New Shows: March 29 - April 4, 2014

We made it! After one of the snowiest winters ever, spring has sprung and thoughts of summer afternoons on the beach are taking hold. Even the networks seem to be taking a bit of a breather, releasing fewer new shows as we gear up for May sweeps.

The New Shows color code: red means don’t bother; blue means maybe; green means good; magenta means great.

SATURDAY, MARCH 29
27th Annual Kids’ Choice Awards (Nickelodeon)
I am old, really old. This awards show proved that beyond any doubt. The red carpet is orange, the opening number was frenetic, some of the winners and presenters I had to Google, and, for some reason, there is an enormous amount of slime. What’s that about?

Speaking of slime, David Blaine did a truly disturbing trick in which he lost his head, holding it in his hands while slime went everywhere. Judging from the reaction shots of the crowd, it was probably not the most appropriate magic trick to do in front of a bunch of kids.

Hosted by Mark Wahlberg in a pair of slime green sneakers (natch), the recurring joke was that he was unslimable. It got tired quickly, but the kids in the audience loved it. Again I say, I am old.

The one thing that made me feel better is that I knew all the songs. For that, I have to thank the kids with whom I work who insist that at least one of the Pandora stations we listen to plays songs recorded within the past couple of years.

Favorite Funny Star: Kevin Hart
Favorite Female Singer: Selena Gomez
Favorite TV Actress: Ariana Grande
Favorite TV Actor: Ross Lynch
Favorite TV Show: Sam & Cat
Lifetime Achievement Award: Dan Schneider
— This was cool because stars from all his shows turned up to honor the man. I even recognized a face in the crowd, Avan Jogia, who stars in my latest guilty pleasure.
Favorite Music Group: One Direction
Favorite Song: “Story of My Life” by One Direction
Favorite Movie Actor: Adam Sandler
Favorite Male Buttkicker (huh?): Robert Downey, Jr.
Favorite Animated Movie: Frozen

Hannibal Buress Live from Chicago (Comedy Central)
This was one of the most interesting comedy routines I have watched in a while. Some of the stories he told were offensive and tasteless. Some were pretty funny. One, about an experience he had with a timeshare salesforce, had me laughing until I cried. It was an odd hour, bouncing between laughter and discomfort. If you are an ardent fan of comedy, I would recommend this with reservations. If you are a casual viewer, you might want to give this one a miss.

SUNDAY, MARCH 30

MONDAY, MARCH 31
Friends with Better Lives (CBS)
Six friends (original, huh) are in varying stages of 30-somethingness. Each is a character you have seen many times without a hint of originality. The jokes are, without exception, sex related. Let’s face it, sex can be funny. This was not.

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall (HBO)
An incredibly moving documentary about a hospice program being tested in prisons around the country. The stories of the men involved, both the dying and those we care for them, prove that few things are as clear cut as they seem, including murder. What got me and reduced me to a puddle of emotion was watching these tough old prisoners, some who have been behind bars their entire adult lives, caring so tenderly for one of their own. Watch this one.

The University of Sing Sing (HBO)
The power of education is second to none. This documentary, about the inmates at Sing Sing who achieve college degrees, is astonishing to watch. These men all admit to what they did in the past to end up where they are. When they talk about the choices they have made and are currently making, it is inspirational. Redemption is real and achievable.

House of Food (MTV)
This is Hot 97 (VH1)

TUESDAY, APRIL 1
Off The Bat From the MLB Fan Cave (MTV2)
Raiders of Rock (CMT)
Total Riff Off (National Geographic)

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2
Trip Tank (Comedy Central)
Advertised as “a variety of edgy, animated comedy shorts.” Edgy? The first one was about a cardboard box who murdered a woman for a toaster that he wanted to sleep with (I am cleaning up the language for this review) and the second was about a suicidal chicken at a wedding. The comedy alluded me completely and I turned it off five minutes in.

Down East Dickering (History)
Treasure King (Reelz)

THURSDAY, APRIL 3

FRIDAY, APRIL 4
Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes (HBO)
A very short documentary about the making of Springsteen’s latest album. If you are a fan (and who isn’t) or if you are at all interested in the creative process, this is worth a half hour of your time.

Showdown of the Unbeatables (National Geographic)

DON’T FORGET:
Game of Thrones returns Sunday, April 6 at 9:00 on HBO.

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen.

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