What’s new this weekend:
Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (Starz, tonight) If you thought British actress Jaime Murray couldn’t possible get more campy than she did in The CW’s short-lived Valentine (it was a show, trust me) or more naked than her turn in Season 2 of Dexter, strap on Spartacus: Gods of the Arena for size. In Starz’s ridiculous/addictive prequel to Blood & Sand, Murray has managed to keep up with John Hannah and Lucy Lawless’ over-the-top-of-the-top Acting!, and even participated in a handful of threesomes with the Capua power couple. Sure, Gods of the Arena has plenty of blood-spurting gladiator violence and snarling political struggles, but the Batiatus-Lucretia-Gaia triangle is the heart (or other organ of your choice) of the show so far.
Also new tonight:
The Defenders, CSI:NY (CBS); Who Do You Think You Are? (NBC); Kitchen Nightmares, Fringe (Fox); Smallville, Supernatural (The CW); The Onion News Network, Portlandia (IFC); Ghost Adventures, Merlin (Syfy); Real Time With Bill Maher, The Ricky Gervais Show, Funny or Die Presents (HBO); The Soup (E!)
Iron Invader (Syfy, Saturday) In an unforgivable oversight, Devo’s “Space Junk” is not the theme song for this week’s cheesetastic Syfy B-movie. Read all about it in True TV (Item 3), anyway.
Saturday Night Live (NBC/CW30, Saturday) Russell Brand hosts, Chris Brown performs. Yes, it should be horrible in every way.
The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards (CBS, Sunday) Meh. Read all about it in True TV (Item 4).
Shameless (Showtime, Sunday) The story of a deadbeat drunkard dad (William H. Macy) and his broke brood of eight living hand-to-mouth on the crap-end of cold Chicago shouldn’t be a fun series, but somehow it fits right in with the more comic Californication and Episodes. That Macy would kill it was a given, but Emmy Rossum (as his 18-year-old daughter Fiona who runs the household when he’s at the bar, passed out, stranded in Canada or being violated by a kinky neighborhood divorcee) should be a serious awards-season contender for her alternately funny and heartbreaking performance. Tonight is the midpoint of Shameless’ 12-episode run; check it out now.
Also new Sunday:
Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters (ABC); American Dad, The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy, The Cleveland Show (Fox); The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo); Kourtney & Kim Take New York, Holly’s World (E!); Californication, Episodes (Showtime); Big Love (HBO)
Preview: Showtime’s Shameless, the best poverty comedy since Good Times …