‘Vice Principals’ follows in classic TV’s footsteps
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”