On the Telly: "The Americans," "Portlandia" and "Mind Games"

By Craig D. Lindsey
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 26, 2014

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Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys star in "The Americans."

The Americans
Wednesdays, 10pm, FX
Captive audience: Espionage nerds; readers of Tom Clancy and John Updike; guys who’ve always wanted to see Felicity butt-ass nekkid.
Moment of truth: After giving this Cold War drama a so-so review when it premiered last year, I thought I’d give it another shot by dipping into five episodes of the second season. The show continues to follow a pair of identity-shifting, KGB agents (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) posing as suburban parents, circa the 1980s. While the season opener amps up the sex and violence (Hey, this is FX after all), it took me a few episodes to fully get immersed in the intrigue and suspense of it all. Once it lets go of all the sensationalistic bullshit, it eventually becomes the searing spy thriller that’s worth clogging up your DVR.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.

Portlandia
Thursdays, 10pm, IFC
Captive audiences: Hipsters and the people who hate them; Sleater-Kinney fans; minorities who want to learn more about the enemy.
Moment of truth: You don’t know how psyched I am that the best show (about white people) is back for a fourth season. Current Late Night bandleader Fred Armisen and indie guitar goddess Carrie Brownstein return to make fun of everything that’s absurd about liberal, middle-class, white culture. Kirsten Dunst, Steve Buscemi, Jeff Goldblum and Annie Clark of St. Vincent are a few of the special-guest stars who join them in mocking first-world problems. Honestly, if you want to know what makes white folk tick—and laugh your ass off at the same time—you can’t go wrong with this bad boy.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.

Mind Games
Tuesdays, 10pm, ABC
Captive audience: David E. Kelley fans; behavioral science nerds; people who actually want to see Christian Slater succeed on TV.
Moment of truth: In what has to be Slater’s umpteenth attempt to crack prime-time television, he joins the incessantly goofy Steve Zahn as a pair of brothers who run an agency that specializes in altering people’s minds so they can ultimately make right decisions. The pilot episode just basically consists of Slater, Zahn and the whole cast yelling at each other. Thankfully, the yelling subsides by the decent fifth episode (the only other ep available for press). But, still, I don’t know if audiences are going to wait that long for this dramedy to stop being loud and start being watchable.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phl-emmy.

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