Film and TV

The Week In TV

The sun finally came out, but there was plenty of TV to watch, especially for fans of FBI agent Bert Macklin. This was the week in TV Land:

• It's only been a few weeks since Keith Olbermann left MSNBC, but he's already got himself a new gig: he's been tapped as the chief news officer for Current TV, where he'll also host an hourlong talk show similar to his old one. (No word yet on if it will be just as hyperbolic and pious, but it feels safe to assume it will be.) Current TV is, of course, Al Gore's network, and it's not available in every home or market; the company's site says it's in 75 million homes across the U.S., U.K., Ireland, and Italy, and U.S. penetration is at about 60 million homes. Deadline Hollywood also notes that their primetime viewership is about 20,000 people. The network could probably save some cash and just do a web show with Olbermann; they're bound to get more video traffic than in-home viewers, anyway. No word yet on a start date for the new show.

• Sweet fancy Moses, did I miss Justified. The FX drama is one of the most entertaining on TV right now: funny, exciting, engaging, and well-acted. What's not to love about Timothy Olyphant playing a scoundrel with a gun? Nothing, that's what. If you missed out on the first season, don't worry, jumping in now won't be that bad. Last week's season premiere put the tail on the first-season arc and introduced a new one, including a terrifying criminal matron played by Texas' own Margo Martindale. Definitely worth your time.

• Having run out of viable interesting candidates, Saturday Night Live is bringing in Miley Cyrus to host on March 5. The 18-year-old will, one hopes, be forced to participate in one of the show's The Miley Cyrus Show sketches. There is some small comfort, though: She'll only be the host, not the musical guest.

• Comedy Central is apparently in love with the idea of sports parodies. Not long after the network launched Onion SportsDome, word came down that they've picked up Sports Show With Norm Macdonald for eight episodes. The series will let Macdonald riff on sports news in front of a live studio audience, and it sounds a whole lot like they're trying to blend Macdonald's "Weekend Update" persona with the style and approach of Tosh.0. Macdonald's a brilliant guy, though, so the show could have something to it. It's set to premiere in April.

• Last week's Parks and Recreation was in many ways a retread of last season's Ron-and-Tammy story: Ron spends time with Tammy, gets taken in again, and eventually returns to his normal life. But I don't care if they repeat that episode's plot every season: When the characters and actors are this funny, they can get away with it. Ron and Tammy's romance was even stranger than last time -- more extreme, more damaging, and more potent -- and Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally absolutely kill when they get together. (They do, after all, have real-life chemistry to draw on.) The show can't go to this well too often, but an annual dip would be perfect.

• On a ratings note, Super Bowl XLV was the most-watched TV program of all time, taking the crown from Super Bowl XLIV, which in turn had taken the title from the series finale of M*A*S*H, which reigned for almost 30 years. This year's game got an average of 111 million viewers, besting last year's 106.5 million. This is not really surprising, either: TV ratings have been splintering for years thanks to cable, DVD, and DVRs, so the only thing that's got a shot at a real ratings record is something special like the Super Bowl. It's one of those events people watch out of a sense of obligation and duty, even if it's just to get drunk and bitch about how lame the commercials are this year. Not even the Black Eyed Peas could stop the Super Bowl from ratings domination, and if they couldn't, no one could.

• If you've got plans for Valentine's Day, don't forget to set your DVR: Monday night is the kickoff to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on USA, with continuing coverage on CNBC. Don't act like you don't watch every year.

• Also airing this week is The Battle for Marjah, an HBO documentary about a joint operation in February 2010 in Afghanistan that involved U.S., British, French, Canadian, and Afghan troops. HBO's docs are usually pretty solid bets -- I wasn't disappointed with their recent Reagan -- so I'll be setting my DVR to catch this one on Thursday.

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson