Re­set your DVR for th­ese new­shows

Chicago Sun-Times - - MONEY - Robert Bianco

Think of the next few weeks as a spring break for your DVR.

Oh, it’s not a com­pletely work-free va­ca­tion. There are a few new shows that will merit record­ing at­ten­tion, and a hand­ful of re­turn­ing shows — led by Fox’s Em­pire and HBO’s Game of Thrones, Veep and Sil­i­con Val­ley — that will re­quire you re-en­gage your sea­son passes.

But oth­er­wise, the tor­rent of at­ten­tion-grab­bing, time-con­sum­ing new se­ries that has raged over broad­cast, ca­ble and stream­ing ser­vices this fall and win- ter is fi­nally slow­ing to a some­what more­m­an­age­able flow. And thank good­ness for that. Now, don’t get me wrong: There is al­ways room at the top.

Cer­tainly those of us who have lived through TV famine would be un­wise to com­plain about a feast that has given this win­ter Emmy-wor­thy gems such as FX’s The Peo­ple v. O.J. Simp­son: Amer­i­can Crime Story, ABC’s Amer­i­can Crime, BBC Amer­ica’s Lon­don Spy and HBO’s Vinyl.

Even so, you only have to look at the sink­ing rat­ings that are greet­ing so many se­ries, new and old alike, to re­al­ize that sup­ply has se­ri­ously out­stripped de­mand. Or else the flood has at least splin­tered de­mand into so many pieces, it’s hard to imag­ine how sup­pli­ers are go­ing to turn view­ers into prof­its, which is the ul­ti­mate goal of the peo­ple who in­vest in the busi­ness side of show busi­ness. But that’s their prob­lem. Our prob­lem, aside from con­cerns that this boom is go­ing to pro­voke an equally his­toric bust, is that at the mo­ment, many of our DVRs are over­whelmed. (If you’re still us­ing a video recorder, well, good luck with that.)

Yes, we still want some­thing new; that’s hu­man na­ture. But hav­ing fewer new things de­mand­ing our at­ten­tion this spring might not be such a bad de­vel­op­ment.

Af­ter all, it’s al­most spring. Surely there’s some­thing you’ve wanted to do out­side that win­ter has de­layed.

So what new shows should you watch when you come in­side? Here are six choices:


NBC is pair­ing The Carmichael Show, a throw­back to the days when sit­coms built episodes around is­sue de­bates, with this throw­back to the days when NBC kept search­ing for a fam­ily sit­com that would be com­pat­i­ble with The Cosby Show or Friends. Pro­duced by the folks be­hind the equally retro Hot in Cleve­land, Crowded stars Pa­trick War­bur­ton and Car­rie Pre­ston as par­ents

whose dreams of an empty nest — and sex in the kitchen — are shat­tered when their two adult daugh­ters move in with them, and their in-laws (Stacy Keach and Car­lease Burke) refuse to­move away. De­spite the cur­rent-events over­lay of job­less, home­less Mil­len­ni­als, Crowded feels de­cid­edly old-fash­ioned: sort of Ev­ery­body Loves Ray­mond, if Ray and Deb’s kids had grown up. But old-fash­ioned is not nec­es­sar­ily bad, if it’s de­liv­ered by solid pros like War­bur­ton, Pre­ston, Burke and Keach.


ABC has a slew of new shows com­ing this spring, most of which you can feel free to ig­nore. The Catch, how­ever, has enough go­ing for it be­hind and in front of the cam­era to merit a look. This flashy new se­ries from Shonda Rhimes’ Shon­da­land stars a glammed-up Mireille Enos ( The Killing) as a catcher of con men who is conned by her own fi­ancé (Peter Krause). So be­tween other cases, she and her team (which in­cludes The L Word’s Rose Rollins) try to catch him and his team (which in­cludes Lost’s Sonya Wal­ger).


Break­ing Bad’s Aaron Paul makes a very wel­come re­turn to se­ries tele­vi­sion as a man who be­gins to ques­tion his faith in a Scien­tol­ogy-like cult — ques­tions that might dam­age his re­la­tion­ship with his more com­mit­ted wife (Michelle Mon­aghan) and per­haps threaten his well-be­ing. The pi­lot hits a few too many fa­mil­iar “middle-aged­man in emo­tional cri­sis” notes, but the un­usual set­ting and the strong cast (which in­cludes Hugh Dancy) make up for it.


Let’s get this out of the way first: The pi­lot for this spinoff of the 1998 movie (and its se­quels) is fairly ter­ri­ble. But still, the premise is solid, the movie cer­tainly was pop­u­lar, and while Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker are much missed, their re­place­ments help main­tain TV’s wel­come cur­rent em­brace of in­clu­sive cast­ing. Plus it’s on CBS, which means the se­ries most likely will get a sam­pling — and has a good chance of out­last­ing what are likely to be bad re­views. It may even sur­prise us and im­prove. Lim­it­less did.


Some Netflix sub­scribers are prob­a­bly most ex­cited about the spring re­turns of Marvel’s Dare­devil and Un­break­able Kimmy Sch­midt. But for those who trea­sure, shall we say, un­ex­pected cast­ing, the show to watch for is The Ranch, which stars Ash­ton Kutcher as a failed pro foot­ball player who comes home to run the fam­ily ranch, much to the dis­may of his brother— played by Kutcher’s That ’70s Show co-star Danny Master­son. If that’s not in­trigu­ing enough, con­sider their par­ents, played by Sam El­liott and De­bra Winger. That may not be enough to get you to sub­scribe to Netflix, but if you al­ready do, it should be enough to get you to hit “play,” at least once.



When it comes to pedi­grees, it’s hard to top this six-part Bri­tish im­port. Tom Hid­dle­ston, Olivia Col­man and — in a rare turn as a vil­lain — Hugh Lau­rie star in this adap­ta­tion of the John le Carré novel about a Bri­tish agent chas­ing af­ter an evil arms dealer.


Car­rie Pre­ston, left, Mia Ser­afino, Mi­randa Cos­grove and Pa­trick­War­bur­ton star in the new NBC com­edy Crowded. The show tap­ing on Tues­day will be the 1,000th episode of TV di­rected by James Bur­rows.


Rush Hour, CBS’ re­make of the film fran­chise, stars Hong Kong de­tec­tive Lee (Jon Foo, left) and LAPD’s Carter (Justin Hires).

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