Sunday, Nov. 27 (TNT)
Winter Premiere: I’ve been onboard with grifters-go-Robin-Hood action series Leverage since it debuted in 2008; it walks the comedy/drama line expertly, and the cast (led by film vet Timothy Hutton) plays off each other with the ease of a show that’s been on twice as long. But, like similar “high-stakes” undercover-operations series Burn Notice, there’s a nagging feeling of “Haven’t we been here before?” almost every week. Leverage needs a shakeup—why not bring in Sean Penn for a Falcon & The Snowman reunion with Hutton? (Wiki it, kids.)
Sunday, Nov. 27 (AMC)
Fall Finale: Yes, already—you thought there would be more zombie kills racked up by this point, didn’t you? Join the club. The Walking Dead’s second season will resume on Feb. 12, 2012, at which time maybe they’ll tip the action back toward the former half of the Zombie Apocalypse Soap Opera descriptor. Not that the first half of the ride has been dull, just a bit of what critics call a “slow-burn” (and The Only TV Column That Matters™ calls “not enough brain splatterings,” which I also apply to any show involving Kardashians), with many a loose plot thread left dangling. The nicely titled fall finale, “Pretty Much Dead Already,” promises to tie up at least a couple, and AMC adds the most apt episode synopsis imaginable: “Everything is food for something.” As always, Big Shiny Robot! and True TV are bringing The Walking Dead to you for free at Brewvies (677 S. 200 West, 21 ), 9 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 28 (HBO)
Season Finale: While Hung is the most fully realized comedy on HBO right now, Bored to Death is its flat-out weirdest: Where else would you get a love triangle that includes Zack Galifianakis and Olympia Dukakis, weed-smokin’ Ted Danson in a restaurant war with Oliver Platt and a guest shot by Dick Cavett, all in the same season? More so than any other series, comedy or drama, Bored to Death unfolds with the fluidity of a jazz score, making even the most bizarre situations seem like just another plausible day in Brooklyn. Here’s hoping HBO picks it up for a fourth season next year; Jason Schwartzman (as writer/unlicensed detective Jonathan Ames) will likely never be better than he is here.
Wednesday, Nov. 30 (Fox)
Series Debut: Fox was on a respectable sitcom mini-streak with Raising Hope (because it’s funny) and New Girl (because it’s … something), but that all ends with I Hate My Teenage Daughter, a laugh-tracked(!) throwback the network seems to have picked up at an ABC Family yard sale. Jaime Pressly plays a slightly toned-down, possibly medicated version of her Joy character from My Name Is Earl, but now her high-pitched redneckette is the divorcee mom to a slutbag mean girl—imagine Reba with the subtle Southern subtext replaced with an apparent line-yelling quota. Prediction: Dead by Christmas.
Wednesday, Nov. 30 (E!)
New Night: Of all E!’s questionable programming decisions, moving Friday-night mockery staple The Soup to Wednesdays is right up there with Kendra, Ice Loves Coco and the application of “News” to any show on the network. Wednesday is the most overloaded TV night of the week; piling on another appointment series is like demanding more flavors of Faygo at your neighborhood convenience store—you only need so many. Still, The Soup, and host Joel McHale (who may or may not be out of a job on NBC’s Community next fall), is Essential Television, and who watches “live” TV anymore, anyway? Who knows when the hell Chelsea Lately airs? Certainly not Chelsea Handler.