A few shows you need to watch as TV gears up for summer
May is mostly a dead zone of season finales and reruns as TV gears up for the summer. Remember all those shows I’ve told you to watch harder in this very column? Now is the time to catch up. Here’s a handful to start with:
“Wynonna Earp” (Syfy)
Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano) is a modern-day descendent of Old West gunslinger Wyatt Earp, who was also a supernatural demon hunter (just roll with it), and she’s back in town to re-smite evil souls (or Revenants). It’s true enough to the comic-book source, and Scrofano is a likeable combo of badass and goofball.
“Orphan Black” (BBC America)
In Season 4 of tense clone-soap “Orphan Black,” Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) investigates Beth, the deceased sister-clone whose identity she stole at the beginning of the series, and the origins of the clone conspiracy. Also, more clones, upping Maslany’s character load for the season to eight (and still no Emmy).
“Hap & Leonard” (Sundance)
“Hap & Leonard” is a six-episode tale about ‘80s Texans Hap (James Purefoy) and Leonard (Michael K. Williams), a pair of luckless laborers dragged into a get-rich-suspiciously-easy scheme by Hap’s ex-wife (Christina Hendricks). The plan soon spirals into a cacophony of conflicting agendas and colorful characters, with “Fargo”-like comic-to-violent jolts.
“Idiotsitter” (Comedy Central)
An unemployed Ivy Leaguer (Charlotte Newhouse) takes a babysitting job, but the “baby” turns out to be an adult wild-child heiress (Jillian Bell) under house arrest. As the series progresses (or regresses), it’s clear that Bell and Newhouse can do stoopid repartee almost as well as the “Broad City” ladies.
Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis), having flunked out of a prestigious French clown academy, returns to uncultured ‘Merica to be a rodeo clown — and then it gets weird (Chip’s mom is Louie Anderson in drag, for just one example). “Baskets” is a funny-to-sad-to-funnier-to-sadder commentary on artistic failure and Western decline, but don’t be afraid.
“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“Better Call Saul” continues to be a minor-miracle follow-up to, and expansion on, “Breaking Bad” in a flawless second season, further transforming small-time lawyer Slippin’ Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) into medium-time legal shark Saul Goodman. Even better, Rhea Seehorn, Michael McKean and Jonathan Banks get equal time to shine.
Season 4 will be the last for this gritty slice of Amish-country crime noir, so there’s hope for eventually catching up on “Banshee.” The twisted tale of an ex-con/thief (Antony Starr) who assumes the identity of Sheriff Lucas Hood in the small town of Banshee, Pa., has taken many a bizarre turn, but the outcome is always the same (and bloody).
“Vinyl” is as excessive and beautiful as you’d expect a collaboration between Martin Scorsese, Terence Winter and Mick Jagger to be, mixing “Almost Famous”‘ music-saves earnestness with “Velvet Goldmine”‘s visceral glam bombast and “Boogie Nights”‘ druggy chaos, and cranking it to 11 in 1974 NYC. It’s not perfect, but neither is rock & roll. CV
Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on TV Tan Podcast (iTunes, Stitcher and BillFrost.tv), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.