Marvel’s Defenders delivers the goods
Be careful what you whine for: Marvel’s Defenders (series debut Friday, Aug. 18, Netflix) is only eight episodes long, maybe partially in response to complaints that previous Marvel/Netflix series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist felt stretched thin at 13 apiece. The story that finally brings them all together as the Defenders arguably could have used more, but the no filler, mostly killer approach works well here, leaning heavily on franchise favorite Jones (Kristen Ritter) while somewhat redeeming the maligned Iron Fist (Finn Jones) and introducing a subtle-but-menacing new villain (Sigourney Weaver). Marvel’s Defenders delivers on the built-up hype and promise, just at a brisker pace.
Mackenzie Davis in Halt and Catch Fire
Everyone presumed it dead after Season 1, but Halt and Catch Fire (Season 4 premiere Saturday, AMC) just kept coming back. This time, it really is the end. The series that dramatized the rise of 1980s personal computing comes to a close in Season 4, now at the early 1990’s dawn of the internet. The core gang of entangled business-romantic partners (Lee Pace, Mackenzie Davis, Scoot McNairy and Kerry Bishé) are as driven and damaged as ever, just with different hair and a new mission: Connecting regular folk to this new thing called the World Wide Web (they’re creating America Online, essentially—Wiki it). Halt and Catch Fire logs off as one of AMC’s best, if overlooked, dramas. Netflix it.
The stars of Friends have experienced varying success in their post-Central Perk careers, but only Lisa Kudrow (The Comeback, Web Therapy) and Matt LeBlanc have dared to get truly weird—and he didn’t even have to stretch. Episodes (Season 5 premiere Sunday, Showtime), LeBlanc’s hilariously wrong series wherein he plays a version of Hollywood star “Matt LeBlanc,” is ending with Season 5 so he can concentrate on lesser television (CBS’ Man With a Plan, the kind of hacky stuff Episodes would parody). Besides LeBlanc’s misadventures, Episodes also features the painful showbiz tribulations of writers Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig). The show should just continue with them.
Andrew “Dice” Clay
Expectations last year were low for Dice (Season 2 premiere Sunday, Showtime)… way, way low. The initial episodes made no case for Andrew “Dice” Clay deserving to join the Curb Your Enthusiasm and Louie club of semi-autobiographical comic-coms, but it did get better as it progressed—no thanks to the Diceman himself. Co-stars Natasha Leggero (as Dice’s unlikely girlfriend Carmen) and Kevin Corrigan (as his gloriously strange bud “Milkshake”) picked up the funny slack nicely, as did guest Adrien Brody in a hysterical turn playing “Adrien Brody” shadowing Dice to play “Dice” for a character role. It’s not essential, but Dice is at least the second-best comedy on Showtime right now.
Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, and tweets at @Bill_Frost.