TV Picks: The Divide, Extant, Sharknado

'The Divide'

Marin Ireland, left, and Paul Schneider in "The Divide." (WE tv)

"The Divide" AMC Network's attempt to get its very niche WE tv into the scripted drama game may not produce the industry-quake that "Mad Men" did, but this legal drama exploring themes of race, class, ambition and the elastic nature of justice is a fine debut for a platform once known exclusively for reality fare like "Bridezillas." Marin Ireland in particular delivers a fine performance as Christine, a law student/bartender who works for a group dedicated to freeing the wrongly convicted. In last week's pilot, a case involving the brutal murder of a black family brought her up against increasingly powerful DA Adam Page (Damon Gupton), who made his career convicting two white men of the crime.

After the execution of one at the end of the first hour, evidence Christine struggled to get revealed that, although he was at the scene, he was not the murderer. The ensuing seven episodes will follow, presumably, an unraveling of the original case and, one hopes, the discovery of the true murderer. Along the way, all manner of issues affecting the course of justice will be examined.

In the pilot, creators Tony Goldwyn and Richard LaGravenese showed an admirable ability to twist viewer assumptions back on themselves; while there is a comforting familiarity in the legal drama set up, "The Divide" seems willing to dodge easy drama for something more substantive. WE tv, Wednesdays, 9 p.m.

 

"Satisfaction." As an antidote to its famously "blue sky" programming, USA is trying something different with this cagey complicated marital drama in which successful financial advisor Neil Truman (Matt Passmore) blows a midlife gasket only to find his very supportive wife, Grace (Stephane Szostack), has already beat him to it: to satisfy the needs left by their intimacy-free marriage, she's hired a male escort. Through machinations too complicated to get into, Neil winds up with the escort's phone and begins servicing the clients himself.

The notion that a man can re-locate his inner peace and alpha-maleness through prostitution is a bit absurd, but "Satisfaction" does a nice job exploring the tyrannies of the "perfect" life and the psychological complexities that allow quietly unhappy people to do things they never thought they would. USA, Thursdays, 9 p.m.

 

"Extant." The story of a near-future astronaut, played by Halle Berry, who returns from more than a year alone in space pregnant, remains one of the freshest new shows of summer.  

 

"Welcome to Sweden." Shot in Sweden, with Swedish speakers and subtitles, Greg Poehler's semi-autobiographical tale of an American who leaves a successful accounting career to follow his girlfriend to her homeland is sweet, smart and quickly addictive. Poehler stars as the slightly goofy Bruce, Joanne Bournebusch as Emma, the reason for his move, and the two have great and realistic trying-to-figure-it-out chemistry. Amy Poehler, Greg's sister, is executive producer and makes a few hilarious cameos along with A-list friends, including Will Ferrell and Aubrey Plaza. Not that they are necessary — a great supporting cast of Swedes and Americans keeps things moving, and of course the Swedish scenery is gorgeous. NBC, Thursdays, 9 p.m.

 

"Sharknado." A sequel to the crazy SyFy film that sparked a social media maelstrom is on its way at the end of the month. And while you can, undoubtedly, just jump right into to the basic lack of plot, why not catch the original before the second storm hits? Netflix, any old time

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