Thursday, Oct. 30 (CBS)
Series Debut: A fat, loudmouthed, sports-obsessed Bah-ston family has a gay son — and, go for borderline homophobic comedy! Or borderline comedy, period. Even sadder than the continued use of The Laugh Track (yes, there’s only one — all the shows share it) in 2014 is the abject laziness in the writing, staging and execution of “The McCarthys”: It’s like a CBS programmer found a cheap ’80s pilot in the closet, dusted it off and said “Here, just jam this into 8:30 so we can hit happy hour and blow some ‘Big Bang’ money!” Unfortunately, it’ll probably work (re: last season’s “The Millers”).
Thursday, Oct. 30 (MTV)
Series Debut: Remember how proud MTV was of “Buckwild,” their southern-redneck answer to “Jersey Shore” — minus the intellectual discourse and hair products — and obligatory network Hicks R Durned Funny reality product? That is, until one of the stars turned up dead in a swamp at 21 last year and MTV “respectfully” canceled the show? The grieving period is over! Meet the “Slednecks,” a wacky group of half-naked/fully-intoxicated Wasilla, Alaska, 20-somethings who like “polar bear plunges, airboating on ice, glacier parties, river wakeboarding, human catapulting” and, dare to dream, drunken brawls with Palins. “Slednecks” will likely be a hit — until one of the cast members meets with his/her “death by walrus misadventure.” (It’s a thing in Alaska, I hear.)
“One Starry Christmas”
Saturday, Nov. 1 (Hallmark)
Movie: It’s the first day of November, and here’s a new Christmas original? Congratulations, Hallmark [slow clap]. Sarah Carter (you may know her from “Falling Skies” as Maggie, she of the impossibly-perfect post-apocalyptic blonde hair) stars as an “aspiring astronomy professor and Christmas enthusiast” — wait, it gets better — who falls for a “charming cowboy” (Damon Runyan) who, coincidentally, also enjoys constellations, Christmas and wooing away the girlfriends of dumb ol’ career men who insist on working over the holidays (Paul Popowich). Only 54 more days of this …
“Marvel: 75 Years, From Pulp to Pop”
Tuesday, Nov. 4 (ABC)
Special: It would have made more sense to schedule this Marvel Comics retrospective before a new episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” instead of expecting struggling sitcoms “Selfie” (which you should be watching harder) and “Manhattan Love Story” (which, like me, you should just give up on) to deliver a lead-in audience, but who am I to question the marketing genius of Marvel? “Leaking” that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” trailer last week was ridiculously brilliant, after all. Anyway: 75 Years, From Pulp to Pop squeezes a surprising amount of Marvel history into an hour, documenting the good times, the bad times, and the current Galactic Entertainment Domination times, though the genius of “Howard the Duck” (the ’70s comic book, not the ’80s movie) will never receive enough recognition to satisfy me.
American Horror Story: Freak Show
New Season: Before watching the first two episodes of “Freak Show” (which arrived in the mail the day before the season premiere—you’re usually so timely, FX, what happened?), I didn’t think “American Horror Story” would ever top Season 1. Season 2 (“Asylum”) was a mess, Season 3 (“Coven”) was a slight improvement, but the original remains damned near perfect. Aside from the terrifying Stabby (actual name: Twisty) the Clown, the 1950s carnival-set “Freak Show” has been short on big scares thus far, but the atmosphere is rich and the cinematography is more gorgeous than anything currently in TV or film. If you tuned out of “AHS,” now is the time to catch up. It’s worth the Stabby the Clown nightmares.
When a sharp detective (Julie Benz) is charged with arson and her son’s murder, she’s kicked off the police force, thus freeing up her time to find the real fire-starter/killer. Obviously, the bad guy didn’t think this caper through at all. Dumbass. (MTI)
“Better Off Ted: Season 2”
It only took four years, but the second season of one of the best comedies ever canceled is finally on DVD (even though it’s already been available on several streaming platforms). Blame Fox, who finally just gave it to an indie. (Olive Films)
“Dads: The Complete Series”
Maybe part of the deal was that Olive Films also had to release Fox’s Dads, one of the worst comedies ever canceled, starring Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as two actors who showed up and collected a check for 19 weeks. (Olive Films)
In the second(!) Hercules flick of 2014, Herc (Dwayne Johnson) becomes a mercenary for hire — until he’s asked to defend the kingdom from an evil warlord, which requires him to become A Hero once again. Needed two of these, huh? (Paramount)
In the previously untold story of the villainess (Angelina Jolie) from Sleeping Beauty, we learn that she’s really just a misunderstood, wronged woman who used to be good at heart. And yet you know Jennifer Aniston still ain’t buying it. (Disney)
More New DVD/VOD Releases (Nov. 4)
“About Alex,” “Dead Girls,” “Devil’s Tower,” “Ghost Bride,” “Napoleon Dynamite: The Complete Series,” “The Newsroom: Season 2,” “Planes: Fire & Rescue,” “Premature,” “Raising Hope: Season 4,” “Reno 911: The Complete Series,” “Step Up: All In,” “The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story,” “White Collar: Season 5”
Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on the TV Tan Podcast (Tuesdays on iTunes and Stitcher), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.