Thursday, Jan. 23 (Fox)
Series Debut: Producer Peter Tolan had a great run on FX with Rescue Me, but a soul-sucking nightmare at ABC with The Job. Rake, starring Greg Kinnear as a brilliant lawyer with an effdup lifestyle to rival Californication’s Hank Moody, is nearly as dark as Rescue Me, and would probably be better suited to cable—there are probably already betting pools to see if Fox actually sticks with this for all 13 episodes. Keegan Deane (no, he’s not a guy named Jimmy Rake; the title’s a noun meaning “dissolute person”—it’s already too smart for broadcast TV) would take those odds, and Kinnear plays the charming gambler/womanizer role as effortlessly as you’d expect. And, just like cable’s best antiheroes, he learns no Valuable Life Lessons along the way. Let’s see how long this lasts (my money’s on four weeks).
Friday, Jan. 24 (Netflix)
Documentary: As you know, it was our job here at The Liberal Media in 2012 to make sure that Mitt Romney was not elected president—hell, Aaron Sorkin and The Newsroom took it so seriously that they were still fighting the fight as late as last summer. But was Romney really as stiff as we oh-so-easily portrayed him? Not according to documentary filmmaker Greg Whiteley, who followed the candidate for six years leading up to the election. Mitt shows Romney with his guard down, as a real and sometimes funny dude who just happens to have the hair of a game-show host and the sons of a cult leader (Tagg, Josh, Remulac and the rest come off no less creepy than before). Maybe we should have let Romney win; sure would be less exhausting than now defending Obama 24/7 and … [REDACTED].
Saturday, Jan. 25 (Starz)
Series Debut: After delving into sexy Los Angeles societal unrest with Crash, sexy Chicago politics with Boss and sexy gladiator sex with Spartacus, it only makes sense that the next Starz original series would be about sexy 18th-century pirates … right? Black Sails is a Michael Bay production, and it looks it—this is no cheapo-o cable acquisition, but the best-looking Starz series yet (in every sense; “period authenticity” here means “models with slightly-mussed hair and dirty pantaloons”). The story—written as a sorta-prequel to Treasure Island—and acting aren’t even up to Spartacus levels, but there’s so much flash and action that it hardly matters, especially on a Saturday night. Got through the whole review without saying “Black Sails is rated arrr” … damn it.
Sunday, Jan. 26 (CBS)
Special: Imagine Dragons and Alabama Shakes are not “rock” bands and therefore do not belong in the “Rock” category. Likewise, Neil Young’s Psychedelic Pill is not “rock,” but “the sound of an old woman being strangled though a phase shifter.”
Wednesdays & Thursdays (Fox)
New Season: Last week, reality-competition artifact American Idol had its lowest-rated season premiere ever. Related, same-show-but-let’s-all-pretend-it’s-different The X Factor is not a lock to be renewed for a fourth season by Fox, also thanks to eroded viewership. The Only TV Column That Matters™ is jumping straight to the conclusion that … karaoke TV is dead! No more sob stories about the asthmatic, one-legged teen from Spittoon, Ark. who worked three jobs at three different local Walmarts to pay for vocal coaching so she could nail both notes on “Roar”! No more “superstar” judges collecting easy paychecks until state-fair season! No more Ryan “Antichrist Cheesedick” Seacrest! Yeah, there’s still The Voice on NBC … just let me have this for a moment.