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4/6/2016

“The Girlfriend Experience” takes sex seriously; “Dice” rolls snake eyes.

“The Girlfriend Experience”

Sunday, April 10 (Starz)

Series Debut: No Starz series has ever arrived with as much critic-melting pageantry as “The Girlfriend Experience.” Girlfriend ExperienceThe 13-episode series is produced by Steven Soderbergh (and based on his 2009 movie of the same name), written and directed by a pair of indie filmmakers, stars the granddaughter of Elvis Presley (Riley Keough, “Mad Max: Fury Road”) and premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Following the movie’s lead, Keough plays a law-firm intern who moonlights as a high-priced escort with occasional bouts of self-awareness and humanity. “The Girlfriend Experience” looks like Soderbergh’s film — natural lighting, always a giveaway — but packs more story (and sex) into its taut, 30-minute episodes. Just don’t expect much cutesy comedy a la “Secret Diary of a Call Girl” — this “Experience” is serious business.

 

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“Dice”

Sunday, April 10 (Showtime)

Series Debut: George Lopez’s new semi-real-days-in-the-life-of-a-comedian series “Lopez” was a pleasant surprise that no one thought to ask for, but it turned out to be a worthy addition to the “Curb Your Enthusiasm”/“Louie”/“Maron” family of doc-coms. Andrew “Dice” Clay’s new “Dice” comes with similarly low expectations. Sure, Clay recently redeemed himself somewhat in the role of an insufferable blowhard on HBO’s “Vinyl,” but that ended with (Spoiler Alert!) his skull being bashed in. Unless “Dice” culminates in the same fate for the real-life insufferable blowhard, pass on it. Like the Las Vegas suburbs where the show is set, “Dice” sad, dry and wasting space on prime real estate.

 

“Hunters”

Monday, April 11 (Syfy)

Series Debut: The best current aliens-among-us sci-fi series isn’t even on Syfy — it’s “Colony,” on cable cousin USA. “Hunters” is a passable consolation prize with cred: It’s based on Whitley Strieber’s “Alien Hunter” novels, and the series is produced by Gale Anne Hurd (“The Walking Dead”) and written by Natalie Chaidez (Syfy’s “12 Monkeys”). When his wife disappears mysteriously, FBI agent Flynn Carroll (Nathan Phillips) joins a covert government organization, the Exo-Terrorism Unit, that tracks and fights alien terrorists (why yes, there is a strained allegory to earthly terrorism afoot — thanks for asking). Apart from one truly inspired bit of product placement—the aliens commute via secret messages though Spotify! — there’s not much to distinguish “Hunters” from other spacemen that look like us generica of years past.

 

Monday, April 11 (TBS)

Series Debut: TBS has been previewing “The Detour” so hard that it feels like the season’s already happened—it hasn’t, right? Experiencing some “Angie Tribeca” déjà vu here. Anyway: “The Detour” stars Jason Jones (“The Daily Show,” “The Night Before”) and Natalie Zea (“Justified,” “The Following”) as harried parents on a family road-trip where everything that could possibly (and impossibly) go wrong for them and the kids does, spectacularly. Sound like “National Lampoon’s Vacation”? It is, just doled out in weekly half-hours, all of which are far funnier than last year’s limp “Vacation” reboot. In particular, Zea is a minor comic revelation now that she’s not playing her usual role an endangered ex-wife — more of an endangered current wife, hilariously. 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.

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