Thursday, Jan. 22 (Fox)
“I don’t see the worst in everyone. I see the everyone in everyone.” That’s just one of dozens of hack lines delivered half-heartedly by Rainn Wilson (“The Office”) in the premiere episode of “Backstrom,” this year’s Let’s Get This Over With midseason slot-filler from Fox (at this time in 2014, it was Greg Kinnear’s “Rake”). Wilson stars as Portland detective Everett Backstrom, a disheveled, hard-living mess we’re to believe is a “brilliant” crime-solver, even though he seemingly just stumbles into every clue between blowhard nothin’-means-nothin’ rants (imagine “True Detective”’s Rust Cohle, minus any ounce of charm or competence). No one onscreen even looks like they want to be here, least of all Wilson — and don’t be fooled by the quirky promos: “Backstrom” is an under-lit, unpleasant stab at cable “edge” that doesn’t work on any level. Stay tuned for “Bones” reruns, soon.
“Love, Lust or Run”
Friday, Jan 23 (TLC)
Former “What Not to Wear” co-host Stacy London gives “make-unders” to women whose garish fashion senses fall somewhere between Kmart Drag Queen and Rodeo Clown From Mars, asking strangers on the street to rate the subjects’ before and after looks as Love it, Lust after it, or Run away from it. I’m only mentioning “Love, Lust or Run” because, 1. I have a weird thing for Stacy London (I know, right?), and 2. It’s a new TLC show that involves no gay Mormon husbands, polygamist clans, pre-diabetic hillbillies or Cake Bosses. You take the “Learning” wins where you can.
Saturday, Jan. 24 (Starz)
Last year’s hit debut of “Black Sails” was no surprise, as it loaded with blood, boobs and Bay — producer Michael Bay, that is, whose touch gives the pirate drama an expensive, blockbuster look not usually associated with Starz originals (settle down, “Outlander” fans). Instead of just delivering more of the same in Season 2, “Black Sails” will delve into characters’ pre-pirating back-stories this time around, flashing back to more proper, crisper-uniformed times — but don’t worry, new and more ruthless dirty bastards are introduced into the pirate pack, as well. “Black Sails” may not be content to simply remain escapist blue-sea trash, but no series does escapist blue-sea trash better.
Tuesday, Jan. 27 (USA)
The bad news is, USA just canceled promising comedy series “Benched” because, surprise, no one watched it in the dead of December. The good news is, the network did pick up second seasons of other promising comedies “Playing House” and “Sirens,” granting me another chance to explain that, while “Sirens” is a stoopid name for a show, it’s still funny stuff. Even though it’s exec-produced by Denis Leary, “Sirens” (it’s about Chicago EMTs, who of course have sirens on their ambulances — still a lame title), plays more like a cousin to “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” than Leary’s black-humored “Rescue Me,” but suffers a bit from the same self-conscious restraint that runs through all USA originals: It’s almost there — go weirder or dirtier (or both) already, “Sirens.”
Wednesday, Jan. 28 (FX)
It’s 1982, and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev is dead — what are covert Russian spies Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) to do? Will they follow orders from the homeland to recruit unknowing-but-suspicious teen daughter Paige (Holly Taylor) into the KGB, or leave her in the dark as to who and what they really are? What’s going to happen to treasonous Russian double-agent Nina (Annet Mahendru)? Are producers aware that The Police’s stalker-y “Every Breath You Take,” featured heavily in “The Americans’” Season 3 promos, was actually released in 1983? So many questions (and wigs). CV
Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on the TV Tan Podcast (Tuesdays on iTunes and Stitcher), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.