Despite being nearly three months out from Halloween, there's plenty of scary TV this week for some reason. And I'm not just talking about the cast of Mob Wives. Whether it's the ghost of rich socialites past haunting Carrie Diaries, Charlie Sheen learning how to manage Anger or spooky new series worth Following, it's best to keep the lights on while on the couch.
The Carrie Diaries, The CW, Mondays, 8 p.m./7 p.m. CT
First of all, speaking as a guy (which I often do), this is not a show that would ordinarily be anywhere near my radar. Sex And the City was a show that related to my life about as much as American Chopper related to Carrie Bradshaw's. Nonetheless, being a brave and dutiful television critic, I have now viewed the first episode of this Sex prequel. And even though this tale of high school age Carrie (AnnaSophia Robb)– thus giving me even less to relate to –actually has broader appeal than Sex And the City ever did. Since it's got lots teenagers, younger viewers will relate to Carrie's struggles to find her way. Since she's got a parent this time around, grownup women and men will find her widowed dad (Matt Letscher) intriguing. And since it's still the '80s, the clothing is bad and nobody will feel envious of how wonderful everyone looks.
The Following, Fox, Mondays, 9 p.m./8 p.m. C
TV is not the place to look if you want to find monsters (although if you're up for monstrous behavior, there's always some reality shows out there). At the movies, you're in the dark surrounded by strangers. That makes things scary. When you're in your well lit living room, playing on your iPad while running to the kitchen to get a soda…not so much. Which makes this new series starring Kevin Bacon such a find. I can't remember the last time a show created fear and dread like this tale of a Hannibal Lechter-type psycho (James Purefoy) who creates a legion of serial killers while toying with an ex-federal agent (Bacon). It'd ruin the thrills to give more away than that but trust me, you'll be happy you've got the lights on while watching this fright fest.
Being Human, SyFy Network, Mondays, 9 p.m./8 p.m. CT
Vampires, werewolves and ghosts….oh my! This supernatural drama is one zombie and maybe a couple witches short of hitting the jackpot for spooky TV characters. I realize that this probably makes Being Human sound like something more suited to the tastes of that never-married cousin of yours who still lives in his mom's basement. However, as the series enters its third season, it continues to be something even people who don't know a ghoul from a goblin can enjoy. It's taken a goofy premise – three roommates also happen to be a vampire (Samuel Witwer) trying to live a normal life, a nerdy guy (Sam Huntington) who really hates the fact that he and his girlfriend are werewolves and a ghost (Meaghan Rath) trapped just this side of death. Then, it gives it just the right amount of light, ironic humor beyond what you find in the usual televised monster mash.
Lost Girl, SyFy Network, Mondays, 10 p.m./9 p.m. CT
We're currently in the thick of awards season, a time to celebrate movies and shows that inspire us with deep tales of relatable people going through tragic trauma and emerging as better people. Which brings me to Lost Girl, which…..does none of those things. This is a show that follows the exploits of a bisexual succubus (Anna Silk) who fights evil, super-powered beings known as Fae with a band of friends that includes a wolfman, a guy who tells the future by writing in blood and a really skinny woman who changes her hair color a lot. I realize that, like Being Human, this show sounds like the stuff comic book conventions are made of. And sure, there is nothing socially redeeming about an episode of Lost Girl. Still, I have to say, the cheeky way Silk and company revel in the silliness makes the show a pleasure that comes with a minimum of guilt. Some sci fi requires you to learn a whole new vocabulary. This just requires that you have a sense of humor.
Face Off, SyFy Network, Tuesdays, 9 p.m./8 p.m. CT
There's one big problem with reality competition shows. (Well, two, if you count the whole Nicki Minaj/Mariah Carey thing…) It's the fact that once you've seen one, you've pretty much seen them all. Whether it's music or fashion design or wrestling, it's always the same: snarky yet sympathetic judges passing judgment on snarky yet (occasionally) sympathetic wannabes. Which is why Face Off is perhaps TV's most unique competition series. It's that rare entry into this genre that truly leaves you in awe of the competitors' talents. This long-running show for movie makeup artists who want to make it big may have all the traditional trappings of your basic reality show, but let's see someone on Idol transform a person into a giant fish person from the planet Zoltron.
Anger Management, FX, Thursdays, 9:30 p.m./8:30 p.m. CT
Remember that whole Charlie Sheen scare at the beginning of the decade? For a few months there, the greatest destructive force in America wasn't a fiscal cliff or a natural disaster. It was a "winning" sit-com actor fighting trolls and romancing goddesses. And then….he got another sit-com and all the excitement went away. It's hard to believe that we're actually entering Season Two of Phase Two of his rehabilitation, this comedy about an anger management counselor raising a young daughter and sleeping with his therapist. It's still surprising to me how mainstream this cable comedy is – it's no more outlandish than an average Two And A Half Men – but Sheen still has such a likably loutish presence, Anger Management makes for a decent enough waste of time when you're in the mood for such things.
Legit, FX, Thursdays, 10:30 p.m./9:30 p.m. CT
Think of this new series starring Australian comic Jim Jefferies as a cupcake wrapped inside a giant lemon. Both are bitter on the outside, but surprisingly sweet once you get inside. Jefferies plays (surprise) an Australian comic living in Los Angeles, whose life is going nowhere. So, to prove he can make it, he decides to go "legitimate."However, for him, that means things like hijacking a friend's wheelchair-bound brother and taking him to Las Vegas, where he proceeds to get the guy a prostitute. Okay, not exactly heartwarming and the language is a bit….rough….but there is something rather endearing about Jefferies and his hangdog demeanor that makes Legit legitimately nice.
Best Week Ever, VH1, Fridays, 10 p.m./9 p.m. CT
Sure, I admit that I've done a fair amount of complaining in this space about how cynical TV humor has become. It seems that every comedy is trying to out-do the other when it comes to mindlessly mean mocking. And yet, I am thrilled that this series is back on VH1 after a few years away. Little has changed since it's been gone. Comedians still sit there, making jokes about the trashy news of the week. What makes it all acceptable is that their targets deserve every bit of sarcasm they get. Whether it's the latest episode of The Bachelor or Lance Armstrong, the comics say what you're thinking. Or what you wish you were thinking. There's some liberation in that…