Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21. All times are Eastern.
Marvel’s Jessica Jones (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Krysten Ritter plays Jessica Jones, a former minor superhero who, suffering from PTSD after the end of her little-noticed hero career, sets out to be a private eye. One of the most interesting characters in the Marvel comic canon, Jones tries to make her way under the radar of her former super-powered colleagues, circles established hero Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and faces off against David Tenant’s Kilgrave, her former nemesis, whose mind-controlling evil was a pivotal figure in her change of careers. In her TV Review, Lisa Weidenfeld says this latest Marvel property ably balances its noir and superhero sides, while providing a complex Marvel heroine unlike any we’ve seen on screen before. And we A.V. Clubbers are all over this one, with Caroline Siede providing a running weekend binge-watch diary from Friday through Sunday, and Oliver Sava bringing out longer, twice-weekly reviews once the dust has settled from all of Jones’ ass-kicking.
The Man In The High Castle (Amazon, 12:01 a.m., Friday): Based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, this Amazon series is set in an alternate 1960’s America where the Nazis won the Second World War. In his pre-air TV Review, Alex McCown says there’s some promise in the the premise, but, as ever, the Amazon model of greenlighting shows puts the series at a disadvantage by front loading too much information in order to ensure Amazon subscribers urge it to series:
Still, there’s a slight problem with how it’s adapting the Hugo-winning Philip K. Dick novel into a potentially ongoing TV series: If you’re going to muck around with alternate realities and try to build a convincing universe, it might not be the best idea to drop the most intriguing idea right into the middle of your pilot episode, and then spend the first half of the season ignoring this alarm klaxon of a plot point.
Still, the concept—and the literary pedigree—have plenty of promise, which weekly reviewer Scott Von Doviak and weekend binge-watching diary reviewer Shelby Fero will evaluate from their vantage point high in their A.V. Club reviewing castle. They can see us all from up there—Hi, Scott and Shelby!
Reign (CW, 8 p.m., Friday): Mary, Elizabeth, and Catherine continue to discover the various ways that ruling countries can really, really not be worth it. After last week’s episode, where Nostradamus finally split the scene, mumbling, “Queens don’t want the help, queens don’t get the help,” Genevieve Valentine reviews how Mary deals with having to help Catherine’s quest for the throne, and how Elizabeth deals with the fact that Dudley might be following Nostradamus out the ornately carved door. Again—reigning sucks.
Grimm (NBC, 9 p.m., Friday): When a mobster in the Grimm universe sets three suitors for his daughter’s hand against each other in a series of tests, neither Nick nor Les Chappell are surprised when suitor bodies start piling up. And, without further ado, it’s the Grimm monster picture of the week!
Please Like Me (Pivot, 10 p.m., Friday): Tom and Ella visit the dentist, Rose plots revenge once she finds out Stuart’s still seeing his wife, and Brandon Nowalk says this is one of those smart, funny little shows you should really be watching.
The Knick (Cinemax, 10 p.m., Friday): After last week’s sluggish outing, Brandon Nowalk is starting to have some serious doubts about whether this turn-of-the-century medical drama’s vital signs can rebound.
Halfway through The Knick’s handsome second season, I’m wondering if this is going anywhere. Where’s the drama? Thack’s addiction, work rivalry, romantic tension, Harriet’s plight, Cornelia’s investigation, even the threat of Algie being one of three doctors operating on the 124 victims of a subway excavation accident at the Knick fizzles out after a single worrisome moment. The biggest thing that happens in “Whiplash” is Barrow paying off his debt, and even that goes pretty much exactly how you’d expect (Barrow pays, Wu counts, there’s some ominous Orientalism). Where’s the surprise? Where’s the conflict? Where are the sparks?
Ouch. While The Knick could probably use an unsterilized gauze wrap after being winged like that, at least this week seems packed with activity, as Bertie seeks Algernon’s help, Thack considers hypnosis and thinks about separating some conjoined twins, Lucy want to go to the gala, and that’s not even counting what Cornelia, Barrow, Gallinger, and Harriet are up to.
Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): New made-for-TV holiday special from the house of Henson sees a gaggle of moppets hunting for the legendary monster of Turkey Hollow on the days leading up to Thanksgiving. No spoilers, but there may be some kind of puppet behind things. Erik Adams loves him some Jim Henson, but…
Doctor Who (BBC America, 9 p.m., Saturday): After a divisive episode last week that left some mumbling “Eye-booger aliens? Seriously?,” the Doctor and Clara stumble upon an ancient, secret magical enclave in the heart of London. Alasdair Wilkins asserts that this is not—repeat, not—anything like the Harry Potter-Doctor Who crossover of his dreams/fan fiction.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Starz, 9 p.m., Saturday): After something of a letdown last week (“a flaccid comedown from the splendid chaos that tipped off Ash Vs. Evil Dead,” says Michael Roffman), Ash is back to set things right, hunting Deadites with the help of his new sidekicks (and guest demon-slayer Lucy Lawless, who’s no one’s sidekick). This week, one of Ash’s compadres pays a heavy price, which, Mike concedes, is the price you pay when you roll with the king.
Guardians Of The Galaxy (Disney XD, 9:30 p.m., Saturday): Kevin Johnson’s still riding out the bumps as this animated space sort-of-superhero series finds its feet (or whatever it is that Groot has—tree-feet). Still, when it works, it works, as in last week’s outing, where Johnson states:
Guardians of the Galaxy is all over the place. Fun, genuinely enjoyable episodes are followed by utter nonsense. It’s frustrating, particularly since animation takes so long to make, so it’ll probably be a while until the writers and animators actually figure out what they’re doing (there’s a lot of improvements in this episode but there are still some baffling visual/narrative moments). Yet when an episode clicks, Guardians is just stupid, exciting fun.
This week, Kevin’s hoping for more of that disreputable Guardians magic, as genetically engineered raccoon guy Rocket is kidnapped back to his home world and finds himself caught up in a revolution of his fellow test-subject critters.
The Returned (Sundance, 10 p.m., Saturday): A massacre and its aftermath, a dying old man, a mysterious baby, the death of those who’ve come back—The Returned continues to wander with an eerie sense of purpose. Erik Adams is the brave soul who’ll watch, and report back.
The Last Kingdom (BBC America, 10 p.m., Saturday): As Kyle Fowle put it in assessing the conflicted English-Dane hero of this compelling historical drama, “Uhtred has given up much for little in return, and his murderous rage at the end of last week’s episode was the physical manifestation of all his pent up frustration.” This week, hothead Uhtred has to face the consequences of his actions, while things are complicated when the Danes finally launch their invasion on Wessex.
Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m., Saturday): Matthew McConaughey hosts, while the writers try to steer him away from those Jim Carrey car commercial parodies from last season. Dennis Perkins suggests he probably didn’t notice—either the parody, or making them in the first place. Adele is your musical guest.
As Star Wars Week comes to a close, your favorite A.V. Clubbers roll up their Jedi robes and get to work for this week’s AVQ&A targeting the elements of the Star Wars universe they’d most like to change. And, sure, the one you’re thinking of may be the header image, and, yes, there may have been some heated jockeying to be the one to take that particular Star Wars character and pop him right out an airlock, critically speaking, but we can assure you that there is some variety in there. Then, in his For Our Consideration piece, Tim O’Neil takes a long, delirious look back at the, let’s call it eccentric, take on the original Star Wars films from Marvel Comics. (And, yes, green, human-sized rabbit warrior Jaxxon does make an appearance.) Then, to close out the week, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky brings us a Watch This feature on Message From Space, Japan’s Toei studio’s attempt to make their own Star Wars. It was predictably and gloriously bananas.
Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America (A&E, FYI, History, H2, Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, 8 p.m., Friday): Performers the likes of The Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Jamie Foxx, Rhiannon Giddens, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Miguel, Pink, Jill Scott, Ed Sheeran, Sia, and Bruce Springsteen all lend their diverse talents to convince everyone not to be colossal, bigoted dicks. It’s being broadcast across six channels, but these days we can use all the help we can get, honestly.
Last Man Standing (ABC, 8 p.m., Friday): Thanksgiving at Tim Allen’s house! So get ready to learn that dad deserves the biggest piece of the bird in a manner about half as funny as when Chris Rock told it.
The Amazing Race (CBS, 8 p.m., Friday): Game show contestants tromp all over the Taj Mahal, as the show barrels into Agra, India.
Undateable (NBC, 8 p.m., Friday): After understandably taking a week off due to no one feeling particularly funny or light-hearted about doing a live episode of TV, the gang is back, goofing around in front of some hot cameras. Although, it’s hard to imagine anyone no being cheered up a little bit by the sight of Ron Funches and puppet Ron Funches.
MasterChef Junior (Fox, 8 p.m., Friday): A real-life astronaut visits the set and is taken aback when the little kid chefs have no interest whatsoever in making him anything powdered or freeze-dried. “Yeah, Tang, whatever—I have lobster bisque simmering over here, flyboy.”
Dr. Ken (ABC, 8:30 p.m., Friday): When their daughter comes home for Thanksgiving with a Japanese-language tattoo, Ken and Allison get into a discussion of their mixed Korean and Japanese heritages. Don’t worry, though—Ken Jeong will undoubtedly liven things up with some yelling and exaggerated gestures.
Truth Be Told (NBC, 8:30 p.m., Friday): One of the chatty assholes’ wives decides she’s had it up to here with her guy’s man-cave and, no doubt, puts doilies everywhere. For such is the truth that must be told.
America’s Next Top Model (CW, 9 p.m., Friday): In part one of the season finale, one of the aspiring models gets busted for hooking up with one of the other aspiring models. So, both are busted. For the hooking up. Which is against the rules, apparently.
Big Game (Starz, 9 p.m., Friday): In the most 1980’s concept ever, the American President (Samuel L. Jackson, who clearly likes working and money) flees from the terrorists who shot down Air Force One over Scandinavia with the help of a little Finnish lad.
Hawaii Five-O (CBS, 9 p.m., Friday): Danno goes undercover as a college professor after the real teacher is murdered. Because when you look at Scott Caan, you think, “book-learnin’.”
Shark Tank (ABC, 9 p.m., Friday): This week, the capricious millionaires hear a pitch about an invention regarding missing socks from some guy in a big, bushy mustache named “Serry Jeinfeld.”
Z Nation (Syfy, 10 p.m., Friday): According to the synopsis, when the survivors take refuge in a hotel populated with representatives of the 1 per cent and someone gets killed, “the search for the suspect turns into a game of Clue, but with zombies.” Never, ever change, Z Nation.
Blue Bloods (CBS, 10 p.m., Friday): When two of Tom Selleck’s cop progeny have to go undercover as senior citizens, they first ask their dad if they can borrow some of his clothes. Then they back out of the room slowly under his steely, mustachioed gaze.
Satisfaction (USA, 10 p.m., Friday): One of our swinger heroes throws “a kinky 1950’s-themed party.” So pineapple chunks in the Jell-O molds, everybody!
Black Jesus (Adult Swim, 11 p.m., Friday): When Lloyd’s wife asks for a divorce, Black Jesus is surprisingly cool with it. After all—he’s Black Jesus!
Triptank (Comedy Central, 11:59 p.m., Friday): In the second-season finale, oddly animated animals to weird stuff to each other. Oh, SPOILERS, sorry.
Northpole: Open For Christmas (Hallmark, 8 p.m., Saturday): Dermot Mulroney grins and bears it in this latest TV movie about the magical town where Santa and Mrs. Claus live. This year, the people of the world have forgotten the true meaning of togetherness, or niceness, or Christmas, or something, and an idealistic li’l elf tries to save the day. Yes, it’s a Hallmark movie, why do you ask?
All-Star Thanksgiving (Food, 8 p.m., Saturday): Really putting that “too many cooks spoil your cooking show” adage to the test, Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay all passive-aggressively taste each others’ sides and smile through gritted teeth.
Instant Mom (TV Land, 8 & 8:30 p.m., Saturday): Tia Mowry-Hardrict’s former party girl (and food blogger, which should really go without saying) continues to wrangle her new husband’s three rambunctious kids.
Demons In The City Of Angels (Reelz, 9 p.m., Saturday): What are the odds? That’s some irony right there.
Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz, 8 p.m., Saturday): Leo is consumed by paranoia, putting a crimp in the 15th century version of Shark Tank.
Survivorman (Discovery Science, 10 p.m., Saturday): In the second part of his adventures in the Transylvania mountains, Les pretends to have a broken leg and challenges the search-and-rescue crew to find him, which is not, he would like to make perfectly clear, a trap to lure victims to slake his newly-acquired vampire thirst.
Spotless (Esquire, 10 p.m., Saturday): Look, these British brothers just want to run a nice, peaceful crime scene business mopping up brains and viscera, but gangster types just won’t let them squeegee up their blood in peace. In the second episode of this first-ever Esquire scripted series, the boys enter an uneasy partnership with a mobster who, it must be said, can probably provide them with a lot of steady work.
Nathan For You: An episode about hotel room sex leaves Joshua Alston contemplating just how Nathan Fielder came to be Nathan Fielder.