True Blood, Hung, Entourage
Sunday, Sept. 12 (HBO)
Season Finales: The inevitable night of cliffhangers before the yearlong wait for next season—yes, all three have been renewed by HBO, including a final Entourage run that will lead into a completely needless movie (unless it’s directed by Billy Walsh). Sure, True Blood has had an action-packed—and ridiculously high-rated—third season, and Entourage’s seventh has finally showed some signs of its old life in the homestretch, but the understated Hung has been the real surprise in Season 2—and not just because they somehow made a series based around a part-time male prostitute with a huge dick “understated.” It’s the best depiction of grownup relationships and problems since …
The Venture Bros.
Sunday, Sept. 12 (Adult Swim)
Season Premiere: If The Only TV Column That Matters™ (now subtitled Salt Lake City’s Last TV Column™, thanks to the Deseret News—you’ll be missed, Scott Pierce) had to pick only one Adult Swim show to take to the island, it would easily be The Venture Bros. What began as Jonny Quest Gone Terribly Awry in 2003 has evolved into a rich, detailed epic that actually lives up to its Wikipedia page, a sarcastic tribute to the failed Space Age and a cautionary tale of unchecked daddy issues. Or, as a simpler pleasure, just damned funny. In Season 4.5 (the second half of Season 4, which left off last December), The Venture Bros. even delivers a better Spider-Man parody than Spider-Man 3—yes, really!
Tuesday, Sept. 14 (NBC)
Season Premiere: Since Parenthood was among NBC’s first 9 p.m. replacements for the famously failed Jay Leno Show back in March, it may have been reviewed a bit more favorably than it deserved (guilty). Yes, the cast—including a lightened-up Peter Krause and toned-down Lauren Graham—is solid, and the weekly Big Family Drama is less contrived than, say, Brothers & Sisters (how the hell is that still on, anyway?), but Parenthood tends to move slower and accomplish less in an hour than Modern Family does in half that time. Just give Graham back her lattes and everything will be fine.
Wednesday, Sept. 15 (NBC)
Series Debut: Supreme Court Justice Cyrus Garza (Jimmy Smits) is a carefree playboy who, after years of legal frustration, abruptly quits the bench and announces that he’s going into private practice to protect—wait for it—The Little Guy (you can almost smell the earnestness and power ballads from here). So what if CBS and James Woods sorta did this four years ago with Shark? Outlaw is a Conan O’Brien production (Strike 1) that will move to Friday nights (Strike 2) and follow two hours of reality-show filler (and yer out). Any comparisons are just unfair to Shark.