I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 14 years old, it was Sunday morning, and my mother—who, because it was Alabama, was legally required to be a Southern Baptist—repeated the phrase she'd used every weekend since I was in diapers: "Time to go to Sunday School!" Normally, I'd put on my tie and dress shorts, and climb into the car without argument—but not that day. That was the day I turned to her and said, "You know, Mom, 14 years of church is enough for anybody. I'm never going again." AND I NEVER DID.
I still regard that as one of the best decisions I've ever made—and 97 percent of my choices in life have been terrible. But I was absolutely right: 14 years of Sunday School IS TOO LONG. (Especially when the primary message is "Don't masturbate.") Happily, I made up for all that wasted time of non-masturbating by furiously masturbating (along with other crimes against God, which I won't bore you with at this particular juncture).
ANYWAY! As it turned out, I didn't stop going to Sunday School... I just started going to a different Sunday School—one that I still attend today, and is held at a rather unorthodox church I like to call "Our Lady of Perpetual Television Watching." Here's what I like about this TV-based church: It takes place every Sunday in my living room. (Convenient!) It has a large TV as the focal point, instead of a big wooden cross with a bloody person hanging off of it. (Christians are weird.) This TV-worshipping Sunday School also has a far more liberal view on masturbation. (If they can't see me doing it, they don't care.) AND it has super-entertaining things to watch every Sunday (especially right now), such as...
Downton Abbey (PBS, 9 pm, Sundays): Things are much less lighthearted this season with a grieving Mary and a Downton party that went terribly, horrifically wrong for Anna. Tonight I'm hoping for more hilarious, withering disses from the Countess Dowager. For example: "Lord Grantham, your mama's so fat, when she broke her arm, gravy ran out." (Why can't I write for this show??)
True Detective (HBO, 9 pm, Sundays): If you're not watching this electrifying new crime series starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, you're missing a show that's gonna swamp the Emmys next year. Woody and Matthew are doing the best acting of their lives as two troubled cops in search of a serial killer. Miss 14 years of Sunday School... but DO NOT MISS THIS.
Sherlock (PBS, 10 pm, Sundays): In the second episode of the third season, Sherlock encounters the greatest challenge of his career: writing a speech for Watson's wedding. Oh, and there's also a killer stalking the reception, but whatever, pish-tosh, tuppence for the birds. (EEEEK! Only one episode left after this!!)
Girls (HBO, 10 pm, Sundays): Lena Dunham is the undisputed master of capturing narcissistic and oft-times nude twentysomethings. But make no mistake: Girls features more reality in a single episode than any book of the Bible—though she's kind of slacking off in the masturbation department. Seriously, where am I going to find a religion that focuses on the important stuff?!?
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22
10:30 COM BROAD CITY
Debut! The Amy Poehler–produced web series about two single gals whooping it up in New York City gets its own series!
10:30 A&E WAHLBURGERS
Debut! Sigh. Another reality show about semi-famous people (this time the Wahlbergs) doing uninteresting things.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 23
9:00 FOX RAKE
Debut! A new dramedy about a gambling-addicted criminal-defense attorney (Greg Kinnear) that’s remotely funny.
Midnight TOON THE GREATEST EVENT IN TELEVISION HISTORY
Adam Scott returns with another hilarious spot-on re-creation of openers from classic TV shows!
FRIDAY, JANUARY 24
9:00 STARZ BLACK SAILS
Debut! A new pirate-themed series about Captain Flint and his mateys who say “Yo-ho-ho” a lot.
10:00 SYFY HELIX
Walker is trapped on “Level R”—with “R” standing for “Ruh-Roh!”
SATURDAY, JANUARY 25
11:30 NBC SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Host: Jonah Hill! Musical guest: Bastille! Viewer: You!
SUNDAY, JANUARY 26
8:00 CBS THE GRAMMY AWARDS
Hosted by LL Cool J, with performances by every single artist you can think of (who isn’t dead).
10:00 PBS SHERLOCK
Sherlock attends Watson’s wedding—drink every time you notice a gay subtext!
MONDAY, JANUARY 27
10:00 FX ARCHER
Check out this reboot of Archer, that’s now a hee-larious Miami Vice parody.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 28
6:00 ALL NETS STATE OF THE UNION
President Obama stars in this reality show about running a country. Tonight: problems with the NSA and Obamacare!
10:00 FX JUSTIFIED
Boyd’s life is threatened by a relative—which makes this the LAST family reunion he’ll ever attend!
Where I lead, so shall you follow: @WmSteveHumphrey on Twitter