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8/19/2015

“Documentary Now!”
Thursday, Aug. 20 (IFC)

Series Debut: Relax, it’s not a real documentary series — IFC doesn’t do that anymore. The former Independent Film Channel is now in the Irregularly Funny Comedy business, and “Documentary Now!” (the exclamation point should’ve been a giveaway) is a faux-doc series from “Portlandia” and “Saturday Night Live” folks (Fred Armisen, Seth Meyers and Bill Hader), lent some seriously confusing cred by host Helen Mirren. As with “Portlandia” and “SNL,” the half-hour episodes fluctuate between killer (a profile of a hapless ’70s rock band; on-location with a “Vice”-like news program) and filler (Armisen and Hader in old lady drag). So, just like real docs.

 

“Blunt Talk”
Saturday, Aug. 22 (Starz)

Series Debut: Starz has been on a creative roll lately: “Outlander,” “Black Sails,” “Power,” the upcoming “Ash vs. Evil Dead” — hell, even “Survivor’s Remorse” is a better sports dramedy than HBO’s “Ballers.” The new “Blunt Talk” could be Starz’s most blatant grab for buzz yet; a raunchy comedy starring Patrick Stewart (yes, that Patrick Stewart) as British newsman Walter Blunt, recently transplanted to Los Angeles to shake up cable news and set ‘Merica straight — if his appetite for booze, drugs and women don’t kill him first. Stewart tears into this “Newsroom”-via-“Californication” role like he’s been waiting forever to play a reckless hedonist, and creator/producer Jonathan Ames (HBO’s late, great “Bored to Death”) gives him plenty of comic room to roam. If “American Dad” didn’t kill off Captain Picard, “Blunt Talk” will.

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“The Unauthorized Full House Story”
Saturday, Aug. 22 (Lifetime)

Movie: Never understood the fascination with “Full House,” a half-assed sitcom from the Golden Age of the Half-Assed Sitcom (late ’80s-early ’90s). Every half-hour comedy of the time — and there were hundreds of them — was a loud, indistinguishable, laugh-tracked abomination made up of cheap sets, lazy punchlines and children. But somehow, a “Fuller House” reboot is coming to Netflix next year, which would give John Stamos two concurrent TV shows (the other being Fox’s new fall series “Grandfathered”). There is no universe in which John Stamos should have two series. Just kidding: “Grandfathered” will be long-canceled by then. Oh, “The Unauthorized Full House Story”? It’s terrible.

 

“Fear the Walking Dead”TrueTV FearTheWalkingDead
Sunday, Aug. 23 (AMC)

Series Debut: It’s not like “Fear the Walking Dead” won’t reel in “The Walking Dead”’s audience — all 16 million of them. The series is undoubtedly going to debut big, but, before we get “Run the Hell Away From the Walking Dead” and “The Walking Dead: Miami,” the Los Angeles-set “Fear the Walking Dead” has to, well, not suck. Which it doesn’t, but FTWD only has six episodes to introduce new characters and set up a pre-“walker” world (in the early stages of the Z-apocalypse, they’re few, still fresh and referred to as “the infected”). We know what’s ahead, but these Angelinos are delusionally optimistic that the outbreak will be contained and don’t know to not let the infected get right up in their faces (far scarier here than in the well-aware environs of “The Walking Dead”). “Fear the Walking Dead” has all the potential of the original … as long as there are no farms in the area. CV

 

Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on TV Tan Podcast (iTunes and Stitcher), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.

 

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