Didn’t “Fargo” used to be kind of a comedy? I mean, I know it’s always had its dark and violent side, but damn. Season 4 (Sundays on FX), which premiered with two episodes totaling 2 hours and 40 minutes, is slow, grim and slathered in midcentury racism as it chronicles the budding war between the Italian and black crime syndicates in Kansas City. (Season 2 chronicled a modern version of the K.C. syndicate that emerges from the continual cycle of power grabs.)
The pandemic has wreaked havoc with fall TV scheduling (it’s hard to tell one socially distanced, masked story, let alone fill a slate with them), and also revealed that (no surprise) cable and streaming were better prepared with content in their pipelines than the networks. But while 2020 serves up the thinnest lineup in modern TV history, it’s not a total wash. Here are my thoughts on 13 notable fall premieres, along with a “Go Bananas” Level (on a 10-point scale) of how excited I am for the series. All times Eastern:
Here are 10 movies and 10 TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year:
In chronological order, these were our 20 favorite TV shows of the 2010s:
American Horror Story: 1984″ (Wednesdays, FX) is an unapologetic, unfettered case of giving people what they want: A straight-up slasher series in the mode of the “Friday the 13th” films, right down to the summer camp setting. The first of the 10 episodes, “Camp Redwood,” slathers on Eighties trappings like freeze-frames and grainy cinematography. We see the POV of a girl lifting her shirt over her head, and when her vision is cleared, her two kissing friends have been stabbed by a giant knife, their faces pinned together. It’s darkly funny — as is certainly intended by writers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, in their ninth season helming this repertory anthology series — but it’s also cleverly brutal enough that we know “1984” respects its genre.
Iwatched the trailers of some notable fall TV premieres so you don’t have to (but they are embedded here if you want to). Here are my thoughts on each, along with a “Go Bananas” Level (on a 10-point scale) of how excited I am for the series. All times Eastern:
Ihadn’t seen the 2014 movie “What We Do in the Shadows,” so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into FX’s spinoff series of the same name, but man, this show is hilarious. Basically, it’s like watching “The Office,” but with vampires.
It’s never before been so hard to pick the 10 best shows of the year, as streaming services deliver strong short series on a regular basis, and cable and network TV have mostly kept pace with the quality. Some staple entries have dropped out of my top 10 not because they got worse but simply because they were supplanted. Here are 10 shows worthy of special mention even in this age of Peak TV.
This week, “Atlanta” (10 p.m. Eastern Thursdays, FX) began its second season of being about nothing and everything. The episode “Alligator Man” opens with two ATL youths lounging around when one mentions that they can purchase drugs at a local drive-thru restaurant if they ask for the “No. 17.” We assume they are heading there to buy said drugs, only to find they are robbing the place at gunpoint. But the employee working the window is armed, too. Bullets fly, ending with a teen girl – unseen until that point — emerging from the backseat of the youths’ car, screaming. Cue the opening titles.
After eight long episodes of Noah Hawley’s literally brain-teasing “Legion,” it’s a comparative relief to get back to the familiar footing of his first hit show, “Fargo” (10 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays on FX), which launched its third season with a 90-minute premiere. The “X-Men” spinoff “Legion” asked viewers to follow the pathways of a mutant’s brain, but “Fargo” allows us to kick back and follow the creatively crazy connections between thick-accented folks in the north woods.