Sure, Sunday tends to be overcrowded with high-end TV, including “Downton Abbey,” “Shameless,” “Girls,” Californication,” “Enlightened” and more, but what to watch the rest of the time? Every Monday, we bring you five noteworthy highlights from the other six days of the week.
Take yourself back, back to 1984, when Sarah Jessica Parker was a young actress known for her role in “Square Pegs,” high waisted jeans were in style for the first time and Candace Bushnell was still a decade away from starting a New York Observer column about dating in New York called “Sex and the City.” The CW’s SatC prequel series will a lot less “S”-filled than the HBO one that inspired it, since it follows a 16-year-old Carrie Bradshaw (AnnaSophia Robb) who’s living in Connecticut and starts an internship in Manhattan, where she falls in love with the city. The pilot episode’s directed by Miguel Arteta (“Chuck & Buck,” “Cedar Rapids”) and the cast includes Stefania Owen, Ellen Wong, Katie Findlay and Freema Agyeman.
PBS’ doc series “Independent Lens” examines the part a soul food diet plays in African-American identity as well as its health ramifications in this film from Byron Hurt that looks at the good and bad side of a cultural cuisine. “Soul Food Junkies” looks at the intersection of race, culture, food and class, as well as the emerging food justice movement urging communities toward healthier variations of traditional recipes.
“Kroll Show”: Series Premiere
Wednesday, January 16 at 10:30pm on Comedy Central
While it’s a little uneven, this new sketch series from Nick Kroll (“The League”) is also memorably weird and, when it works, very funny. Kroll threads together characters from his stand-up work, including Fabrice Fabrice and Bobby Bottleservice, as well as skewerings of reality TV and other oddities. But the show’s most successful sketch is a dead-on take on progressive Canadian teen dramas called “Wheels, Ontario” that’s a must for any once or current “Degrassi” fan.
FX’s scabrously amusing animated spy series/workplace comedy about the day-to-day adventures of the International Secret Intelligence Service returns for a new season with an episode in which dickish master spy Sterling Archer (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) develops amnesia and decides the only cure is — what else? — a spa weekend. The episode was written by series creator Adam Reed and features the voices of regulars Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Chris Parnell and others. Following “Archer” at 10:30 is the premiere of “Legit,” a new scripted comedy co-created by and starring Aussie stand-up Jim Jefferies as a comedian struggling to make it in L.A., and new episodes of “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell” at 11.
“Fringe”: Series Finale
Friday, January 18 at 8pm on Fox
J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s FBI/alternate universes/crazy science series “Fringe” comes to an end with two-hour finale “Liberty/An Enemy of Fate,” which closes out five season and 100 episodes. The blowout conclusion for the mythology-heavy show finds Peter (Joshua Jackson), Olivia (Anna Torv), Walter (John Noble), Astrid (Jasika Nicole) and Broyles (Lance Reddick) facing off against the Observers in one last battle for the fate of mankind. The finale was written and directed by showrunner J. H. Wyman.
Also worth a look: Oliver Stone’s “Untold History of the United States” ends its 10-episode season on Showtime with “Bush & Obama – Age of Terror,” airing Monday, January 14th at 8pm; Kevin Hart spoofs the “Real Housewives” with “Real Husbands of Hollywood” on BET on Tuesday, January 15th at 10pm; Rob Lowe slums it to play prosecutor Jeff Ashton in Lifetime Original Movie “Prosecuting Casey Anthony” on Saturday, January 19th at 8pm; season three of the Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant/Karl Pilkington travel series “An Idiot Abroad” finds the titular Pilkington sent off on more international adventures, this time in the company of “Life’s Too Short” star Warwick Davis,” on Science Channel on Saturday, January 19th at 9pm; and BBC America gives the vintage procedural another shot with Victorian crime miniseries “Ripper Street” on Saturday, January 19th at 9pm.