Jeans have started uncomfortably sticking to legs and day drinking has become more socially acceptable, which means it is pretty much summertime. Summer is great, but one common complaint about the season is that nothing's on TV. All your favorite shows are off until September, meaning it's nothing but reruns from now until Labor Day. But that's old thinking! The summer television landscape is perhaps still a slightly less fertile one, but these days it is nevertheless chock-full of good stuff to watch. So draw the shades, turn on the air conditioning, and let's take a look at what you can look forward to.
It's no secret that crime rates are high in the summer months, and that's reflected in the world of television. This year we've got a number of shows that deal with the worst of the criminal element. Improbably, AMC decided to bring the much-criticized The Killing back for a third season. Everyone but the two leads, Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, has been jettisoned and an entirely new, unrelated case has to be cracked. So if you're looking for some rainy Vancouver/Seattle drear this summer, this could be the show for you. (June 2)
Dexter is set to finish its run this summer, and after a crackerjack season last year, I'd urge you to catch up on what you missed (you can probably skip most of seasons five and six) and find out with the rest of us how this whole crazy thing ends. Will Dexter be brought to justice like he, well, sorta deserves to be? Will the world find out who he really is? Will we ever stop feeling creepy about the whole Dexter/Deb/Michael C. Hall/Jennifer Carpenter thing? There's only one way to find out! (June 30)
FX had the Danish show The Bridge shipped over to America, but when they opened the box they couldn't understand the assembly instructions so it came out kinda different. This version has two cops, one from the US (Diane Kruger), the other from Mexico (Demián Bichir), working together to solve a rash of murders happening on both sides of the border. Early promos make the show look like, well, a Southwestern The Killing, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Plus Bichir is a great actor, and it will be nice to see him in the lead. (July 10)
On the same night as the must-watch Breaking Bad final season premiere, AMC is debuting a new cop show called Low Winter Sun, adapted from a British series. The show stars Mark Strong and Lennie James, both Brits doing hardboiled American accents as dirty cops in Detroit. I'm not sure we need another dirty cop show so soon after The Shield, but the trailer is certainly intriguing. Could be good gritty fun as the summer days wane. (August 11)
Are you ready for more Teen Wolf? You should be! MTV's surprisingly engaging teen horror series is returning for a jumbo-sized third season, bringing new characters and, presumably, new ghouls with it. But of course we still have perpetually perplexed wolfteen hero Scott, his wiseacre best bud Stiles, and the love of Scott's young life, Allison. Sure Teen Wolf isn't going to win any Peabodys anytime soon, but it's the summer, friends. You're allowed to turn the brain wave dial down a bit. Plus, twins! (June 3)
If you could follow any of what was happening on the incredibly overcrowded last season of True Blood, I'd imagine you'll want to hang with Sookie and the gang again this summer. It looks like vampire Bill has gone nuts, there's a vamp vs. human war looming, and there's some ominous guy with a hat. Ugh. This is the thing about True Blood. Every season I say it's the last, but then I get all caught up in whatever pile of junk they're throwing at us and have to know what happens, so I'm dragged into a new season and so and so on. And, sigh, I imagine this year won't be any different. (June 16)
CBS is taking a little gamble and doing a 13-episode limited series based on Stephen King's Under the Dome. I mean, networks used to do Stephen King miniseries all the time in the '90s — The Stand, The Tommyknockers, The Langoliers — but that was a long time ago. The story concerns a town that suddenly finds itself under a huge and impenetrable dome. Hence, uh, the title. As everyone suffers under the dome, society inevitably begins to collapse, while a noble few scramble to figure out what happened and how to undo it. This could be good in a cheesy way, like the King miniseries of old. Though, those did not hold up well. (June 24)
Men at Work
Liev Schreiber takes on a regular TV role in the new Showtime drama Ray Donovan, about a Los Angeles "fixer" solving rich people's problems, no matter how sordid. He's got a shadowy past involving Jon Voight, his wife is mad at him, and he seems to be sleeping around. This appears to be a juicy bit of pulp fiction, but this being Showtime, there's a chance it could just be a darker version of House of Lies, which would not be a good thing. Still, Schreiber is worth at least an episode, as is Katherine Moennig, the underemployed L Word alum who plays a character named Lena here. The acting talent is good, so let's see how everything else works out. (June 30)
Callooh, callay, o frabjous day, The Newsroom is returning to television. Aaron Sorkin's delightfully bad cable news drama is, bizarrely, one of the best times on TV. It's just so pompous and histrionic and out-of-touch. And it's fun to be smarter than it is; we know more, because we live in the future! Slickly made and well-acted nonsense, The Newsroom is a wonderful satire that's not meant to be a satire. I love it. Honestly. I hope it runs for years and years. (July 14)
Laffs 'n Things
As if any of you blog-reading maniacs need a reminder, but new episodes of Arrested Development will be made available on Netflix this Sunday. Everyone's been clamoring for more of the cult hit comedy since Fox canceled it in 2006, and now they are finally, finally, getting their wish. Will they be satisfied? Disappointed? Only time will tell, but if you don't care to know either way, stay as far away from the Internet as you can on Sunday and Monday. It's gonna be a madhouse. (May 26)
Rachel Griffiths is starring in a limited NBC series called Camp, about a summer camp, which is intriguing. I don't know what Rachel Griffiths is doing in an NBC limited summer series called about summer camp, but she is, so let's give it a chance, huh? (July 10)
Later in the summer Netflix will release another original series, this one just slightly less hyped. It's called Orange Is the New Black and is based on a memoir by a Smith grad who served a year in a minimum security prison for drug trafficking and money laundering. I guess the shock is that she's a nice white girl from Smith going to jail? Hm. Sounds... problematic. But interesting? The show was created by Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, so my guess is that we can expect lots of bleak humor and swears and stuff. Y'know, like how Weeds was. Except no Hunter Parrish, because it's women's prison. Instead there's Taylor Schilling from Atlas Shrugged, plus Kate Mulgrew, Natasha Lyonne, and, oh there is a guy, but it's Jason Biggs. Get excited! (July 11)
For some reason The CW is departing from its usual teen girl fare and going for, I dunno, the 38-year-old lighting designer demo? They're bringing back Whose Line Is It Anyway?, with vets Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie returning and Aisha Tyler hosting. Will it be good? Well, that's an entirely subjective question. No one can say definitively whether Whose Line Is It Anyway? is funny. That is for each person to decide for themselves. Well, regardless of what you think about the show, it is coming back. Because, I guess, someone was asking for it. (July 16)
Not sure where else to put this, but it's important to mention that Andie MacDowell has a Hallmark Channel original series called Cedar Cove coming out this summer. Just thought you should know. (July 20)
Meanwhile in Reality
Summer TV is lousy with reality shows, be they game shows or people falling down shows or shows about terrible families. On NBC there will be two new competition shows, both premiering on the same night. One is a light little romp called Hollywood Game Night, in which regular Joe Schmoes and Plain Janes play party games with fabulous celebrities from the world of comedy and beyond. It's hosted by Jane Lynch but was inspired by the game nights that producer Sean Hayes used to have (still has?) at his mansion, wherever that is. This could be fun or it could be really awkward. What will definitely be awkward is the other show premiering that night, The Winner Is, which combines the beloved format of a singing competition show with Deal or No Deal. Meaning singers can opt out for cash on a gamble at any time throughout the game. Yup. And it's hosted by Nick Lachey. Welcome to summer. (July 11)
I wouldn't normally endorse watching this show, but the trailer for the new season of Real Housewives of New Jersey is so bonkers that I just have to. At least watch it for that fight, right? It's OK, you can get away with it. You're going to read a lot of literature on the beach this summer, so you can allow yourself this. Who will win? Who will die? I guess you'll just have to watch what— Ugh, you get it. (June 2)
Revived improv shows aside, The CW does seem aware that most of its viewers are teens, and what do teens like? The Hunger Games. And so we have The Hunt, a reality show about real people dropped into the wilderness without any supplies and made to compete against each other. Specifically, they're supposed to "capture" everyone until they are the sole survivor. But not in a Survivor way. In a Hunger Games way. This is all Hunger Games. You hear that, teens? It's Hunger Games. Watch it. (July 31)
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