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 is my first column of 2022, so what better time to make some resolutions?
New Year's resolutions tend to follow a predictable path. They're made with the best intentions, but they’re not always realistic. Drop that weight. Get in shape. Learn a language or two. This year is going to be different. For resolutions to work, they need be somewhat attainable and they need to make our lives better.
Getting started on the first of January is the easy part. Keeping it going as the year progresses is where the work really begins. And I'm not just talking about real world stuff — the same rules apply to the world of television. Most networks do their best to make entertaining shows that build audience and raise more advertising dollars (or gain more subscriptions). No show is greenlit thinking it will fail, even if the overwhelming majority end up doing just that.
But let's not go there. There's a clean slate of programming in front of us. Let's start off the year with positive thinking! After some self-examination, I'm ready to present my New Year's resolutions (when it comes to writing about TV):
Optimism - My nature is somewhat cynical (I'm a critic after all). I often write about signs of the TV apocalypse and programs destroying the fabric of pop culture. No more! I'm switching things up, scrapping my weekly “SPTIMNBAFOBYMB! (Shows Premiering That I Might Not Be A Fan Of But You Might Be!)” list in favor of a new weekly list: “STIHTGT! (Shows That I Hope To Get To!).” I'll miss goofing on the latest reboot of a cheesy 90's sitcom or yet another so-called reality dating show on a streaming service, but there's too much good stuff out there to dwell on the negative. My TV mug is half full — it's a new me!
Catch-Up - My year-end Top 10 list always includes a few excellent shows I simply didn't make the time to watch in their entirety. Shame on me. Let's start the new year with a bunch of programs I already know are going to be good. What We Do In The Shadows has become my treadmill show (it's great) and I'm almost done with Yellowstone (even better). I feel like I've hit the gym every day since January 1st!
Best Of The Best - At the end of each column I break down two or three of the most notable shows of the week and why they're worth watching. I pledge to be pickier in 2022, selecting only the finest shows and why they make the grade. There will be plenty of other shows to choose from in my STIHTGT! list, but this section will have only the best for my readers.
Greatest Hits - With more couch time courtesy of COVID, a few of you have asked me to list my more obscure all-time favorite shows for quality viewing. I'll gladly oblige. First one: Halt and Catch Fire. This drama about building the perfect PC gets better each season with some top notch acting and exceptional writing. Lots more to come…
Foreign Affairs - Some of my favorite programs originate outside this great country of ours. Subtitles are often required (don't listen to overdubbed dialogue — the entire flavor of the show gets lost). You might need Britbox or Acorn to watch some of 'em, but it will be worth your time. Global village, people!
It is my sincere goal to make all of these resolutions come true, but I might fall off the wagon along the way. I appreciate you taking this journey with me, and here's to some great TV in '22!
THIS WEEK’S STIHTGT!
(Shows That I Hope To Get To!)
College Football Playoff National Championship (ESPN) – The two best teams in the SEC meet again for all the marbles. Alabama vs Georgia II kicks off tonight at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT.
Peacemaker (HBO MAX) – This Suicide Squad spinoff stars John Cena as HBO takes a crack at Disney+ Marvel TV magic. Thursday.
Wolf Like Me (PEACOCK) – Josh Gad and Isla Fisher in a genre-bending rom com that wants you to know nothing about it going in. Done. Thursday.
The Tragedy of Macbeth (APPLE TV+) – A Coen brother directs the brilliant Denzel and Frances with his Shakespeare take. Friday.
Ray Donovan: The Movie (SHOWTIME) – Mickey is somewhere, and Ray is going to find him. Friday at 9:00 PM.
Somebody Somewhere (HBO) – Bridget Everett plays a Kansas singer who just doesn't fit in. Sunday at 10:30 PM.
THIS WEEK'S PICKS
Tumbling pyramids and posthumous consideration…
Wednesday, January 12th
The second season for any reality sensation is always difficult. High expectations are firmly in place along with fame and recognition. Everyone sees the fly on the wall, and the authenticity of the storytelling can be questioned. The makers of America's favorite cheerleading show impressively attack this challenge head on from the very start.
Navarro College, the most famous squad since the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, returns to defend its hard-earned title. Coach Monica Aldama deals with the fallout from season one star Jerry Harris who was arrested for sexual misconduct charges. There's more of a focus on archrival Trinity Valley Community College and how all of these athletes struggle while competing at the highest level. The first-year charm of the competition carries over as we get an even more intimate look at the work that goes into making any squad into a champion.
After Life (NETFLIX)
Friday, January 14th
A local newspaper reporter struggles to move on following the death of the love of his life, so he lashes out at everyone and wonders what's actually worth living for. Tony (Ricky Gervais) started here in season one — not the easiest comedy premise to fulfill. Ricky thrives in these awkward moments where truth is ugly and hurtful, but also makes you laugh.
Now it's the third (and final) season of this bittersweet tale and Tony continues to deal with loss in his life. His late wife left a ton of videos to keep her memory alive, but there's no manual for grief. This brutally honest take on how you choose to move on (or not) is awkward, funny and sometimes heartbreaking. Just like the real thing.
If you love or hate my picks, I'd love to hear from you.
Get vaccinated. Get a booster. 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: Cheer, After Life, Halt and Catch Fire, Peacemaker, Ray Donovan