Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Transparent returns just in time to make you reevaluate your 2015 best-of list

The Pfeffermans: Judith Light, Amy Landecker, Jeffrey Tambor, Gaby Hoffmann, Jay Duplass (Amazon)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Friday, December 11 and Saturday, December 12. All times are Eastern.

Top pick

Transparent (Amazon, 3:01 a.m., Friday): Maura and the Pfefferman clan return for a second season of this pretty-universally loved Amazon series about Jeffrey Tambor’s former Mort Pfefferman continuing to find herself in her true identity as Maura Pfefferman. The uniformly pitch-perfect cast, including Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Landecker, and Jay Duplass continue to support Tambor as ably as their variously confused but loving characters support Maura. We here at the A.V. Club are throwing not one, but two—count ’em, two—reviewers at the show to see how it explores Maura’s new life. Eric Thurm’s twice-weekly episodic reviews are joined by Shelby Fero’s all-new, patented A.V. Club binge-watching diary duty, taking on the whole season in one weekend.


Also noted

Grimm (NBC, 9 p.m., Friday): Nick and Hank investigate a series of anti-monster hate crimes when Wesen-owned businesses are trashed. Les Chappell suggests that the Grimm-universe version of Donald Trump is behind this—what with his Wesen-phobia and his having a giant, ignorant, hate-filled, red-eyed rat face not at all similar to the real Donald Trump. Nope, not… at… all.

NBC didn’t supply a Grimm monster picture of the week—but this lady’s probably spray-painting a picture of a monster

Please Like Me (Pivot, 10 p.m., Friday): Brandon Nowalk said last week’s dull episode was a rare misstep by this consistently wonderful Aussie series. He’s also smugly confident that this one-hour season finale will pull things together just fine, even as the gang’s Christmas holiday celebration incorporates a striking amount of vomit. It’s that sort of show.


The Knick (Cinemax, 10 p.m., Friday): We finally find out what brought Thack to The Knick. And Brandon Nowalk thinks that this sentence is in no way humorous, because he’s a grown up: “The problems between Edwards and Gallinger come to a head after a medical-board hearing about Gallinger’s vasectomies.” Get those giggles out now, people. This is science.


Neon Joe: Werewolf Hunter (Adult Swim, 11:59 p.m., Friday): It’s been a short, strange trip for professional werewolf hunter Neon Joe, as his five-episode journey comes to an end tonight. This Jon Glaser goof has been just as weird and funny as fans of Glaser’s signature brand of comic assholery have come to expect, so tune in for the thrilling-if-loopy finale, where Joe faces the powers behind all the werewolf shenanigans.

Everything’s gonna be alllll right

Ash Vs. Evil Dead (Starz, 9 p.m., Saturday): Ash and his sidekicks are in a tight spot, complicated by Lucy Lawless’ Ruby revealing her secret agenda in the middle of things. Luckily, Bruce Campbell’s Ash is at the ready with a would-be pithy rejoinder, a chainsaw arm, and, if we’re lucky, a little boomstick action, if you know what he’s talking about. Michael Roffman assures Ash that, yes, yes he gets it.

The Returned (Sundance, 10 p.m., Saturday): When one of the townspeople follows his formerly dead family back to the place where formerly dead people congregate, he’s faced with another of this haunting series’ enigmatic but probably heartbreaking surprises. Erik Adams continues to delve into the mysteries of the formerly dead.


Saturday Night Live (NBC, 11:30 p.m., Saturday): Professional god and whale-puncher Chris Hemsworth returns for his second hosting stint, bringing along Chance The Rapper for musical accompaniment. Dennis Perkins thought the big lug wouldn’t make it on SNL, but check this out… boom.

Elsewhere in TV Club

Look, we’re busy people here at the A.V. Club, and, frankly, there’s a lot of pop culture out there and it just keeps coming and coming and we’re doing our best, all right? Just get off our backs, man! Anyway, this week’s AVQ&A sees your favorite, overworked A.V. Clubbers listing the non-2015 books we finally got around to reading this year. Seriously—back off, you. Then, since the holiday’s a-barreling down on us like an icy, tinsel-trailing freight train, the gang at Film have some Christmas treats for you. First, Mike D’Angelo’s ongoing free film class Scenic Routes looks at the scene in Go where Timothy Olyphant wears no shirt and a Santa hat and is as unnerving as that sounds. Then, Randall Colburn admits another film into the New Christmas Canon with a review of the ‘rassler-rich Xmas slasher flick Santa’s Slay.


What else is on

The Ridiculous 6 (Netflix: 3:01 a.m., Friday): So many things have been written about this Adam Sandler western comedy starring his usual gang of co-conspirators and a lot of hastily replaced Native American extras. Well, here’s your chance to finally find out for yourself if this first film in the Netflix-exclusive Sandler era is as bad as its press. Or, you know, worse. (Update: Jesse Hassenger pronounces it “not as bad as it looks, but it’s still an Adam Sandler movie.” So, you know—poster quote there for you, Netflix!)


Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot (Lifetime, 6 p.m., Friday): Sure, it’s being shown on Lifetime, but this adaptation of the Dahl story about an old man who falls for his widowed neighbor (a tortoise enthusiast) does star Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench. So that classes the joint up a little.

Tumble Leaf (Amazon, 3:01 a.m., Friday): The second season premiere of this Amazon original kids series begins! Wake up the kids at 3:01 a.m.! There’s a fox… and a caterpillar… look, kids love those things, all right?


The 84th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade (CW, 8 p.m., Friday): While it seems odd that Penn and Teller are the grand marshals, the rest of the guests (Erik Estrada, Laura McKenzie, Dean Cain and Montel Williams) make a lot more sense.

The Amazing Race (CBS, 8 p.m., Friday): After trampling all over the sacred sites of India, Zimbabwe, and the like, the contestants can finally see the finish line in this season finale… in Long Island? That’s gotta be a letdown.


MasterChef Junior (Fox, 8 p.m., Friday): The kids are tasked with making raspberry-mint lemonade, at which they scoff, “Sure, lemonade. Super-challenging, Ramsay. We’ll just be out front making a comically misspelled sign to sell it on the sidewalk. Pfft—call us when you’ve got a bombe glacée you need drizzled. Pass.”

Last Man Standing (ABC, 8 p.m., Friday): Tim Allen shuts his latest sitcom down for the winter, delegating stressful holiday tasks to the family in order to keep wife Nancy Travis’ head from popping right off her shoulders.


Undateable (NBC, 8 p.m., Friday): After months of doing the show live, the cast of this sitcom finally get a chance to kick back for the winter and dream of a time when they can do retakes again.

Unforgettable (A&E, 8 p.m., Friday): A deli employee is killed, and Poppy Montgomery’s detective who never forgets anything shakes her head sadly, thinking, “If only he could have remembered that the murderer ordered a hot pastrami on rye with spicy mustard and a kosher dill and a Mr. Pibb with no ice instead of a hot pastrami on rye with yellow mustard and a kosher dill and a Mr. Pibb with no ice. He’d probably still be alive today—which is December 11th, 2015, in case any was wondering. [Puts on shades.] I don’t forget stuff.”

Truth Be Told (NBC, 8:30 p.m., Friday): One chatty asshole complains about a neighbor’s dog, while the other chatty asshole contemplates getting a dog. It’s a whole chatty asshole-dog thing.


Dr. Ken (ABC, 8:30 p.m., Friday): Allison’s all amped up for a romantic vacation in Hawaii, but Ken forgot to get the time off from work! Gah! Ken! Anyway, it’s okay—as ever, Ken’s sure to approach this dilemma with his signature cool, rational competence.

Jermaine Fowler: Give’em Hell Kid (Showtime, 9 p.m., Friday): Get in on the ground floor before funnyman Fowler’s upcoming sitcom (on CBS, but still), with his new standup special.


Hawaii Five-O (CBS, 9 p.m., Friday): When an up-and-coming young boxer’s brother is murdered, suspicion falls on a rival boxer from… the mainland! Remember: you can’t spell “guilty” without “contiguous.” Well, you can, but mainlanders are not to be trusted.

Aloha (Starz, 9 p.m., Friday): Case in point—Cameron Crowe? Mainlander. Makes mediocre rom-com starring mainlander white lady Emma Stone as a half-Hawaiian lady named [sigh] Allison Ng. Never trust a mainlander.


Shark Tank (ABC, 9 p.m., Friday): It’s time for seasonally appropriate invention ideas! And we know what you’re thinking—yes, there will be a pitch for whimsical holiday hats. Be at peace.

Blue Bloods (CBS, 10 p.m., Friday): Your stepdad’s favorite cop show takes on the issue of flag-burning in what’s sure to be a nuanced and thoughtful manner. Let’s see what Tom Selleck has to say on the issue:

Looks like he’s open to it

Satisfaction (USA, 10 p.m., Friday): “Neil helps Simon solve a family mystery; and Adriana and Grace join forces to outwit a common foe.” (Addendum from USA: “Oh, plus, did we mention that they’re all escorts and swingers, and swinging, sex-having escort types? We really should lead with that—please watch Satisfaction and remember about the sex-having. We’re USA.”)

Z Nation (Syfy, 10 p.m., Friday): In his For Our Consideration piece last week, Alex McCown ably made the seemingly improbable case that this zombie series is, in fact, the equal (or better) of that zombie series. So, spurred on by Alex, let us watch this week’s episode, where the survivors all take a look back at the first day of the zombie apocalypse when they were all much more naive and showered.

Gina Gershon seems a lot happier now, honestly

Da Vinci’s Demons (Starz, 8 p.m., Saturday): The Labyrinth ambushes Leo. Luckily, Leo(nardo) invented a Labyrinth-escaping machine just the day before. That’s what you get for targeting an inventor, Labyrinth dumbasses. Jesus.


Becoming Santa (Lifetime, 8 p.m., Saturday): A woman brings her new boyfriend home to meet her parents… who live at the North Pole. Yep. It’s Santa and Mrs. Claus. Oh, and they’re played by former Family Ties marrieds Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter. And the woman’s ex-boyfriend is Frosty. No one here is making any of this up, in case you were wondering.

On The Twelfth Day Of Christmas (Hallmark, 8 p.m., Saturday): The Lifetime-Hallmark Christmas movie wars, Hallmark brings a knife to a gun fight. Seriously—Lifetime has Steven and Elyse Keaton as the Clauses and a jealous Frosty the Snowman ex-boyfriend, and you’ve got, what? A lady trying to reawaken her crush’s love of Christmas with 12 days of little presents? Sure. Step your game up, Hallmark—Lifetime’s stomping your ass. Jesus.


Heisman Trophy Presentation (ESPN, 8 p.m., Saturday): Tune in to see which college football star will win the trophy guaranteeing NFL success fully 30 per cent of the time!

30 For 30: Four Falls Of Buffalo (ESPN, 9:30 p.m., Saturday): What’s worse, not getting to the Super Bowl or going to four straight Super Bowls and losing—often in heartbreaking fashion—each and every time? It’s like someone was playing Would You Rather back in the late ’80s and answered the latter and a genie popped up and, his eyes glowing red, intoned a menacing, “As you wish.”


Survivorman (Discovery Science, 10 p.m., Saturday): Survivorman decides to stop screwing around and plops himself down on a deserted island off the coast of Tonga.

Spotless (Esquire, 10 p.m., Saturday): One of the crime scene cleaners draws the line, saying, “Nope—not cleaning any more crime scenes.” Which is a problem for the crime scene cleaners, as they have been forced to clean up the crime scenes of the people who actually are causing the crimes and who would like their crime scenes cleaned up very much, indeed.


And now… sport

NBA Basketball: Heat At Pacers (ESPN, 7 p.m., Friday)

NCAA Division I Football Tournament: Charleston Southern at Jacksonville State (ESPN2, 8 p.m., Friday)


NBA Basketball: Lakers At Spurs (ESPN, 9:30 p.m., Friday)

NCAA Division I Football Tournament: Northern Iowa at North Dakota State (ESPN, noon, Saturday)


College Football: Army Vs. Navy (CBS, 3 p.m., Saturday)

College Basketball: Arizona State at Kentucky (ESPN, 3:15 p.m., Saturday)

In case you missed it

The Vampire Diaries: Carrie Raisler, watching this series’ fall finale: “Okay, c’mon, Vampire Diaries, let’s finish strong! Time to redeem this season with a big, ol’ Hail Mary touchdown of a… [watching, watching]. Well, nuts.”


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