No word on the fate of Crash, Starz’s initial stab at original drama—but the network renewed Spartacus: Blood & Sand for a second season before the first even debuted last month. Easy math: Crash had real stars (like Dennis Hopper), real locations (well, Albuquerque posing as Los Angeles) and real writing (at least as good as anything on Starz at 3 a.m.). Spartacus, on the other hand, is just the soft-porn version of 300, shot for what looks like about $300 an episode in front of a green screen: sketchy ’70s-van graphics, “story,” gratuitous sex and Xena (Lucy Lawless) dumped in digitally later. If it weren’t for the blood-flinging slow-motion battle scenes, episodes would probably clock in at 15 minutes—perfect for Adult Swim. In short, Spartacus: Boobs & Sodomy is awesome ... ly bad. This and a fifth of Sobieski are all I require on Friday nights.
Speaking of awesomely bad: Whatever happened to the syndicated weekend action-adventure series? In the ‘90s, there was Hercules, the aforementioned Xena and a channel-clogging slew of lion-clothed imitators; now, it’s just wall-to-wall cop-show reruns and brain-dead “lifestyle” filler (that’s you, At Your Leisure). Legend of the Seeker—from the producers of Herc, Xena and even Spartacus, coincidentally—is a sword ’n’ sorcery throwback about a scruffy “Seeker” (Craig Horner), a hot brunette “Confessor” (Bridget Regan), a hotter blonde warrior-ette (Tabret Bethell) and an old-dude wizard (Bruce Spence) who may or may not have been a roadie for The Doors. Together, they ... OK, I have no idea what they’re “seeking,” but there’s enough violence and shiny objects to keep my attention after sleeping off a Spartacus viewing from the night before.
||Look Thee Now
||Look Thee Anon
||Avert Thine Eyes
New Series: You’d think the network that set the standard for reality TV with Survivor and The Amazing Race could do better than this: Corporate CEO goes to work incognito amongst his workers to get a feel for being The Little Guy; surprises, realizations and tears ensue. Does no one even think to ask, “So, why do you have a camera crew?” anymore? And why not go the other way? Put a low-level drone in a suit and send him upstairs undercover to observe the bosses lighting cigars with $100 bills, snorting blow off of hookers and picking the company’s next screw-job health-care plan from Craigslist. Sold!
Sunday, Feb. 14 (HBO)
Series Debut: Another HBO series set in Manhattan—but this has even less of that Sex-and-the-City NYC glam than Flight of the Conchords or Bored to Death. How to Make It in America follows a group of inner-city hipsters and hustlers struggling to make a buck and leave a mark, and … hold up. According to HBO, this is supposed to be a comedy. Sure, America has a certain indie-flick charm that captures the flash and grime of the Big City, but a comedy? When Luiz Guzman gets the only laughs in the final minute of your premiere episode, best reconsider that categorization. Until the funny develops, How to Make It in America is going to have to get by on pure style—and there’s plenty of that.
Wednesday, Feb. 17 (BBC America)
Season Finale: A cult-sleeper import that’s more than just “the British Freaks & Geeks,” Inbetweeners is as smart and true to teen life (regardless of geography) as Skins was overblown and overrated. Catch up on Season 1, which ends tonight, before Season 2 makes it stateside via BBC America (and U.S. TV cranks out an inferior adaptation).