Friday, March 20 (Netflix)
Series Debut: American television treasure Kyle Chandler (you know him from Friday Night Lights; to me, he'll always be Gary Hobson of Early Edition—Wiki it) returns to the screen of your choosing in Netflix's Bloodline, a juicy new family drama-soap that proves what you've always suspected: Floridians be crazy. Bloodline centers on seemingly straight-arrow Florida Keys family the Rayburns (which, in addition to Chandler, includes Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, Chloë Sevigny and Linda Cardellini), whose lives are upended when their outcast eldest son (Ben Mendelsohn) suddenly returns and threatens to expose Dark Family Secrets. Bloodline could have been a disjointed mashup of Revenge and Parenthood, but the show's creators/writers—the team behind Damages—know how to do seething tension right, and the cast delivers. It's time to start taking that "Netflix Kills Networks" buzz very seriously.
Friday, March 20 (Adult Swim)
Season Premiere: It spawned two great Adult Swim spin-offs, NTSF:SD:SUV and Newsreaders, but Childrens Hospital is still the benchmark for bizarro parody series. What began as a spoof of Grey's Anatomy (a brave choice, since Grey's is already ridiculous—and rumored to be still on the air) has evolved its own internal mythology, with a separate cast of "actors" portraying the "characters" of the show and varying international "location" settings that always seem to look like crap sections of Los Angeles—and yet you can still drop in on any episode and follow it. As Season 6 of Childrens Hospital opens, the doctors are forced to return to "Brazil" after their base in "Japan" was destroyed ... five years later. Cool, but is Grey's Anatomy still on then/now?
Friday, March 20 (Fox)
Two-Hour Series Finale: Six seasons and I still don't know the difference between Sectionals and Regionals. ...
New Season: Speaking of shows that should have quit while they were ahead: Why is Fox promoting this season of The Following as being less violent and twisted? Besides Kevin Bacon as a not-quite-as-craggy-faced placeholder for Jack Bauer, that's all this series has going for it! Would NBC advertise Hannibal as "Now with 75 percent less people-eating"? (Trick question: NBC wouldn't advertise Hannibal at all, they'd just move it to the summer and hope it goes away.) The fact that Bacon's nemesis, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), is back behind bars isn't the problem—it's called The Following, after all, not That Darn Cult Leader. But after a strong season-premiere episode, the series has fallen back into its pattern of making Bacon's FBI cohorts look even less effective at catching cult murderers than the Reno 911! squad. Now, I just dream of a joint Glee/Following series finale wherein the entirety of McKinley High is killed off by the Carroll Club.
Wednesday, March 25 (VH1)
Series Debut: Whenever I daydream of leaving the glamorous life of journalism for the glamorous-er life of public relations, there's always a sobering press release to set me right, a chilling reminder that there but for the grace of Flying Spaghetti Monster go I. The latest comes from VH1—Hot GRITS is yet another redneck reality show that a PR hack was forced to summarize: "This down-home series explores the lives of loud and proud GRITS ('Girls Raised in the South') from the town of Valdosta, Ga. Dynamic duo Emily and Hailey are the poster girls for Southern belles: They love luxurious cars, glamorous shopping sprees and have dreams of living the high life in the big city. Jenna, Ratchet, Sarah and Bear are typical country girls: They wear camouflage, carry shotguns and serve up Southern sass for dinner." I can feel my soul slipping down the drain just reading this. ... Wait, PR hacks make how much? So long, suckers!
Listen to Bill on Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96 Radio From Hell; weekly on the TV Tan podcast via iTunes and Stitcher.