A DOZEN COOL THINGS TO SEE, HEAR, READ AND DOWNLOAD THIS WEEK
FOR ADDITIONAL REVIEWS OF MOVIES, TV SHOWS, MUSIC AND BOOKS, GO TO PEOPLE.COM/PICKS
No. 1 Marry Me
Casey Wilson is a woman craving commitment while driving her lover crazy
Fans of Saturday Night Live alum Casey Wilson have waited for this day much as Russian peasants hoped for a blessing from the Czar. It seemed impossibly remote, yet how could it not come? Now not only does Wilson get a starring sitcom role—partnered with Ken Marino, another first-rate talent, as her lover—she gets one tailored to the note she perfected in the ensemble comedy Happy Endings: effervescent hysteria. In the opening scene setting up Marry’s premise—how can they stick together? How can they not?—she performs the most sustained hissy fit of all time. Wedded or not, this is bliss. (NBC, Oct. 14, 9 p.m.)
No. 2 The Walking Dead
Continue to be afraid, very afraid
“Now it’s time for our daily Dead Alert—over to Megan!” “Thanks, Jerry. Traffic patterns remain consistent with previous seasons, with zombies forming lethal gridlock along railroad tracks, outside rustic cabins and at chain-link fences. Survivors currently at the Terminus compound should take additional precautions against demented human captors wielding knives.” “Sounds like another terrifying blood feast, Megan! Next up: weather.” (AMC, Oct. 12, 9 p.m.)
No. 3 Betty Who, Take Me When You Go
After her song “Some- body Loves You” went viral last year as the soundtrack to a flash-mob marriage proposal at Home Depot (do yourself a favor and watch it!), it was easy to think Betty might be a one-hit wonder. This ridiculously joyous debut proves she’s here to stay.
No. 4 The Affair
A writer and a waitress head for rocky shores
Oh, discontented middle-aged novelist, with your furrowed brow and pained smile, why are you invited anywhere? One such man (Dominic West), at his in-laws’ Hamptons spread, is drawn to a local waitress (Ruth Wilson). Flashforwards find them in the hands of the police. The first hour has awful dialogue but also a strong undercurrent of dread and, in Wilson, an actress who can look perfectly average but hint at plunging depths. (Showtime, Oct. 12, 10 p.m.)
No. 5 The Judge
Hotshot lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) defends his father (Robert Duvall), a small-town judge, against murder. The movie ultimately isn’t so much about the case; it’s about the lifelong tensions between these two wily men—and the pleasure of watching two wily stars tearing into each other. (R, Oct. 10)
No. 6 T.I., Paperwork
He may be dipping his toe into acting now, but T.I. is still southern hip-hop royalty. Executive-produced by (who else?) Pharrell, the gritty, catchy trap music songs on Paperwork feature cool guests like Iggy Azalea, Usher and The-Dream.
No. 7 Aretha Franklin, ‘Rolling in the Deep’
The Queen of Soul and just about anything else she cares to lay claim to covers the Adele hit, mustering that great, crackling voice to roll upward to gospel highs and then cascade down over a chorus of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” It’s her most stunning performance since tackling Puccini’s “Nessun dorma” in 1998. This is the first single off her next album, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics. Takes one to know one, and a good thing too. (Now available; album, Oct. 21)
No. 8 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Spoiler alert: Alexander Cooper (an adorable Ed Oxenbould) is having an awful day. And he’s sharing the pain: In this adaptation, the story continues into day No. 2 as he curses his selfish siblings and stressed parents (Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner) to their own day of misery. But the tougher things get, the closer the Coopers rally in this surprisingly charming celebration of family. (PG, Oct. 10)
No. 9 Jane the Virgin
Life throws a young woman a curveball. Will she be game?
The best thing to come along since Ugly Betty, Jane is a hydra-headed lollipop—so many flavors and colors. And the sugar rush! Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) is mistakenly artificially impregnated during a checkup, initially raising prospects of the miraculous. The sperm, it turns out, belonged to a handsome hotelier (Justin Baldoni). Many, many more complications happen in the first hour. Delightful. (CW, Oct. 13, 9 p.m.)
No. 10 Video Game High School
VGHS envisions a universe where video gaming is the top sport and players train at an elite school. The series, which has some 80 million views logged, returns Oct. 13 for season 3. Cameos include Maureen McCormick and Conan O’Brien. (YouTube.com/RocketJump)
No. 11 Whiplash
J.K. Simmons bullies a young drummer into submission
A bald everyman with a long, elastic face and an expression that signals bemused acceptance of all things, J.K. Simmons (The Closer) stops playing nice. As a jazz-band conductor who considers it his right to demolish students in his search for genius, Simmons erupts and scorches everyone with the lava of his contempt. A drummer (Miles Teller) obeys this master’s command with tortured willingness. Up to a point. (R, Oct. 10 in limited release)
No. 12 The Best New Books
Richly rewarding family-centered novels and a celebrity memoir to really lose yourself in
Neil Patrick Harris
Choose Your Own Autobiography
Tired of books about other people’s lives? In this interactive memoir inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure series the actor loved as a child, you are the star of Doogie Howser, M.D., you host the Tonys and you share your favorite recipe for pasta with Bolognese sauce. Or pick another path! It’s all great fun.
When her estranged father commits suicide, Kate’s first thought is that now her husband can’t divorce her even though she’s been unfaithful. She’s a liar and a cheat, is Kate, but the four days she spends with her siblings as they prepare for their dad’s memorial will open her eyes about all kinds of things. A family drama you won’t want to put down.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Smiley’s sprawling, hypnotic novel chronicles the lives of an Iowa farm family from the 1920s to the ’50s. As they experience the Depression and World War II, births and deaths and the eternal rhythms of planting and harvesting, we come to know and care about each family member. With warmth and acuity, Smiley shows us how extraordinary “ordinary people” really are. The first volume of a planned trilogy, this is a masterful achievement.
Héctor Tobar Deep Down Dark
Based on exclusive interviews with many of the 33 men trapped for 69 days in a Chilean mine in 2010, Tobar’s account is vivid, suspenseful, electrifying.
The Innovators Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs’s biographer delivers a fascinating, informative look at the quirky “collaborative creatures” who invented the computer and the Internet.
Norman Lear Even This I Get to Experience
This memoir by the groundbreaking TV producer (All in the Family, The Jeffer-sons) reads like both a riveting therapy session and an enthralling social history.