This week’s TV highlights offer something for every taste. For sci-fi fans: the long-awaited latest from the director of Moon and the return of a beloved animated series. For those looking for laughs, the options range from the campy yet smart sense of humor of Amazon’s own blue superhero to John Oliver’s hilarious take on the news, Joel McHale’s trademark acerbic humor, and a stand-up special set in a prison, to. For the documentary buffs: a film exploring the history and legacy of black colleges and universities plus a culinary series with a strong cultural and social conscience. Finally, there’s a new crime drama filled with racial tensions from the creator of The Killing for the procedural aficionados.
To help you keep track of the most important programs over the next seven days, here’s our guide to everything worth watching, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, or streaming for February 18th –24th (all times Eastern):
The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale (Netflix, Sunday)
The Soup lives once again! Well, sort of. Joel McHale will host his own Netflix talk show, following a very similar vein to the long-lived E! series. The weekly topical show will deliver scorching takes on everything from pop culture, current events, and video clips from every corner of the internet, with McHale’s trademark sarcasm. It will also feature comedy sketches and celebrity guests, including Kevin Hart, Paul Reiser and Luke Cage’s Mike Coalter in its first episode. The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale will provide the weekly dose of acid humor you’ve been missing since 2015.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO, Sunday 11pm)
Ever since the election, late night comedy shows became the unlikely forefront of critical reporting. Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, and Seth Meyer have helped many of us navigate the hot mess that is the current news landscape. But among the late-night roster of news satire, HBO’s Last Week Tonight stands out for its hard-hitting, deep-dive reporting, delivered by John Oliver’s patented humor. The British host returns for his fifth round of satirical shenanigans. Finally!
Star Wars Rebels (Disney XD, Monday 9pm)
The last time we saw Hera, Kanan, Chopper, and the rest of the Ghost crew, things were looking quite grim: The Rebel attack force was annihilated with only a few survivors and Rukh captured Hera. Now, Star Wars Rebels finally returns and picks right up where it left us hanging, as our heroes infiltrate the Imperial headquarters of Lothal to save Hera. As we approach the end of the series, it seems that Rebels will go out not with a fizzle but with a bang – which includes, spoiler alert, the first appearance of Emperor Palpatine in the show, voiced by Ian McDiarmid. If you’re not already hooked, our own William Dass makes a compelling argument for why you should join in before the series wraps up next month.
Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (PBS, Monday 10pm)
The latest documentary from Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders), one of the most trusted filmmakers on black history (fitting for this month, of course), looks at African-American education from the time of slavery through today. Much of the focus is on historically black colleges and universities, but especially early on the general idea of African Americans learning to read and going to school and education’s relation to the Civil Rights movements and social advancement is the key theme. Airing as an episode of PBS’s Independent Lens series, this is a very conventional talking head doc, but it’s also more than just a straight history lesson. The film will also be available to stream on PBS’s website starting Tuesday. Read our review at our sister site, Nonfics. — Christopher Campbell
Mute (Netflix, Friday)
What better way for director Duncan Jones to bounce back from a disappointing box office flop — ahem, Warcraft — than by finally releasing a passion project that has spent years in development? His latest feature marks his triumphant return to sci-fi with the tale of a mute bartender (Alexander Skarsgård) who ventures into the seedy underbelly of futuristic Berlin, in search of his missing girlfriend (Seyneb Saleh), accompanied by a pair of American surgeons of questionable reputation (Justin Theroux and Paul Rudd). Jones has described it as a “spiritual sequel” to his outstanding debut Moon, with Casablanca and Blade Runner vibes, and our bodies are ready for all that neo-noir cyberpunk goodness.
Seven Seconds (Netflix, Friday)
Veena Sud, creator of the acclaimed The Killing, has a knack for crime drama adaptations. The Killing was based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen, and her latest venture as creator/showrunner/executive producer adapts the 2013 Russian film The Major. Even though the source material is European, the premise couldn’t be better suited for modern America: the show centers on racial tensions, triggered after a white cop inadvertently runs over a black teenager in Jersey City and his fellow officers try to cover it up. Regina King, David Lyons, Clare-Hope Ashitey, and Michael Mosley star in this ten-episode procedural, while Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) directs.
The Tick (Amazon, Friday)
In a year full of remarkable TV, it is possible that The Tick went unnoticed by some — a criminal injustice, since it was one of the highlights of 2017. The first six episodes had nervous office clerk Arthur (Griffin Newman) unwittingly thrown into the battle between good and evil alongside the zany blue vigilante (perfectly portrayed by Peter Serafinowicz), culminating with the return of the Terror (Jackie Earle Haley). Now, the second half of the season will see The Tick and his trusty sidekick join forces with old friends to defeat the revived supervillain, in a crusade just as full of epic action and campy humor. Destiny is calling collect once again, and we can’t wait to accept the charges.
Ugly Delicious (Netflix, Friday)
You might think you’ve seen enough foodie series, whether they’re about cooking or the best eats four tourists, but you’re wrong. Ugly Delicious is one of the most fun, relatable and appreciably unpretentious culinary show ever. Led by chef David Chang with friends like food writer Peter Meehan, comedian Aziz Ansari, street artist David Choe, and other guests, the eight-part series explores comfort foods, cultural staples, and other cuisine that is, you guessed, it ugly but delicious. There are plenty of shows to find the fancier dishes and beautiful mise en place, but here you will find more enjoyable appreciations of pizza, even Domino’s, and more. — Christopher Campbell
Ali Siddiq: It’s Bigger Than These Bars (Comedy Central, Friday 11pm)
Some people find their calling in the strangest ways. For example, Ali Siddiq began doing comedy in prison while serving six years of a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking. Two decades after doing his time, Siddiq returns to the Texas state penitentiary system in true Johnny Cash fashion to perform for the Bell County Jail inmates. In It’s Bigger Than These Bars, Siddiq recounts hilarious experiences from both incarceration and freedom and conducts interviews with both tje jailers and the jailed about life in lockup. Definitely not your average stand-up comedy special.
The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale S1E1 (Netflix) – series premiere
2018 BAFTA Film Awards (BBC America, 8pm) – special event
Counterpart S1E5 “Shaking the Tree” (Starz, 8pm)
Our Cartoon President S1E3 “Rolling Back Obama” (Showtime, 8pm)
Homeland S7E2 “Rebel Rebel” (Showtime, 9pm)
Victoria S2E6 “Faith, Hope & Charity” (PBS, 9pm)
Divorce S2E6 “Losing It” (HBO, 10pm)
The Chi S1E6 “Penetrate a Fraud” (Showtime, 10pm)
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver S5E1 (HBO, 11pm) – season premiere
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow S3E11 “Here I Go Again” (The CW, 8pm)
Traffic Stop (HBO, 8pm) – documentary premiere
Star Wars Rebels S4E10&E11 “Jedi Night” & “Dume” (Disney XD, 9pm)
The Alienist S1E5 “Hildebrandt’s Starling” (TNT, 9pm)
Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges & Universities (PBS, 10pm) – documentary premiere
The Frankenstein Chronicles S1&2 (Netflix) – series American debut
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World S1E14 “Old Friends” (ABC, 10pm)
Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block S3E3 “All You Ghost Mice” (Syfy, 10pm)
Waco S1E5 “Stalling for Time” (Paramount, 10pm)
RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars S3E5 (VH1, 8pm)
Project Runway All-Stars S6E7 (Lifetime, 9pm)
Portlandia S8E6 “You Do You” (IFC, 10pm)
Marseille S2 (Netflix) – season premiere
Mute (Netflix) – movie premiere
Seven Seconds S1 (Netflix) – series premiere
The Tick S1B (Amazon) – second part premiere
Ugly Delicious S1 (Netflix) – documentary series premiere
Ali Siddiq: It’s Bigger Than These Bars (Comedy Central, 11pm) – standup special
2 Dope Queens S1E4 (Comedy Central, 11:30pm) – series finale
Planet Earth: Blue Planet II S1E6 “Coasts” (BBC America, 8pm)