‘Vice Prin­ci­pals’ fol­lows in clas­sic TV’s foot­steps

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - TV CHANNELS - By An­drew War­ren TV Me­dia

HIGH SCHOOL MYS­TERY» “Who shot J.R.?” That’s the ques­tion that con­sumed au­di­ences way back in 1980, when “Dal­las” — one of the biggest shows on tele­vi­sion at the time — ended its third sea­son with the mys­te­ri­ous shoot­ing of the treach­er­ous J.R. Ewing (Larry Hag­man, “I Dream of Jean­nie”). Did he sur­vive? Was he dead? And who shot him? Au­di­ences ag­o­nized over these ques­tions for eight long months un­til the next sea­son fi­nally came along with some an­swers.

“The Simp­sons” fa­mously spoofed the story in 1995 with its “Who Shot Mr. Burns” episode, and last Septem­ber, HBO’s “Vice Prin­ci­pals” left au­di­ences with a sim­i­lar who­dun­nit, and fans are fi­nally set to get some an­swers — hope­fully — when sea­son 2 pre­mieres Sun­day, Sept. 17, on the spe­cialty cable chan­nel.

North Jack­son High’s vice prin­ci­pal, Neal Gamby (Danny McBride, “Alien: Covenant,” 2017), was shot in the first sea­son’s shock­ing fi­nale, but as the trailer for the sec­ond and fi­nal sea­son has shown, the foul-mouthed ad­min­is­tra­tor is alive, and out for re­venge. Along with co-vice prin­ci­pal Lee Rus­sell (Wal­ton Gog­gins, “Jus­ti­fied”), he’s on the hunt for his would-be killer.

Kim­berly He­bert Gre­gory (“De­vi­ous Maids”) stars as Dr. Belinda Brown, the school’s new prin­ci­pal, whose hir­ing set in mo­tion the chain of events that led to Gamby get­ting shot. Both vice prin­ci­pals covet her po­si­tion, and af­ter some ini­tial an­i­mos­ity, they’ve merged their con­flict­ing am­bi­tions to drive out their new boss and get one of them pro­moted in her place.

Ge­or­gia King (“The New Nor­mal”), Sheaun McKin­ney (“Great News”), Shea Whigham (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” 2013) and Busy Philipps (“Cougar Town”) also star as mem­bers of the school’s staff and the fam­ily mem­bers of the vice prin­ci­pals who ei­ther aid or hin­der their school-sized am­bi­tions.

The ques­tion of “Who shot Gamby?” may not have gripped TV au­di­ences quite like the at­tempted mur­der of J.R. did, but for fans of “Vice Prin­ci­pals,” it’s a ques­tion that’s beg­ging for an an­swer. The sec­ond and fi­nal sea­son of the com­edy pre­mieres Sun­day, Sept. 17, on HBO.

DEADLY CANA­DI­ANS» More peo­ple are go­ing to start turn­ing up dead. It’s Mary’s do­ing. Poor Mary.

Cana­dian se­ries “Mary Kills Peo­ple” may not have a pre­miere date for its sec­ond sea­son be­yond a vague “early 2018,” but early pro­duc­tion is well un­der­way for the black com­edy-drama that airs on Global in its home coun­try, and on Life­time in the U.S.

As the name sug­gests, the show is about a woman named Mary (Caro­line Dhav­er­nas, “Han­ni­bal”), an emer­gency-room doc­tor and end-of-life coun­selor who also pro­vides doc­tor­as­sisted sui­cide ser­vices.

Two new stars have signed on for the sec­ond sea­son so far. Fel­low Cana­di­ans Rachelle Le­fevre (“Un­der the Dome”) and Ian Lake (“Bitten”) are on board as a hus­band-and-wife duo with ties to Mary’s past. Richard Short (“666 Park Av­enue”) and Jay Ryan (“Beauty and the Beast”) will also be back when “Mary Kills Peo­ple” re­turns.

Mary dives even deeper into the seedy and dan­ger­ous crim­i­nal un­der­world in sea­son 2, as she tries to se­cure a steady sup­ply of the drug that she uses to end peo­ple’s lives, with the un­der­cover cop (Ryan) who nearly im­pli­cated her last sea­son still hot on her trail and de­ter­mined to bring her down.

“Mary Kills Peo­ple” is a comedic take on a touchy sub­ject, with a side dose of drama to boot. Its sec­ond sea­son pre­miere is planned for early next year.

A HERO RISES» With the rise of so many vil­lains, Gotham City has been in dire need of a hero, and, at long last, some­one is fi­nally tak­ing baby steps to­wards be­com­ing a leg­end.

“Gotham” re­turns for a fourth sea­son Thurs­day, Sept. 21, on Fox, just as the city be­gins to re­ally start beg­ging for help. The hit se­ries is based on the many Bat­man comics and char­ac­ters, but up un­til now, it hasn’t had a real Bat­man. In­stead, it’s been about the go­ings-on in the city in the years be­fore a young Bruce Wayne — played by David Ma­zouz (“Touch”) — ever donned the fa­mous black cape and mask.

Fi­nally, though, the or­phaned youth takes his first steps to­wards his des­tiny, don­ning an early ver­sion of the bat­suit, and start­ing a new life as a vig­i­lante. The Caped Cru­sader’s ar­rival on the scene couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time, with Pen­guin (Robin Lord Tay­lor, “An­other Earth,” 2011) hav­ing se­cured a stran­gle­hold on the city’s un­der­world.

Fight­ing against the vil­lain — but also con­cerned by the rise of the masked vig­i­lante — are cops Jim Gor­don (Ben McKen­zie, “The O.C.”) and Har­vey Bul­lock (Donal Logue, “Vik­ings”). Cory Michael Smith (“Olive Kit­teridge”), Sean Per­twee (“Equi­lib­rium,” 2012), Cam­ren Bi­con­dova (“Bat­tle­field Amer­ica,” 2002) and Chris Chalk (“12 Years a Slave,” 2013) also star.

Up un­til now, “Gotham” has been a su­per­hero drama without the su­per­hero. That be­gins to change with the fourth sea­son, pre­mier­ing Thurs­day, Sept. 21, on Fox.

Danny McBride stars in “Vice Prin­ci­pals”

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