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 new column for Primetimer, he'll be sharing his thoughts on what's new and good on TV and the shows on his radar for the coming week.
Some weeks, there's tons of new stuff to check out. This is not one of those weeks. Before we dive into my weekly prime cuts, let's start with some shows I’ve checked off my watchlist.
I have a soft spot for British TV. Their version of The Office is better. Sherlock and Luther are two of my all-time faves. I'll take Monty Python's Flying Circus over SNL any day of the week including Saturday. I was excited for the Downton Abbey movie (which absolutely delivered). I'm trying to talk my wife into subscribing to Britbox.
However, there was a huge hole in my telly game that I'm proud to announce has been filled. I have finished The Crown on Netflix and cannot wait for season 4.
It's always impressive when a program can tantalize when you already know what’s going to happen. At the center of The Crown is a controlled, restrained monarch, yet Peter Morgan makes the Queen's slightest glance or ringing a bell compelling. The acting is top notch throughout - escaping the "Same Character, Different Actor" Jump The Shark category. Nice to see the royal family is as messed up as any other just trying to get through life.
Last week, I forgot to recommend The Happy Days of Garry Marshall on ABC. Garry, please forgive me. The celeb talking heads are insightful providing plenty of memories of working with Garry. Forget the films (although I'm partial to The Flamingo Kid and the first Princess Diaries), just look at the TV. This guy wrote for The Dick Van Dyke Show and tons of other classic sitcoms. He adapted The Odd Couple to TV. He created Happy Days which begat Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and other spinoffs they wisely skip over in the special. And when Craig Kilborn asked about Fonzie jumping the shark, Garry referred to me saying "the man is absolutely right". Garry Marshall was a true television genius, and this special is worth catching. (It's currently available for streaming on Hulu and abc.com.)
On Mother's Day, my family watched Becoming on Netflix which is essentially a behind the scenes look at Michelle Obama's book tour. I saw firsthand the impact she has had, particularly on the children of this country, and how she cares for others in a down to earth manner. Seeing the former first lady offstage provides a glimpse into what she's really like. I was impressed.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
We're all still stuck at home, so I've selected a handful of shows from a variety of sources (broadcast, basic cable, premium cable and streaming) to make sure you've got something to watch regardless of the TV package you pay for.
Patton Oswalt - I Love Everything (NETFLIX)
Tuesday May 19
Patton Oswalt is a hugely successful comedian, yet it always seems like he’s flying under the radar. In his first Netflix stand-up special in 3 years, he copes with being in his fifties and the challenges of being a dad. Patton always delivers the laughs, and expect to hear plenty of Star Wars references – I'm surprised this didn't premiere on May 4. Watch the trailer.
Holey Moley II: The Sequel (ABC)
Thursday May 22 9pm (Season 2 premiere)
Missing sports? Enjoy Wipeout style humor? Love those old school ABC Sports blazers? Mini-golf fan? This is the show for you. Rob Riggle's commentary and occasional drop-ins from producer/3 point specialist Steph Curry mixed in with ridiculously over-the-top mini golf holes will keep you watching. Holey Moley gets a pass because it is self-aware of its own idiocy. Plus one of the holes has contestants jumping a huge inflatable shark, which obviously scores major points with me. Watch the trailer.
Friday May 23 (Season 2)
No longer "that Julia Roberts show on Amazon," this second season carries over the conspiracy-filled creepiness of the first. Janelle Monae wakes up on a boat in a lake with no clue who she is or how she got there. The show deviates from the original podcast of the same name, but all roads lead to that nefarious Geist Group. Add Chris Cooper and Joan Cusack to a returning Hong Chau – that's a cast that I look forward to making me feel uncomfortable.
Sunday May 25 @ 9pm (Part 1 of 2)
The Lance Armstrong saga gets the 30 for 30 treatment. A ton has been documented about the only professional cyclist anyone has actually heard of, but I'd watch a 30 for 30 on badminton because of how well these docs are produced.
Quick binge tip – watch any ESPN 30 for 30 documentary if you haven't yet. You don't even need to be a sports fan. Start with The Two Escobars – you won't regret it.
Lance's climb from Texas, the cancer, the Tour de France titles, the fall – we know the story, but I'm counting on ESPN to make this two-part series compelling. Watch the trailer.
I hope you enjoy these recommendations. If there's quality TV that I'm missing, don't hesitate to let me know.
Stay healthy and safe.
Jon Hein is the creator of "Jump the Shark" and author of three books. Follow him @jonhein on Twitter.
TOPICS: Garry Marshall, Amazon, Netflix, 30 For 30, Becoming (Michelle Obama Documentary), The Crown, Holey Moley, Homecoming, Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything, Lance Armstrong, Patton Oswalt, Rob Riggle