Dancing with the scars11/4/2015
“Master of None”
Friday, Nov. 6 (Netflix)
Series Debut: Comedian/actor Aziz Ansari (“Parks & Recreation”) plays a New York City comedian/actor who’s a hell of a lot like Aziz Ansari. Depending on your Aziz Ansari tolerance levels, this is either great or terrible news (and nobody’s asking you, “Family Guy”). The pleasant surprise of “Master of None” is that the closer Ansari hews to himself — or at least this version of “himself” — the more likable and endearing he becomes. Whereas the Louis C.K. of “Louie” and the Marc Maron of “Maron” stay on-brand, this isn’t (always) the Aziz Ansari who yells his lines to the back row, and it takes to getting used to. Likewise, “Master of None” is more thoughtful than jokey — it doesn’t always work, but at least it shows another side of Tom Haverford, er, Ansari.
Series Debut: Showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett (a former “Breaking Bad” writer) says the first two episodes of ballet drama “Flesh & Bone” are “the lightest,” and that it gets bleaker from there. Considering that those episodes — of eight total — are darker than “True Detective” strangling “Black Swan” in a puppy mill, fans of cringe-watching should take note. “Flesh & Bone” follows a troubled young dancer (Sarah Hay, a legit dancer) who joins a prestigious New York ballet company and quickly learns what kind of twisted world she’s stepped into (unnecessary hint: waaay twisted). With the exception of occasional-but-welcome bitchy outbursts from the company’s demanding artistic director (Ben Daniels, “House of Cards”), this is a discomfiting, humorless affair. Come for the ballet, stay for the angst.
Sunday, Nov. 8 (TNT)
Series Debut: “Agent X” is John Case (Jeff Hephner, “Interstellar”), a super-secret weapon to be called in when the FBI and CIA can’t hack it. Even the president doesn’t/can’t know who he is, so Agent X is deployed by the vice president, played here by… Sharon Stone! “The Bourne Identity”’s William Blake Herron wrote the pilot and executive produces, but, as TNT’s “Legends” has (and continues) to prove, an A-list star and a production pedigree don’t always add up to a killer project. Also, a brain-blowing overload of action and sexy operatives can’t overcome tossed-off storylines and a dumb show title.
Sunday, Nov. 8 (HBO)
Season Premiere: HBO recently renewed new Tim Robbins/Jack Black politico-comedy “The Brink” for a second season, and then just last week canceled the renewal. Laurie Metcalf (“Roseanne,” “The McCarthys”), Alex Borstein (“Family Guy”’s Lois Griffin) and Niecy Nash (currently stealing the show on “Scream Queens”) are still caring for the walking near-dead in a rundown Long Beach extended-care hospital, and “Getting On” laughs at the medical system, age and death in ways that more-acclaimed series like Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie” and Netflix’s “Derek” never dared. Enjoy it to the end. CV
Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on the TV Tan Podcast, and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.