Manson family values6/15/2016
“Aquarius” is back on Charles Manson’s trail; “American Gothic” is more dim than dark.
Thursday, June 16 (NBC)
Season premiere: When last we (meaning me; I’ve yet to meet anybody who watched Season 1) left “Aquarius,” it was spring 1968, Detective Hodiak (David Duchovny) and the LAPD were possibly going under Internal Affairs investigation, and milquetoast messiah Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) was finally starting to show some psycho-spunk. In keeping with history, the Season 2 premiere of “Aquarius” sees the Manson Family moving in with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau), while Hodiak becomes caught up in another missing-girls case while still making time to snark at hippies. “Aquarius” may never achieve the five-season plan the showrunners have in mind, but it has more swagger and grit than most current cop dramas, and features as much sex, drugs and rock & roll as, well, FX’s “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.”
“Orange Is the New Black”
Friday, June 17 (Netflix)
Season premiere: Netflix has put so many “No Spoilers!” review restrictions on Season 4 of “Orange Is the New Black,” that there’s not much left to say besides: There’s a busload of new characters (literally); Piper (Taylor Schilling) has less screen time than ever; Alex (Laura Prepon) has more troubles than ever; there’s darkness; there’s light; there’s more darkness; creator/writer Jenji Kohan is still maintaining an impressive level of dramatic quality (then again, her previous series, “Weeds,” began to run off the rails around Season 4, so …). Besides, you’ll have binged all 13 episodes by the time you get around to reading this, anyway.
“The Jim Gaffigan Show”
Sunday, June 19 (TV Land)
Season premiere: If you’ve seen Jim Gaffigan’s stand-up, you know what his sitcom is about: Tubby white guy tries to do right by his wife and kids, whom he tolerates as much as they tolerate him — and, natch, he loooves junk food. But, despite a few critical nags about the series being a pale — nope, not going for the easy pasty-Jim joke here — imitation of “Louie” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Gaffigan” rose above its anticipated blandness with sharp writing and a sharper supporting cast. Fun fact (unless you’re an NBC Universal exec): Like “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Lip Sync Battle,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show” was rejected by NBC (which stands for Now Bereft of Comedy).
Wednesday, June 22 (CBS)
Series debut: Compared to the long-lost 1995 also-CBS “American Gothic” drama about a supernaturally-evil small-town sheriff menacing the locals — YouTube it; Gary Cole was almost as menacing in it as he is now on “Veep” — the new “American Gothic” (posh Boston family has a secret serial killer among them) seems like a snooze. It is — with a recycled title, no less. Not only does this iteration add to the glut of shows with “American” in the title, it also wastes actors like Virginia Madsen, Antony Starr (“Banshee”) and Justin Chatwin (“Shameless”) on what CBS is now calling “A 13-part murder mystery” (which really means, “We’re sure as hell not getting any more seasons out of this”). Now, “American Gothic” as a reality-challenge show about goths competing “American Ninja”-style, there’s a winner! 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.