Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, January 13, and Saturday, January 14. All times are Eastern.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Author Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) and producing partner Barry Sonnenfeld weren’t all too pleased with the 2004 Jim Carrey-led film version of Handler’s series of not-quite children’s books, so they signed a nigh-unrecognizable Neil Patrick Harris as the villainous Count Olaf and are taking another whack at it. (Patrick Warburton is on hand, too, narrating as Snicket throughout.) The tale of a trio of orphans constantly imperiled by their equal parts evil and inept uncle, this eight-episode first season promises to keep the books’ literate dark-comedy conveyor belt of cruelty rolling, especially since (in his interview with The A.V. Club’s Esther Zuckerman) Harris compares his version of the loathsome Olaf to one Wile E. Coyote. In his pre-air review, our own Erik Adams said of the series, “It treats mature themes like grief, loss, and disappointment with sardonic honesty, but that’s a world-weariness beyond the show’s reading level.”
Clinical (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): In this Netflix premiere film, Vinessa Shaw plays a shrink who’s understandably jittery after being attacked by a patient. She seeks to put all that behind her by treating another unstable patient. Strangely, it appears that he may have some regrettable “attack your therapist” tendencies as well.
Divisional Playoff Football: Seattle at Atlanta (Fox, 4:35 p.m., Saturday) and Houston at New England (CBS, 8:15 p.m., Saturday): At this point in the season, if you don’t know whether or not you are, in fact, ready for some football, you should probably assume you are not.
Austin City Limits (PBS, 11 p.m., Saturday): It’s Cyndi Lauper, people.
Premieres and finales
Sneaky Pete (Amazon, 3:01 a.m., Friday): In this Amazon series, ex-con Giovanni Ribisi takes on the identity of his cellmate in order to hide out from the vicious gangster (Bryan Cranston, coming back to series TV) out to kill him. Complicating matters, the cellmate’s estranged grandparents (Peter Gerety and character actor Margo Martindale) appear to have secrets of their own, while Ribisi finds himself inconveniently drawn to his supposed long-lost cousin (Marin Ireland). Part caper, part crime comedy, Sneaky Pete is getting great buzz for its cleverly shifting tone and the work of always-interesting Ribisi, Martindale, and Cranston (sinking his choppers into another, very different crime lord).
The Investigator: A British Crime Story (Netflix, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Netflix picks up this British true crime miniseries about investigator Mark Williams-Thomas looking into the 1985 disappearance of Carole Packman, whose husband was eventually convicted of her murder, despite her body never being found. Not surprisingly—since this is a Making A Murderer-esque crime series—Williams-Thomas starts uncovering a whole nest of unsavory details that throw the official story of this supposedly closed murder case into question.
The Wheel (Discovery, 10 p.m., Friday): In the premiere of this reality survival series, six ordinary people are randomly dropped into different (but equally challenging) South American landscapes. Spoiler: They are all currently very cold and itchy.
The Vampire Diaries (CW, 8 p.m., Friday)
Grimm (NBC, 8 p.m., Friday)
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW, 9 p.m., Friday)
Star Wars Rebels (Disney XD, 8:30 p.m., Saturday)
Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m., Saturday)
Dead Set (Netflix): Look, nobody’s saying that the isolated contestants of The Wheel are going to find themselves cut off in their wilderness isolation by the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, but, as this 2008 British miniseries showed, that would make for some pretty cool satirical TV. Created by Black Mirror’s Charlie Brooker, this combination parody of reality shows/legit zombie horror series showed that his—let’s call them “complicated”—feelings about mass media stretch back a long way.