WHAT TO WATCH: FEBRUARY 2014

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February on TV is not necessarily all that different from February at the movie theater. It is traditionally known as a dumping ground, but there’s always some good, if not great, stuff mixed in. This February is an interesting month. Thrown off by the Winter Olympics (which 100%, completely and totally will NOT be anywhere near this list–as boring as I find the Summer Olympics, the Winter Games are far, far worse), but still a testament to the changing face of television. The traditional television season, with pilots, show orders, September/January premieres, is all becoming a thing of the past. Cable networks set their own schedules, which allows them to nurture a show in ways not afforded to the Big 4 networks. Most importantly, they are not tied down to the structure of pilot season, giving them access to more and bigger named actors for their projects.

Now on to the list for February:

10. Growing Up Fisher (NBC–Feb. 23): This is a show that I know virtually nothing about, and in most months, would never make this list. But like I mentioned above, February is just a weird month. What puts this show on this list is the top line: JK Simmons, Jenna Elfman, and Jason Bateman. A JK Simmons project is always going to at least get a view from me.

 9. Questioning Darwin (HBO–Feb. 10): Again, a project I know very little about, but what I do know, tells me I’ll at least watch it. I generally enjoy the HBO documentary series (which this is a part of), and I’m always interested in a story about great scientific minds that have shaped the world, of which, Charles Darwin is certainly one.

 8. Legit (FXX–Feb. 26): One of the old FX comedies that got pushed over to the new network, Legit is the story of a standup comedian, Jim Jeffries, his best friend and his best friend’s quadriplegic brother. It’s not the finest of the FX/FXX comedies, but it has funny moments. Jim Jeffries is a talented comedian and that shows at many points in this comedy. Although, perhaps what I should be pointing out here is a show that I missed in January, Archer: Vice on FX. The new season of Archer throws the entire premise on its head, and is probably as good as or better than the show has been in its 5 seasons.

7. Mixology (ABC–Feb. 26): Another new network sitcom premiering at the end of February. Can’t be a good thing, right? I don’t know. This show has kind of an interesting premise, with 10 people spending one night in a bar. How can a premise like that go on, I’m not sure. But I’m at least interested in seeing what happens on this one, presumably crazy night. Although I don’t think I’ll get too attached, because I’m not expecting this to be a long term show on ABC–who has been struggling like crazy to find a comedy block to surround The Middle and Modern Family.

6. About a Boy (NBC–Feb. 21): Finally a show I actually do have some high expectations for. Not that I expect it to be a commercial success (although, I do expect it to be a critical success), but it is a show that I am greatly anticipating. Brought to us by Jason Katims, the man behind Friday Night Lights (TV), and starring David Walton (NBC’s short lived, but brilliant “Bent”) and Minnie Driver, the pedigree behind this show has all the makings of a great sitcom. The only thing that I can think of that would make this better is if NBC went all in on the “Bent” reunion and had Amanda Peet in the Minnie Driver role. But hey, I’m about as big a fan of “Good Will Hunting” as there is out there, so I won’t complain with the role being played by the namesake for my dog.

5. The Walking Dead (AMC–Feb. 9): Part 2 of season 4 premieres this weekend. LJ has posted a review of Part 1 of season 4 to get everyone ready for Sunday night, so I’ll direct you to her comments. She’s also a much bigger fan of TWD than I am, so I think it’s best to let her convince you to watch. Let me just say, I am NOT excited about the return of The Governor. Come on Scott Gimple. You killed him. Let him just be dead. No more Rick hallucinations, no more flash backs. Just let David Morrissey go on to his next AMC show.

 4. The Red Road (Sundance–Feb. 27): So this is one of those interesting situations where I’m going to say I know NOTHING about this show, but I couldn’t be more excited for it. First of all, just look at the cast: Khol Drogo himself, Jason Momoa, Julianne Nicholson (one of my favorite gingers), and Tom Sizemore–that is great stuff. Then, it’s on Sundance, who so far has given us Top of the Lake, Rectify and The Returned. I hope that this show will be just as brilliant as those 3, and I fully suspect that it will be.

3. House of Cards (Netflix–Feb. 13): House of Cards reminds me a lot of “Oz” from the early days of HBO. A great show, but it is most important because it paved the way for what came next. Like Oz, House of Cards was not technically the first Netflix original, but it is the first one of note. And like Oz, House of Cards is overshadowed in many people’s minds by what came after it. For Oz, it was obviously the greatest TV show of all time, The Sopranos, and for House of Cards, it was arguably the best show of 2013, Orange is the New Black. Nonetheless, more House of Cards is something to be excited about, including the news of a season 3 in 2015.

2. The Americans (FX–Feb. 26): As I reflect on my top 10 list from 2013, I am really upset at myself for not putting this show higher. The Americans suffered from what many shows do, it simply appeared too early on in the year, leaving me too much time to forget how great it was, and how much I enjoyed it. My vow is to not let that happen this year, and to let it sit up there with the other great FX shows including Justified, The Bridge, Archer: Vice, Louie, Sons of Anarchy, The Strain, and Fargo. Good night alive, it looks like it’s going to be a GREAT year for John Landgraf and FX.

1. Hannibal (NBC–Feb. 28): I will put Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikklesen’s performances in Hannibal up against any 2 performances on any show, including Olyphant and Goggins, Cranston and Paul, McConauhey and Harrelson, or Hamm and Kartheiser. The difference is that no one pays any attention to Hannibal for some reason. And, adding Michael Pitt to the cast for the upcoming season is only going to make this rich cast even richer. It’s the most beautiful show on TV and telling one of the most thoughtful crime stories ever put to film. Getting a second season is a gift we could have never expected. But hopefully, with the foreign financing, making this show brutally cheap for NBC, we will get as many seasons as Fuller and the gang want to do.

-CJ

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