"The Wrong Mans" (Hulu, beginning Monday). James Corden and Mathew Baynton, both from Britain's "Gavin & Stacey," co-wrote and costar in this fine action comedy, co-produced by Hulu and the BBC. As the title suggests, it's Hitchcock times two, comically. The stars play acquainted quasi-co-workers -- Baynton a "town planning and noise guidance adviser" for a suburban county council and Corden a "31-year-old mail distribution assistant" who "works for the building" -- whom fate makes allies and friends after Baynton finds a cellphone whose unidentified caller says, "If you're not here by 5 o'clock, we'll kill your wife." Nervous skinny guy plus overconfident round guy add up to the adventure both desperately need. (In "Parks and Recreation" terms, if that's at all helpful, you can think of them as a less cool Ben Wyatt -- Baynton resembles Adam Scott, in a stretched-out way -- and more able Andy Dwyer, before Chris Pratt got buff.) I admit to having been lost at times within the story's tangled threads, which involve plots both local and international, but as in Hitchcock, that's somewhat beside the point; what matters is to keep things moving. There are many things in it familiar to the genre, but the borrowings fit the tone of the story, in which ordinary life suddenly becomes something out of a movie; it feels fresh in the way that kids at play make spy or space stories their own. This is just that with a budget, some experience and the help of Jennifer Saunders and Rebecca Front and David Harewood, among interesting others.
"TV Guide Magazine: Best Covers Volume 1" (available to buy at www.tvguidemagazine.com). A handsome keepsake volume, available in perfect-bound hard copy or digital this-or-that, delivers what the title promises: a gallery of great covers from across six decades of publication. I will wait while you try to wrap your head around 60 years of TV Guide. (Actually, you'll have to wait while I try to wrap my head around it … almost there … just a … OK … ready.) If you have ever lived with this publication, or by this publication, or for this publication -- as I did in my TV-misspent youth -- you will find the images here bringing on a Proustian rush, whether they be of Lucy, Johnny, Lassie, Jerry, Batman, Charlie's Angels, Kirk and Spock, Crockett and Tubbs, Ralph and Alice or Gregory House, to name only the cover stars who appear on this new volume's cover. Arranged thematically within decades, it's also a walk through evolving ages of illustration, photography and design, with tribute spreads to Al Hirschfeld, Jack Davis and Bob Peak, and one-off work by the likes of Charles Addams, Romare Bearden, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. Essays by Matt Roush, reflections from Dick Van Dyke and Michael J. Fox, and a foreword by Mark Harmon.
MasterChef Junior (Fox, Friday). Yes, this again, and for the last time until Season 2 arrives, as it will, if there is any justice in this world, and this spell I have just cast is any good. We have come to the finale, which pits 13-year-old Alexander against 12-year-old Dara, both deserving and neither of them stuck up about it, which makes them doubly easy to root for, and equally hard to root against. (I root for everyone in these shows, so I am always pleased, and always disappointed.) It's true that for much of the series' run the money would have been on an Alexander-Troy match-up, but Troy flamed out last week with an uncharacteristically undercooked chicken, as well as a bit of game-playing that came back to bite him; having won the opening challenge (to perfectly cook a soft-boiled egg, ironically), he had the right to assign the parts: Alexander, stuck with chicken livers, made a pate on garlic crostini; Dara sculpted chicken wings into soy-and-ginger-flavored lollipops. I am moved again, even as I write, by the judges' astonished and clearly most sincere praise. You can find earlier episodes online to prep for the finals, or begin (or begin again) from the beginning.
"Burning Love" (E!, Wednesdays, and Yahoo! Screen, anytime). E! imports this perfectly executed, Web-born parody -- barely a parody -- of "The Bachelor," "The Bachelorette" and "Bachelor Pad," to conventional basic-cable television. Written by Erica Oyama and starring real-world husband Ken Marino, its first season has already aired. This week brings the second (the "Bachelorette" season) and starts the "Bachelor Pad"-ish third, in which contestants from Season 1 and 2 return to compete for a cash prize of … $900. Comedy is in a joyful, highly collegial place right now; I suppose the Internet has something to with it. (Grudging admission that it has done some good, while destroying whole industries and business districts.) Actors show up for their friends and for the fun, and probably a little bit of money, I am guessing. Or not. But along with Marino, the Season 1 bachelor, and Season 2 bachelorette June Diane Raphael, "Burning Love" has and/or will include appearances by Kristen Bell, Michael Cera, Adam Scott, Natasha Leggero, Ben Stiller, Ryan Hansen, Nick Kroll, Kumail Nanjiani, Paul Scheer, Martin Starr, Leslie Bibb, Seth Rogen, David Wain, Carla Gallo and Jennifer Aniston. Among others.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times