Despite the weight Valentine’s Day carries in Western culture, it just doesn’t have the same cachet in the media as big dogs like Christmas and Halloween – but then, this is perhaps because the industry turns out desperately slushy relationship plots year-round. True to form, none of February’s new television is particularly romantic in tone, unless you’re counting the love of cartoon fans for old-style rotoscoped animation.
Here are the biggest new TV shows of February 2022.
What’s New On TV In February 2022
1. Murderville | February 3rd
Will Arnett brings his unique style of unsinkable braggadocio to investigating murders. At least, I hope he’s in braggadocio mode here. If he’s in BoJack Horseman mode – well, I just don’t know if I’m ready to be hurt again.
The UK original, Murder in Successville, had each episode’s celebrity guest star played in lighthearted parodic fashion by someone else (eg Cariad Lloyd as Angela Merkel, or Justin Bieber). Now the concept’s trickled over to the United States of Stateside, they’ve got the clout to bring in the real thing, which will see Arnett opposite people like Conan O’Brien and Sharon Stone and Ken Jeong – none of whom will be given a script.
At the risk of turning nationalistic like a drunk uncle at a wedding, one of the major differences between UK and US comedy is just how irreverent it’s willing to get. Can this American version really be willing to treat its gaggle of celebs with the appropriate contempt, rather than immediately getting starry-eyed that whatstheirface off the telly is – gasp – in the same room? Let’s hope so.
2. Inventing Anna | February 11th
It’s trite to say truth is stranger than fiction – but we’re still struggling to convince people that the three-year pandemic that’s killed millions is real, so ‘truth’ and ‘fiction’ are shakier than you might expect.
This is the turf the con artist revels in, and Inventing Anna is the story of a real one – a penniless Russian woman who convinced New York high society that she was a German heiress, and managed to winkle millions of dollars out of them.
Julia Garner plays the phony heiress, which for fans of Ozark should sell it on its own. Garner has consistently been one of the strongest things about that generally well-received show (“I don’t know shit about fuck”, etc.), so it was always only a matter of time until they let her off the leash to front something herself.
3. Bel-Air | February 13th
Did they really spin a whole TV show out of some guy’s parody trailer for a gritty reboot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? (No, not that one, the other one.) Yes, they did.
You should already know the story here. West Philadelphia, born and raised. Couple of guys, up to no good. One little fight, mum got scared, move in with your aunty and uncle in Bel-Air – come on, you know the words. Fundamentally it was always a sort of black Beverly Hillbillies, with it all turning on the culture clash between Will Smith’s original character Will Smith and his wealthy extended family.
Both ends of this are, at least, fertile turf for a more gritty interpretation. Will’s young life on the mean streets of West Philadelphia, well, that’s obvious grit material – but so is the upscale Hollywood neighbourhood of Bel-Air. Who knows just what these wealthy ghouls are getting up to, hiding away from the world behind the spiked gates of their mansion? Meeting with a controversial political figure again, perhaps.
4. The Cuphead Show! | February 18th
Cuphead struck a sizable chord with gamers the moment the first trailer dropped, before anyone had even tried it out, based on the graphics alone – and it wasn’t hard to see why. It was all rendered in that gorgeous, bouncy, Ub Iwerks style from the halycon days of animation, and recreated that so faithfully that some people got very confused and claimed it had also recreated the racism of those days through transitive properties alone.
As such, Cuphead is a very natural choice for a screen adaptation, although one that’s understandably been years in the making. When you do this kind of animation properly, you can’t just bash it out over a weekend, it’s the same problem the claymation masterpiece Wallace and Gromit always had.
The game saw Cuphead and his porcelain brother Mugman get into debt with the devil, because cartoons in the ‘30s rolled surprisingly hard, so one can only assume that the cartoon will be taking similar cues. It’s a world of archetypes, inanimate objects with faces and surprisingly aggressive personalities, and – most importantly of all – everything bouncing.
5. Severance | February 18th
Probably not a TV spinoff of the work-outing-gone-bad horror film also called Severance. Wouldn’t it be good if it was, though?
There’s plenty of memes which play on the fundamental disconnect between work life and home life. These days, in many trades that’s a matter of spending eight hours with the bad screen to come home to the good screen. Severance is one of those works of sci-fi that takes this concept to its literal, horrifying conclusion – what if these really were two entirely separate existences? And your work self couldn’t remember anything about your other life, and vice versa?
Even sedentary office work is fraught with dangers that would be made all the worse in this scenario – you wake up to discover your hands are basically one big papercut and the photocopier’s gone over your foot. If you work an honest job, in a trade that involves any moving parts or hot liquids? Tremble to think.
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