Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Joseph Gilgun, Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga (AMC)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, May 22. All times are Eastern.

Top picks

Preacher (AMC, 10 p.m.): Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s series about a Texas reverend possessed by a divine force stands proud and tall in the world of comic storytelling: a glorious and sprawling epic of Western influences, Gothic horror, all manner of perversion and blasphemy balanced with an irreverent and optimistic outlook underneath it all. Long thought unfilmable in any form, Preacher now joins the ranks of unadaptable adaptations thanks to Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Breaking Bad’s Sam Catlin. Dominic Cooper plays the eponymous preacher Jesse Custer out on a quest to literally find God, Ruth Negga plays his gun-toting ex Tulip, and Joseph Gilgun plays hard-drinking Irish vampire Cassidy. In her pre-air review, Danette Chavez says that while the series chops up and remixes many parts of its source material, the Preacher spirit is still there and many of the changes work in the show’s favor:

All of these choices, when combined with the sumptuous visuals, make for a successful adaptation, though they will probably be criticized by longtime fans for making the material more palatable or too accessible. And Preacher’s structure is reminiscent of other superhero origin stories, if those tales included sweet-natured individuals who are nonetheless nicknamed Arseface. But it’s also faithful to Ennis’ comics, sacrilege and all. Cassidy is suitably rakish, Tulip is a badass, and Jesse is still conflicted about serving God.


Zack Handlen, no stranger to AMC comic adaptations with his long service on The Walking Dead beat, will provide weekly coverage of Jesse’s crusade.

The Girlfriend Experience (Starz, 8 p.m.): A Steven Soderbergh movie may have appeared to be an unlikely adaptation choice, but Kyle Fowle is so happy they did. Last week’s episode was a series highlight, its visual choices emphasizing just how trapped and without security its main character is. Tonight, “a vengeful Christine goes on the attack at the firm.” She should play some classic 1950s rock over the speakers while she does, as that’s a tactic previous Christines have used to great psychological effect.

Game Of Thrones (HBO, 9 p.m.): Speaking of adaptations of properties long thought unfilmable, Game Of Thrones has been on a serious hot streak this season, giving us reveals and reunions and our favorite characters acting like total badasses. You wouldn’t know that from the episode descriptions though, which are starting to tread into Mad Men levels of vagueness: “Tyrion seeks a strange ally. Bran learns a great deal. Brienne goes on a mission. Arya is given a chance to prove herself.” We’ll add to that list: Myles McNutt writes a review. Brandon Nowalk also writes a review. Commenters are given a chance to complain.

Premieres and finales

Bordertown (Fox, 7:30 p.m.): The grand deluge of season and series finales that marks this time of year continues tonight, as Fox’s animated series about the “wacky” misunderstandings that happen between conservative Americans and Mexican immigrants wraps up its first and only season. Tonight, Bud’s on the trail of his archenemy El Coyote, recently moved to the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted List. No word yet on whether or not the action will end with a Machete crossover.


The 2016 Billboard Music Awards (ABC, 8 p.m.): Having shaken off all of its finales last week, ABC has the real estate to air what feels like the year’s 147th music award ceremony. Highlights of the ceremony will include Britney Spears receiving the Billboard Millenium Award, Celine Dion receiving the Billboard Icon Award, Madonna paying tribute to the late Prince, and Adele debuting her latest music video.

The Simpsons (Fox, 8 p.m.): Last week, The Simpsons disregarded its own advice about straining its animators’ wrists with a “live” Q&A segment with Homer, a move that Dennis Perkins found “a charming, if forgettable, novelty.” It was one of the few down notes for Dennis, as this has been a better season of later Simpsons than most with a collection of good to great episodes. Thankfully, the 27th (wow) season finale doesn’t appear to be poised to ruin that track record, with a plot that sends Marge to prison and forces Homer to take up the domestic chores. (Hmm, that sounds familiar.) Tread lightly though, The Simpsons—Dennis has neither forgotten nor forgiven the Goddamned Jug Band debacle of last year’s finale.


Call The Midwife (PBS, 8 p.m.): In the season five finale, the reason for the increase in birth defects finally comes to light. History tells us that reason is thalidomide, though we’re not ruling out Lovecraftian horrors.

Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 8:30 p.m.): Season six of Bob’s Burgers offers its last helping tonight, as “Bob’s new friends lead him into making some questionable decisions.” Alasdair Wilkins is at least encouraged by the fact that Bob’s making friends with someone other than inanimate objects. And he’s even more encouraged that tonight marks the show’s 100th episode, making it eligible for our prestigious feature club.


Fear The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.): In its midseason finale “Shiva,” the crew on the Abigail “face their greatest test yet.” Given the title, we can only assume that means the launch of a fantasy football league. We just want to know how this many people who could barely win the Sacko have been able to last this long! What? C’mon Danette Chavez, you saw the title. Don’t think we weren’t going to bring The League into this! (Which is something this creative team should do. Jason Mantzoukas would be great on this show.)

Family Guy (Fox, 9 p.m.): Season 14 ends with “Road To India,” which creates yet another reason for Brian and Stewie to go on the road and engage in at least one musical number. And since it’s taking them to India, yet another reason for a lazy ethnic stereotype joke involving curry. We assume.


Food Network Star (Food Network, 9 p.m.): An actual premiere! Oh happy day. Season 12 kicks off as a new batch of hopefuls begin shooting their screen tests.

Wallander (PBS, 9 p.m.): The fourth and final series concludes tonight as Wallander attempts to maintain his grip on reality, while hunting a missing Swedish naval officer obsessed with a submarine mystery. Investigations only turn up odd scribbled notes: “Sky of blue… sea of green… Pepperland… Dreadful Flying Glove… BLUE MEANIES!”

Bar Rescue (Spike TV, 9 p.m.): It’s last call for the fifth season of Bar Rescue, as Jon Taffer prepares to metaphorically beat the hell out of one more bar owner to keep their business afloat in a sea of beer and whiskey.


Crowded (NBC, 9:30 p.m.): The Carmichael Show’s time slot partner wasn’t as lucky, as it departs for the purgatory of one-and-done sitcoms. Keeping with the bar theme, we imagine said purgatory as a Horace And Pete-style bar, and as Crowded enters Perfect Couples and Free Agents are giving it respectful nods and buying it the first round. One Big Happy is sloppy drunk at the other end of the bar and The Paul Reiser Show has already passed out in a plate of fries.

Mr. Selfridge (PBS, 10 p.m.): Jeremy Piven’s stint as manager of the Selfridge & Co. department store comes to an end with the fourth and final season. We hope that he takes this role to heart and adopts the original Mr. Selfridge’s momentous facial hair in all his roles to come. Especially if another Entourage film somehow emerges from the cracks of the universe to become our lives yet again.


Regular coverage

Silicon Valley (HBO, 10 p.m.)

Penny Dreadful (Showtime, 10 p.m.):

Veep (HBO, 10:30 p.m.)

Streaming pick

Justified, “Fire In The Hole” (Amazon Prime): With adaptations in the air, our mind goes to one of the best in recent memory, as Graham Yost and Timothy Olyphant brought Elmore Leonard’s short story of the same name to life and pulled Raylan Givens into all of our hearts. Justified would grow far beyond its roots, but few adaptations have ever done such a marvelous job with their source material in the early goings.


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