Garfunkel & Oates
Thursday, Aug. 7 (IFC)
Series Debut: New Zealand musical-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords self-canceled their quasi-autobiographical HBO series partially because it was difficult to write so many songs for each episode—since Garfunkel & Oates (Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci) already have twice as many funny tunes to choose from than FOTC, maybe they'll last longer than two seasons. Garfunkel & Oates is closer in spirit to female-centric series like Broad City and the subtly groundbreaking Sarah Silverman Program than the dude-heavy comedies dominating cable right now, and the sparingly used musical numbers are sweet and scathing (DVR alert: Lindhome and Micucci's clever wordplay flies fast and furiously).
Thursday, Aug. 7 (Adult Swim)
Series Debut: What's Aaron McGruder been up to besides not working on the final season his own show,The Boondocks? Making a whole new series to piss off Whitey: Despite the drama surrounding the long-long-delayed/contracted Season 4 ofThe Boondocks, which Adult Swim finally went ahead and just produced without him, McGruder's still in business with the network—and really, who else would run a show called Black Jesus? A live-action series starring Grand Theft Auto voice Gerald "Slink" Johnson, Black Jesus finds The Lord "living in present day Compton, Calif., on a daily mission to spread love and kindness throughout the neighborhood." Black Jesus looks like it was filmed for $75 and is more concept than comedy, but since it's already outraged Christian 'Merica, score.
Friday, Aug. 8 (Cinemax)
Series Debut: Ready for another brilliant-yet-troubled handsome rogue of a doctor who's addicted to drugs, sex and narcissism? Wait, come back—what if it's Clive Owen? In 1900s New York? Directed by Steven Soderbergh? Now you're interested. The Knick is short for Knickerbocker Hospital, where Dr. John Thackery (Owen) has reluctantly inherited the role of chief surgeon—a rough gig for a cocaine-and-opium-addled wreck who's pushing the boundaries of medicine while trying to pull the hospital from the brink of financial ruin. Add race and gender politics to the old-timey medical-science steam-punkery, and The Knick is one more TV obligation in The Summer of Too Many Shows. It's good, but it can wait.
Saturday, Aug. 9 (Starz)
Series Debut: A married World War II nurse (Caitriona Balfe) is mysteriously transported from 1945 to 1743 in the Scottish Highlands, where's she's held captive by hunky Scottish warriors in an even more patriarchal, misogynistic society than the '40s. Outlander, based on a best-selling book series, is equal parts romance, sci-fi, history and bodice-ripping ridiculousness—and, thanks Ronald D. Moore's (Battlestar Galactica) direction, probably the smartest and most female-friendly Starz series ever. Which isn't saying a hell of a lot, but good for you, Starz.
4th & Loud
Tuesday, Aug. 12 (AMC)
Series Debut: As I ranted a couple of weeks ago on an episode of the TV Tan podcast (which you should be subscribing to on iTunes, Stitcher or Spreaker, just sayin'), it's bad enough that The Band Who Still Call Themselves Kiss are now in the arena-football business, but in Los Angeles? Could have at least tried to salvage some of that old East Coast cred and bought a New York franchise, Bat Lizard and Starchild. And why is Paul Stanley, who refused to appear on Gene Simmons Family Jewels because it was a "fake" reality show, now all too happy to appear on this fake reality show? And why call the team the L.A. Kiss instead of the far-more-intimidating L.A. Destroyers? Or at least the L.A. Love Guns? So many questions, so few weeks until cancellation.