Fridays (Comcast On Demand)
Miniseries: There’s not much local content in the “Utah On Demand” section of the digital-box-only Comcast On Demand; a visualized Geek Show Podcast (attention, ladies), the long-running Band Wagon local-rawk showcase, a truly horrific “local culture” crapfest called Crowd Surfing (please, never look directly at it), etc. So The Only TV Column That Matters™ was surprised to run across Midnyte, a locally produced miniseries of six-minute episodes premiering every Friday on Comcast On Demand (or Midnyte.tv for the cable-unready). The low-budget mystery/thriller follows a group of women inexplicably trapped in the desolate netherworld of downtown Salt Lake City (those of us who work on that block just recognize it as “Sunday”), wringing a decent amount of suspense and dread out of its kinetic bursts. Midnyte may not work as well when/if it’s eventually pieced together, but right now it’s worth catching up on. Though it’s still not as scary as Crowd Surfing …
Friday, April 17 (Fox)
Return/Death March: The nearly forgotten Prison Break begins running out its final episodes tonight, pre-empting Dollhouse, itself a Fox cancellation—unofficial cancellation, but … come on. Speaking of burning off paid-for episodes, ABC will air the remaining installments of junked series Pushing Daisies (May 30), Eli Stone (June 20) and Dirty Sexy Money (July 18) on Saturday nights this summer, so alert your respective Facebook fan circles and remember: Trusting a broadcast net work with a quality show anymore is like trusting your alcoholic rodeo-clown uncle with your livestock’s virginity; odds are, somebody’s gonna cry … Damn you, Uncle Smacky!
Sunday, April 19 (Fox)
Series Debut: It’s the first new animated Fox series since the ’90s (American Dad doesn’t count; it’s just Family Guy when you’re drunk … so I’ve heard), it reunites the creator of Arrested Development with stars Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Henry Winkler, and the style (cartoon cels over live backdrops) gives it one of the most unique looks on TV. Why does high-school faculty comedy Sit Down, Shut Up seem about as fresh as Saved By the Bell or Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher? And was that the first-ever reference to Nick Freno? To the Wiki!
Sunday, April 19 (USA)
Season Premiere: U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) spent most of Season 1 as a casual mystery, babysitting Witness Protection Program miscreants with the weary wit of a curvier Jim Rockford (see, kids, The Rockford Files was a ’70s cop show) while her co-stars seemed to snag all of the juicier storylines. Now, after narrowly getting her sister off of a Fed-homicide-and-drug rap and being held hostage by a crazed meth dealer (hey, it’s Albuquerque; the Breaking Bad crew was probably involved), Mary’s on the verge of a post-traumatic mental breakdown—meaning, she’s finally onto some emotions beyond annoyed and really annoyed. In Plain Sight has plenty of great characters (which USA is all about, of course), so it’ll be nice to get at least a little more out of Mary.
New Series: Sure, it’s another cop show—but The Unusuals is funnier than any of ABC’s intentional comedies, and somewhat reminiscent of Denis Leary’s pre-Rescue Me series The Job (coincidentally, Leary’s partner Peter Tolan is involved in The Unusuals). A New York City vice detective (Amber Tamblyn) is reassigned to homicide but is actually working undercover to investigate the suspicious death of the cop she’s replacing; conspiracies and secrets abound, and everyone in the department is nuts to one degree or another. Check it out, if only to fill the un-ironic-mustache void left by Life on Mars.