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.
This Thursday night, it’s time for Law & Order: Organized Crime. That's right, another spinoff from the drama that first premiered in 1990. That’s one heck of a shelf life, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
We just keep coming back for more helpings of this Law & Order comfort food. The "ripped from the headlines" mantra generates ratings, and that's what the game is all about. "True crime" documentaries haven't gotten in the way at all as some prefer good looking actors to the real thing.
NBC is pulling out all the stops by reuniting their top team... at least for one night. Organized Crime isn't about a new hot city or reuniting some minor characters. This is a biggie — Christopher Meloni is returning to the franchise.
It’s been a decade since Meloni left amid a contract dispute. The hot-headed detective was a Special Victims Unit staple and a big loss. Now Detective Stabler returns to the NYPD with a series all his own. Sure he's an all-too familiar character in a brand new landscape, but will his ways work in today's police environment?
Naturally, there's no better way to kick things off with a SVU crossover episode featuring, you guessed it, captain Olivia Benson (the character Taylor Swift named her cat after). This is a reunion all L&O fans are excited about. Stabler resigned from the sex crimes unit and Benson was completely devastated. They won't be together every week, but something tells me this won't be the only time they meet on the job.
Don't even question if the ratings will be there — they will. NBC is giving the audience exactly what it wants. The spinoffs will keep coming if the viewers keep on tuning in. Sadly, there are way too many stories to rip from the headlines these days.
Thursday at 9, Stabler returns to make things right with Benson. At 10, he's back with the NYPD going after organized crime. Plenty of comfort food to go around.
(Shows Premiering That I'm Not A Fan Of But You Might Be!)
Pooch Perfect (ABC) - Rebel Wilson hosts a dog grooming competition — yup. Premieres Tuesday.
Supergirl (CW) - How did we get to Season 6 already? Airs Tuesday.
SAG Awards (TBS/TNT) - Awards shows have not been getting the ratings, and this one will likely keep that streak alive. Sunday.
(For the sports aficionado or compulsive gambler)
NCAA Basketball Elite 8 & Final 4 (CBS, TBS) - The Final Four will be determined on Monday and Tuesday, and the national semifinals take place on Saturday night.
Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN) - Spring is officially here when baseball is back. It's the Chicago White Sox vs. the Los Angeles Angels at 8:30 PM ET, and it counts!
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Cristin Milioti attempts to exit a bad romance, a serial killer on the Hippie Trail, and a new Hulu doc tackles WeWork.
Made For Love (HBO MAX)
Thursday, April 1st
This one takes getting out of a bad marriage to a new level. After ten years of being wed to a suffocating tech billionaire, Cristin Milioti is on the run. The only problem is the monitoring device he had implanted in her brain to monitor her emotional levels. This is one bad romance.
Cristin Milioti has become one of my favorite actresses. Her strength and vulnerability was on full display in memorable roles in Palm Springs, Modern Love, Black Mirror and Fargo, making her must-see TV for me.
Made For Love kicks off in the thick of things and features flashbacks showing how the couple arrived at this moment. This storytelling device has become commonplace, and putting the pieces together can be a distraction. Sometimes a linear story is best.
The Serpent (NETFLIX)
Friday, April 2nd
If you traveled down the Hippie Trail in Southeast Asia during the 1970's, you did not want to run into Charles Sobhraj. The serial killer preyed upon tourists and beatniks and often got caught. He would drug guards and fake illness to escape his sentences earning his nickname "The Serpent."
This crazy story is a true one, and that's the most frightening aspect of this eight-parter on Netflix. Sobhraj's problems start in the late 1950s and increase in severity and tragedy as time goes on. Keep reminding yourself that this is non-fiction that you're watching. Watch trailer.
WeWork Or The Making And Breaking Of A $47 Billion Unicorn (HULU)
Friday, April 2nd
I can't remember my first meeting at a WeWork facility. Self-employed contractors needed a place to meet, and the modern look and comfy furniture were a nice touch. I had no idea leasing an office could potentially be so lucrative.
The idea of a capitalistic kibbutz led by a super charming CEO quickly became a tech darling. WeWork transformed simple office space rentals into an inspirational cult-like place to work. A very big foreign check started the engine that could... until it couldn't.
This Hulu documentary chronicles the rise and demise of WeWork, and (spoiler alert) it wasn't COVID that did it in.
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Wear two masks. Get vaccinated. Stay healthy and safe.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.