Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

The Roundup: 'Mad Men' returns on Sunday; Marc Maron gets his TV show

Jon Hamm & Co. bring "Mad Men" back to AMC this Sunday


Jon Hamm & Co. bring "Mad Men" back to AMC this Sunday in a 2-hour premiere

The huge/massive/undeniably super-hyped premiere of the week is the return of "Mad Men" to AMC this Sunday in a 2-hour episode that airs at 9pm. AMC has been running hilarious, "Walking Dead"-themed "Mad Men" promos and the cast is all over as many different media as possible, including Jon Hamm on Jimmy Fallon tonight. Last week Christina Hendricks was on the JV Club podcast in a very lively and real conversation but I wonder if I have sunk to a new low of cynicism because I had the extremely fleeting thought that Hendricks' leaked cell phone pics were part of an elaborate promo for the show as it happened about 2 weeks before this premiere. Perish the thought, because, you know, Hollywood would never engage in such a thing. Still, it can't be denied that fans are ravenous for the show due to its long hiatus and a good lead off this Sunday could help it hold onto an audience that premium cable will try to chip at over the next few months. The return of such a great show can only be good for TV, regardless of the production and promotional shenanigans it took to make this happen. [Updated: Check out the hourlong interview with "Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner at the end of this post.]


The Roundup: 'Community' returns, 'Frozen Planet' premieres, Web series & more

"Frozen Planet"

Discovery Networks

This Sunday at 8pm, Discovery premieres its beautiful new series, "Frozen Planet"

The big news in TV this week is the return of "Community," the little show that could, to NBC this Thursday [*Update: Comedy Central has announced that they will begin airing reruns of "Community" in 2013 - also on Comedy Central this week is the return of "South Park," but perhaps more importantly, "Ugly Americans," beautifully drawn, surreal, and brilliantly funny, Wednesday at 10:30pm]. Sunday, Discovery launches its spectacular new series, "Frozen Planet," at 8pm. This is another beautifully shot show exploring the nature of the colder parts of our planet, both above and below the surface. Kind of ironic that this show hits the screens on the tail end of one of the warmest winters on record in North America. Sunday also brings the season finale of AMC's "The Walking Dead," a must watch, although it might be difficult to top the episode from two nights ago which had major developments.


The Roundup: Lohan Alternatives for "SNL"

The "Saturday Night Live" stage

Courtesy of NBC

Lindsay Lohan will be hosting "SNL" this weekend but what woman might be more worthy and do a better job?


This week a lot of people are asking why Lindsay Lohan is hosting "Saturday Night Live" on March 3rd and to some degree the question is justifiable: Lohan hasn't done a film in years and has only had a handful of TV guest spots, she's been in and out of jail and treatment programs, and her post-surgery face and body, splayed out in a pitiful homage to Marilyn Monroe in Playboy a couple months ago, look nothing like the girl that hosted SNL six years ago. Lohan is not a star of TV, film, or music, she is a spectacle in the same way a car accident is. Is NBC trying to help her out of the very deep hole she has dug for herself or are they are interested in selling tickets to the masses to peer down into that hole? Since NBC is a business, the answer is clear.

Obviously Lohan has some kind of connection with "SNL" creator Lorne Michaels, and it's his perogative to put whom he wants on his show. Lohan has been fortunate enough to be part of some memorable moments as SNL host (the Debbie Downer bloopers for example) and "SNL" is desperate to keep such moments happening on a regular basis. Michaels should be commended for putting plenty of women on as host this season (take a hint CBS) but here is a trio that could be considered more worthy of the honor than Lohan:


The Roundup: What to DVR, listen to, go see live and buy

Today I'm unveiling an abridged version of what will be a column devoted to TV and related entertainment programming, media, and events. I've been a member of the Television Critics Association for 3 years and have been writing about TV and media for 6 years, mostly at LAist.com, BostonMagazine.com and now here at KPCC. Although I'll be referencing plenty of pop culture I tend to be a cheerleader for non-broadcast TV shows as those shows already have plenty of viewers and column-inches devoted to them every day, with the exception of comedies. This column will not be a regurgitation of the PBS programming schedule; this column will not include recaps although it may occasionally include "spoilers" which will always be precluded by a bold-italicized Spoiler Alert warning; this column will not be covering "reality" or "contest" shows unless to reference them in terms of the business of television; this column will attempt to include humor at every turn and a love of comedy will permeate the column to a ratio not-reflective of television as a whole.


'SouthLAnd' star Michael Cudlitz on the show, sharing a squad car with Lucy Liu and more

TNT's "SouthLAnd" (Tuesdays at 10 p.m.) makes the convincing argument that there isn't a better cop show on TV and there hasn't been one this good in quite a while. The crew for this show is constantly moving from location to location across Los Angeles, bringing recognizable scenes to our TVs every week. This is a show that tells its stories from street level, from inside the squad car and from the homes of the officers and detectives portrayed in the series.

Series star Michael Cudlitz has been there from the beginning, playing the seemingly solid Officer John Cooper, the most experienced character of the ones we follow on the show. "Seemingly" solid because last season Cooper's regimen of self-prescribing medication for a bad back led him to stealing painkillers or scoring them in the lavatory of the local cops' watering hole.

This season, the fourth for "SouthLAnd," Cooper has returned to the force, looking trim and very fit after a stint of physical rehab to repair his damaged back. But Cooper appears very cautious, dare we say vulnerable, as he resumes his duties. He's now teamed up with Officer Jessica Tang, played by Lucy Liu, who joined the ensemble as a handful of characters were written off the show during its most recent hiatus.

As the show airs, you will see Cudlitz on Twitter, week in, week out, promoting his show, just as he has from its first season, and during production Cudlitz continues to tweet away from curbside scenes across Los Angeles. Cudlitz has been vocal about supporting the show, particularly during its somewhat tumultuous transfer from NBC to TNT between the first and second seasons. [NBC made two seasons of the show, but only aired one. TNT bought the show and the rights to air the second season.]