Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Operation Varsity Blues unpacks the college admissions scandal, and Syfy expands its animated comedy block

Matthew Modine (right) in Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal
Matthew Modine (right) in Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal
Image: Netflix

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Wednesday, March 17. All times are Eastern.

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Top picks

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admission Scandal (Netflix, 3:01 a.m.): “Chris Smith’s Netflix documentary Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal re-frames the story in unexpected ways. While it doesn’t let the Huffmans and the Loughlins of this whole sordid saga off the hook, the movie does suggest there’s more to be upset about here than just the coddling of some undeserving rich kids.” Read Noel Murray’s full review of the documentary.

The Pole (Syfy, 11:16 p.m., season premiere): The new Syfy animated comedy The Pole takes us smack dab into the middle of Santa Claus’ family drama. Santa (Bobby Moynihan)—or Santy, as he is lovingly called—gets pulled into a power struggle for his red suit by his sort of evil son, Jack (Timothy Simons), while battling an age-old moral dilemma of which kids are naughty or nice. His gift-giving priorities and other technological issues expose secrets and land him in hot water with the press, his employees, and his girlfriend, Helenor (Sasheer Zamata). Meanwhile, his wife, Gretchen (Jillian Bell), struggles to keep the machinations of the toy industry afloat. The voice cast is solid, adding nuance in their delivery even when the comedy isn’t strong. Simons is a standout, as is Colin Jost, who plays a penguin named Cocoa, a cunning morning talk show host. Created by Matthew Bass and Theodore Bressman, The Pole could benefit from tapping more into its unique setting, but at 10 to 12 minutes, the bite-sized episodes ensure that the show doesn’t go off the tracks with its concept, keeping the storylines tight and fun as it evolves. [Saloni Gajjar]

Regular coverage

Riverdale (The CW, 8 p.m.)

Wild cards

The Summoner (Syfy, 11:33 p.m., double-episode season premiere): If The Pole alone doesn’t sate your appetite for quirky comedies, Syfy is here to deliver more with The Summoner, which expands the cable channel’s late-night TZGZ animated series block. The show, which hails from cartoonist Charlie Hankin, includes only 10 three-minute episodes. It follows Rory, who is in his 20s and living on his own for the first time with a magical alien that can summon any object to his present location. The catch? The Summoner only calls up the most useless shit.

The Summoner
The Summoner
Image: Tyler Law/NBC Universal

Under Suspicion: Uncovering The Wesphael Case (Netflix, 3:01 a.m.): Produced by Georges Huercano, Pascal Vrebos, and Alain Brunard, this investigative docuseries follows the sensational story of Belgian politician Bernard Wesphael, accused of murdering his wife, Véronique Pirotton, who was found dead in a hotel room in 2013. Under Suspicion documents the mysterious circumstances of her death as well as Wesphael’s trial, featuring unseen footage from his interviews.