The Spoils of Babylon
Thursdays, 10pm, IFC
Captive audience: Funny or Die fans; TV miniseries nerds; people who actually know about Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
Moment of truth: If you haven’t been watching this insanely funny, six-part series over on IFC, then you’re missing out on some inspired lunacy. This straight-faced yet incessantly deranged parody of those epic, TV miniseries of the ‘70s & ‘80s (What up, Thorn Birds?) chronicles the decades-spanning, love-hate affair between an oil tycoon’s siblings (Tobey Maguire and Kristen Wiig). Tim Robbins, Val Kilmer and Jessica Alba are a few of the surprisingly game stars who fill the cast. And the best part: Will Ferrell shows up at the beginning of every episode as the pompous, bloated “author” of this hilarious mess.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy.
Tuesdays, 10pm, ABC
Captive audience: Women; Texans; Battlestar Galactica geeks who can’t let go.
Moment of truth: For gals who are looking for their own version of Justified, may I direct you to this estrogen-fueled procedural, executive-produced by none other than Modern Family bombshell Sofia Vergara? Former Cylon Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) stars as a relentlessly badass Texas Ranger (seriously, she plays the trumpet and everything!) who mostly tracks down criminal bad girls, hence the title. While the first couple of episodes were predictably melodramatic, the third ep was actually decent and well-paced. If it keeps up like this, maybe it can seen as more than a guilty pleasure.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phl-emmy.
Tuesdays, 10pm, Reelz
Captive audience: Mafia nerds; reality-show watchers; people who think Mob Wives is subtle.
Moment of truth: I couldn’t close out this column without serving up this latest helping of reality-show horseshit. This “workplace docuseries” follows the descendants of the notorious mob capo as they run a pizzeria. This would be somewhat interesting if the people involved weren’t such a collection of stereotypical goombahs. Family head Dom “The Boss” Capone has to deal with his mom and girlfriend loudly fighting with each other in public, not to mention his crew of dingbat buddies and his disturbingly toupeed uncle. This is basically Duck Dynasty with lasagna consumption–and even more embarrassing.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy.
2014 Films: The Year’s Most Likely