- Weird Loners (Fox)
Tuesday, March 31 (Fox)
Series Debut: Thanks to recent left-field hits Empire and The Last Man on Earth, the bar for "weird" has been raised considerably at Fox, and these Weird Loners can't quite reach it. Zachary Knighton (Happy Endings), Becki Newton (Ugly Betty), Nate Torrence (Hello Ladies) and Meera Rohit Kumbhani (Black Box) star as perpetually single New York City 30-somethings who wind up living in the same Queens townhouse, and ... that's about it. The "weirdest" thing about Weird Loners is that it's about the only new NYC comedy not set in Brooklyn. Still, considering the weak material, the cast nails the funny with ease (Knighton and Newton, in particular, have been deserving of a break for years), and Weird Loners is a good fit with Tuesday partner New Girl—now if only they shared some of the same writers as well.
The Walking Dead
Sunday, March 29 (AMC)
Season Finale: In which The Walking Dead pulls a Sons of Anarchy and drops a 90-minute finale (though TWD has gone long only twice before, as opposed to every episode of the last SOA seasons). It's been ham-fistedly hinted that the idyllic li'l bunker town of Alexandria isn't a great fit for Team Rick—at least not under current management, which likely will be changing soon (and, depending upon how closely the series follows the original comic-book story, not without non-walker casualties). The Internet Echo Chamber of Wild Guesses has, in various combinations, the entire cast being killed off in the Season 5 finale—with the exception of Glenn, but that's a whole 'nother conspiracy theory—so here's my prediction: AMC will spend an obnoxious chunk of this hour and a half reminding you that Mad Men isn't over yet.
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Sunday, March 29 (HBO)
Documentary: All—and I do mean all—religions are based on insane mythologies; the origin story of Scientology is no more loony than any other faith's, just newer and sporting more celebrity endorsements. Alex Gibney's documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, based on the 2013 book by Lawrence Wright, mostly sidesteps the sci-fi legend of Xenu and focuses on the here & now practices of Scientology, and they're more frightening than John Travolta's hairpiece: torture, isolation, blackmail, the silencing of critics, the "disconnecting" of families, the possibility of a Battlefield Earth 2 movie (never actually mentioned, but it should have been). And if you hate, hate, hate Tom Cruise, prepare to squee like you haven't since he was rendered dead several dozen times in Edge of Tomorrow.
Sunday, March 29 (National Geographic)
Movie: Speaking of religious nuttery, here's three(!) hours of trusted journalist Bill O'Reilly's account of the life and death of beloved literary character Jesus of Nazareth. As with O'Reilly's previous books-turned-TV-movies, Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, Killing Jesus has been criticized for "historical inaccuracies"—which is like saying this column is "lacking in monster-truck engine specs." One has nothing to do with the other, but distrust of a Fox News host is understandable, even when it comes to fictional hippies.
Sunday, March 29 (PBS)
Season Premiere: Now here's a guy who actually existed: Department-store mogul Harry Selfridge's (played by Jeremy Piven) life still lends itself well to this lushly produced British period drama, even though the producers are rushing the story to squeeze it into four seasons, er, "series." As Season/Series 3 opens, Mr. Selfridge has jumped from 1914 to 1919: World War I is over, Harry's wife is dead, and his arch-nemesis, the appropriately villainously named Lord Loxley (Aidan McArdle) is back to cause trouble—not that Harry needs any help doing that for himself (history shows that Selfridge's final years were rife with terrible decisions, after all). Catch Piven in this before the Entourage movie digs up Ari Gold again.
Listen to Bill on Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96 Radio From Hell; weekly on the TV Tan podcast via iTunes and Stitcher.