6 New 2014-2015 Shows To Kill Winter Boredom

When the going gets tough, the weak watch TV.

Stave off the worst of the winter duldrums with these new shows. The best thing about brand-spanking-new first-year TV is that you can’t possibly be behind. You might even be… ahead.

Today’s topics:

  • sword-making
  • semi-closeted homosexuals
  • pretentious trailers
  • the Daily Show‘s edgier friend
  • a shit-ton of live-action comic book characters

Behold…

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Big Giant Swords, Discovery Channel.

This reality show is about a potential lunatic named Irish Mike and his homeless-looking friends. They live on Martha’s Vineyard, making exquisite, complicated swords for rich geeks.

Both the sword-makers and their clients are intense, quirky humans.

Irish Mike looks and sounds a bit like he tumbled out of Braveheart. His wife admits on-air that he only showers once a week.

His staff members squabble, mock each other, and try to establish a pecking order underneath him. They try (and mostly fail) to impress him.

When not working, you can watch the crew sleep on couches in dirty clothes. In one scene, Irish Mike’s camera man is casually rolling a new Dungeons & Dragons character. Every member of the cast looks like they pull quite a few all-nighters and don’t own a washing machine.

It’s hard to believe these people live in a fancy place like Martha’s Vineyard. Does Martha’s Vineyard have a backwoods?

But the things they create are incredible. At the end of the episode, each elaborate sword is demonstrated. The protagonists eviscerate cantaloupes, pottery, and jugs of Gatorade. It’s not necessary to show that the swords can cause destruction, but it is fun.

This show is great. Simply wonderful.

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Gotham, Fox.

My favorite new show of 2014, hands-down. Young James Gordon (the cute blonde guy from the OC) struggles with being the only non-crooked cop in Gotham. Also featured: the show-stealing young Penguin, the adorable preteen Catwoman, the kick-ass MI:5 Alfred — and, of course: fussy, determined preteen Bruce.

The two main plots involve:
1) Finding the person who murdered the Waynes.
2) The shifting balance of power in Gotham’s underworld.

Each episode has overblown villains, delicious acting, and double-jointed plot contortions. The show’s writers are clearly tapping out the scripts with glee. Their computer monitors are reflecting their Joker smiles into their dark, cluttered offices.

I love this freewheeling, glittering program. I cannot recommend it enough.

Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore" Makes Its Debut With Host, Executive Producer And Writer Larry Wilmore

The Nightly Show, Comedy Central.

The former “senior black correspondent” from the Daily Show now has his own show. Larry Wilmore talks about current events, with a focus on black issues.

In many ways, including the name, the show is similar to the Daily Show. It opens with standup-like commentary on the latest news. There are bits.

Unlike the Daily Show, however, instead of a guest, they have several, in panel format. These people hash out topics in occasionally surprisingly blunt ways. Many viewpoints occasionally means disagreement. There are a mix of reporters, politicians, comedians, pop culture icons, musicians, etc, all at the same table. While the Daily Show’s guests are usually kind of white, the Nightly Show (obviously) skews more toward guests of color, which is so refreshing. I can’t even explain how nice it is to see a huge mix of people around the table.

The show closes on a segment called “Keep It 100,” which means “keep it 100% real.” This is typically the jaw-dropping part of the show for me. Wilmore asks the panelists shockingly pointed questions like “when was the last time you were racist?” and they have to answer. Depending on how honest the replies seem, the audience boos or applauds.

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Tiny House Nation, DIY Network.

Let’s be truthful: these “tiny houses” are just trailer homes without the stigma.

They’re custom-made abodes that people buy for $30-50K and can move around as needed. They’re typically bought by young 30something white people… the type of white people that don’t live in the Everglades. So they’re “tiny houses.” It’s a fancy, gentrified euphemism for “yuppie trailers.”

These houses/trailers are cute as fuck. And they’re clever. Stuff pops in and out of walls. Everything can turn into something else. Storage is in unlikely places. Every square inch is utilized. The people that make them are space-economy ninjas.

My husband and I like sitting around in our two-story house, discussing how awful it would be to live in one of these tiny houses.

Then we point out how we spend 99% of our home time sitting directly beside each other on the couch or bed. We use 10% of our house 99% of the time.

And then we mull over, quite contentedly, how sick we’d get of each other if, on principle, we could not escape each other.

We wish the tiny house buyers all the best in suffering each other. You’d need a strong relationship to spend that much time together, no matter how cute your “tiny house” is.

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My Husband’s Not Gay, TLC.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: the husband is gay.

Alas, Mormons can’t be gay. So they’re reclassified as men plagued with “SSA” — Same Sex Attraction. It’s their choice to “overcome” it in order to follow the gospels.

They’re married. They have kids.

They have “chosen” the straight life.

They help each other with something called the “Danger Scale.” They rank attractive men 1-4:
“1) You look
2) You look again
3) You would turn around to look again, and again
4) You’re requiring restraints”

I disagree with this show on every level. People shouldn’t have to repress who they are to fit in with society.

But I can’t look away. These people seem mostly okay with their lives. It seems horrible to me, but if faith is their top priority, straight marriage is the way to get there.

I’m an atheist. I can’t imagine a deity that would make you a certain way, then demand you be something else. I guess the alternate is hell? Hell seems pretty bad. Eternal gnashing of the teeth seems worse than being married to someone you’re not attracted to.

I guess.

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Agent Carter, ABC.

A British woman — who for some reason works for the United States’ secret service, instead of her own— kicks a bunch of ass in the 1940s.

The main plot of this miniseries involves the theft of Howard Stark’s secret inventions. (Howard Stark is the father of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man.) Agent Carter, a friend of Stark’s, goes off in search of the inventions, as well as the group that stole them.

The group that stole them contains creepy voicebox-less villains.

Carter has to balance her day job, her evening friend-helping, her high-maintenance neighbors, and being female in the 1940s at the same time. She survives by wearing red lipstick and attacking people in the face with staplers.

It’s a fun series.

I was going to write a post later about shows I’m “meh” on, but being “meh” isn’t quite oomph-y enough for a post. So here are the new shows I’m freewheeling in apathy about:

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Man Seeking Woman, FXX.

Newly single guy tries to go on dates. It’s highly exaggerated and outlandish. (He gets set up on a blind date with a troll. His ex-girlfriend is literally dating Hitler. He requires an exorcist to get his ex’s stuff out of his house because it’s attacking him.) I want it to be funny, and it is in spots. I’m just not moved. The opening sequence is beautiful from a design perspective, however.

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Backstrom, Fox.

It’s like House, MD, but not funny.

The thing that makes characters like House and Sherlock (on whom House is based) work is the fact that they’re brilliant. They’re good at solving crimes.

Backstrom isn’t good at his job. He just smokes, drinks, overeats, demeans women, and hangs out with a young gay guy who is probably his son.

I had a dream in which, at the end of the Backstrom premiere, it’s revealed that the protagonist is actually an android, like the Terminator.

This would be a drastic improvement on the show. You’d spend the whole show wondering when people would find out that he’s an android. What’s his mission from the future? Why must be pretend to be such a scoundrel? What’s his end game?

Alas, as a human, I’m unmoved. It’s a pity, because I want good things for Rainn Wilson.

Consider turning him into a robot, Fox.