The big thing this week is the return of Doctor Who for its eighth season since being revived back in 2005. BBC America is building momentum by running marathons of the show’s recent seasons every day this week (check their website for exact times). Elsewhere, Netflix’s first animated original series for grownups premieres Friday, but otherwise it’s a typically quiet late-August TV week.
Monday, August 18
Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart (9-10:45 pm, HBO)
Those of you under 30 or so may not be familiar with the Pamela Smart case, one of the more notorious crimes in New England history. In 1990 Smart, a New Hampshire high school media teacher, enlisted her teenage lover (who was also one of her students) to kill her husband; her trial was the first court case televised from start to finish, and she was ultimately convicted and sentenced to life without parole. Captivated examines the case and how the publicity surrounding the trial may have influenced its outcome.
Tuesday, August 19
Half Baked (8-9:45 pm, IFC)
The 1998 stoner comedy starring Dave Chappelle, Jim Breuer, Guillermo Diaz, and Clarence Williams III is this week’s choice for Movie You Don’t Need an Excuse to Watch Again. And for those of you with inexplicably clouded minds who just can’t seem to remember what time things start, or how to set your DVR to record something, it’s on again right afterward.
Also tonight: as I mentioned last week, the season two premiere of A Young Doctor’s Notebook and Other Stories (10-11 pm, Ovation).
Wednesday, August 20
Monster (9:35-11:30 pm, Sundance)
Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos.
Thursday, August 21
The Simpsons Marathon (10 am onward, FXX)
There must be at least a few thousand people in the USA who have not seen the earlier seasons of The Simpsons, and now that FXX has exclusive syndication rights to the entire series, those people can watch from the beginning if they so choose. To celebrate FXX is running a sequential marathon of all 552 episodes plus the 2007 movie, starting today at 10 am and continuing through September 1st. Plan accordingly.
Friday, August 22
BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
Netflix is taking a swing at an Adult Swim-type animated show for adults, about a talking horse (voiced by Will Arnett) who was formerly the star of a beloved ‘90s sitcom but now is a grumpy has-been. From the teasers and previews this thing looks pretty funny, so I’m hopeful it turns out to be so. Other actors lending their voices include Aaron Paul, Amy Sedaris, Paul F. Tompkins, and Alison Brie.
Saturday, August 23
Doctor Who (8:15-10 pm, BBC America)
Peter Capaldi steps into the role as the Doctor, and Jenna Coleman is Companion Clara Oswald. Chris Hardwick hosts a 15-minute live preshow at 8 and a live aftershow at 11, because apparently it’s required by law that he host all genre-show adjunct programming, or something.
Also tonight: BBCA is using Saturday’s premiere of Doctor Who to launch the new series Intruders (10-11 pm). The eight-episode supernatural story has something to do with a secret society of people seeking immortality. The trailers are suitably mysterious and more than a little creepy. Based on a book by Michael Marshall, the show is helmed by James Wong, who was a producer and writer on The X-Files.
Sunday, August 24
Someone looked at the period-set British hospital soap opera Call the Midwife, decided it didn’t have enough going on, and crafted a similar show with a mystery grafted onto it; the result is Breathless, a three-part series that begins tonight. Which is not to say it won’t be entertaining or worth watching, just maybe a little… busy.
Arrow (2012- )
Every TV season, there’s typically one show that I decide not to watch that turns out to be much better than anticipated, and I regret not getting on board with it at the beginning. Sometimes this persists for years; I didn’t start watching The Good Wife until the summer between seasons three and four. Thanks to our modern entertainment landscape, most current shows are available to consume either on DVDs, as downloads, or via streaming services.
The mistake I’m making up for this summer is Arrow, which many people have described as a better comic-book superhero show than Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So I’m going to find out; season one is streaming on Netflix, while season two is currently only available on discs, though I suspect it will be added to the streaming catalog at some point before season three premieres on October 8th.
(Note: this information is accurate as of publication time, but programming is subject to change at the discretion of channels and networks. All times listed are Eastern time.)