Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21, 2011. All times are Eastern.
Boss (Starz, 10 p.m., Friday): It’s a quiet weekend for new TV, with even Fringe sitting out its usual timeslot (and it’s not like baseball’s there to interrupt it; God, Fox). But if you have Starz—because you like watching endless repeats of productions made by the Disney corporation—then you can tune in to this intriguing, if not wholly successful, new political drama, with Kelsey Grammer as a corrupt politician who gets one bad diagnosis and finds his whole life tossed into upheaval. Grammer’s great, the show’s a little formless, and Meredith Blake and Todd VanDerWerff will have their thoughts on it later today. (Spoilers: Both are sad it is not a stealth Dukes Of Hazzard spinoff about Boss Hogg.)
A Gifted Man (CBS, 8 p.m., Friday): Tonight, Michael Holt, the greatest doctor in history, faces a situation with a patient that could jeopardize his practice. That’s so damned vague that it could describe virtually every doctor show ever made. Todd VanDerWerff hopes the situation involves an angry construction worker and a wrecking ball. That’s how you jeopardize a practice.
Supernatural (The CW, 9 p.m., Friday): Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters drop by this monster-hunting show for a good-time comedy episode that involves a witch getting revenge on her husband after he does her wrong. The two are guest-starring because The CW clearly remembers their guest-star work on Veronica Mars and Smallville respectively and hopes the magic comes back. So does Zack Handlen.
TV CLUB CLASSIC
Buffy The Vampire Slayer/Angel (1 p.m., Friday): Noel Murray is coming up on the end of Angel’s fourth season, its most divisive, and he gets even closer today, as he takes a look at two of the episodes that take place in the post-Jasmine reality. Will everybody’s favorite nerd girl Fred be captured by Jasmine’s followers? Tune in and find out (but don’t tell Noel; he still has no idea).
The Twilight Zone (1 p.m., Saturday): There’s a twist ending at the end of “Third From The Sun,” which you probably already know about. All right, here it is. Spoilers, obviously: The characters are all hearing a strange piece of music. They gather together in a room together and learn that what they are hearing is a strange version of Joe Diffie’s “Third Rock From The Sun.” Todd VanDerWerff screams in horror.
WHAT ELSE IS ON
Casino Wars (National Geographic, 8 p.m., Friday): You’d think this would just be about people at rival casinos battling to keep up with each other, but it’s actually about sentient casinos in the wilds of America’s West, sentient casinos that gallop across the desert wastes and attack each other, neon flying everywhere, sort of like in Phillip Reeve’s Hungry City Chronicles.
American Masters: Pearl Jam Twenty (PBS, 9 p.m., Friday): Cameron Crowe directed this documentary about the history of the titular band, which might be a good reason for you to go back and read (or purchase the e-book version of) Whatever Happened To Alternative Nation or just an excuse to glare menacingly at your friends and say, “Ooooooooooh, but we unleashed the lion.” Noel Murray checks the film out.
Strike Back (Cinemax, 10 p.m., Friday): Cinemax’s guy-centric action series has quietly become one of the year’s most satisfying watches, bouncing from high-octane thrills to surprisingly nice little character beats. Sure, it’s not Breaking Bad, but what is anymore? Anyway, our resident expert on explosives and demolitions, Myles McNutt, has been following along, so he’ll drop in. You know what they say: It ain’t blowin’ up if it ain’t got McNutt.
Marvel Anime: X-Men (G4, 11 p.m., Friday): G4 takes another turn at this whole “Let’s make an anime series about Marvel characters” thing by dipping into the world of the X-Men, with Scott Porter voicing Cyclops—sort of the QB1 of the Xavier Institute, no? Simon Abrams takes a look at this new take on the superhero series.
Fred 2: Night Of The Living Fred (Nickelodeon, 8 p.m., Saturday): All week long, we’ve been holding the threat of having to review this over TV Club writers who just wouldn’t behave, cackling mercilessly and cracking whips, like the villains in the software company at the end of Space Quest III: The Pirates Of Pestulon. But then everybody did what they were supposed to, so you won’t get a review. We’re sure you’re crushed.
Austin City Limits (PBS, 9 p.m., Saturday): The Decemberists perform, as do Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Before the comments descend into a battle over whether The Decemberists are any good or not (they’re very good), let’s suggest some obscure 19th-century words you can work into your arguments: mountebank, skirr, tarhood, lambrequin, decimestrial. Now you can pretend to be Colin Meloy and Don DeLillo!
Unstoppable (HBO, 7:45 p.m., Friday): Sometimes, you just want to see a train crash into shit. Nothing wrong with that. Well, if that’s what you’re looking for on a fine Friday evening, you could do worse than Unstoppable, the train-crashing-into-shittiest film ever made. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine have the com.
She (TCM, 8 p.m., Friday): TCM seems to be celebrating October by digging up a bunch of old Hammer films, and we couldn’t be happier. In this one, a bunch of British soldiers stumble into a land run by a woman known as “She-who-must-be-obeyed” and promptly panic without the gender roles they’re used to. “She-who-must-be-obeyed”? Sounds like a Brad Garrett sitcom to us! Hey-o!
An American In Paris (TCM, 8 p.m., Saturday): Sometimes, you just want to see a dude dance around and shit. Nothing wrong with that. Well, if that’s what you’re looking for on a fine Saturday evening, you could do worse than An American In Paris, one of the dude-dancing-around-and-shittiest movies ever made. Consummate hoofer (we’ve always wanted to say that) Gene Kelly stars in the Best Picture winner.
The Descent (IFC, 8 p.m., Saturday): Quibble all you want about if the American version of this British horror film is total bullshit. Everything leading up to that ending in both versions is stark and terrifying, and the best part is how director Neil Marshall makes the cave itself into a monster, enhancing even the least claustrophobic viewer’s fear of tight spaces until they can hardly breathe.
College football: West Virginia at Syracuse (ESPN, 8 p.m., Friday): West Virginia’s won four in a row at Syracuse, but the Orange unexpectedly defeated West Virginia last year on their own turf. We’d say something about how, now, it’s payback time, but we’re struggling to pretend to care about this. West Virginia and Syracuse fans? Go nuts. The rest of us will be watching Casino Wars.
World Series: Game 3: Cardinals at Rangers (Fox, 7:30 p.m., Saturday): Look: We don’t really care who wins this World Series. All we ask is that it goes to game seven, so Fox finally stops whining every time the Red Sox or Yankees aren’t in the series and so people realize there can be good baseball that doesn’t involve the East Coast. The fact that the series is tied 1-1 after two games is a good start.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
The Big Bang Theory (Thursday): Not every episode featuring Laurie Metcalf as Sheldon Cooper’s mother has been a winner, so it was nice to see that Oliver Sava found this one, which delved slightly deeper into the Coopers’ relationship than usual, mostly all right. On the other hand, Oliver’s still not sure what to make of the show’s treatment of the never-evolving, now apparently always drunk Raj.