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As subscribers flee, basic cable fails to evolve

Posted 3/6/20

By Kevin McDonough

Two new series arrive Sunday, underscoring the inability of basic cable series to evolve. Both arrive gift-wrapped in tired templates and tied up in conceptual cliches at least a decade out of date.

"Rob Riggle: Global …

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As subscribers flee, basic cable fails to evolve


By Kevin McDonough

Two new series arrive Sunday, underscoring the inability of basic cable series to evolve. Both arrive gift-wrapped in tired templates and tied up in conceptual cliches at least a decade out of date.

"Rob Riggle: Global Investigator" (10 p.m. Sunday, Discovery, TV-PG) offers a mock-expert's take on some of history's great myths and legends, including the lost city of Atlantis and the Holy Grail.

As we know from the History Channel, basic cable hates history. It's allergic to the notion that viewers are interested in anything that really happened. Like every other series on the Travel Channel, "reality" has to come cloaked in the supernatural.

And lest we seem too unmanly, we have to "dude" up the proceedings with jokey banter. Every single sentence of explanation has to be interrupted.

A veteran of both "The Hangover" and "The Daily Show" roster, Riggle projects goofy snark as well as the nervous outbursts of the professional doofus who just can't keep his mouth shut.

On some level, this series is an interesting examination of how learning about new things makes a certain kind of male rather nervous and prone to rattle on much like a hyperactive child.

On another level, it's annoying and unoriginal, an effort to trash the notion of travel as education and present a lack of curiosity as "irony."

It would be harsh to call this series stupid. It strives to be stupid. It pretends to be stupid. And that's much worse.

• Set in Miami, "Family Karma" (9 p.m. Sunday, Bravo, TV-PG) follows a sprawling, multigenerational Indian American family as traditional ways clash with 21st-century American culture.

In other words, Bravo has found yet another ethnic group to shoehorn into its "Real Housewives" format. As on "Shahs of Sunset" and "Mexican Dynasties," we're in for plenty of heated conversations over cocktails at stylish bars as well as frequent congratulatory toasts, a lot of "drama" and the occasional champagne flute thrown across the room. Assimilation never seemed so undesirable. Or tedious.


• A harried professional finds her life upended when she inherits a game preserve in South Africa in the 2018 romance "Love on Safari" (7 p.m., Hallmark, TV-G).

• Alone in her new apartment after a bitter breakup, a woman becomes the object of the owner's obsession in the 2020 shocker "My Nightmare Landlord" (8 p.m., Lifetime, TV-14).

• A small-business owner bets his fortunes on a fishing contest in the 2008 comedy "Bait Shop" (8 p.m., Outdoor Channel), starring Bill Engvall and Billy Ray Cyrus.

• Stories of law students in love loom large in the 1973 romance "The Paper Chase" (8 p.m., TCM, TV-MA) and "Love Story" (10 p.m., TCM, TV-MA), the 1970 hit that injected the term "preppy" and the adage "Love means never having to say you're sorry" into popular usage.

• The Golden State Warriors host the Philadelphia 76ers (8:30 p.m., ABC).

• The makers of "Seven Worlds, One Planet" (9 p.m., BBC America, TV-PG) look back at the production of their epic documentary series.

• A therapist named Spirit heals hearts and mends broken relationships on the new series "Love Goals" (9 p.m., OWN, TV-14).

• After the invasion and occupation of Chicago by hostile extraterrestrials, a young man joins the resistance and discovers who his friends are in the 2019 shocker "Captive State" (9 p.m., Showtime).

• A pair of Georgia veterinarians get their own showcase on "Critter Fixers: Country Vets" (10 p.m., Nat Geo Wild).

• Daniel Craig hosts "Saturday Night Live" (11:30 p.m., NBC, TV-14), featuring musical guest The Weeknd.


• Scheduled on "60 Minutes" (7 p.m., CBS): the latest news on coronavirus; an interview with Fiona Hill; an alpine skating tradition is canceled due to climate change.

• Ryan Seacrest hosts "American Idol" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

"Masterpiece" (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings) unspools three episodes of the 2018 adaptation of Wilkie Collins' 1859 mystery novel "The Woman in White."

• Roger's strategy falls under scrutiny on "Outlander" (8 p.m., Starz, TV-MA).

• Zoey meddles in her brother's wedding plans on "Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• The Whisperers make their move on "The Walking Dead" (9 p.m., AMC, TV-MA).

• One last showdown on the season finale of "The Outsider" (9 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).

• Carrie seeks answers on "Homeland" (9 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA).

• Andrew Zimmern visits restaurants in Southern states on "What's Eating America With Andrew Zimmern" (9 p.m., MSNBC), with historical controversies very much on the menu.

"Shipwreck Secrets" (9 p.m., Science) visits various watery gravesites.

• Beth has a new business venture on "Good Girls" (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

• Life-changing news on "The Rookie" (10 p.m., ABC, TV-14).

• Karen attempts to lighten the load on "Avenue 5" (10 p.m., HBO, TV-MA).


Early TV teen sensations Annette Funicello ("The Mickey Mouse Club") and Dwayne Hickman ("Dobie Gillis") graduated to youth exploitation fare in the 1965 musical comedy "How to Stuff a Wild Bikini" (1:30 p.m. Sunday, TCM, TV-PG). Mickey Rooney also appears, as well as Buster Keaton in one of his last moments on film.


Turning a blind eye to terror on "FBI" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * Two helpings of "Dateline" (8 p.m., NBC, r) * "Fox PBC Fight Night" (8 p.m.) * Danger lights flash on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) * "48 Hours" (10 p.m., CBS) * A vintage helping of "Saturday Night Live" (10 p.m., NBC, r, TV-14).


Turning the other cheek on "God Friended Me" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Pint-sized performances on "Little Big Shots" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-G) * Marge questions the family's screen time on "The Simpsons" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) * A villain targets influencers on "Batwoman" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) * Local lore on "Duncanville" (8:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * The search for a missing agent on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14) * Wearing the green on "Bob's Burgers" (9 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * A luddite turns dangerous on "Supergirl" (9 p.m., CW, TV-PG) * Peter's gesture sparks a conversation on "Family Guy" (9:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14) * Pride's nightmares follow ominous patterns on "NCIS: New Orleans" (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

© 2020, United Feature Syndicate