Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Peter Weber, Ashley Jensen
Photo: Francisco Roman (ABC), Acorn TV

Here’s what’s happening in the world of television for Monday, February 10. All times are Eastern. 


Top picks

The Bachelor (ABC, 8 p.m.): We’re slowly—so incredibly slowly—approaching the end of Pilot Peter Weber’s journey to “love,” which this week takes him and his team of potential promotional partners future wives to Lima, Peru. Of the six women remaining, three (Kelley, Natasha, and Madison) have been relatively drama-free, and a fourth (Hannah Ann) probably would have been had she not accidentally become a champagne-stealer from mercurial Kelsey. You’d think that would be a recipe for a relatively tranquil episode, but nope:

If chaos is, as they say on Game Of Thrones, a ladder, then Peter Weber is probably pretty attracted to ladders; so ladders have a pretty decent shot at getting a hometown date, which we guess would just be the woods? Gwen Ihnat will drop in on this explosive season, if only to count the minutes until Victoria F. finds a reason to get up from the table and stand in a corner until the cameras and the Bachelor himself follow.

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Regular coverage

The New Pope (HBO, 9 p.m.)

Wild card

Brain Games: Jack Black: Music (NatGeo, 9 p.m.): This year marks the 20th anniversary of High Fidelity (the film, not the TV series), which makes it a great time for Brain Games host Keegan-Michael Key to quiz Jack Black on his musical knowledge. In tonight’s all-new episode, Black and his Tenacious D partner Kyle Gass play musical mad libs and conduct “Odd-itory” illusions and experiments. Here’s an exclusive clip from “Jack Black: Music,” in which pop-music sweetheart and newly-minted talk show host Kelly Clarkson schools Tenacious D on the national anthem. [Danette Chavez]

Agatha Raisin (Acorn TV, 11 p.m., third-season premiere): There’s a grand tradition, particularly in the U.K., of charmingly eccentric television detectives who live in picturesque locales and calmly solve crimes. The tradition grows grander still when you open it up to charmingly eccentric detectives of the page as well as the screen. Agatha Raisin, a cozy and reliably entertaining series returning to Acorn for a third season, is both. Based on the comedic novels of the late M.C. Beaton, the show has one great advantage over the winning book series: it has Ashley Jensen.

Some of you may yet be unfamiliar with Agatha—though should you wish to start the show, you can jump in anywhere and pretty easily pick up on the relationships through context—but most will recognize Jensen, who earned an Emmy nomination for Extras and was every bit as good on Catastrophe and Ugly Betty, among other titles. The A.V. Club spoke with Jensen at the Television Critics Association Press Tour about the characteristics of a top-notch fictional detective, the reasons Agatha is so stylish, and why people love murder mysteries so much.

The A.V. Club: What makes a great fictional detective?

Ashley Jensen: Well, quite often it would appear that it’s somebody that has some kind of problem that they have to overcome. I would say, probably in the more dramatic roles, you would quite often have detectives are maybe a bit O.C.D. or they’re a bit of an alcoholic. Less so for comedy. I think that what makes Agatha a good detective is the fact that she does not take no for an answer. [Mimes knocking on a door.] “Can I come in? No? Well, we’ll see about that.” She just bullies her way into any situation; she’s got supreme confidence and [self-awareness]. And great taste in clothes.

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See, I grew up watching things like Columbo. Remember Columbo? And Jessica Fletcher [of Murder, She Wrote]? I loved all that sort of stuff. More so than the British ones, actually. They’re the ones that are coming to mind. I was talking earlier on about how a fictional detective almost has a silhouette. And when you think of Columbo, you’ve got the raincoat, don’t you?

So when we started talking about Agatha, we thought, she has to have a silhouette. And I said, “She’s very groomed. She’s very in control of everything. We’ve got to have this silhouette. So we’ve got the hair, the very sharp hair, the lips, the handbag, and the little heels that she wears all over the place.”

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I loved stuff like from the 1970s. They were the kind of things that I was brought up on in the late ’70s and early ’80s. There was a lightness of touch for Charlie’s Angels and Kojack and Murder, She Wrote, all those. They were more peppered with humor, whereas I think that the British ones, certainly now, are kind of heavier.

AVC: Why do you think as a society we find, of all things, murder mysteries to be so comforting?

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AJ: We do, don’t we? We really do. A lot of the ’70s and ’80s detectives that [I liked] were set in America, and that takes you into a different world. And I think that the reason this show has done so well in America is because we are in this very different world that’s very much not America. Also, people like to be right, don’t they? People like to say, I worked that out, yay! I feel a little degree of pride in myself that I worked out who did it. I think it’s a natural thing, to want to try and solve something and get it right.

AVC: How do you think Agatha Raisin would fare as a detective in the real world?

AJ: She’d get arrested. I think that she would probably spend quite a lot of time being taken in by the police and stuck in a cell. She bends the rules a little bit for her own gain, and I’m not sure she’d get away with what she does, because let’s face it, the police on Agatha Raisin are a bit like Laurel and Hardy, aren’t they?

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Contributor, The A.V. Club and The Takeout. Allison loves television, bourbon, and dramatically overanalyzing social interactions.

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