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Hein’s Picks: AMC Turns to a Different Class of Undead in Search of Its Next Great Hit

PLUS: Hostages, Saturday Night Live, Jungle, and more.
  • Sam Reid is Lestat De Lioncourt in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire. (Photo: Alfonso Bresciani/AMC)
    Sam Reid is Lestat De Lioncourt in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire. (Photo: Alfonso Bresciani/AMC)

    Jon Hein knows TV. In the late 1990s, he coined the phrase "Jump the Shark" when he founded the site of the same name. Since then, he's written about television everywhere from The New York Times to TV Guide. In his column for Primetimer, he shares his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.

    I have a love/hate relationship with AMC. Following the incredible success of Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the cable channel has enjoyed a reputation as a quirky game changer. But for every Dark Winds or Rubicon, there's another The Walking Dead spinoff or a Talking (fill in series name here)… and that's just lazy programming.

    The latest title without The Walking Dead in it to enter the AMC rubicon (see what I did there?) is an adaptation of classic novel Interview with the Vampire, which premieres this Sunday at 10pm ET. Lestat fans everywhere, rejoice!

    This take on the Anne Rice classic comes out of the gate with high expectations. If the source material wasn't enough, the original adaptation was a 1994 film that starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. That's a nearly unscalable beauty mountain to climb.

     

    The good news is that vampires age quite well. From Bela Lugosi's Dracula to the ones currently living in the shadows in Brooklyn, our interest in the lives of these nocturnal creatures endures.

    How far will AMC take things with this new series? There's plenty of blood, killing and sex in this tale set in raunchy New Orleans. The Walking Dead has proven that the channel can handle the gore, but the eroticism is the challenge here. AMC gets zombies right, but sexy afterlife creatures could be an entirely different matter.

    The first season is a quick seven episodes and appears to be setting the stage for further vampire adventures. AMC has acquired Anne Rice's catalog, so get ready for more creatures of the night to strut their stuff on the channel soon.

    AMC will be just fine if it stays focused on the original stuff. As for the inevitable Talking Vampires? Count me out.

    Here's what else is worth watching this week…

    PREMIERES

    Hostages (HBO)
    Wednesday, September 28th. 9pm ET

    This four-part documentary takes us back to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and conjures up some disturbing memories. I was just 11 years old at the time, but I’ll never forget the daily count updates and learning how vulnerable the U.S. could be in this sad precursor of other terrors to come. Watch trailer.

    Saturday Night Live (NBC)
    Saturday, October 1st 11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT

    I'm including this out of obligation and respect. With eight of last year's cast members gone, Season 48 is shaping up to be quite the transition year. The first episode is always worth the watch to see what the writing staff comes up with after having months off. "Live, from New York" still gives me chills after 48 years. Watch preview.

     

    FOREIGN AFFAIRS

    Jungle (PRIME VIDEO)
    Friday, September 30th

    This is a six-part series from the UK told in rap and dialogue. It profiles a group of strangers in London who are dealing with a variety of struggles. Some of Britain's top rap artists are featured.

    THIS WEEK'S STIHTGT!
    (Shows That I Hope To Get To!)

    11 Minutes (Paramount+) – A four-part docuseries that digs into the 2017 mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas. Tuesday.

    Nick Kroll: Little Big Boy (Netflix) – Nick Kroll is a funny, funny man, and now he takes the stand-up stage with a new special. Good dude who will make you laugh. Tuesday.

    The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers (Disney+) – Season one was a surprisingly charming hit. Josh Duhamel replaces Emilio Estevez in season two on ice. Wednesday.

    GREATEST HITS
    (Really Good Shows You May Have Missed)

    This Week's Pick: It's Garry Shandling's Show (Prime Video) - The meta humor starts with the opening theme song and never lets up. This original comedy was one of TV’s first to break the fourth wall and set the standard for non-traditional sitcoms that followed. Many Larry Sanders seeds were planted on a show that features consistent belly laughs.

    Previous Picks:
    The Office (UK) (Hulu)
    The Prisoner (Prime Video)
    The Twilight Zone (Paramount+)
    Black Mirror (Netflix)
    The Leftovers (HBO Max)
    Deadwood (HBO Max)
    Rectify (AMC+)
    House of Cards (Netflix)
    Weeds (Showtime)
    Hannibal (Hulu)
    Mr. Show (HBO Max, Hulu)
    Downton Abbey (Peacock)
    Banshee (HBO Max)
    Police Squad! (Prime Video)
    Party Down (Starz)
    Dexter (Showtime)
    Alias (Hulu/Disney+)
    The Great (Hulu)
    Atypical (Netflix)
    Sherlock (PBS)
    Magic City (Peacock)
    Imposters (Netflix)
    Episodes (Showtime/Hulu)
    For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
    Abbott Elementary (ABC)
    Damages (Hulu)
    Luther (HBO Max)
    Downton Abbey (Netflix)
    Justified (Hulu)
    The Good Wife (Paramount+)
    Freaks & Geeks (Hulu)
    Patriot (Prime Video Prime Video)
    Battlestar Galactica (Peacock)
    The Split (Prime Video)
    Bordertown (Netflix)
    Halt and Catch Fire (AMC+)

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    If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.

    Get vaccinated and boosted. Stay healthy and safe!

     

    Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.

    TOPICS: Interview with the Vampire, AMC, Hostages, Jungle, Saturday Night Live