The Spoils Before Dying
Wednesday, July 8 (IFC)
Miniseries Debut: It may have seemed like a bizarre fever dream, but 2014's The Spoils of Babylon actually did happen. That ludicrously loopy Will Ferrell/Adam McKay tribute to epic '70s and '80s miniseries dynasties was as funny as Ferrell's recent Lifetime flick, A Deadly Adoption, was painfully straight, and The Spoils Before Dying is set up as another "lost masterpiece" from author/director Eric Jonrosh (Ferrell). This time around, the six-episode/three-night event is a '50s hard-boiled crime noir set in "the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles' jazz scene," centered on a musician (Michael Kenneth Williams—Chalky from Boardwalk Empire!) framed for the murder of his occasional lover, Fresno Foxglove (Maya Rudolph). Kristen Wiig, Haley Joel Osment, Val Kilmer and Michael Sheen also return from Babylon, joined by new additions Kate McKinnon, Tim Meadows and, for no good reason, Emily Ratajkowski (OK, maybe two obvious reasons). [The Spoils Before Dying continues Thursday, July 9 and Friday, July 10.]
Why? With Hannibal Buress
Wednesday, July 8 (Comedy Central)
Series Debut: You know him as the comic who definitively outed Bill Cosby, or the boyfriend from Broad City, or the guy who seized the opportunity upon NBC's cancellation of Hannibal to promote his new show with the Twitter hashtag #ThereCanBeOnlyOne. Why? With Hannibal Buress is a stand-up/sketch show with a twist: It's taped the week it airs, offering a fresh-ish take on topical news and events—and the way things have been going lately, he'll have plenty of material to work with (or as much as Buress' slower-than-molasses delivery will allow him to squeeze in).
Saturday, July 4 (CBS)
Series Burn-Off: Talk about "unceremonious." Dumped on Saturdays, on the 4th of July? Damn. Canceled family sitcom The Millers (starring Will Arnett, Margo Martindale, Beau Bridges and J.B. Smoove) deserves a better send-off than this; there are far worse CBS comedies with far less-capable casts (The Odd Couple comes to mind ... and now my brain hurts), but at least Arnett's time is now freed up for more of Netflix's BoJack Horseman—we all win there. Ultimately, The Millers wasted funny people on aggressively unfunny writing, much like CBS mainstay Mike & Molly (Melissa McCarthy, hilarious; Billy Gardell, hysterical; the show, unwatchable) and, insult to injury, it's being lowered into the TV grave alongside ...
Saturday, July 4 (CBS)
Series Burn-Off: The worst CBS sitcom ever? Tough call, but I'm still going to have to go with The Odd Couple reboot—even if you've never seen it, you've probably heard Matthew Perry shouting his lines, wherever you happen to be. As for The McCarthys, its loudmouthed Irish Bah-ston clan with one odd-out kinda-gay son was too bland to be considered truly terrible, and there was no frittered star-power (Laurie Metcalf? Joey McIntyre? What is this, TBS?). But, while this is blowing out its remaining episodes, the final six installments of The Michael J. Fox Show—a legitimately funny series canceled by NBC last year—have never aired in the U.S. For shame, 'Merica.
The Greg Gutfeld Show
Sundays (Fox News Channel)
New Series: For years, the most intentionally funny show on the Fox News Channel has been Red Eye, a 3 a.m.(!) weeknight free-for-all roundtable of politics and pop culture, hosted by network wildcard Greg Gutfeld. A few weeks ago, he launched his own Sunday-night prime-time solo show, which is apparently supposed to be a mashup of The Daily Show and Comedy Bang! Bang! in the old haunted Huckabee studio (cleared of Jazzys flying Chinese-made American flags, of course). As a one-man show, Gutfeld is no Jon Stewart—but then again, Stewart relies on a team of backroom writers, whereas Gutfeld comes up with his own material (going by his books and editorials, he's the most clever writer at Fox News, if not the entirety of cable news). Some of the bits do hit, however, and The Greg Gutfeld Show is an intriguing pocket of weirdness in the FNC hellscape—there's still time before "presidential contender" Mike Huckabee comes back for his studio.
Tuesday, July 7 (E!)
Series Debut: Just when I think E! might be turning a creative corner (The Royals—that didn't suck, right?), they send over something new and stoopid: "From clashing opinions with owners over the best way to get booties in the saddles, to blurred lines in the instructors' personal and professional lives, get a firsthand look at the obsessive, glamorous world of indoor cycling in Los Angeles." So, Hollywood Cycle is a reality show about spin classes. What's next, a series set at a weekly newspaper? Ha!
Listen to Bill on Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96 Radio from Hell; weekly on the TV Tan podcast via iTunes and Stitcher.