‘The Americans’ starts mid-season TV land rush

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Whenever there is a confluence of current events and popular culture, I wonder: Is it serendipity or marketing?

The arrest of three Russian spies (!) this week in NYC can only mean one thing: Wednesday’s season premiere of “The Americans” on FX. After losing track of the show in its second season and screening four new episodes I was struck by how little has changed and how easy it was to jump back into.

keriOn the surface, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are an all-American suburban married couple in the 1980s who are actually the Soviet spies next door.

Their neighbor is a clueless FBI agent who has befriended them and who this season reluctantly visits the burgeoning new age est movement to save his marriage, after having an affair with a beautiful Russian embassy clerk who was his informer.

The vise tightens this season when the couple’s urbane chess playing new handler, played by Frank Langella, urges them to “groom” their teenage daughter, who does not know her parents’ secret, as a second generation spy. Their daughter, meanwhile falls under the thrall of an activist priest.

The push me-pull you fate of their daughter becomes the central tension this season and tests the marriage arranged years earlier by the KGB. There are the close calls in the field – a sketch of Russell hangs in the FBI office – and distasteful chores, like compromising a US official’s teenage daughter who is much like their own.

There is bone crunching violence and a dental scene to rival “Marathon Man.” I don’t remember the show being this violent.

“Allegiance,” Feb. 5 on NBC, about a young FBI agent unaware his family is a Soviet sleeper cell strikes many of the same familial themes, although it is set in modern-day. “Allegiance” is based on the Israeli series “The Gordon Cell.”

“The Americans” marks the start of the winter mid-season cable and broadcast land rush, which includes the return of favorites like “Scandal,” “Nashville” and “The Walking Dead.”

The event officially known as the February sweeps begins Thursday and runs until Feb 25.

For some the big sweeps event will be the Super Bowl. For others it will be the premiere of “Better Call Saul.” When and where do these things happen? Consult the schedule below, which is subject to change.

Wednesday “The Americans” (FX)

Thursday “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder” (ABC); “Parenthood,” series finale (NBC)

Saturday “Saturday Night Live” Sports special (NBC)

Sunday Super Bowl, “The Blacklist” (NBC)

Feb. 3 “Being Mary Jane” (BET)

Feb. 4 “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Nashville” (ABC)

Feb. 5 “Allegiance,” an FBI agent’s family are Soviet spies, based on Israeli series. (NBC)

Feb. 8 “The Walking Dead,” midseason premiere; “Better Call Saul,” “Breaking Bad” spinoff with Bob Odenkirk, part one (AMC)

Feb. 9 “Better Call Saul,” Part two, (AMC).

Feb. 12 “The Slap,” a party guests slaps a child and sets off a chain of events, based on Australian series (NBC)

Feb. 13 “Bosch,” based on character created by writer Michael Connelly (Netflix)

Feb. 15 “Comic Book Men” (AMC)

Feb. 16 “The Book of Negroes” Miniseries based on novel about an African woman who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. (BET)

Feb. 17 “Rizzoli & Isles” (TNT); “Repeat After Me” Reality series based on recurring “Ellen” show segment in which Ellen Degeneres directs celebrities by earpiece as they pull pranks. (ABC)

Feb.19 “The Odd Couple,” with Matthew Perry, Thomas Lennon; “Two and A Half Men,” series finale, (CBS).
 “The Vikings” (History).

Feb. 23 “The Night Shift,” medical drama (NBC)

Feb. 24 “The Voice” (NBC)

Feb. 25 “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race,” 26th season contestants include Milwaukee native and Olympic speed skater Alyson Dudek (CBS)

Feb. 26 “How to Get Away With Murder,” season finale, (ABC).

Feb. 27 “House of Cards” (Netflix)

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  • seenable

    So basically just The Americans…got it.

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