Saturday, April 13 (HBO)
Stand-up Special: Sorry, you can’t download this one—not yet, anyway. Oh My God, Louis C.K.’s fifth stand-up special (recorded in February in Phoenix, one of the most humorless cities in ’Merica, at least going by my interactions with in-laws), hits upon his usual topics: the D3 of divorce, death and dumbasses, as well as a new riff that could be the best summation of dating ever committed to tape. This is also C.K.’s best stand-up special to date, a tight hour with the surprisingly positive undertone that life is good because, hey, we’re not part of the food chain anymore (someone has obviously not been watching The Walking Dead).
Sunday, April 14 (HBO)
Season Premiere: In the second-season opener of Veep, HBO’s most overlooked comedy, Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia-Louis Dreyfus) makes the most deadly workplace mistake of them all, even if your workplace is the White House: asking for more involvement and responsibility—and then getting it. Whereas NBC’s political sitcom 1600 Penn failed because it wouldn’t/couldn’t get nasty and profane, the Curb Your West Wing Enthusiasm of Veep works spectacularly because Dreyfus and her staff (including Tony Hale, Anna Chlumsky and Matt Walsh) are completely unafraid to look like the narcissistic, clueless assholes you imagine/know politicians to be. Not that the cast needed any more firepower, but the mighty Gary Cole joins Veep this season as an even slimier version of policy strategist Karl Rove.
Sunday, April 14 (Showtime)
Season Premiere: The Only TV Column That Matters™ still isn’t convinced that Nurse Jackie is a comedy, or a drama, it’s just … there. And annoying. Not that Edie Falco isn’t still excellent as kinda-rehabbed pill-popping NYC RN Jackie Peyton; it’s just that the rest of the already-weak supporting cast seems to be fading into the wallpaper—even formerly reliable comic foil Dr. O’Hara (Eve Best) ain’t what she used to be. Why Nurse Jackie is now entering Season 5 while Showtime killed off the superior United States of Tara at three seasons is beyond me, but maybe things will turn around this year (as an addict would say).
Sunday, April 14 (National Geographic)
Miniseries: Too bad VH1 and other networks have already ruined the ’80s with endless talking-head snarkfests, not to mention hipsters’ insufferably ironic and superficial co-opting of the era (please, tell me more about Phil Collins, Tyler); otherwise, National Geographic’s competent The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us wouldn’t seem like such a late-to-the-party knockoff. So what if it’s factually sound and narrated earnestly by Rob Lowe? All I can hear is some mustachioed pinhead yammering on about how “awesome” Knight Rider and Hall & Oates are. No thank you.
Monday, April 15 (Syfy)
Series Debut: Unlike TNT’s Falling Skies, cable’s other aliens-done-wrecked-my-planet sci-fi drama, Syfy’s Defiance presents no less than seven nonhuman races to keep track of—and, even more impressive, a survivor of Liz & Dick (Han Solo-lite leading man Grant Bowler). Defiance is set in 2046, 30 years after an alien rainbow coalition known as the Votans stumbled upon and accidentally terraformed Earth into the ecological wasteland the hippies have always warned us about; tensions are high and resources are scarce, but at least they still listen to Johnny Cash. Despite the impressive F/X and deep, front-loaded mythology, Defiance is essentially a western about disparate folks fighting for scraps in the New World—right down to the uneasy alliance between the town mayor (Julie Benz) and the local whorehouse proprietor (Mia Kirshner). Saddle up.