Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Call your mom, tell her you love her—and that she should watch Family Tree

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, May 12. All times are Eastern.


Family Tree (HBO, 10:30 p.m.): It’s Mother’s Day, and Christopher Guest would like you to cap off the holiday by getting in touch with your roots—or at least Chris O’Dowd’s roots, as the case of Family Tree may be. Erik Adams checks in on the première of the first TV series from the master of what he doesn’t want us to call a “mockumentary.” Welp, now we’ve done it—no turning back.



Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8 p.m.): It is Mother’s Day weekend, which means your What’s On Tonight? correspondent is writing this from a car headed in the direction of his own mother—a life-long Peter Pan fan who’s probably excited that Once Upon A Time is giving her the gift of a second-season finale is titled “And Straight On ’Til Morning.” Oliver Sava’s gift to himself is not having to review Once Upon A Time next week.

Survivor (CBS, 8 p.m.): The 26th (!) season concludes on a special night and time—with a special TV Club correspondent Scott Von Doviak, because we’re not making Carrie Raisler watch and review this and a double shot of Revenge. Judging by the scenery that’s around us right now, CBS would do well to switch things up for season 27 by stranding the castaways in Northwest Indiana. They have dunes here!

The Simpsons (Fox, 8 p.m.): “The Fabulous Faker Boy” begs us to dream up a plot synopsis for this one, because this blasted rental car doesn’t have Wi-Fi—and we can’t stay next to a Megabus long enough to leech a connection. How about “It turns out the Bart we’ve known for all these years isn’t Bart at all, but an impostor who took his place after the Vietnam War.” Cue Robert David Sullivan: “Simpsons did it!”


Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 8:30 p.m.): If you haven’t been watching the best animated comedy of the 2012-13 season then you’re a fool—a fool we say! Like this Civic that’s driving up the tailpipe of another Honda a few cars ahead of us right now. May Pilot Viruet have mercy on all your souls!

Revenge (ABC, 9 p.m.): In the time it’ll take the person writing this sentence to reach southeastern Michigan, Carrie Raisler probably couldn’t watch the entire Revenge finale. Season two’s been bad enough—does the show need a two-hour conclusion to really rub it in?


Game Of Thrones (HBO, 9 p.m.): Aspiring restauranteurs along the I-94 corridor could do much worse than to name their establishment for tonight’s Game Of Thrones installment, “The Bear And The Maiden Fair.” It’ll be quite the competition for Todd VanDerWerff and David Sims’ roadside eatery, Experts And Newbies.

Family Guy (Fox, 9 p.m.): We could write something about Peter learning to farm here, but we just passed a low-riding motorcycle, painted in an Evel Knievel style and mounted atop a semi trailer—and we think Seth MacFarlane would prefer us to be distracted by that (and possibly make a Convoy joke). Kevin McFarland, however, is disappointed that that wasn’t a plaster yeti in the same yard as the bike.


American Dad (Fox, 9:30 p.m.): We interrupt this account of the scenery near the Michigan City exit to note the huge American Dad development in which Klaus is reunited with his human body. And some day soon, Kevin McFarland’s going to find the fish that stole his original form.

Mad Men (AMC, 10 p.m.): We don’t care what that article says—the billboards along this highway could really use the Don Draper touch. (Don’t just let the information about an upcoming Huey Lewis And The News show lie there, Four Winds Casino!) Or the Draper-Chaough touch, which is almost certainly a constantly bickering, anti-Midas thing, and Todd VanDerWerff can’t wait to watch the collapse of the house of cards built in last week’s episode.


Veep (HBO, 10 p.m.): Diplomatic relations with Finland factor into tonight’s episode, presumably—but what of the humble folk of New Buffalo Township, Michigan, Madame Vice President? At the very least, Robert David Sullivan wants to know what the Meyer administration could’ve done to keep the O’Brien Inn’s restaurant in the black. They can only boast of their indoor pool now, Selina!

The Borgias (Showtime, 10 p.m.): Roma Pizzeria. That’s a sign we just saw, so we can only assume that Les Chappell and his Borgias buddies are using roadside advertising to give us a thumbs up for this gag.



Farscape (11 a.m.): It’s long stretches of anonymous highway like this that inspire twisty, inventive sci-fi series like Farscape. Right now, we’re imagining the 18-wheelers surrounding us as intergalactic blockade runners, and if this Space Road Truckers idea ever gets anywhere, Alasdair Wilkins is the man to tackle the first draft.


The Simpsons (3 p.m.): Todd VanDerWerff comes to the end of the fifth season, with a look at “Secrets Of A Successful… Wait, did that billboard just say “Chocolate Garden”? Mmm—chocolate foliage.


XOX Betsey Johnson (Style, 8 p.m.): You know, they say in Michigan that there are only two seasons: Winter and construction. (Yuk yuk yuk.) Perhaps punked-out fashion maven Bestey Johsnon can devote an episode of her new show to advising us on what one wears during construction season. (A bright pink hard hat sprinkled liberally with glitter, probably.)


Great Bear Stakeout (Discovery, 9 p.m.): No need to make this show contort itself into this road-trip gag: Judging by title alone, it’s perfect just the way it is.

10 Buildings That Changed America (PBS, 10 p.m.): Probably absent from this series’ list of nation-making structures: Henderson Castle, located in Kalamazoo border and beckoning to all travelers by its very nature of being a goddamn castle in Kalamazoo. (Let it never be said the Midwest isn’t magic. It is.)


Breaking Amish (TLC, 10 p.m.): Did TLC ever think of advertising for this show with one of those road signs that warns of carriage crossings? (“Brake for Amish,” “Braking Amish”—same difference, right?) Because those signs are definitely more entertaining than this show.

Coming To America (Comedy Central, 6:30 p.m.): Someday, when far-flung relations travel to us, we’ll regale them with stories of how you used to be able to turn on something called “Comedy Central” and watch Coming To America practically whenever you wanted! (The story will end abruptly when the gathering is broken up by a RoboEnforcer squad, seeking to prevent any humans from “celebrating” and/or “enjoying one another’s company.”)


Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (ABC Family, 7:30 p.m.): This is definitely one of the better entries in the Harry Potter film franchise, but any movie starring about a boy wizard orphaned as an infant feels like an exceedingly poor viewing choice for Mother’s Day. Better option for fantastical adventures with maternal themes: Aliens.

MLB Baseball: Angels at White Sox (ESPN, 8 p.m.): And suddenly our WOT? travelogue doubles back on itself, traveling to the former Comiskey Park for an American League matchup under the light-up pinwheels.



Smash: With Smash’s fate finally being handed down on Friday, it’s only fitting that the antepenultimate episode of Smash revolves around a “tribute night.” Todd VanDerWerff is currently busy prepping his own memorial for Frank Fisticuffs.


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