Sunday, March 6 (A&E)
Series Debut: After striking out with humorless crime dramas like The Cleaner and The Beast, A&E got lucky last year with The Glades, a light-touch cop series that came off like a factory second from the USA Network assembly line. The new Breakout Kings—about a trio of former-fugitive convicts recruited by Johnny Law to catch current fugitives—aims between goof and grit, and mostly succeeds. The well-synced cast is made up of familiar faces from The Wire, Supernatural, Southland and even It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (Jimmi Simpson, aka half of the beyond-creepy McPoyle brothers), and the pilot episode doesn’t look like low-budget cable fare (probably because it was made for, and then rejected by, Fox). If A&E can sustain the quality of this first outing, Breakout Kings could be their answer to TNT’s hit Leverage. At the very least, it’s preferable to a 63rd daily Criminal Minds rerun.
Taking on Tyson
Sunday, March 6 (Animal Planet)
Series Debut: We all knew Mike Tyson would end up with his own reality show eventually, but on Animal Planet? Didn’t see that coming—not even after The Hangover. Seems that Tyson is a lifelong pigeon breeder, and Taking on Tyson follows his first foray into the weird world of pigeon racing. Stranger yet, Tyson is upstaged at almost every turn by the Pigeon Power subculture, a larger-than-you-know international group that might be even crazier than the animal-rights idiots who denounce pigeon racing. Even the Westboro Baptist Church thinks PETA is “kinda extreme.” But I digress: Taking on Tyson is Animal Planet’s most compelling drama since The Puppy Bowl.
Monday, March 7 (NBC)
Return: After three months off, the other struggling alien-takeover epic that isn’t V is back to tie up a dozen different plot threads, save the planet and, most daunting of all, face the shame of being replaced by The Cape on Mondays. Tonight’s two-hour Event even has the nerve to drop its biggest suspension of reality yet: a senator (guest star Virginia Madsen) threatening to go on Hardball With Chris Matthews (yes, he plays himself) to reveal sensitive military secrets. WTF? If you want to get the word out about something, MSNBC is the last place to go; it’s the MySpace of cable news.
Monday, March 7 (Syfy)
Return: It’s the beginning (actually, middle) of the end for Stargate Universe; Syfy canceled it months ago, which left these final 10 episodes of Season 2 hanging out there in limbo. Maybe even more so than the also-dead Caprica, SGU is/was the conceptual continuation of Battlestar Galactica: Cold, bleak, space-bound sci-fi that relied more on characters (good, evil, mostly in-between) than special F/X. Too bad Syfy isn’t in the science-fiction business anymore: In their inexplicable quest to become just another generic cable channel, Syfy now has reality series, wrestling, overnight crap anime and, later this month … a cooking show. Will Stargate Universe be replaced by something from the NBC/Universal/Kabletown family like …?
All About Aubrey
Monday, March 7 (Oxygen)
Series Debut: Aubrey O’Day was the lead singer of Danity Kane, an all-female “band” fabricated by P. Diddy—until she was publicly fired by the Diddster on the equally fabricated reality show Making the Band. So now, O’Day is staging a “comeback” to a “career” that “ended” on one reality show via another reality show, but now “on her own terms.” Hey, if an unemployed stripper with big fake hair, bigger fake tits, a modicum of karaoke experience and her own basic-cable reality show can’t make it these days, the music industry really is in trouble.