TV this week: "American Horror Stories," a must watch for horror-philes

This week TV returns to normalcy after the holiday interruption. Photo: Stevie Nicks on American Horror Story - The Coven

WASHINGTON, January 5, 2014 – The Three Wise Guys are slated to conclude their annual pilgrimage to Bethlehem Monday, January 6, formally closing out the Twelve Days of Christmas and bringing us back to every day life as usual.

Perhaps not coincidentally, with Christmas specials and college football receding from view in our rear-view mirrors, TV is also slouching back toward its regular schedule this week, bringing joy to legions of couch potatoes who have had their viewing routines interrupted seemingly forever.

This week’s top TV pick is the return of FX’s “American Horror Stories” series. The latest installment of “The Coven,” premiering Wednesday January 8, plunges us back into this FX witches’ brew with a new story arc further spiced by special guest star and Number One Witchy Woman Stevie Nicks. She will appear, appropriately, as herself.

Wednesday’s episode (Number 10) is entitled “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks.” Could Ms. Nicks be maneuvering ironically-named Supreme Witch Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) onto some supernatural ejection seat, the better to assume the top job herself? If so, is the lovely Madison Montgomery (Emma Roberts) going to take this move sitting down? Macbeth’s weird sisters would almost certainly have enjoyed this plot line.

True horror aficionados need to tune in January 8 at 10 p.m. EST for some of the best-ever episodic horror viewing in the history of television.

As for the rest of the week, here’s a list of our picks:

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Returning: Downtown Abbey, January 5, 9 p.m. EST, PBS

They are back and they are sad, but it’s all properly done, of course, since this is England, after all. The season break left Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) sad over the car crash that claimed her hubby Matthew, although her loss was really due to real-life actor Dan Stevens wanting to do other non-Abbey stuff elsewhere. Meanwhile, Branson (Allen Leech) is still sad over Lady Sybil’s (Jessica Brown Findlay) death. And Lady Cora, Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern) is wallowing in self pity.  Lady Violet, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) continues to stir the merriment pot. Thank the lucky stars for her.


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THE BACHELOR, January 6, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Insipid. ABC has renamed this month “Juan-uary” due to its Bachelor du Jour, Juan Pablo Galavis, a ready to find the love of his life single father from Miami. Really, can’t they just use eHarmony? Subway’s “Janu-ANY” promo seems more promising. Tastier, too.


Returning: Justified Tuesday, January 7, 10 p.m. ET, FX

Following a great 2013 season US Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) returns to a new set of troubles. Michael Rapaport (“Beautiful Girls,” “Boston Public”), so great at playing fidgety hotheads, is on hand to stir the pot as the owner of a gator farm. This is going to end badly for someone. 

Premier: Intelligence Tuesday, January 7 at 9 p.m. ET, CBS

Josh Holloway (Lost) shows that hunky nerds can do suspenseful drama, in this case as Gabriel Vaughn, an American cyber-crime intelligence operative. Only this hunk has a chunk of a super-computer microchip implanted in his brain allowing him access to Internet, telephone and satellite data without Google glasses. So the idea isn’t fresh, or even revolutionary. But Holloway could be fun to watch and if the show’s writing is more about the evolution of the technology and what that means, instead of the technology (i.e., I have a headache I have a chip in my brain; oh look, I can find out everything about her via the chip in my brain; oh no, the voices in my head, how can I turn off the chip in my brain?) this could be worth watching.

Premier: Being Mary Jane Tuesday, January 7 at 10 p.m. ET, BET

Fresh and new or a feminine rip-off of Jeff Bridges on The News room.  Spun from the eponymous TV movie, Gabrielle Union plays Mary Jane Paul as popular TV news anchor balancing her career and personal life. If it’s not all about the impossibility of being a superwomen and more about the challenges of her demanding job, it should be interesting. But if they fall back on the “I can’t be a woman and manage this demanding job” schtick, it won’t last.


This Week: PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS, January 8 at  9 p.m. ET, CBS

Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings of “2 Broke Girls” host this fan-voted awards shows where the only “stars” that show up are the ones that win. A lot of statues are passed out so that those first few rows are star studded. The only redeeming hope is that Miley Cyrus, if she shows up, materializes fully dressed, keeps tongue in mouth and stays far away from Robin Thicke. Face it girl, those things are all so 2013. Totally.

Premier: Chicago PD  January 8 at 9 p.m. on NBC

Another Chicago Police drama that highlights those that protect and serve in Chicago’s District 21. The only hope for this repeat is that it is from Law & Order’s Dick Wolf. So it is worth the space on your DVR.

Returns: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,  January 8 at p.m.  ET, TLC 

Howard Lee, executive VP of production and development for TLC explains that there is more in this brat’s life to watch, telling Variety, “As Alana gets older, the dynamic between her parents and sisters is changing. Viewers can look forward to seeing a different side of the family as they embark on this exciting new chapter of their lives.”  


Returning: Episode two: Community, January 9 at 8 p.m.  ET, NBC 

This is one of those cult favorites you need to know about for Friday morning water cooler chat. Dan Harmon and Jeff (Joel McHale) are back in the halls of Greendale. With Harmon’s self-aware, pop culture-loving humor and the introduction of Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks to the cast, Community is worth your Thursday night viewing.

Premier: THE SPOILS OF BABYLON, January 9 at 10 p.m. ET, IFC

Ha! Here comes the comedy. This is a TV show within a TV show? OK, that’s different. The show has author Eric Jonrosh (Will Ferrell) whose wildly successful saga, “The Spoils of Babylon,” (which spoofs the sprawling minis of yore like “The Thorn Birds”) features funny persons Kristen Wiig, Tim Robbins, Tobey Maguire and Haley Joel Osment as the fictitious Morehouse clan. Worth watching for the supporting cast. Let’s hope Eric Jonrosh isn’t Ron Burgundy in disguise.

Episode two of eight: The Assets, January 9 at 10 p.m. ET, ABC (miniseries) 

This show got the jump on competitors by debuting last week. But it’s not too late to find a repeat and get ready for this Thursday’s episode, based on some of the events found in the book “Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed.” Eight episodes have us on the edge of our seats as CIA counter-intelligence officer Sandy Grimes (Jodie Whittaker) and her partner Jeanne Vertefeuille (Harriet Walter) find notorious mole Aldrich Ames (Paul Rhys) in 1985. This is worth the watch.


Premiere: Enlisted January 10 15 9:30 p.m. ET, Fox

A  misfits-band-of-brothers in this one are three soldiers (Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, and Parker Young) that work, play, and have family fun conflicts while stationed on a military base. Formula worked for “Stripes” – might make it here.


This Week Only: MILIUS  January 11 at 8 p.m., ET, Epix

Do you know who acclaimed and controversial filmmaker John Milius is? You have watched his movies including (short list): “Miami Vice” (1987), “Uncommon Valor” (1983), “Magnum Force,” “Dillinger” (1973) and “The Life and times of Judge Roy Bean” (1972 – Milius also wrote the book.) Watch this documentary and find out as Milius himself, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Francis Ford Coppola, Harrison Ford, Michael Mann, Robert Zemeckis, Oliver Stone, Bryan Singer, Charlie Sheen and Matthew Weiner all comment on his career .

Netflix Updates:

If appointment TV is not your thing, or if you just like to watch a favorite show on-demand, Net Flix has updated (finally) what they are offering (not sure I see a “Murder, She Wrote” marathon in my future - twelve seasons, really?) including:

Dexter (Season 5–8)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (Season 1)

Murder, She Wrote (Seasons 1–12)

Jake and the Never Land Pirates (Season 2) — Available Jan. 5

The Lying Game (Season 2) — Available Jan. 8

Turbo FAST (Season 1)


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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times (1994-2009). 

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