1. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” Season 2 (available April 15)
Why Should I Watch It? Um…do you live under a rock? Are you in a coma? Were you kidnapped by a bearded, reality show-loving Jon Hamm who kept you in an underground bunker for 15 years? These and few others are valid excuses for not watching “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” Season 1, and thus not knowing why you need to be primed and ready when Season 2 hits in mid-April. This is Tina Fey, people! You do not pass up Tina Fey!
Best Episode: We haven’t seen all of the new season, but we can say the premiere does not disappoint. Season 1 wrapped up quite a bit with Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne earning his just comeuppance, but we were left wondering what’s next for Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), why Titus (Tituss Burgess) has been hiding a secret wife and what Jacqueline (Jane Krakowski) will get up to with her newfound pride in her heritage. All three get some solid answers right away, but if pressed to choose our favorite aspect of the new season, it’s definitely Fred Armisen as a certain notorious documentary subjectt.
2. “Special Correspondents” (available April 29)
Why Should I Watch It? Well, this one really is a matter of taste. Few comedians have become as divisive as Ricky Gervais without a) starring in a major sitcom, or b) doing something truly off color, off screen. But “The Office” creator’s Golden Globes gigs have rubbed half of Hollywood’s A-listers the wrong way, all while rubbing the other half’s funny bone. So really, instead of basing your decision on whether or not you like Gervais, you should probably decide whether or not you like his films. Oh, did I not mention that? This is a film, not a TV show. The reason it’s being mentioned here is because it’s likely to be an Emmys contender for TV Movie come July, so it falls very much in the TV wheelhouse. Anyway, back to Gervais’ films: If you liked “Ghost Town” or “The Invention of Lying,” perhaps give this action comedy about two journalists who lie about reporting abroad a chance. Otherwise, you might be able to scoot by without this one. (For the record, I’m a fan of both.)
Best Episode: Hopefully the whole thing. Again, it is a movie. I’m kinda cheating here.
3. “The Ranch” (available April 1)
Why Should I Watch It? “The Ranch” is targeted at a very specific demographic of Netflix viewers: those who don’t believe in global warming, those who do find jokes about effeminate UGGs funny, and/or those who really, really, really love Sam Elliott. If you don’t fall into one of those categories, it’s probably best you steer clear.
Best Episode: I haven’t gotten past the pilot yet, but I will give “The Ranch” credit for one very specific attribute: It knows how to balance outlandish, laugh-track supported sitcom jokes with bone-chilling moments of father-son fights. It may not be an outright success overall, but the tone of the series is hard to pin down. While definitely a comedy, the opening episode knows when to let a dramatic line linger, as well as just when to interject with the mandatory one-liner. Most of those one-liners aren’t great, but “The Ranch” isn’t ready to skimp on the human side of its story.
4. “Bob’s Burgers” Season 5 (available April 1)
Why Should I Watch It? Oh, we’re ready for this one! Written just over two years ago, these five reasons should convince you to visit “Bob’s Burgers” if you’re not already a regular patron.
Best Episode: As much as I want to choose “Tina, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” for the title alone, I’ve got to go with “Eat, Spray, Linda” here. The best episodes of “Bob’s Burgers” find an equal balance between adult and children’s activities, or they bring everyone together — as is done here. When Bob needs more time to plan his wife’s birthday surprise, he sends her out of the house under false pretenses. The only problem: Linda wanders too far, and the kids and Bob have to find her before her special day is over (and their surprise is ruined). It’s a rather simple conceit, but the touching memories Linda shares with her kids — as well as Bob’s discovery of them — makes “Eat, Spray, Linda” one of the most memorable, moving and witty episodes of the series.
5. “TURN: Washington’s Spies” Season 2 (available April 11)
Why Should I Watch It? Does anybody watch “Turn”? I mean, I know people have watched “Turn,” and I can only assume it has a somewhat loyal following who tune in week-to-week, since it’s been renewed a few times. But I don’t know anyone who watches it, which is a minor shame, because it’s not bad. No, it doesn’t quite ascend to the heights of other AMC dramas like “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” or “Better Call Saul,” nor is it as addictive as “The Walking Dead,” but it makes for an entertaining hour or two of television. And hey, those period outfits are still pretty damn sharp.
Best Episode: “Hard Boiled,” the second episode of the second season, set an early peak for a fairly consistent year of colonial spying. Abe (Jamie Bell) gets a little too self-assured after successfully hoodwinking Major Hewlett (Burn Gorman) into thinking he’s a double agent, but the real story is with John Andre and his questionable pursuit of turning Benedict Arnold. This and the introduction of Peggy Shippen prove key plot points for the coming episodes, and set up the unavoidable conflict between Abe and Andre — hopefully with the former a bit wiser before it happens.
6. “Kong: King of the Apes” Seasons 1(available April 15)
Why Should I Watch It? Elvis v. The Beatles. Red Sox v. Yankees. Batman v. Superman. Godzilla v. King Kong. There are right answers for all of these classic dividers of loyalty, and they’re all the former — except for King Freaking Kong, the actual king of all beasts and a far better character (and film) than anything starring a mutant lizard. Okay, okay. I’ll be honest. I’m a nut for gorillas. I have been since I was a little kid and adopted an African Gorilla by the name of Kiki. Of course, I didn’t actually adopt one — that was just the dream — but my love for silverbacks and their knuckle-walking sisters is eternal. So yeah, I’m kind of excited to see a new, animated series with a giant gorilla at its core. Sue me for being a kid at heart.
Best Episode: What’s interesting about the new Netflix kids’ series is that it’s being split up into Episode 1 — which is basically a feature film — and shorter episodes of a more traditional length for No. 2 – 13. Here’s the full blown synopsis of the film, with commentary by yours truly injected within, because it just sounds so great:
7. “How to Get Away With Murder” Season 2 (available April 16)
Why Should I Watch It? Guys, don’t watch this! I can’t stress this enough. Okay, it’s not like a full-on “Fuller House”-style, “Sound the alarm!” warning, but by all means do not give into the temptation presented by Viola Davis. Yes, Viola Davis is absolutely incredible, but Viola Davis is always absolutely incredible. You could literally watch anything else she’s done — including, in decreasing order of overall quality but with consistent quality from Queen Davis: “Prisoners,” “Doubt,” “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her AND Him,” “Lila and Eve,” “Won’t Back Down,” “Blackhat,” “The Help,” “Get on Up,” “Knight and Day,” “Eat, Pray, Love,” and the freaking “Suicide Squad” trailer — and get your fix of Davis without stooping so low as to entertain this preposterous, nonsensical and otherwise utterly talentless debacle. Well, maybe not “utterly” talentless…
Best Episode: …because Cicely Tyson is in this, too! God, how did “HTGAWM” end up with two such find actors and then nothing but duds elsewhere? I don’t know which episode Ms. Tyson is in more, “There’s My Baby” or “Anna Mae,” but that’s the one to watch if you absolutely must indulge this series.
The Rest of Incoming TV
“TURN: Washington’s Spies” Season 2 (available April 11)
“Cuckoo” Season 3 (available April 15)
“Lost Girl” Season 5 (available April 17)
“The Messengers” Season 1 (available April 17)
“The Fosters” Season 3 (available April 27)