Series Debut: “What? You thought records got played because they’re good?” sniffs American Century Records president Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale), explaining away his radio-payola tactics of securing his bands airplay with a little coke and a lot of cash. Thing is, Richie loves good music — he can hear a hit instantly and gets downright misty-eyed over the artistry. Likewise, “Vinyl,” an early-’70s-set remix of New York City music-scene fact and fairy tale, loves rock & roll, cramming real-deal period tunes into nearly every second of every scene. It’s all as excessive and beautiful as you’d expect a collaboration between Martin Scorsese, Terrence Winter and Mick Jagger to be, blending “Almost Famous”’ music-saves earnestness with “Velvet Goldmine’s” visceral glam bombast and cranking it to 11. Like a good rock show, “Vinyl’s” first episode is exhausting — and there are eight more to come, so strap on your most sensible platform boots.
“The Walking Dead”
Sunday, Feb. 14 (AMC)
Winter Premiere: When last we left “The Walking Dead,” Team Rick was leading (what’s left of) the Alexandrians quietly though the undead swarm that had breached the compound, disguised by walker guts but potentially exposed by Jessie’s son whining for Mommy (even in an apocalypse, kids are the worst). Elsewhere, Daryl, Sasha and Abraham had a meet-not-at-all-cute with the Saviors, a new band of grandiosely-named road goons — but these goons are in league with mucho-hyped baddie Negan (incoming guest star Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
“Better Call Saul”
Monday, Feb. 15 (AMC)
Season Premiere: The 2015 debut season of “Better Call Saul” was a minor miracle that not only borrowed elements from, and expanded upon, a seemingly impossible-to-follow milestone TV series (“Breaking Bad” — like you needed to be reminded), but also built its own world in 10 episodes, and proved Jimmy McGill/future Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) could headline his own show. Rather than sweat the follow-up to that follow-up, “BCS” jumps right back into the business of incrementally transforming small-time Albuquerque lawyer Slippin’ Jimmy into medium-time legal shark Saul Goodman. None show up early in Season 2, but it’s rumored that some (more) “Breaking Bad” characters will be making appearances on “Better Call Saul” — I know the odds-on favorite is Gus Fring, but I’m holding out for Badger and Skinny Pete.
Wednesday, Feb. 17 (Comedy Central)
Season Premiere: Between “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee” and “Angie Tribeca” on TBS, and “Idiotsitter,” “Not Safe With Nikki Glaser” and now, returning champions “Broad City,” on Comedy Central, it’s a great time for female-led comedy on cable. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s stoner “Laverne & Shirley” was already renewed for Seasons 4 and 5 ahead of tonight’s Season 3 premiere, which means at least 30 more episodes of Brooklyn misadventures with the other “Girls.” 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.