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Return with us to 30 Rock’s first season, when it was almost a different show


Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Tuesday, August 12. All times are Eastern.

30 Rock (3 p.m.):
To give you some idea of just how long TV Club has been running—the exact start date is known only to the ancients, so we’re forced to estimate—consider this: 30 Rock premiered in 2006, ran for seven seasons, ended 20 months ago, and yet still we covered all but one of its seasons during its initial run. Erik Adams is on the case to complete our coverage by examining the first season, which fast became just as crazy as the show’s later seasons but definitely shifted from its original vision. He’ll be looking at the pilot episode today, then tackling two episodes per week thereafter. So return to those stranger, simpler times when Jack Donaghy was theoretically the show’s villain, Rachel Dratch would show up in random cameos, Tracy Jordan employed entourage members beyond Grizz and Dot Com, and 30 Rock was even vaguely about the actual making of a sketch comedy show.

4th And Loud (AMC, 9 p.m.):
Some sentences defy any attempts at parody or satirical exaggeration. One such perfectly ludicrous sentence is the following: “AMC is launching a new reality show about KISS rockers Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley owning an Arena Football League team in Los Angeles, which they have of course named the LA KISS, and, yes, you’re supposed to capitalize all six letters.” There’s just no way this show is going to be as wonderful and ridiculous as the version in our head, but that’s mostly because our version of the show involves AMC giving Ace Frehley and Peter Criss the money to start their own rival Arena Football League team.

Drunk History (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.): We don’t cover this half of Comedy Central’s Tuesday night lineup, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to learn from this historical series. (I mean, the main reason there isn’t plenty to learn from this show is that everyone involved is really pretty drunk, but that’s beside the point.) Tonight’s episode is all about America’s 50th state, touching on such crucial figures in Hawaiian history like explorer James Cook and Senator Daniel Inouye. So to any Hawaiian summer school students out there who totally forgot to do their history assignment, this is your lucky day!

Nathan For You (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.): On the other hand, we do
cover this half of Comedy Central’s Tuesday night lineup. John Teti has been loving the recent run of episodes, but will he be similarly impressed by tonight’s episode? All we know is that Nathan Fielder is out to save the tarnished reputations of a hot dog stand and a taxi cab company. Those do seem like the sorts of places that could use Nathan’s unique assistance.

The Shield (12 p.m.): Brandon Nowalk’s exploration of the fifth season continues as Internal Affairs Lt. John Kavanaugh bugs the Strike Team’s clubhouse. To our great dismay, your What’s On Tonight correspondent still hasn’t gotten around to watching The Shield, but we’re going to guess that the Strike Team’s clubhouse isn’t nearly as whimsical as the term “clubhouse” might normally imply.

Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, 8 p.m.): Most of tonight’s episode description focuses on abductions and lying about abductions and framing innocent men and coming up with backup plans in case the whole lying about abductions and framing innocent men gambits don’t work out. You know, the usual. The other sentence, however, simply reads, “Elsewhere, Hanna attempts to lead a more ordinary life.” We know which one we’re guessing isn’t going to work out exactly as planned!

Nature’s Weirdest (BBC America, 9 p.m.): Tonight’s episode includes “fish walking out of the water in Florida; bees making multi-colored honey in France; whales and dolphins forging an unlikely friendship; trees that ooze red blood.” We’ve got to say, that description really veers wildly from fascinating to not so fascinating to really not so fascinating, before pivoting right back to… well, not fascinating, exactly, since we’re talking about trees oozing red blood. Horrifying, mostly.

Rizzoli & Isles (TNT, 9 p.m.): “A woman’s mummified remains are found in a case that tests the team’s investigative prowess.” That does sound like a puzzler… at least until you see the opening credits and see the Pharaoh Amenhotep as a special guest star. After all, it’s always the special guest star who did it.

Alien Sharks: Return To The Abyss (Discovery, 9 p.m.): If this isn’t literally about alien invaders show also happen to be sharks—you know, alien sharks—we’re going to be furious. Let’s check the description: “Researchers pursue an elusive shark species.” Yeah, we’re just going to go ahead and be furious. Seems the sensible decision.

Knife Fight (Esquire TV, 10 p.m.): “Mary Sue Milliken of L.A.’s Border Grill and Traci Des Jardins of San Francisco’s Jardinère put their friendship aside and battle over skate in front of guest judge Naomi Pomeroy.” Not to belabor an already belabored point, but unless Mary Sue Miliken and Traci Des Jardins are going to have an honest-to-goodness knife fight before a panel of guest judges, we’re considering this blatant false advertising. And don’t even get us started on the upcoming, entirely hypothetical crossover special, Alien Sharks: Knife Fight.

Food Paradise (Travel, 10 p.m.): “Sandwiches are in the spotlight. Included: the ‘Hogzilla’ in North Carolina; the ‘Big Fat Fatty’ in Los Angeles; and the ‘Steak and Blue’ in Boston.” Finally, a completely accurate show title!

Man Of Steel (Cinemax, 7:30 p.m.): Was this any good? We actually did see this one, and we’re still not really clear on this point. The Krypton sequences are pretty stunning, if nothing else.

Star Trek (FXX, 7:30 p.m.): And what about this one? We’ll admit we’re not as fond of this one as we were initially, but it’s still a generally fun couple of hours, as long as you can rationalize the gigantic contrivance that is three major, otherwise unconnected characters just happening to bump into each other on the same deserted ice planet.

UEFA Super Cup Soccer: Real Madrid vs. Sevilla F.C. (FS1, 8 p.m.): Every year, the winner of Champions League, the combined competition featuring all of Europe’s best clubs, faces off against the winner of Europa League, which has all the teams that were good but weren’t good enough to qualify for Champions League. While you might think the Champions League club would prevail every time, that hasn’t actually been the case: Since this particular version of Super Cup started in 2000, the Champions League and Europa League representatives have evenly split the 14 matches. Also, Spain has won four of the past five of these, and that’s not going to change today as Real Madrid takes on Sevilla F.C. in Cardiff, that most Spanish of Welsh cities.

Do make sure you’re keeping up with Oliver Sava’s coverage of Gargoyles’ brief first season, even if one of this week’s episode represented the show’s first stinker. After all, some say at you can best judge a great show by its worst moments. Other, more accurate people say that you can best judge a great show by the fact that it features an awesome, ultra-manipulative bastard voiced by Jonathan Frakes. Either way, really.