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Seven series start this week

By Amy Robinson, A&E/Teen Editor
BENJAMIN THURESSON | NBC
Greg Poehler created and stars in “Welcome to Sweden,” premiering Thursday on NBC. Based on his own life, it centers on an American who moves to Sweden to follow his girlfriend.
MICHAEL GIBSON | FX Corey Stoll stars as the head of a CDC team investigating a viral outbreak that causes vampirism in “The Strain,” Guillermo del Toro’s horror drama premiering on FX Sunday.
STEVE WILKIE | WETV Marin Ireland and Paul Schneider star in “The Divide,” a legal drama premiering Wednesday that marks WE’s first foray into scripted programming.

Seven new scripted shows hit the air this week, including four comedies and a Kiwi import. Here’s a look:

Welcome to Sweden, 9 p.m. Thursday, NBC

Greg Poehler (Amy’s brother) created and stars in this sitcom about an American who moves to Sweden to be with his Swedish girlfriend. Here’s hoping this culture clash/fish-out-of-water sitcom goes better than NBC’s last effort along those lines: 2010’s largely reviled “Outsourced.”

The show, based on Poehler’s own life and filmed primarily in Stockholm, also stars Swedish actress Josephine Bornebusch as his girlfriend, Patrick Duffy (“Dallas”) and Illeana Douglas (“Grace of My Heart”) as his parents and Lena Olin (“Chocolat”) as his girlfriend’s mother. There will be cameos by his sister and her “Parks and Recreation” co-star Aubrey Plaza as well as Malin Akerman of the late, great “Trophy Wife,” Will Ferrell and Gene Simmons.

Working the Engels, 9:30 p.m. Thursday, NBC

Following “Sweden” is NBC’s other new sitcom, this one about a family of ne’er-do-wells that has to band together to run their father’s storefront law firm and keep themselves afloat after he dies and leaves behind a mountain of debt. Kacey Rohl (“Hannibal”) leads the family as the “good sibling” — and the only one qualified to practice law. Andrea Martin (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) is her self-absorbed mom, the firm’s paralegal; Azura Skye (“28 Days”) is her former pill-popping sister, the receptionist and Ben Arthur (“Less Than Kind”) is her petty criminal brother, the investigator.

The Almighty Johnsons, 10 p.m. Friday, Syfy

Syfy lightens things up with this New Zealand import, which is billed as not only as an action-packed fantasy series but also a comedy drama. It centers on four laid-back, fun-loving brothers...who happen to have inherited the powers of the Norse Gods.

Three seasons aired in New Zealand, and Syfy has the rights to the first two. Right now, only the 10-episode first season is set to run; presumably, if the ratings are there, season two will follow.

The Strain, 10 p.m. Sunday, FX

In 2009, acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro and author Chuck Hogan published the first novel in their vampire horror trilogy “The Strain.” On Sunday, FX debuts the TV adaptation of the series, which begins with a plane full of dead passengers landing at JFK, spurring the CDC to investigate. What they find is a viral outbreak that has hallmarks of an ancient, evil strain of vampirism. After that, all hell breaks loose as the virus spreads, putting humanity at risk.

Corey Stoll (“House of Cards”) stars as the head of the CDC team investigating the outbreak. Other cast members are David Bradley (Argus Filch in the “Harry Potter” films), Mia Maestro (“Alias”) and Sean Astin (“Lord of the Rings”).

Backpackers, 8:30 p.m. Monday, CW

Both of the CW’s new Monday night comedies are Canadian imports. This one is also imported from the Internet, where it first began life as a web series. If you happen to have seen that, yes, the material from it has been packaged into the TV show, but then six additional all-new episodes produced.

The show is a globe-trotting comedy about two best friends worldwide search for one’s missing journal. It was stolen and posted online, where it became a viral hit. If they track down the thief and get the journal back, the writer can fulfill his dream of becoming a published author.

Seed, 9:30 p.m. Monday, CW

You’d be forgiven if you thought this was a TV adaptation of Vince Vaughn’s movie “Delivery Man” (itself a remake of the Canadian comedy “Starbuck”) as the premise is virtually same: an immature bachelor comes face to face with the children fathered from his anonymous sperm donations and becomes involved in their lives The only difference is the donor in question only has two offspring, far fewer than Vaughn’s character.

The Divide, 9 p.m. Wednesday, WE

This legal drama, WE’s first foray into scripted programming, stars Marin Ireland (“Mildred Pierce”) as a case worker for the Innocence Initiative, who tries to stop the execution of a man she believes was wrongly convicted in a sensational murder trial. This puts her up against the city’s prominent district attorney (the U.S. “Prime Suspect”), who made his name on the case and is determined to uphold the convictions of the death row inmate and his conspirator.

Some of the faces you might recognize in the cast are Paul Schneider (“Parks and Recreation”), Nia Long (“Third Watch”) and Clark Peters (“The Wire”). Chris Bauer (“True Blood’s” Andy Bellefleur) and Joe Anderson (“The Grey”) play the convicts.

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Reality series premieres: Handsome Devils, 9 p.m. Thursday, ID (true stories of lady-killers); Beasts of the Bayou, 10 p.m. Thursday, Discovery (a shrimp boat crew searches for proof of elusive swampland creatures while scientists try to dispel them as myths); Leah Remini: Its All Relative, 10 p.m. Thursday, TLC (follows the actress, her family and friends); Pawnography, 10 p.m. Thursday, History (“Pawn Stars” game show spinoff); Snack-Off, 10:30 p.m. Thursday, MTV (amateur chefs compete to turn snacks into full meals); Game of Crowns, 9 p.m. Sunday, Bravo (six women compete on the “Mrs.” pageant circuit); Lone Star Lady, 10 p.m. Sunday, A&E (a working-class Texas family is rich after striking oil); Going Deep with David Rees, 10 p.m. Monday, National Geographic (a humorist gives how-to advice on everyday skills); Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project, 10 p.m. Wednesday, VH1 (young artists compete for a spot on Perry’s label; preceded by a Behind the Music special on Perry at 9 p.m.).

Season premieres: Ridiculousness, 10 p.m. Thursday, MTV; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, 10 p.m. Friday, Food Network; The Dead Files, 10 p.m. Saturday, Travel; The Real Housewives of New Jersey, 8 p.m. Sunday, Bravo.

Returning: Mythbusters, 9 p.m. Thursday, Discovery; Welcome to Sweetie Pies, 9 p.m. Saturday, OWN.

Timeslot premieres: The Legend of Korra, 8 p.m. Friday, Nickelodeon; Girl Meets World, 8:30 p.m. Friday, Disney.

Timeslot change: CBS’ Unforgettable and Reckless switch places starting Sunday, with “Unforgettable” at 9 p.m. and “Reckless” at 10 p.m.

Season finales: Brother vs. Brother, 9 p.m. Sunday, HGTV; Devious Maids, 10 p.m. Sunday, Lifetime; “Salem, 10 p.m. Sunday, WGN; 24: Live Another Day, 9 p.m. Monday, Fox; The Night Shift, 10 p.m. Tuesday, NBC.

Specials: The ESPY Awards, 9 p.m. Wednesday, ESPN (hosted by Drake); Inside the Walking Dead: Walker University, 10 p.m. Tuesday, AMC (behind-the-scenes documentary on bringing the show’s walkers to life); Chopped: Teen Tournament, 10 p.m. Tuesday, Food Network (round one of five).

W.Va. alert: Nudists in the state are featured on TLC’s Buying Naked, 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Reach Amy Robinson at flipside@wvgazette.com.


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