“You love TV.”
A girl I used to date gave me that as a reason we couldn’t keep dating. It wasn’t like I was on the couch for days on end, but my interest in watching TV irked her. It ended up being her loss; my wife loves our Netflix account. (My habit of leaving cabinet doors open? Not so much.)
That lady from long ago would have hated me this month. I ain’t movin’ from the couch and for good reason: April 2015 is the best and most memorable month in TV history.
While that may seem like a statement Buzzfeed would love, I’m serious. The notion first came up when my wife asked me when Game of Thrones and Mad Men started this year. I verified the dates and then began thinking about the series finale of another show that happens around the same time. Then, I was reminded of a comedy returning back for its sophomore season and another returning for its fifth season.
I started jotting down a few notes and the next thing you know, I had a murderer’s row of great TV shows that are either big premieres, feature big returns, or are big finales, and this list doesn’t even include a potentially amazing Final Four, the start of the NBA & NHL Playoffs, and the return of Major League Baseball.
Clear out the crap on your DVR (look, we all know you’re not watching all of those Modern Family episodes) and get ready. The best month in TV history awaits.
And, of course, no spoilers (or reality TV) ahead.
Game Of Thrones – HBO
Season 5 Premiere: Sunday, April 12
I don’t know what else I can tell you about this show that Twitter and Facebook haven’t. It’s massive, it’s hugely successful, it’s hard to follow, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. I re-watched the entire series when I introduced the wife to it and found that I understood and followed along a lot more closely the second time through.
If you haven’t jumped on the banddragon at this point, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. It’s 10 episodes a season and you’ve missed only 40. Make like that wedding dance song says and get on it.
Daredevil – Netflix
Season 1 Available In Full: Friday, April 10
I’m really interested in this show for a few reasons. The first is that like 94% of the world, I love the Marvel movies and nearly everything they do entertainment-wise these days turns to gold-plated gold. While their success on the big screen is unparalleled, they took their time taking over broadcast TV and have benefited from decent hits with Agents Of Shield and the short-run Agent Carter, neither of which I watch. I gotta sleep sometime, you know.
Potentially taking over the Internet TV block is the second reason I’m intrigued. When Marvel announced their big deal with Netflix last year that included five original series meant to carve out their portion of the Marvel Universe with mid-level to marginal characters? That’s ballsy, but brilliant. With Netflix, the shows can be edgier and take advantage of the binge watch phenomenon that has overtaken us all. They don’t have to be great; they have to be buzzworthy and just good enough.
They picked a good character to launch the project with, but there’s not a lot of pressure on them to hit it big. If this doesn’t connect with the general audience, they can always reboot and start again. But if it works? Marvel found another avenue to dominate. Future thinking: who’s to say they couldn’t just start their own online network?
The Americans – FX
Season 3 Finale: Wednesday, April 22
For some reason, this show doesn’t get big ratings and I don’t understand why. It has intrigue, a cool soundtrack, a great decade as a backdrop, and a fresh premise: Soviet spies posing as American citizens during the height of the Cold War. Plus, it’s on one of the two best networks on TV. How can you not watch?
Thankfully, the show has been picked up for a fourth season, but I feel like yelling at you for not watching, especially if you enjoyed any classic HBO or FX drama. Put that Amazon Prime account to use and make this your new summer show. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Justified – FX
Series Finale: Tuesday, April 14
I still remember talking to one of my best friends back in 2010 about being really excited for this show based on the ads alone. Five years and 76 episodes later, that feeling never went away. In just two weeks, the Timothy Olyphant-driven crime in the country drama takes its last swig of moonshine and begins its legacy on the upper shelf of TV series that you recommend to friends looking for something new.
For newbies, the premise is based on an Elmore Leonard series of short stories centered around Raylen Givens (Olyphant), an outlaw U.S. Marshall who finds himself walking the line of the law in his home state of Kentucky. His foil: childhood friend Boyd Crowder (played by the amazing Walton Goggins of The Shield fame). What played out has been a classic cat-and-mouse game with a lot of detours, a lot of heartbreak, and incredible character building. You won’t forget the characters, but they will be missed when they tip their collective hat to the world in a few weeks.
Louie – FX
Season 5 Premiere: Thursday, April 9
How this show came to be is one of the most interesting TV related stories I have ever heard. Comedian Louis CK has full control and basically does everything on the show for a $300k budget per show. He writes, he produces, he directs, he stars, he even edits; it’s that simple. The result has been one of the most entertaining 30 minutes of weekly TV FX puts out there. Even though Louie is a comedian, the show isn’t a comedy by any stretch even though it has humorous parts.
Actually, it’s hard to describe what it is. FX President John Landgraft says the show is “extended vignettes” which is fairly accurate. Louie brings up important social issues without being too heavy handed, and there are plenty of ‘what the fuck is happening?’ moments, but it always leaves you thinking. We could use more of that these days.
Eight new episodes start this week.
Better Call Saul – AMC
Season 1 Finale: Monday, April 6
When this Breaking Bad spinoff was announced, there were a lot of questions about what exactly BCS would be. The answer: one of the best shows on TV. It has ties to the BB world without being beholden to constantly refer to it in order to justify its existence.
Even those who have never seen Breaking Bad would enjoy BSC, but that it shares some of the same DNA as the best show of all time thanks to Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Bob Odenkirk, and Jonathan Banks doesn’t hurt. Season 1 will wrap with just 10 episodes total, so you can catch up over a long weekend.
Last Week Tonight – HBO
Season 2 In Progress: Sundays
I didn’t see any of the first season and decided to give it a try for season 2. I’m glad I did. I have never been a big watcher of The Daily Show, so I had no idea who host John Oliver was. It turns out he’s a brilliant deliveryman of insightful social commentary that is enveloped in humor. It’s a must-watch every week, so much so that its main topic of the week gets millions of views on YouTube and gets mainstream coverage. Case in point: Jeff The Diseased Lung. That should tell you something: it’s a good fucking show.
Vice – HBO
Season 3 In Progress: Fridays
If you’re not familiar with Vice on HBO, it’s an aggressive, unrelenting, and arguably better version of 60 Minutes. From the media company of the same name, the 30-minute show focuses on two topics a week that will leave you wondering if they are actually documenting the end of the world.
Silicon Valley – HBO
Season 2 Premiere: Sunday, April 12
As I’ve worked for several startups — including a tech company that one day might go public — this one hit home for me. It’s a quick 30-minute comedy from Mike Judge (Beavis & Butthead, Office Space) that nails the California startup experience that everyone assumes it to be — right down to the cushy perks of the big conglomerate Hooli. It’s funny, light-hearted, and entertaining — perfect for the low attention span masses.
Best Bars In America – Esquire Network
Season 2 In Progress: Wednesdays
Yes, you probably have Esquire Network buried somewhere in the 700s or 800s on your cable box. If you’re into seeing two comedian friends (Jay Larson and Sean Patton) travel around the country and visit some of the best bars on Esquire’s Best Bars In America listing, you’ll love this show. I’m not a travel show guy, but it does provide some intriguing destinations in the case you visit any of the major cities they hit up in an episode. This is a great series to let fill up on the DVR and binge watch when you need something different.
Mad Men – AMC
Season 7, pt. 2: Sunday, April 5
For my money, Game Of Thrones and Mad Men provide a lethal jab/cross combo for great night Sunday TV. While it was somewhat annoying that AMC split the final season into two parts (Sunday’s premiere is technically episode 8), the final sonnet of Don Draper and co. lands on Sunday. I have no idea what to expect, but my guess is that it won’t be a cut to black ending like The Sopranos.
What I do expect: surprises, one high-profile death, crying, drinking, awkward adjusting to the times, a frustrating focus on Sally Draper, and at the end, a wish that we could keep living in the Sterling/Draper/Peggy universe for a while longer.
Enjoy the month, everyone.