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New Shows: July 12-18, 2014

THIS WEEK: The Strain — Backpackers — Getting Back to Abnormal — Seed — The Hotwives of Orlando — Matador — The Divide — My Wild Affair — Sex in the Wild — Married — You’re the Worst — Rush — Satisfaction

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

The Feed (FYI)

The Strain (FX)
Set in New York, a virus is unleashed that turns ordinary folk into vampires. I am not the right person to review this as I loathe horror. This one was too much for me. Too violent, too weird, too melodramatic. Other reviewers, probably less squeamish than I, have loved it. Try it for yourself, but beware going in that the violence is incredibly graphic for television.

Game of Crowns (Bravo)
The Hunt with John Walsh (CNN)
Kingdom of the Apes (National Geographic Wild)
Lone Star Lady (A&E)

Backpackers (The CW)
Ryan and his fiancée decide to spend some time apart, hooking up with others before they settle down and get married. Ryan and his best friend Brandon go to Europe to hook up with anyone they can. It doesn’t get any worse than this. Seriously. Bad acting; bad writing; ridiculous situations. At least Paris is pretty to look at.

Getting Back to Abnormal (PBS)
An interesting documentary about the racial divide in New Orleans politics. Much of it was relatively unsurprising, but I was impressed with the filmmakers’ neutrality on the subject. They managed to get every point of view I can think of on camera and avoided the temptation of telling the viewer what to think or believe. Recommended.

Seed (The CW)
Slacker Harry discovers that, thanks to his donating sperm years ago, he is now the father of a teenaged daughter and a nine year old son. Yes, it’s McAbout A Boy. Not as bad as Backpackers, but not worth your time.

Bite This With Nadia G (Cooking Channel)
Going Deep with David Rees (National Geographic)

The Hotwives of Orlando (Hulu)
A parody of all the Housewives shows out there. You don’t have to watch them to get the joke, which gets very old very quickly. This is meant to be a parody, but it cuts a bit too close to be truly ironic. I turned it off about fifteen minutes into the pilot.

Matador (El Rey)
A young DEA agent is recruited by the CIA to infiltrate a professional soccer/football team and bring down a man who is threatening to destroy the world. Yeah, I know. It’s a very silly premise and its execution is not much better. As always, a show like this rests on its lead and Gabriel Luna, while pretty, did not make me care about his character at all. I’ve seen worse. I’ve seen much better.

B.O.R.N. to Style (FYI)
The Sorrentinos (TVGN)
Underground BBQ Challenge (Travel Channel)
The Walking Dead: Walker University (AMC)

The Divide (WETV)
An innocent man on death row; a idealistic young soon-to-be attorney; the prosecutor who has ridden the success of the case to the top. Yes, it’s been done. What makes this series different and worth checking out are the performances. None of them is trite or clichéd and each has a subtly that impressed me. The mystery, so far, is pretty good with suspects and red herrings abounding. I’m going to stick with this one for a while.

My Wild Affair (PBS)
A series about the bonds that can form between humans and wild animals. The pilot was about a young elephant named Aisha and the woman who raised her. The show is respectful of the bond, yet makes it clear that wild animals belong back in the wild. I enjoyed the hour, much more than I thought I would.

Sex in the Wild (PBS)
Following on from the series above, this is a new series about reproductive habits in the wild. Unfortunately, the narrators are a bit too excited about relatively mundane facts and their glee over every little thing began to irk. It was very sweet to see the newborn elephant, but then I was done. If you love animals, try this, but don’t go in with your expectations too high.

The 2014 ESPYs (ESPN)
Behind the Music: Linda Perry (VH1)
Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project (VH1)
Virgin Territory (MTV)
Young Marvels (Ovation)

Married (FX)
We all know that happily ever after is a myth and that marriage is hard work. Here is a comedy (huh?) in which the couple in question have settled into the day-to-day of raising their three kids and stopped having sex a while ago. She gives him permission to have an affair and we are off. I didn’t see the humor in it at all and felt sad for everyone who showed up on screen. If this is a true portrait of marriage today, I’m grateful to be single.

You’re the Worst (FX)
After Married, I went into this one with enormous cynicism. Two people, damaged beyond the telling of it and used to one night stands, come together. They are genuinely nasty people, yet somehow they see something in the other which enables us to see it as well. This is a rom-com turned upside down, but it works. Ever so much better than the married couple.

Rush (USA)
An anti-hero doctor? One who is hooked on drugs, first in his class, brilliant at any medical situation? Where have I seen that before? Oh yeah, but this show is not House. It tries to be, with a dollop of Ray Donovan thrown in for good measure. The problem is that this protagonist is so awful, I couldn’t find any reason to stick around. Give this one a wide berth.

Satisfaction (USA)
Yet another marriage that has gone stale over the past eighteen years. She is paying an escort for sex; he is having a spectacular mid-life crisis. It wasn’t horrible and some of the emotional beats worked. My problem is that now both spouses are cheating and, frankly, I struggle to see how adultery will fix this marriage. I find it interesting that both new shows that premiered tonight depicting marriage have adultery as a solution. Am I really the only one who does not see cheating on one’s spouse as a solution to anything?

#CandidlyNicole (VH1)
Dating Naked (VH1)
David Ortiz in the Moment (Epix)
LeAnn & Eddie (VH1)
Untold With Maria Menounos (E!)


ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.


  1. Re: Hotwives. The key to a successful parody is to do it before what you intend to make fun of has become a parody of itself. The creators are a little late on this one...

  2. I'm a fan of Nadia G.'s and plan to check out her second show (it's always a good sign when a cooking host gets a second show -- like, maybe they won't disappear any time soon). I'll post a comment after I see it.

  3. HEre's my report on Bite This With Nadia G on the Cooking Channel.

    Nadia G's Bitchin Kitchen is one of my favorite cooking shows, and that's because of Nadia G. She's a comic as well as a cook, and she always makes me laugh. Her recipes are always interesting, too.

    Bite This is one of those "travel to a specific place and try their cuisine" sort of shows. What usually makes a show like this work is the host. Nadia G can host. I didn't think she could be funnier than she is on her cooking show, but somehow she's even funnier when she's interacting with people (and freaking them out). Dan and I laughed through the entire first episode which, wonderfully, was about three restaurants in Los Angeles.

    Magenta for me. I can't remember when I've enjoyed a cooking show more.

  4. Definitely going to give The Divide a try - thanks Chris!

  5. Liked the Divide. Will stick around, it looks very promising. Nice to see Chris Bauer and Clarke Peters there, both actors from the Wire..well Bauer is Andy from True Blood to me too.


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