaling (and whale-processing) vessel Nisshin Maru, the primary target of the fifth season of Whale Wars. It’ll take more than a harpoon to pierce the skin of this Moby Dick—which is something the starts of Whale Wars would only want to do in a symbolic sense.
The Culinary Adventures Of Baron Ambrosia (Cooking Channel, 10 p.m., Friday): The flamboyant, food-obsessed alter ego of filmmaker Justin Fornal wraps his first season of gustatory ambling with a Phoenix adventure grounded in Native American cuisine. He also encounters a “werefox,” in case Lost Girl hasn’t satisfied your Friday-night supernatural cravings.
John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show (Comedy Central, 11 p.m., Friday): Recent A.V. Club interview subject John Oliver gets back to what he does best—or second-best, or maybe third- or fourth-best: giving a basic-cable spotlight to rising New York City stand-up talent. Look, any way you slice it, he does it well.
30 Greatest NBC Olympic Moments (NBC, 8 p.m., Saturday): Note that this is a countdown of actual Olympic highlights broadcasted by NBC, and not Olympics-related happenings on NBC shows. You’ll get your due yet, Games of the First Dunder-Mifflin Olympiad.
Bouquet Of Barbed Wire (Ovation, 10 p.m., Saturday): How’s this for a bit of time-warp: A 2010 update of a soapy British miniseries from 1976 (itself based on a 1969 novel) finally makes it to American shores in 2012. Phil Dyess-Nugent checks in to see if any tawdriness survives across the sands of time.
Happily Never After (Investigation Discovery, 10 p.m., Saturday):If that doesn’t spell out the premise of this new true-crime series, maybe this bit of promotional copy will: “Bride and groom turns to bride and doom.” Not getting the picture yet? Try on the title of the series première: “The Bride Wore Blood.” Despite all that morbid punning, this somehow isn’t a 1970s cop show produced by Quinn Martin.
Todd Barry: Super Crazy (Comedy Central, 11 p.m., Saturday): Bone-dry stand-up Todd Barry takes a break from playing cartoonishly dickish versions of himself on Louie and Delocated to turn in an hour of deadpan non sequiturs and observational storytelling—none of which are geared toward enraging Russian mobsters.
Batman Begins (FX, 8 p.m., Friday): While Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film stands to rip a nation asunder (just as those who engineered the Bane/Bain Capital conspiracy would want it to!), return to a more innocent time when we could all agree that it was just great that The Caped Crusader made it to the big screen without flashing his nipples.
To Have And Have Not (TCM, 8 p.m., Saturday): Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s on-and-off-screen partnership began with this Howard Hawks-directed adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s World War II romance—and that description is enough of a “titans of early-to-mid-20th century American culture” stew to get you to tune in.
An Officer And A Murder (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): Suggested taglines for this new, based-on-a-true-story Lifetime original: “He’s got nowhere else to go—except the scene of the crime!” or “Love lift us up where we belong—a murder!” Maybe we should have enlisted the folks behind that Happily Never After campaign…
MLB Baseball: Cubs at Cardinals (WGN, 7 p.m., Friday): Cabs in Chicago have recently started advertising a Cards-based lottery game, which seems like a good way to have a cab trashed by drunken Wrigleyville dwellers. Adding fuel to the fire (probably): This weekend stand at Busch Stadium, where the Cubbies could find themselves minus a Ryan Dempster.
MLS Soccer: New York vs. Philadelphia (ESPN, 2:30 p.m.): Having last paid close attention to Major League Soccer in, oh, 1996, we were surprised to learn that New York’s club is now called the Red Bulls, rather than its original, cumbersome moniker, the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. Do those New Jersey fans spurned by the name change now root for the Philadelphia Union?
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Sullivan & Son: It’s been an awful summer for new sitcoms, and the proudly crass pilot for Sullivan & Son doesn’t reverse that trend. But if the pattern of its next two episodes continues, Todd VanDerWerff can see a not-so-terrible show rising from the fire of Brian Doyle Murray’s character’s crotchety racism.