Burn Notice Thursday, Jan. 22 (USA)
nReturn: In the second half of Season 2, we’ll finally learn why Michael Westen (yes, he survived that cliffhanger explosion—you were concerned?) was fired from the spy game, as well as mysterious Carla’s role in his burn notice, and … wait, no? It’s back to Freelance Job of the Week? Saving another woman in distress? With gratuitous gunplay and sexy bicker-banter with Fiona? That’s cool, too. Burn Notice is so cool, in fact, that it can do no wrong—but can we get this nagging/dragging subplot out of the way already and just get on about the business of bikinis and blowin’ stuff up? Thanks.
The Last Templar Sunday, Jan. 25 (NBC)
nMiniseries: An improbably gorgeous Manhattan archeologist (Mira Sorvino) and an improbably hunky FBI agent (Scott Foley) search for a lost medieval object that could uncover a vast Vatican conspiracy! If you’ve never seen The Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, The Librarian or a single episode of Bones, it’s totally gonna blow your mind! Mira, Mira, Mira—Replacement Killers 2, think about it …
Afro Samurai: Resurrection Sunday, Jan. 25 (Spike)
nMovie: If you’re among the discerning few who remember the 2007 Spike animated series about a samurai (who happens to have an afro and sounds like Samuel L. Jackson) out to avenge the death of his father and become the most bad-ass swordsman in the land, good for you. The aesthetic similarities are there, but Afro Samurai isn’t anime because it 1. makes sense, 2. has a bass-thumpin’ hip-hop soundtrack (courtesy RZA) and 3. won’t turn you into a simpering Nancy-boy who lives in a cave under a Hot Topic with his stuffed-animal friends. Just sayin’.
Trust Me Monday, Jan. 26 (TNT)
nSeries Debut: Depending on your Tom Cavanagh tolerance level (you may remember him from Ed; nobody remembers Love Monkey), Trust Me is either invigorating or insufferable. Conner (Cavanagh) and Mason (Eric McCormack, Will & Grace) are best buds and creative partners at a Chicago advertising firm, dreaming up campaigns for cell phones and bicker-bantering (I’ve dreamed up a new term, apparently) at hyper-Ren & Stimpy levels: Conner’s the free-spirited, borderline insane genius; Mason’s the responsible, grounded art director (oh yeah, as if) who keeps him in check. Trust Me offers no more insights into the ad world than Mad Men and has even less use for women (Monica Potter co-stars, but just barely), but Cavanagh and McCormack’s back-and-forth quip volleys can be pretty damned funny … depending on your T.C. tolerance level.
Life on Mars Wednesday, Jan. 28 (ABC)
nReturn: ABC figured Life on Mars would fare better on Wednesdays following the similarly sci-fi-mysterious Lost than on Thursdays after Grey’s Anatomy. A fair assumption, but how much time-travel mindfucking does the network expect viewers to be able to absorb in one night? Life on Mars, about a modern-day New York City cop (Jason O’Mara) who’s transported back to 1973 after a car accident, is at least easier to track than Lost: It’s a crime-of-the-week serial, but with a distinct anti-CSI twist (’70s forensics consist mostly of not dropping a cigarette butt in the evidence) that’s either really (re)happening, or simply a figment of Det. Sam Tyler’s coma-induced imagination as filtered through ’70s cop shows. Either way, former Soprano Michael Imperioli’s Foghat-tastic mustache is not to be missed.
Wonderland Wednesday, Jan. 28 (DirecTV)
nSeries Re-Debut: How powerful is the influence of DirecTV? All of the satellite net’s recent hype actually got The Only TV Column That Matters™ to take another look at Friday Night Lights (verdict: still not sold), so there’s that. Wonderland, a dark medical drama centered on a New York psychiatric hospital, aired only two episodes of eight produced (coincidentally, by Friday Night Lights’ Peter Berg) back in 2000 before ABC canceled it. Now, DirecTV is running the whole eight, which will prove that TV critics weren’t any smarter nine years ago than they are now.
n n nMore New DVD Releases (Jan. 27)
n n n Blossom: Seasons 1 & 2n
n The ’90s NBC series, finally on DVD! Big-nosed teen Blossom (Mayim Bialik) chronicles her life with pre-Internet video blog (how futuristic!) and has the occasional encounter with drugs, alcohol and pedophiles (how special!). (ShoutFactory.com)
n n n The Gene Generationn
n A scantily clad assassin (scantily clad Bai Ling) takes on evil DNA hackers (yes, DNA hackers) in a futuristic dystopia replete with all of the sex, violence and industrial beats you’ve come to expect from your futuristic dystopias. (Lionsgate.com)
n n n M.A.N.T.I.S: The Complete Seriesn
n The 1994-95 Fox sci-fi series about a paralyzed scientist who builds a stylin’ exo-skeleton to avenge his dead family and look too damned cool. Stands for Mechanically Augmented Neuro Transmitter System, by the way. (Image-Entertainment.com)
n n n The Rockern
n Jack Black, er, Rainn Wilson stars as a washed-up ’80s hair-metal drummer who gets a second chance at stardom with his nephew’s ridiculously cute pop band in a story that in no way resembles School of Rock. Not at all. Nope. Nu-uh. (FoxHome.com)
n n n n Vicky Christina Barcelonan
n Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Christina (Scarlett Johansson) travel to Barcelona and become entangled with Juan (Javier Bardem), who sleeps with them and then kills them with a cattle gun. It’s no country for young ’hos. (WeinsteinCo.com)
nCheers: The Final Season, Fireproof, Gabriel & Me, The Girls Next Door: Season 4, Gutterballs, Holly, Killing Hitler, Lakeview Terrace, The Lucky Ones, Open Season 2, Pride & Glory, RocknRolla, The Sea Change