Thursday, June 21 (FX)
Special Preview: Kind of a limbo episode that would be too weird to lead off Season 2, premiering next Thursday, “Progress” finds Ryan (Elijah Wood) resting up in a mental hospital, estranged from car-crippled Wilfred (Jason Gann) and still questioning his talking-to-dogs sanity, despite all of the blue happy pills being dispensed by his doctor (guest star Robin Williams). Or, is he in a work meeting being browbeaten by his new boss (Steven Weber)? And what happened to the basement where Ryan and Wilfred spent so many weeks getting baked, uh, bonding? And how is stuffed animal/sex slave Bear driving the getaway van? Just roll with it; all will come back into (relative) focus next week.
Thursday, June 21 (MTV)
Series Debut: Math dictates that Snooki & Jwoww should be one-third as depressingly played-out as Jersey Shore. Then again, The Pauly D Project didn’t suck five-sixths less than the original, and the inevitable Situation spin-off (which The Only TV Column That Matters™ really hopes will be The Sitch & Mitch, wherein Mike Sorrentino and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell creep on girls and argue campaign-finance regulation) won’t fare any better. Back on point: Snooki & Jwoww is the poignant reality tale of two young women facing adulthood, responsibility and post-MTV careers of working poles for crinkled singles in New Jersey dives until they’re eligible for Celebrity Rehab.
Saturday, June 23 (Syfy)
Movie: The third and weakest of Syfy’s four Ridiculous Creatures vs. Ridiculous-er Humans flicks for June, Arachnoquake stars Tracey Gold (Growing Pains, anorexia) and Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, rehab) battling big-ass albino spiders freed by an earthquake in New Orleans—even worse, they can skitter across water, fly, breathe fire and look menacing in varying shades of pink. Next Saturday’s lazily named Bigfoot is really the one to catch: Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family) and Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch) slug it out over Sasquatch as Alice Cooper(!) squints on.
Sunday, June 24 (HBO)
Series Debut: How (Aaron) Sorkin-y do you like your TV? Because if you thought The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip were heavy-handed with their agendas, prepare to be thoroughly bitch-slapped by The Newsroom. When a burnout cable-news anchor (Jeff Daniels, in nuclear dick mode) snaps and goes on an epic public rant about how “the country is screwed and the news has failed you—but you’re too stupid to notice, anyway,” it alienates his co-workers but inspires his boss (a boozy, bow-tied Sam Waterston) to reinvent the network as a Real News Source, advertisers and ratings be damned. This means bringing in an ace producer (Emily Mortimer) who, of course, used to be romantically involved with the anchor; passionate arguments, fast walking/talking, encyclopedic insta-monologues and the usual Sorkinisms ensue. But, because it’s all dripping with righteous import and delivered at such bracing speed (the 75-minute premiere blows by like 20), it matters not: This is excellent, entertaining television. Welcome back, Aaron—let’s all just forget about Studio 60 now.
Sunday, June 24 (Adult Swim)
Season Premiere: Remember last year, when they changed the title of the show to Aqua Unit Patrol Force 1 after a decade as Aqua Teen Hunger Force? This season, it’s Aqua, Something, You Know, Whatever, and “It’s the same exact show as it’s never been before only just like it used to be but now different.” The other new development: Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad have inadvertently adopted an Argentine baby, Pepe the Pepper. Obviously, the title is the least of their problems.