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Jon Hein's TV Picks — Week of August 10, 2020

Sharks, Knocks and Ted Lasso. (Oh my!)
  • Will Smith in Discovery's Shark Week special Off The Deep End, Hard Knocks: LA and Jason Sudeikis in Ted Lasso. (Photos: Discovery/HBO/Apple TV+)
    Will Smith in Discovery's Shark Week special Off The Deep End, Hard Knocks: LA and Jason Sudeikis in Ted Lasso. (Photos: Discovery/HBO/Apple TV+)

    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.

    Shark Week has always been near and dear to my heart.

    I remember seeing Jaws (arguably the finest film ever made) when I was 8 years old, and it's why I'll never swim deep in the ocean.

    When I originally built jumptheshark.com, my logo (shout-out to the great Julian Ham) was an animated GIF of "jump the shark" text sailing over a fin. When the site started to take off, the folks at Discovery contacted me to do some promotion. They advertised on my site, but we worked on content where I was going to host a TV program featuring, what else, shark jumps. It didn’t work out, although they later did a countdown show, and somehow Shark Week has continued to thrive.

    By the way, I still think a "Jump the Shark" week would be great counter programming to Shark Week. Highlight the most memorable examples of when shows took their fatal leap. Are you listening, MeTV? Happy to consult.

    The Discovery Channel continues to keep you safe this week as it explores the most dangerous predators of the seas. This 32nd installment features 24 specials, and Will Smith, Mike Tyson, and Shaquille O'Neal are along for the ride this year. Athletes and celebrities always want to be a part this special week which adds yet another level of intrigue to the programming.

    It's all about getting a glimpse into what makes this eating machine tick. Tons of misconceptions about the big fish are clarified during the week. Will these explorers will suffer the same fate of Matt Hooper's cage? That looming danger, even while watching from your couch, keeps you on the edge of your seat.

    Is Discovery taking advantage of our fears? Of course they are, but who cares? This week, there's jam-packed programming dedicated to the mighty Carcharodan carcharias, and I'll be looking for anyone taking a leap over a fin. Hope you heard that, Megalodon.

    THIS WEEK'S PICKS

    Hard Knocks (HBO)
    Tuesday August 12 10pm (Season 15 premiere)

    Are you ready for some football? No one has access to NFL training camps during the pandemic - except for NFL Films and HBO.

    Every year I rave about Hard Knocks. It doesn't matter who the team is — it's the inherent drama of a coach trying to put together his squad and how the players live the lives all of us wannabe athletes which we had. If you can't get enough, get a quick fix on the junior college (JuCo) football scene with the excellent Last Chance U on Netflix.

    Sure there's more camera self-awareness these days and teams allow us to see only what they want us to see. But I still get a kick out of going behind the scenes of a NFL training camp, and this year, there's two to behold.

    The Rams and the Chargers, two teams that haven't been in L.A. for very long, are the subjects this season. It's far from business as usual, but drama always finds its way out during every season of this HBO staple.

    (un)Well (NETFLIX)
    Wednesday August 12 (Premiere)

    I'm no expert when it comes to the wellness industry. Essential oils, extreme fasting... a lot of it seems like B.S. to me.

    This docuseries explores these crafty solutions to everyday problems. There's a boatload of cash being made in the health & wellness industry, but do these products actually work? I wonder if this should be an industry in the first place.

    Learn which wellness trend lives up to its promise before blowing your next paycheck on a quick fix. Or you could just eat less and exercise more — that tip is for free. Watch the trailer

    Five Bedrooms (PEACOCK)
    Thursday August 14 (Premiere)

    Five single people meet at the same table at a wedding and decide to buy a house together. This Aussie import is a romantic dramedy debuting on the most horribly named streaming service out there.

    These aren't kids in their 20's figuring things out. They've been around and aren't looking for a party house — it's more about making a sound financial investment with the baggage of potential relationships.

    Everyone has to deal with each other, the neighbors, and all that goes into buying a new home. Prepare for disaster, joy and heartbreak down under.

    Ted Lasso (APPLE TV+)
    Thursday August 14 (Premiere)

    Football coach Ted Lasso, a Jason Sudekis creation, first came on the scene in 2013 promoting the English Premier League on NBC Sports. American football meets UK football — it was a viral sensation.

    Now Bill Lawrence, creator of Scrubs, Spin City and Cougar Town, has created a ten-episode series fleshing out this fish out of water story. I know Bill and he "gets it." A midwestern college football coach takes the reins of an English soccer team. Look forward to the laughs. Watch the trailer

    Lovecraft Country (HBO)
    Sunday August 16 9pm (Premiere)

    If HBO debuts a program in the Sunday 9pm slot, there's going to be heavy drama and it's going to be intense. If the actor who played Omar from The Wire is in it, that raises it a notch in my book.

    Korean War veteran hero Tic Freeman battles all types of monsters in 1950's America in this sci fi/horror drama. Tic returns to Chicago looking for his stubborn father and gets a taste of hardened America and the issues of the times.

    The acting is top notch, featuring Jonathan Majors as the lead, Michael Kenneth Williams as the dad, and Courtney B. Vance as the uncle amongst a great cast. Lovecraft Country tackles racism from generation to generation and illustrates how this battle has never truly ended.

    If there's quality TV that I'm missing, please let me know.

    Wear a mask. Stay healthy and safe.

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

    TOPICS: Shark Week, Five Bedrooms, Hard Knocks, Lovecraft Country, (Un)Well