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

Venture Into The Badlands, where everybody is kung fu fighting

Daniel Wu (AMC)
Daniel Wu (AMC)

Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, November 15. All times are Eastern.

Top pick

Into The Badlands (AMC, 10 p.m.): Between gorgeous long shots of the New Mexico desert and endless hordes of zombies in various states of decay, AMC likes to produce shows with a distinct visual palette. Now they’re getting ready to crouch their tigers and hide their dragons with Into The Badlands, a martial arts series focused on the Barons and Clippers who control a feudal world by way of wire fu and weighty exposition. Vikram Murthi says in his pre-air review that while the fight scenes live up to expectations, the rest of the show around it does the opposite:

But in spite of the series’ poor structural and narrative choices, Into The Badlands’ fight scenes are stellar. Fight director Stephen Fung brings the series its only spark of life with devilish, elaborate sequences of blood and mayhem. When Sunny dispatches some of The Widow’s bandits outside Quinn’s fort, director David Dobkin (Shanghai Knights, Wedding Crashers) shoots the rain-soaked scene with an innate sense of rhythm, treating it more like dance and less like a battle. … In fact, every fight scene, even the more modest ones, stand out so much because of their direction and choreography. It’s frustrating to have to return to the dull plot when the combat inevitably ends. Though it’s absurd to ask a television series to only be fight sequences, Into The Badlands would be a much better series if it didn’t treat these moments like little pieces of candy within a plate of gruel.


David Kallison, undeterred by this warning, is sharpening his katana and revving up his motorcycle for weekly coverage.

Also noted (finale edition)

Master Of None (Netflix, 6 p.m.): Aziz Ansari’s auteur sitcom about relationships and growing up turned out to be one of the best new shows of this year (a phrase we’ve said a lot lately, which just proves what a great year for TV it’s been). Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya has been floored by the way the show has tackled everyday sexism, Hollywood’s race problem, and stories of immigration, and she’s not ready to be done with it yet. But done she is after today, as the season finale sees Dev trying to figure out if there’s such a thing as 100 percent certainty in work, love, or life.

Also noted

Bob’s Burgers (Fox, 7:30 p.m.): Perhaps it’s because Bob’s Burgers has been on the air so long they know various Fox scheduling mishaps can get in the way of their beloved holiday episodes, but this is now the third week in a row where we get the episode with at least a week until the actual holiday. We’ve got no complaints since we loved the Halloween and Thanksgiving episodes, and if they want to celebrate every week—Season Premiere Of Game Of Thrones Day perhaps?—they have our blessing. This week it’s an early Christmas miracle, as the Belcher kids get snubbed by a mall Santa and decide to organize a “musical extravaganza in hopes of securing slots on his Nice List.” You had Alasdair Wilkins at “musical extravaganza,” Bob’s Burgers.


Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8 p.m.): ABC breathes a sigh of relief as it has an excuse to not air Blood And Oil this week thanks to a two-hour block of OUAT. It’s special not only for its length but because it’s the return of Little Red Riding Hood (Meghan Ory) and Mulan (Jamie Chung) after an extended absence, and the two are joining forces with Meridia. Now that’s a Charlie’s Angels-style trio that Gwen Ihnat can endorse.

Flesh And Bone (Starz, 8 p.m.): Starz has already made every episode of this miniseries available online, so it’s possible many of you have already finished it, but we’re staunch traditionalists here at The A.V. Club and if an episode is airing on TV, that’s when we’re going to review it, damn it. Molly Eichel’s not telling us if she binged the whole thing behind our backs.


Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox, 8:30 p.m.): The crew of the Nine-Nine are getting reassigned to Tuesday nights after the midseason break, so there’s only a few weeks left to appreciate their wackiness on Sundays. And there’s bound to be lots of wackiness, as Charles damages one of Holt’s prized possessions (maybe his submarine?) and Terry teaches Rosa a lesson in discipline (Terry loves discipline). No matter where you go, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, LaToya Ferguson will follow you.

The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.): With the casting of a certain charismatic bat-wielding psychopath announced last week, the position of Rick Grimes and his band of survivors seems ever more uncertain. Zack Handlen, already weary from the combination of the Great (Doomed) Zombie Migration and the Schrödinger’s Glenn of the last few episodes, doesn’t know if he’s got the stomach for one more obstacle.


The Leftovers (HBO, 9 p.m.): Man, this show has been good this year, hasn’t it? We mean, it was good last season, but this season: Damn. This week, “Jill goes on an adventure that couldn’t happen anywhere else; and Laurie makes a decision that affects her whole family.” Given the praise Joshua Alston heaped on the women of The Leftovers in his review of “Lens” (wherein he also called it “a quantum leap of a second season… doing monster-truck wheelies over the competition), he wouldn’t be surprised at all if Margaret Qualley and Amy Brenneman manage to join Regina King and Carrie Coon in Best Actress conversations.

The Last Man On Earth (Fox, 9:30 p.m.): “The topic of re-population dominates the conversation among the survivors in Malibu.“ We tried having that conversation with Vikram Murthi and things got really awkward in a hurry. C’mon Vikram, your gift for comedy reviews can’t be allowed to die out in one generation!


The Good Wife (CBS, 9:30 p.m.): Michael J. Fox is back as the deliciously evil Louis Canning, who’s now involved in a case against an automotive executive represented by Lockhart, Agos and Lee that winds up drawing Alicia back in. Sorry Alicia, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is pretty sure Louis still hasn’t forgiven you for spurning his offer to be his legal partner.

The Affair (Showtime, 10 p.m.): “Alison confronts Noah about his revealing new book over Thanksgiving dinner.” Carrie Raisler doesn’t want to say that she told you so Noah, but titling your book I Had An Affair And Here’s All The Dirty Secrets That It Contained: The Noah Solloway Story should have tipped you off that some people might be a little peeved.


Regular coverage

Homeland (Showtime, 9 p.m.)

Quantico (ABC, 10 p.m.)

Classic coverage

The Simpsons (3 p.m.): We know we said that last week was Kyle Ryan’s review of “Simpson Tide,” but at that time we forgot that he was in Lubbock, Texas, hosing the stains off a monument. Yes, Kyle is also in the Naval Reserve—America’s 17th line of defense, between the Mississippi National Guard and the League of Women Voters—and that was the one weekend a month he had to work. (And most of that time, he was drunk off his ass.) Consequently, you can look forward to his review later today.


Tomorrow in TV Club

Amazon’s highly anticipated new original series The Man In The High Castle premieres on Friday, and Alex McCown has his thoughts on the first few episodes ready in a TV Review. (He wanted to convey them by way of a mysterious film reel but we told him that was too much.) On the animation side of the tracks, Oliver Sava follows everyone’s favorite red-sucking axe-grinding vampire Marceline on her journeys through Ooo with a review of the new Adventure Time miniseries, Stakes.


What else is on?

The Librarians (TNT, 8 p.m.): “Students begin vanishing at a university founded by a mad historian who believed in alternate dimensions.” Is that really so outlandish a thing for a college professor believe? On The Flash, it seems like half of the university’s faculty are tenured on that track.


Madam Secretary (CBS, 8:30 p.m.): Because fictional presidents are always more successful than real-life presidents, Keith Carradine’s President Dalton is making big strides to lifting the Cuban trade embargo. You have no idea how badly he wants some of those cigars.

Agent X (TNT, 9 p.m.): This slipped our radar last week when it premiered on TNT, and we’re ashamed because this combines an awesome cast with a cuckoo bananas premise. Sharon Stone as the Vice President, James Earl Jones as a Supreme Court Justice, and the guy who played Matt on The O.C. and was almost cast as the lead of The Playboy Club as a super-secret government agent created by a hidden paragraph in the Constitution? Wow.


Family Guy (Fox, 9 p.m.): Normally we leave Family Guy off of these weekly schedules because it depresses us that Family Guy continues to exist. However, this week’s episode description took us aback, and not in a good way: “A couch stolen from Peter’s front lawn prompts the guys to form a neighborhood watch group. While on patrol, Peter shoots someone climbing into Cleveland’s house and is arrested and charged with a hate crime.” We can’t think of a worse show to do a Stand Your Ground episode than this one.

CSI: Cyber (CBS, 10 p.m.): “Avery’s skill is tested when she interviews the only witness, an agoraphobic neighbor who is suffering from PTSD following the incident.” We misread this the first time we read it and thought they were referring to Avery’s skull, which now has us wondering if the FBI Cyber Crime division is dabbling in phrenology and trepanation.


Getting On (HBO, 10 p.m.): There’s only a few episodes left of Getting On, and we’re wondering just how far they’re prepared to go before the end. As “an infectious disease crisis tests the limits of the staff’s patience and abilities,” will we learn this whole series has been a back-door pilot to another zombie show?

The Royals (E!, 10 p.m.): Season two of E!’s British royalty soap opera premieres, with Elizabeth Hurley as the bloody Queen of England (the “bloody” just sounds right in this context) trying to wrangle her rowdy brood in shape. Pip pip, mind the gap, never mind the bollocks and all that.


Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO, 11 p.m.): Have you seen the statistics about prisoner rehabilitation? Do you know how terrible they are? Well, John Oliver is going to make sure you do:

Christmas Incorporated (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): We’ll forgive Bob’s Burgers for pushing Christmas in November on us, but Hallmark continues to try our patience with its never-ending sea of movies. Tonight’s sounds like bad cliche wrapped in tinsel: “A woman gets a job as a wealthy man’s personal assistant through a case of mistaken identity, and she attempts to get her new boss not to shut down one of his factories right before Christmas.”


Guy’s Grocery Games (Food Network, 8 p.m.): We admit that mocking Guy Fieri is really easy to do, but we’re at least interested in the challenge this week wherein “the chefs use leftovers to create upscale dinners.”

Indian Summers (PBS, 9 p.m.): “Leena and Ian come to Ramu’s defense when he’s put on trial for Jaya’s murder.” Is it the same murder we assumed resolved all of the problems in the Home Fires finale last week?


Talking Dead (AMC, 10 p.m.): Merle’s back from the dead! Michael Rooker returns to Talking Dead, joined by comedian Doug Benson and The A.V. Club favorite Paget Brewster.

Cutthroat Kitchen (Food Network, 10 p.m.): “A football tackling dummy gets thrown into a sweet potato pie challenge.” We know that cooking shows are always looking for new ways to confound their contestants, but making them bake a dummy into a pie? That seems a little much, even for Alton Brown.


Fast & Furious 6 (FX, 8 p.m.): There are so many of these movies at this point that we have a hard time differentiating between them, so what we try to do is associate each film with its most iconic stunt. In this instance, this is the one where they brought a plane down with a car and then drove another car through said plane.

Bruce Almighty (MTV, 8 p.m.): Remember when Jim Carrey was a comedic actor with box office draw and not a bearded antagonistic anti-vaccine asshole? Well, once upon a time he was, and he appeared in this film that confirmed to all of us that Morgan Freeman’s voice is the One True Voice Of God.


We’re The Millers (TBS, 8 p.m.): Speaking of Bruce Almighty, Carrey’s co-star Jennifer Aniston was also the female lead of this movie, which inexplicably tried to convince us that Jennifer Aniston could play a stripper.

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (Syfy, 8 p.m.): With The Force Awakens only a month away, it might be a good idea to reinforce the “cautious” side of your cautious optimism and remind yourself that just because a beloved franchise comes back to life, sometimes you don’t get what you want. Sometimes, you get Shia LeBeouf, king of the monkeys.


The Last Samurai (Reelz, 9 p.m.): If Into The Badlands has stoked your enthusiasm for some sword-swinging feudal warfare, why not watch what Tom Cruise can do with a blade in his hand?


Sunday Night Football, Cardinals at Seahawks (NBC, 8:20 p.m.)

College Basketball, South Alabama at North Carolina State (ESPNU, 6 p.m.)

College Basketball, Siena at Wisconsin (ESPNU, 6 p.m.)

In case you missed it

John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid: We love John Mulaney here at The A.V. Club, so we feel a little bad that we didn’t like his eponymous sitcom very much. However, Erik Adams is happy to report that his new Netflix stand-up special lives up to its title.


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