Public Service Announcement 9 of 2020: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Sky Comedy launched yesterday. (It replaces Universal TV on the EPGs, and if a new home isn’t found for Unpopcult’s beloved Private Eyes, there will be TROUBLE.) Its schedule, largely American in origin, comprises a decent mix of re-runs of shows like Modern Family, 30 Rock, Veep, The Mindy Project, Sex and the City, and the essentially perfect Parks And Recreation; a slate of late-night American talk/sketch shows (Corden, Fallon, Oliver, SNL); and some new-to-the-UK comedies, such as AP Bio, Mrs. Fletcher, and Miracle Workers. Many will also be available as boxsets.

There’s some extra good news for Virgin Media viewers like me, who don’t have access to Sky Atlantic: it looks as if a few shows which were previously on that channel have been moved to Comedy. Veep and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver fall into that category, as does Curb, back for a tenth season of semi-improvised misanthropy. I didn’t see season 9 for that reason, but I’m going to assume that I can just pick it up again, from tonight at 9pm. Also tonight: The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon (10.50pm), and The Late Late Show with James Corden (11.50pm).

Public Service Announcement 7 of 2020: Modern Family, Cobra, Sex Education

American comedy heavyweight Modern Family is back for its eleventh and, we are told, final season. It’s easy to be sniffy about it, and I’m not going to be: it’s past its peak, perhaps, but what a peak it was. And in Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill, Eric Stonestreet, and Sarah Hyland, among others, it still has one of the best sitcom casts around (Friday 17 January, Sky One, 8.30pm).

It precedes the first episode of Sky One’s new political drama, Cobra, in which Begbie from Trainspotting (Robert Carlyle) is prime minister. Almost worth watching for that alone, I’d say. The title refers to the UK Government’s COBRA committee, which meets to discuss emergencies. Helping PM Begbie to get through a widespread energy crisis are Victoria Hamilton, Richard Dormer, David Haig, and White Collar’s Marsha Thomason, who I didn’t even know was British (Friday 17 January, Sky One, 9pm).

And the second season of Netflix’s Sex Education is available as of tomorrow. Meant to watch season 1. Never did.

Public Service Announcement 9 of 2019: Modern Family, Nightflyers, Russian Doll, Mayans MC

Season 10 of Modern Family. You know what you’re getting by now, and as long as that includes Ty Burrell I’m still in (tomorrow, Sky One, 8.30pm).

Netflix has (at least) two new shows tomorrow. Nightflyers, which was originally shown on Syfy in America, is an adaptation of works by George R.R. Martin. Something about the future, a spaceship, and aliens. I don’t like horror, I don’t like science fiction, and I don’t like aliens. The critics didn’t much like Nightflyers either.

Russian Doll, a Netflix original, might be more promising: an eight-parter starring OITNB’s Natasha Lyonne. She also exec produces (and is a co-creator) with Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland. It’s a Groundhog Day-esque comedy about a woman who repeatedly dies at a party. The advance word on this is exceptionally strong. Almost certainly worth a look.

And finally, BBC Two has the first season of Mayans MC, a Sons of Anarchy spin-off. It’s already been renewed for a second year (Saturday 2 February, 10.40pm).

Public Service Announcement 39 of 2017: Modern Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dimension 404

Two long-running comedy shows return this week for their ninth season. At one end of the spectrum we’ve got Modern Family, which is past its peak but still reliable, more or less, largely due to the fact that in the Burrell/O’Neill/Ferguson/Hyland/Stonestreet team it has some of TV’s best sitcom turns (Friday 6 October, 8.30pm, Sky 1). And you could certainly show it to your beloved aunt, unlike the peerless Curb Your Enthusiasm, back after 5 years for more delicious misanthropy (Mondays, 10pm, Sky Atlantic).

A few other bits and pieces: season 2 of Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black makes its way to broadcast TV (tonight, 9pm, Sony Channel); season 3 of Lucifer has now started on Amazon Prime, but I can’t tell you anything about it because I’ve only just started watching the first season and I’m trying to stay spoiler-free; and science fiction/black comedy anthology Dimension 404 arrives tomorrow, with a decent cast – Patton Oswalt, Megan Mullaly, Sarah Hyland (again), Lea Michele, and so on. Mark Hamill narrates. People seem to like it (Thursday 5 October, 9pm, Syfy UK).

Public Service Announcement 37 of 2016: Hawaii Five-0, Modern Family

Our penultimate PSA of 2016 contains some returning old favourites. First up is the seventh season of Hawaii Five-0, which has done a very good job of managing Scott Caan’s reduced commitment to the show by becoming more of an ensemble piece, with Chi McBride in particular stepping up. At the end of season 6 we left Steve and Danny in hospital, following the insertion of Danny’s organ into Steve. And, yes, that’s exactly what happened, dress it up as you might. Weekly reviews as normal (Sunday 1 January, 9pm, Sky 1).

Modern Family is back tonight for its eighth season. The ensemble cast remains strong, even if the writing occasionally betrays a lack of inspiration, but if season 7 is anything to go by it’s Ty Burrell’s show these days (8.30pm, Sky 1).

And a few other bits and pieces: season 8 of NCIS: Los Angeles (Sunday 1 January, 10pm, Sky 1); Dawn French, Iain Glen, Sheila Hancock, and Emilia Fox star in infidelity drama Delicious (tonight, 9pm, Sky 1); and Jonathan Creek was on a couple of nights ago and, although it’s had one or two sniffy reviews, it wasn’t bad at all (BBC iPlayer).

Public Service Announcement 52 of 2015: Fargo, Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory

I thought Fargo was the best new show of 2014: cleverly plotted, witty, beautifully shot, a fantastic cast, and the wonderful Allison Tolman as the beating heart of the whole thing. So I’m delighted that it’s back for a second season, even with the action shifted to 1979, and an entirely new cast. What a cast, though: Patrick Wilson (as Lou Solverson, played by Keith Carradine in season 1), Ted Danson, Jean Smart, Kirsten Dunst, Nick Offerman (RON FUCKING SWANSON, folks), Jeffrey Donovan and Bruce Campbell from Burn Notice, Jesse Plemons from Friday Night Lights, Cristin Miloti from HIMYM, and Adam Arkin from everything. The newly-fashionable anthology structure doesn’t guarantee success by any means – step forward, True Detective – but the advance reviews from America could scarcely have been more enthusiastic. And we’re only a week behind. Truly, the TV Gods are being good to us (tonight, 10pm, Channel 4).

The two biggest comedies in America also start their latest seasons in the UK this week, and since nothing attracts TV haters like successful comedy, you’ll find no shortage of people telling you that Modern Family (tonight, 8.30pm, Sky 1), and The Big Bang Theory (Thursday, 8.30pm, E4) aren’t and have never been funny. Except, of course, they are and always have been. There’s room for debate about whether they’ve already peaked, mind you: I thought the last season of Modern Family was about as good as the one before, which is to say a little better than the one before that, but not as good as the ones before that. It remained Ty Burrell’s show in season 6, although the emergence of Sarah Hyland as a genuine comic talent is becoming more and more apparent. Meantime the money-making machine that is Big Bang rumbles on. The female side of the cast – often the more reliable – is further strengthened this season with the permanent addition of Laura Spencer, and those (i.e. me) who like to watch for this sort of thing will be reassured to know that the newly-single Kaley Cuoco definitely isn’t hooking up again with Johnny Galecki.

Also starting: season 3 of Sleepy Hollow (Thursday, 9pm, Universal); season 11 of Criminal Minds (tonight, 9pm, Sky Living); season 5 of American Horror Story, with added Gaga (Tuesday, 10pm, FOX UK); and the latest attempt to revive The Muppets, which has had mixed reviews (tonight, 8pm, Sky 1).

Public Service Announcement 49 of 2014: Modern Family, The Vampire Diaries

A brief PSA this week. The highlight is the return tonight of Modern Family for its sixth season – your mileage will vary, but I thought season 5 represented an improvement on the fourth. Not that it matters much: part of the joy of a long-running comedy such as this one is our familiarity with the characters, meaning that not everything needs to be spelled out; we can fill in any blanks ourselves. It’s also assisted by an impressive consistency in its cast – even the awkward growing-up years have been negotiated with considerable grace. (Sky 1, 8pm).

Also back: The Vampire Diaries, which CJ has officially given up on (season 6, Tuesday, ITV 2, 9pm); Blue Bloods (season 5, Wednesday, Sky Atlantic, 9pm); Franklin & Bash (season 4, Thursday, Sony Entertainment Television, 10pm); and Two and a Half Men (season 12, Wednesday, Comedy Central, 9pm).

Next week’s already looking stalker-tastic, though. More in due course.