Sunday, April 15 (HBO)
Series Debut: It hasn’t even premiered yet, and star/creator/writer/director/producer Lena Dunham is already receiving comparisons to DIY auteur Louis C.K. for her Girls—see all those slashes? Makes sense. Even though it’s a comedy about four female friends in New York City, Girls is as different from Sex & the City as Louie is from, well, everything: Hannah (Dunham) is being financially cut off by her parents after two post-college years drifting, she has weight and almost every other kind of anxiety, and her boyfriend only uses her for (mostly pervy) sex. Her best friend Marnie (Allison Williams) seems to have it all together but, of course, doesn’t. Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is a flakey Brit who Hannah thinks is “fun,” but has zero friend skills. And Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) is still as mature as a teenager, the kind of girl New York City will eat alive. Flawless performances, from the Girls themselves to the parents to the varying degrees of men in their lives, and the immediate, indie-flick look and feel (used to more realistic effect here than in HBO’s previous, overrated 20-somethings-in-NYC series How to Make It in America), make for the kind of deserving critical darling you’re going to be hearing about for its entire 10-episode run and beyond. Get onboard as soon as you can.
Thursday, April 12 (Adult Swim)
Season Premiere: Hey, parental watchdog groups (The Only TV Column That Matters™ is talking to you, Parents Television Council, Morality in Media, Grannies Against Fannies, et al.), what’s The Most Violent Show on TV? It’s not any CSI or Law & Order, or even Sons of Anarchy or Dexter—it’s Adult Swim’s Eagleheart, and the sooner you organize one of your little e-protests and spike the returning show’s ratings, the better. The 11-minute midnight comedy about U.S. Marshal Chris Monsanto (Chris Elliott) and sidekicks Susie (Maria Thayer) and Brett (Brett Gelman) beating/shooting/stabbing crime to a bloody, twitching pulp is even more over-the-top in Season 2, the most epic bridging of Walker, Texas Ranger and The Itchy & Scratchy Show yet. As Thayer told L.A. Weekly about the new season, “I’ve been washing a lot more blood out of my hair.” The severed head is in your court, watchdogs.
Saturday, April 14 (ABC)
Miniseries Debut: To mark the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, ABC is rolling out Titanic, “an extraordinary retelling of the doomed voyage that cleverly weaves action, mystery and romance over four hours and two nights of programming.” First of all, four hours?! Even James “What’s an Editor?” Cameron brought it in around three. Second of all, James “I Made One of the Biggest Movies of All Time, It’s Called Titanic” Cameron already did this! With nudity! Third of all, why is ’Merica obsessed with revisiting this particular disaster? Surely, the Hindenburg, Pearl Harbor or Gary Cherone fronting Van Halen deserve at least as much redundant screen time. [Concludes Sunday]
Sunday, April 15 (CBS)
Series Debut: Not only is gawdawful ABC series Rookie Blue (“Grey’s Anatomy in a cop shop,” or Badge Models) returning this summer—still rookies, three seasons in?—now CBS has NYC 22, yet another drama about rookie cops. This one, however, has advantages: veteran character-actor badass Terry Kinney as a field training officer nicknamed “Yoda,” as well as Adam Goldberg and Leelee Sobieski, who’ve put making terrible movies aside to co-star on not-bad television (never mind that they’re both a little old to be playing “rookies”). NYC 22 was also created by a writer from The Wire (Richard Price, also a novelist), has a somewhat famous executive producer (Robert De Niro, also an actor), and a dark-humored, gritty sensibility that’s as close to The Shield as you’re going to get on CBS. In other words, don’t get attached; CSI: Miami will be back here in no time.