Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers offer erudite spoofs in Documentary Now!

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Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Thursday, August 20. All times are Eastern.


Top pick

Documentary Now! (IFC, 10 p.m.): Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers aim to do for documentaries what Christopher Guest did for, well, documentaries. But in Documentary Now! it’s not only the subject matter that’s being spoofed, but the form itself. Each episode is a parody of a real-life documentary like The Thin Blue Line and The Fog Of War. In her pre-air review, Genevieve Valentine praises the show’s actors—particularly Hader—and notes that several satirical moments in the first three episodes, “suggest a show that’s got a little heft behind the comedy, a little edge behind the jokes.” Since the series kicks off tonight with a dark, absurd take on Grey Gardens that casts Armisen and Hader as a reclusive mother and daughter, we asked our own Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya to slip into her best revolutionary costume and begin weekly reviews.

Also noted

The Astronaut Wives Club (ABC, 8 p.m.): It’s the season finale of this imperfect but occasionally powerful ABC “event series.” NASA finally gets to the moon (more than once!) and the wives get interviewed for a TV documentary. Just in time for the finale, Caroline Siede has a new For Our Consideration about one of the show’s best episodes, “Flashpoint,” which brought to light the little-known story of the 13 female pilots denied the chance to become astronauts.

Under The Dome (CBS, 10 p.m.): While the dome is always important on Under The Dome, this week’s episode looks particularly dome-y. An alliance aims to attack the dome despite the fact that Big Jim and Julia aren’t so sure that’s the best idea, and Hunter gets encrypted files about the “final effect” the dome will have on the people of Chester’s Mill. Coincidentally, Scott Von Doviak is also quite concerned about the final effect the dome will have on him too.

Married (FX, 10:30 p.m.): Married employs the rare titular exclamation point this week in an episode called “Murder!” When a weird guy moves into their guesthouse, Russ and Lina slowly become convinced he’s going to kill them. Dennis Perkins has to admit that a double homicide would be an unexpected midseason plot twist for this FX comedy.


Regular Coverage

Review (Comedy Central, 10 p.m.)

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (FX, 10 p.m.)

Comedy Bang! Bang! (IFC, 10:30 p.m.)

TV Club Classic

Futurama (10 a.m.): Now that he’s officially covered every episode of Futurama, Zack Handlen finally gets around to tackling those full-length animated movies the show released between its Fox and Comedy Central eras. He kicks things off on a high note with Bender’s Big Score.


Elsewhere in TV Club

As previously mentioned, Caroline Siede explores The Astronaut Wives Club’s salute to would-be female astronauts and Genevieve Valentine has pre-air thoughts on Documentary Now!


Elsewhere, Kyle Fowle weighs in on the unique world of professional wrestling in a new For Our Consideration titled “You know it’s fake, right?: How WWE constructs reality.” And if that title doesn’t hook you, perhaps this paragraph will:

[Professional wrestling is] at once a sporting event, a soap opera, a superhero movie, and a reality show. Perhaps more than any other art form, wrestling, and particularly WWE, actively engages with its own fakeness and explores the notion of what’s “real” in terms of sport and art.


Then at noon, Will Harris looks back at Prince’s guest appearance on Muppets Tonight for a new Watch This.

What else is on?

Regular Show (Cartoon Network, 7:30 p.m.): Margaret sets about trying to host a local news segment.


Dominion (SyFy, 10 p.m.): SyFy’s post-apocalyptic supernatural series is halfway through its second season, so it’s as good a time as any to check in on Alex’s escape from the New Delphi army and Claire’s “dangerous parlay.”

Graceland (USA, 10 p.m.): Graceland, meanwhile, is a little more than halfway through its third season, which means its just about time for Mike to start questioning Briggs’ motivations. We still think he should do so through song.


Lip Synch Battle (Spike, 10 p.m.): The first season finale of Lip Synch Battle pits Empire against Empire: Co-stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson go head-to-head in a two-part finale that will at some point feature Howard dressed up as Rick James, bitch.

Wanted (TNT, 8 p.m.): The 2008 Angelina Jolie/James McAvoy action thriller that taught the world how to curve bullets.


Frankenstein (TCM, 9:30 p.m.): Before Universal launches its shared universe of classic monster movie reboots, revisit the 1931 Boris Karloff horror film that’s a lynchpin in the genre.

Monday Night Football: Preseason: Bills at Browns (ESPN, 8 p.m.): A game between two professional football teams that’s broadcast by a national sports network but nevertheless does not “count” as a real game. Best not to think about it too hard, lest it serve as a reminder that the importance of sports is a social construct.


In case you missed it

Key & Peele: Key and Peele imagine what would happen if André 3000 were to run into Big Boi; LaToya Ferguson can’t get “Hey Ya!” out of her head.