It’s hard to believe series are still premiering in November, what’s even harder to comprehend is the website I’ve been getting information from had this week’s premieres wrong, good thing I checked!  Fans of Raising Hope will be glad to know the very funny show returns this Friday at 9:00 PM on FOX.

American Pickers (Wednesday 6 PM HIST) Mike and Frank are back at it this season and in top form; the first couple of episodes were shot in Italy and full of some really cool scooters, motorcycles, and European objets d’art.  These guys have a great eye and choose items in a wide price range demonstrating we all, whatever our income, may own a little bit of style from a bygone era.  I have often thought the real mission of American Pickers is to stealthily improve our nation’s sense of decorating style.  If you’re behind catch up on demand or at history.com where you can stream some full episodes and then watch this Wednesday at 6 PM (though they run the same episode again a little later too so check your listings).  Last season I got a call from my brother asking if I had watched the previous night’s episode; I told him I had not but would do so as soon as possible.  What I saw was a rather pleasant surprise, when I was maybe eight or ten my grandmother (an antique store owner) gave me a little toy car that looked cool but didn’t do much, I put it away and forgot about it; thirty plus years later I see the exact car on American Pickers and it turns out she gave me this really cool thing called a tether car and it had a motor inside and could reach speeds in excess of 100 MPH!  What?  I got it out of storage, put it on a shelf and now I have a new conversation piece that cost me nothing, so thanks Grandma Dude!

Parenthood (Thursday 10 PM NBC) It feels like everyone in this series is in a constant state of chaos or maybe it’s transition or perhaps flux is the proper term; sometimes when watching my head spins and I think, “This show is nuts, this much stuff does not happen to one small group of people in such a short time span!”  But then I think about my friend who had two major surgeries for unrelated conditions that were both discovered within months of each other, and my car gets broken into and my friend from home tells me she needs bypass surgery and on and on and I realize this series pretty accurately reflects life.  Parenthood is about a group of people who love and support each other, struggle, overcome, triumph, fail and somehow find a way to get some happiness and satisfaction out of life.  The message is, no man (or woman) is an island, we get through life’s many challenges much better with a strong support network, for some of us (as in the case of the Braverman clan) it is biological family, and for others it is the group of people we choose to be our family.  The writers do a good job of telling stories, but the actors including Lauren Graham, Peter Krause, Dax Shepard, Monica Potter, Erika Christensen, Bonnie Bedelia (who I imagine is a lovely person and don’t tell me if she’s not!) and one of my favorite actors Craig T. Nelson (who plays exactly the kind of family patriarch I would have been had I gotten married young and started having kids, he’s flawed but wise) are amazing at what they do, this is a true ensemble cast with some serious chemistry.  I won’t often suggest series that are seventy plus episodes in, but the writers do a pretty good job of reminding the viewer of past history, and there were some recent changes with story-lines ending and new ones beginning so right now is a great time to start watching, or come back if you stopped.

Real Time with Bill Maher (Friday 10 PM HBO) I offered up this program in my picks before, but had to once again because this week marks a major milestone for Real Time, episode 300 will air this coming Friday.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again; if you are looking for witty banter, well informed guests who will actually speak their mind, and a host that will shut up and let guests speak, look no further.  The format of a monologue followed by a short one on one interview, followed by a panel discussion and finally a close with Maher’s comedic take on recent events called “New Rules” works really well; I have yet to be bored by the show, but I have often been informed, educated and entertained.  Click on the image below to be taken to HBO’s Real Time page where you can read more about the series, and see some clips.

 

– John Morton