Thursday, Oct. 17 (The CW)
Series Debut: The story of Mary, Queen of Scots may seem a little ambitious for The CW—but don't worry, it's still PG-13 Tudors-lite sexy. Oh, and mostly fabricated and era-incorrect. What-evs. Once you get past the wavering accents and passing hints at the supernatural (which seems to be a network requirement anymore), it's clear that lead Adelaide Kane, late of MTV's craptastic Teen Wolf, is Reign's breakout star, and this is far from the stoopidest thing on The CW (not as long as Hart of Dixie and Beauty & the Beast are still around ... they are, right?).
The Birthday Boys
Friday, Oct. 18 (IFC)
Series Debut: The Birthday Boys, an obscure sketch-comedy troupe from Los Angeles, are going to get a hell of a lot of attention due to the guest-presence of Bob Odenkirk, last seen shuffling off to Nebraska at Saul Goodman in the final episodes of Breaking Bad. Or maybe none at all—this isn't Portlandia or Maron, fergawdsakes. The potential is there, but The Birthday Boys doesn't have the gonzo abandon of IFC's previous sketch-show experiment, The Whitest Kids U'Know, but it does have Odenkirk, who co-created the legendary Mr. Show (look it up), as well as co-executive producer Ben Stiller, who used to be funny (look that up, too). Give 'em a chance; Better Call Saul is a long way off.
What Not to Wear
Friday, Oct. 18 (TLC)
Two-Hour Series Finale: My favorite TLC show? Canceled?! Apparently, lady-dude Stacy London and dude-lady Clinton Kelly no longer fit in with the former Learning Channel, which will soon be debuting—totally true—a reality series called Best Funeral Ever. Still, 10 seasons and more than 300 makeovers is impressive even though, after a decade, What Not to Wear still hasn't exactly taught me what not to wear: My No. 1 style rule is that a black T-shirt and black Chuck Taylors transitions effortlessly from daywear to eveningwear; No. 2: Jeans are clean until they can stand up on their own.
Saturday, Oct. 19 (Syfy)
Movie: It's like Syfy isn't even trying anymore with their movie titles: The first original entry in October's "31 Days of Halloween"—which in itself is lame branding—was simply Scarecrow; next week, it's Zombie Night; right here, we have Grave Halloween, wherein "an American college student studying in Japan risks her own life to save the spirit of her dead mother, who killed herself in the notorious Suicide Forest." At least one grave is implied, but Halloween? Not so much. Suicide Forest—now that's a horror-flick title, and maybe a Dethklok song, too: "Camping out in the Suicide Forest! / Where Satan's minions can't ignore us! / Cooking beans in the Suicide Forest! / Don't call the ranger, call the florist! (guitar solo)." See? It ain't that hard, Syfy.
CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story
Monday, Oct. 21 (VH1)
Movie: The true-ish tale of T-Boz (played by Drew Sidora), Left-Eye (Lil' Mama) and Chili (Keke Palmer), all dramatized for a VH1 Original Movie—not that TLC's legend needs much spicing up: The '90s New Jack queens arrived like rock stars, selling millions of albums and creating tabloid mayhem that makes today's pop puppets look (even more) like pussies. Smartly, CrazySexyCool glosses over little of it, making for a more legit, visceral and—thanks to the ever-present music—fun, rock-doc than most of us thought VH1 was capable of anymore. Just don't let it go to your heads and crank out Kid 'n Play: After the House Party, VH1.