TV Previews: “American Idol,” “Unsupervised,” “On Freddie Roach”


“American Idol”
Wednesday-Thursday 8pm, Fox
Last year’s 10th season taught us several lessons. The most important is that, yes, the show can exist just fine without Simon Cowell, as the infusion of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez made the competition feel fresh for the first time in years. Shaking things up genre-wise is also a good idea, as we had an almost unheard-of mix of metal, gospel, jazz, and torch-song singers in the Final 13. And finally, that the voting has unquestionably been overwhelmed by Southern moms, explaining a six male/two female Top 8 and an all-country Final 2 in Lauren Alaina and eventual winner Scott McCreery. This season here’s hoping that Lopez is more aggressive in the early auditions—she was too nicey-nicey last year, but offered insightful criticism once we got to the voting rounds—and that Tyler actually critiques the finalists this time instead of last year’s love fest. As for Randy Jackson, he…continues to exist.

Thursday 10:30pm, FX
FX tries to build its animated comedy block with this new companion series for hilarious spy toon “Archer,” which returns from hiatus Thursday at 10pm. “Unsupervised” comes from the writers/producers of FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” Justin Long (Drag Me to Hell, assorted Drew Barrymore romcoms) and David Hornsby (Rickety Cricket on “Sunny”) voice the lead characters, two pubescent best friends raising themselves after being abandoned or ignored by their parents. The rest of the voice cast includes Kristen Bell (“Veronica Mars”), Romany Malco (“Weeds”), Kaitlin Olson (Dee on “Sunny”), Fred Armisen (“Saturday Night Live”), and even the great whiskey-soaked vocal cords of Sally Kellerman as the boys’ principal.

“On Freddie Roach”
Friday 9:30pm, HBO
Writer/director/producer/actor Peter Berg has experienced success by merging sports and the screen with his film and TV adaptations of Friday Night Lights. His latest project is a cinema verite series (it’s fancier than calling it reality TV) focusing on the life of Freddie Roach, a former amateur boxer who for the past two decades has become one of the most sought-after trainers in the sport, working with 20 world champions including Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, Oscar de la Hoya, and Mike Tyson. He has been named Trainer of the Year of the Boxing Writers Association of America and has been inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame—and he also has Parkinson’s disease. This series will chronicle Roach’s impressive career and explore how his debilitating condition has affected his life.