Vice Principals takes “Eastbound & Down” to class; “BrainDead” isn’t dead yet.
Sunday, July 17 (HBO)
Series Debut: While I still contend that “Eastbound & Down” was one of the greatest TV comedies ever, I’ll also admit that it was long out of material by its fourth and final season and that Danny McBride probably shouldn’t carry a series on his own. HBO’s new “Vice Principals,” which re-teams McBride and writer/producer Jody Hill, solves one problem right away by giving McBride’s Kenny-Powers-minus-mullet “new” character a foil in Walton Goggins (“Justified”). The pair play high school vice principals vying to replace the retiring principal (Bill Murray) — until the school district hires an outsider (Kimberly Hebert Gregory), prompting them to take a break from pissing on each other in staggeringly-escalating volleys of vulgarity and team up to bring her down. “Vice Principals” is “E&D 2.0”; it’s as familiar as it is funny (Kenny Powers haters, however, should stay away), with the added bonus of Goggins in full-on comedic weirdo mode.
Sunday, July 17 (HBO)
Season Premiere: This is back, huh? HBO canceled the Tim Robbins/Jack Black political comedy “The Brink,” but kept Dwayne Johnson’s “Ballers”? I get that people like the sportsball and all, but Johnson still isn’t completely convincing in an “underdog” role, here as a Miami pro-footballer-turned-sports-finance-manager leading the hard-knock life of making millions babysitting millionaires surrounded by hot models and hotter cars. Fortunately, the comic broship between Johnson and Rob Corddry saves “Ballers” from slipping entirely into the “Entourage” douche-abyss, but I’m still waiting for a little more … something … to justify Season 2.
New Series: Apparently, tagging “BrainDead” as “From the creators of ‘The Good Wife’ ” and placing insanely-appealing star Mary Elizabeth Winstead up front hasn’t been enough to get CBS viewers to buy into a political sci-fi thriller/comedy about brain-munching space bugs. Too bad, because what initially looked to be nothing more than summer filler is a smart, funny and subtly scathing commentary on Beltway bullshit. “BrainDead” would have been better off on CBS cable cousin Showtime, peppering in some “Veep”-level F-bombing and more-graphic gore (though the brain-splattery is pretty impressive for a network series). I would recommend just waiting to binge “BrainDead” when it eventually winds up on CBS’ pay-streamer All Access … but nobody’s going to buy into that, either.
2016 Republican Convention
July 18-21 (most channels)
Convention Coverage: Spinal Tap, Drew Carey … Donald Trump. The Holy Trinity of Cleveland comedy is now complete, thanks to what’s sure to be the most hilarious political debacle since Hunter S. Thompson hit Washington, D.C., in 1971 (Wiki it, kids). The 2016 Republican National Convention, being covered live from Cleveland by most broadcast and cable outlets — curiously, not Cartoon Network — will likely be the zenith of Trump’s idiocracy rise, the moment that true believers and detractors alike finally come to the stark realization, “This is really happening … Fuuu …” This RNC is going to be special. Or apocalyptic. But definitely entertaining. CV
Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on TV Tan Podcast (iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and BillFrost.tv), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.