Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, August 23rd. All times are Eastern. All times are fleeting. All times are coming to an end–unless they’re not?
Fear The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.): A rustling in the air, faint but familiar, scrapes along the edge of the televisual landscape. We pause our frantic typing (though not the Rihanna song accompanying it), look around, and take a startled breath. We always knew it would come to this, but somehow, we’re still surprised to be here. But as with The Walking Dead, the end of the road can actually be the beginning of the road can subsequently be a brand new series, and so as Josh Modell readies himself for this 90 minute premiere and weekly reviews, we tap out of What’s on Tonight once and for all.
And so we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (or something significantly less dramatic since we’re not actually dead or dying) (…so far as we know)
Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Adult Swim, midnight): Just as we convince ourselves we’re still on this mortal coil, we run smack into a show just as it’s gasping its last breath. “Who will mourn the series finale of Aqua Teen Hunger Force?!” we cry as we fall to our knees in despair, only to have Kevin Johnson help us back up by reminding us that the internet is a vast place with plenty of Aqua Teen Hunger Force fans, including the incomparable Patti Fucking Smith. Also, despite our best efforts, not everything is actually about us.
WWE SummerSlam (WWE Network, 7 p.m.): As if he can hear our unsteady heart, Jon Stewart (formerly of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart) emerges from the mists. He reaches up—we’re sure to adjust his tie with a Scooby Doo-esque exclamation—but then he just rips it right off and shrugs. “Dude, relax,” he says. “Life’s… well, it’s fuckin’ weird. I had people writing eulogies for me for weeks, and now I’m already back on TV hosting WWE’s SummerSlam like it’s what I meant to do all along.”
We blink into the darkness, our stomach twisting into a knot. Something’s not quite right. “Wait—was hosting WWE’s SummerSlam what you meant to do all along?!”
But it’s too late. Jon Stewart’s already receding into the ether, grinning his signature shit-eating grin, ne’er to return until he plays out his Bruce Springsteen fantasies on Lip Sync Battle, probably.
Vicious (PBS, 10:30 p.m.): We’re grateful to see Sirs Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellan at this point, since our trek through this wilderness was getting pretty bleak there for a minute. This second season premiere even introduces Frances de la Tour as their “feisty best friend Violet,” which sounds straight up delightful, but then we notice Game Of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon lurking in the secondary cast shadows and make a break for it. We know he’s a wonderful actor thanks to Misfits, but we’d like as much distance between us and the Bolton family as possible, please.
Ballers (HBO, 10 p.m.): It’s so cold. We don’t know where to turn next as our mind whirs with all the possible ways to describe death (we’re already running low, we really didn’t think this one through), until Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson bursts through the silence. He doesn’t even have to say anything; his mere presence is enough to shatter the gloom, even if just for a minute. Still, he knows his time here is brief, since Kyle Fowle wraps up his coverage of his show’s first season with tonight’s finale, and so as quickly as he appeared, he’s gone.
The Brink (HBO, 10:30 p.m.): Undeterred by the prospect of following in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s considerable footsteps (’cause he’s a big dude you see), The Brink‘s season finale offers up a “global crisis.” We’re clearly in no state to deal with such a thing, so we whip past to let Vikram Murthi pick up the pieces (sry, Vikram).
After all, we have miles to go (i.e. more shows to list) until we sleep.
This is our last post on The A.V. Club for the foreseeable future, which feels very weird, since we’ve been writing here for nigh on three years now. (To be clear: “we” equals “Caroline” equals “a writer who likes the royal WOT we too much to let go for her final WOT.”) But as the great Nelly Furtado sang, all good things come to an end, and so we find ourselves teetering on the edge of what once was and what will be, clinging to the royal we of What’s On Tonight as we steel ourselves to dive into the uncharted waters of culture writing @ Vox dot com. We will miss this place terribly, are very grateful for the opportunities it afforded us, not to mention the freedom with which we could impose our ramblings and liberal Rihanna agenda on the general populace.
And so we press on, until pressing on is no longer an option.
The light is fading fast as we make our way past tonight’s regularly scheduled programming:
We smile at Masters of Sex (Showtime, 10 p.m.), since it apparently got halfway through its third season before naming an episode “Monkey Business,” which strikes us as pretty impressive, really.
We haven’t had as much time with Show Me A Hero (HBO, 8 p.m.), and yet it will be halfway over by tomorrow, because as previously mentioned, life is fleeting, time is a myth, etcetera and so on.
Finally there’s Rick And Morty (Adult Swim, 11:30 p.m.), shooting past us in a brilliant streak of light and wild gestures. Morty wails in terror as Rick steers their latest spaceship so close we could swear that the whoosh of wind following in their wake is a residual burp.
We know we have more to do, but we can’t help but look back at our own ghosts of reviews past. There are the faces of long gone assignments: food critics and IT drones, teenage presidents and Adam Levine, Ian Ziering and President Mark Cuban. But since we’ve already made our peace with them, we turn to the ones we’re leaving behind even as they continue to churn out new stories, new jokes, new reasons to immediately check Tumblr and/or the comments (WHY NOT ADMIT IT) for the relevant gifs: sharp-tongued spies, stoned and fiercely loyal broads, wacky plague survivors, teen queens, melancholy cartoon animals, countless women who fight and love and smile in completely different ways, even though they all share the same face. We know we’re leaving them in good hands, but it’s still hard to say goodbye, and—
FWWWOOMPF! We fall back as the sky rips open and spits out a twisted hunk of metal covered in something we’d call blood if it weren’t glowing green. It opens with a devastating creak, and as we inch away, a head with a shock of fried white hair pokes out and stops us dead.
“Seriously,” Rick says, “get your shit together and move on already, it’s not like you’re leaving the internet forever or even for a goddamn second, Jesus.”
This time, there’s no mistaking the stench of his disdainful belch as it erupts right in our stupid face.
In case you missed it—Part II: Back to
the Future Black This Unjustly Ignored YouTube Clip of a Truly Majestic Creature (Made More Majestic By the Fact That It Maintains a Sort Of Quiet Dignity Even As It Flaps About on the Arctic Tundra While Wailing Like Ray Romano)
(If it’s not clear by now, we are this seal.)
We round the corner of Classic coverage, now rolling out “Lisa The Skeptic” for Dennis Perkins’ consideration, and break into a sprint.
We know better than to fuck with Simpsons (Classic).
What else is on? the wind whispers, reminding us that this thing has really gone off the rails and we should probably rein it in sooner rather than later
The summer was always our favorite time to tell people What’s On Tonight because a) there tends to be so much less On Tonight and b) what is On Tonight is usually bonkers. So on this last journey through our Sunday night coverage, we take a moment to acknowledge all the summer programs that continue to persevere in their whatever-ness in the face of the Golden Age of Television:
Bachelor In Paradise (ABC, 8 p.m.): starring survivors of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise, emotional trauma, and vodka;
Big Brother (CBS, 8 p.m.): starring some people with approximately nothing better to do than live in a house with strangers and more inflatable toys than the eye can see;
Falling Skies (TNT, 10 p.m.): starring Noah Wyle and some other actors waiting out their contracts;
The Last Ship (TNT, 9 p.m.): starring Adam Baldwin and some other actors waiting out their contracts;
Holy & Hungry: Series Premiere: “Food That Speaks & Holy Schnitzel” (Cooking, 10 p.m.): starring who knows what but what a name!;
Who Do You Think You Are? (TLC, 9 p.m.): starring Bryan Cranston and tender but manly tears;
The Great Food Truck Race (Food Network, 9 p.m.): starring Route 66 and diner food we could really go for right around now;
Bar Rescue: “Jon Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost” (Spike, 9 p.m.): starring a goddamn liar.
The sun is setting and we have nowhere else to turn. We know we’ve reached the end, that the only things left to shout out are sports (MLB Baseball: Giants at Pirates—ESPN, 5 p.m.)), a news thing (ABC News Special: Katrina: 10 Years After the Storm With Robin Roberts—ABC, 10 p.m.), and a movie that probably(?) isnt streaming (Back To the Future at 9 p.m. on AMC, which we would’ve shouted out every damn Sunday if that were only possible).
This is it.
The light gets dimmer and dimmer still, and as we gaze out on the plentiful televisual landscape, we feel a pang as we realize just how pretentious this entire exercise has been, which is pretty annoying as far as pangs go
(And yes, “hopeless place” absolutely = “the internet.”)