New Shows (2013): November 16 - 23

Happy Thanksgiving! If you are looking for a new show to watch during the long weekend, there are some good choices this week.

The New Shows color code: red means don’t bother; blue means maybe; green means good; magenta means great. Shows with an asterisk are part of a special JFK edition of this column that I posted previously.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16
The Challenger Disaster (Science)
A drama about Dr. Richard Feynman’s investigation into the causes of the Challenger explosion. The one person on the Presidential Commission not attached to Washington, the military, or NASA, he was determined to get to the truth through pure science. As you can imagine, he was met with resistance at just about every turn. While I always take docudrama with a pinch of salt, this was a truly fascinating account of a genius discovering the truth of what happened. All kudos to William Hurt who played Feynman with compassion and simplicity.

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (HBO)
To put it mildly, I am not a fan of Mike Tyson’s. This film, produced and directed by Spike Lee, was fascinating. Tyson stands on a stage and for ninety minutes tells us the story of his life. I respected the fact that he talks about the bad as well as the good and doesn’t make excuses or blame others for his mistakes. I would still not call myself a fan, but found myself disliking him less as I watched this confessional, yet highly entertaining, piece.

Steve Rannazzisi: Manchild (Comedy)
Not as bad as many comics I have reviewed for this column, but he went a bit far for my taste. While I think that family stories are great and can be hilarious, some of the things this guy said about his wife went a step too far for me. When he was telling stories about himself, however, I was laughing out loud.

*As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years (CBS)
Orange County Choppers (CMT)
Twelve Trees of Christmas (Lifetime)

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17
Almost Human (Fox)
What first struck me was the year 2048. It sounds so far away, yet it’s only 35 years from now. Chances are, many of us watching the show will still be alive. I kept thinking about this fact as I watched the beginning of the pilot, wondering how much of what we were seeing might actually occur. Once Dorian appeared, however, I settled into the story. I love a good bromance, and this one has hints that it could become great. Time will tell. Billie wrote an excellent review of the pilot.

Bigfoot: Revealed (National Geographic)
*The Day Kennedy Died (Smithsonian)
The Drama Queen (E!)
*Face The Nation (CBS)
Freaks of Nature (Weather Channel)
*Kennedy’s Suicide Bomber (Smithsonian)
*Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy (TLC)
On The Rocks (Food Network)
Railroad Alaska (Discovery America)

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18
Feynman: The Challenger (Science)
A companion piece to the Challenger movie above, this was a one hour documentary on the life of Richard Feynman. I know nothing about physics and, frankly, have no desire to. This hour, however, was a fascinating look at a man who was not only a genius, but seems to have been one hell of a great guy. If you are at all interested in science or biography, I highly recommend this hour.

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley (HBO)
A really interesting documentary about a comedian that few people now remember. Worth watching for the sheer number of comedians, of two generations, who credit this woman with influencing the work they are doing today. I enjoyed this documentary much more than I thought I would.

Doctor Who: Tales From The TARDIS (BBC America)
Rebel Music (MTVU)
The Science Of Doctor Who With Brian Cox (BBC America)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 19
Futurescape with James Woods (Science)
A series that looks at the science creating the world of tomorrow. The pilot episode was about robotics and it was astonishing. Scientists are determining what it is that makes our brains work, how we feel, how we differentiate between right and wrong. All this may one day be put into a machine, which then begs the question of what makes us human. Worth a watch if you are interested in science or robotics.

David Blaine: Real or Magic (ABC)
*Frontline: Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald? (PBS)
Risky Listing (Esquire)
White Collar Brawlers (Esquire)
Women We Love (Esquire)

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Alternate Route (Esquire)
How I Rock It (Esquire)

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21
*JFK: The Lost Tapes (Discovery)

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22
Betas (Amazon)
This could have been wonderful. Two kids drop out of Stanford to market their social network app. The two leads are wonderfully cast and their interactions were flawless and real. What seriously lets down this series is the supporting players. The writers, for whatever reason, must feel that millennials will not watch a series without penis and porn jokes and the two kids are surrounded by people who do nothing else. The jokes crossed the line into raunch and I found myself grimacing instead of smiling. If the writers can dial back that aspect, this just might become something to watch.

An Adventure In Space And Time (BBCAmerica)
Doctor Who Explained (BBC America)
*JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide (History)
*Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours To Live (History)
*Where Were You? The Day JFK Died (NBC)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23
Bill Cosby: Far From Finished (Comedy)
If Bill Cosby is not the funniest man living, I’m not sure who is. He has been making me laugh for decades and this special was no different. The man can tell a story like no one else and he can have me howling with laughter with just a look. Do yourself a favor and check out this special. Proof positive that the best humor is self-deprecating and, best of all, free of all cursing.

Penguins: Waddle All The Way (Discovery)
I have written before of my love for penguins and the lengths I have gone to watch them. I come by that love genetically as my father was crazy about them. Throughout his life, he collected everything and anything with a penguin on it and, at his funeral, we placed a huge stuffed penguin that used to sit in his office next to his picture. Today would have been his birthday, so this documentary was my way of remembering and honoring him. If you are not as crazy about penguins as I, or if you are not using this documentary to remember someone you loved, this one may be a bit much. I enjoyed it because I can watch penguins for hours. If this idea leaves you cold (chuckle), this two hour piece may all be a bit much.

Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles (HBO)
I was appalled watching this. I get that Silverman is a woman and that we are meant to applaud the fact that she is edgy and says things that deliberately provoke. Good for her, but I fail to see the humor in making jokes at the expense of rape victims. After recovering from the shock of that particular riff, I quickly deleted the show from my DVR.

Atlantis (BBCAmerica)
Mark reviewed the pilot a couple of months ago (it is a BBC show that just made it to the US). He sums up perfectly exactly what is wrong with it.

The Day Of The Doctor (BBCAmerica)
I am not a Doctor Who fan and did not watch this. Paul wrote an excellent review of this celebration of the show’s fifty years.

Kristin’s Christmas Past (Lifetime)
Stonados (Syfy)

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