April 14, 2014 12:00 PM

People FAVE


HBO, April 6, 10:30 p.m. ET/PT |


The only thing likely to be worse than Selina Meyer’s Vice Presidency would be her Presidency. And yet that high office—its egg shape should be a warning to politicians how easily it cracks – is what she pursues in season 3 of HBO’s fast, funny political satire. I had wondered if Julia Louis-Dreyfus, after her lovely performance as a woman who rethinks and deepens her understanding of love in the movie Enough Said, was going to give the role a tiny, actressy glimmer of seriousness – a sense, maybe, that to Selina the Presidency represents a cause greater than herself. Hah. And Scandal is written by James Madison. Selina once again bluffs her way through meet and greets, power lunches and gaffes – how did that word come to be so closely associated with politics, anyway? Her single POTUS-worthy moment comes when she throws back her shoulders and orders – commands – her daughter to change out of a lookalike dress. The season’s one misfire is giving loathsome White House aide Jonah (Timothy Simons) a bigger arc than he deserves. It’s like billing Richard Nixon as “special guest star.”


AMC, April 6, 9 p.m. ET/PT


Jamie Bell plays a Long Island farmer – cabbage farmer, in fact – recruited to spy against the British in the War for Independence. Turn is a change of pace for AMC. Neither dark nor revisionist, it just wants to deliver a well-told story of cloaked motives in a time when people actually wore cloaks. Bell is key, so plainly direct and unstudied that we see the past through his eyes. His war is real, immediate and tricky as hell.


HBO, April 6, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


This new series about Palo Alto cybergeeks dreaming of being the next Steve Jobs was co-created by Mike Judge, who’s already famous for contributing to our notions of tech culture: His Beavis and Butt-head defined the passive-aggressive slacker, and his movie Office Space is a classic takedown of business-park America. Valley starts well, with needling absurdities – I loved the idea that a trendy tech billionaire would serve guests liquid shrimp – but payoffs are few. The standout is Christopher Evan Welch as one of those billionaires: He’s a true eccentric, with a look of startled, fidgety distress. It’s as if his thought processes relied on spotty Wi-Fi. Sadly, the actor was only 48 when he died of lung cancer while filming this first season.

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