In between all the movie and book reviewing, you’d think I wouldn’t have time to watch as much television as I do. Fortunately for you, I have absolutely no life and a highly active Netflix account.
Summer 2013 is turning out to be a pretty decent season for television. Cable generally has more going on during the networks’ off season, mostly because cable doesn’t generally adhere to traditional seasonal schedules. Networks have become more flexible in recent years (particularly by staggering fall and mid-season premieres over a 2-3 month period), but summer is still about as dead as a Friday night: nothing but news shows, burnoff cancellations, and the lowest dregs of reality TV.
This year we’re going back to the miniseries format, sorta, with Under the Dome, a remake of a Stephen King novel. The miniseries is ripe for renewed interest. It’s the perfect way to take wild risks without decimating your very limited schedule or completely alienating your viewership, and at this point it’s back to being as unique as it was in 1977 when ABC accidently “created” the format when it couldn’t figure out what to do with Roots. Last year we got Hatfields & McCoys, which was a massive hit for The History Channel. CBS is trying to replicate that bolt of lightning with Dome, and with a premiere that pulled in 13.1 million viewers and 3.3 among adults 18-49, so far so good.
Dome is set up as a kind of backdoor pilot: if the miniseries does well, they’ll renew it for a second season, otherwise no harm no foul. The rest of the not completely craptacular season is comprised mostly of middling to decent television, with a few golden grains hidden amongst the chaff.
(Shows marked with an “*” are new.)
Arrested Development (Hulu): The first person I see with the license plate “ANUSTART” gets my undying love and affection.
Being Human (UK) (BBC America, Sat 10p—premieres 7/13): This is the final season, which is about two seasons longer than it needed to be.
Breaking Bad (AMC, Sun 9p—premieres 8/11): Welcome to the end.
Burn Notice (USA, Thu 9p)
Continuum (Syfy, Fri 10p): One of the better meh-level shows on this summer. There’s vast room for improvement...improvements they don’t seem to be undertaking.
Copper (BBC America, Sun 10p): The Evil Mastermind plot setting up the new season is a breath of fresh air for a show that isn’t strong enough to support the complex stories it wants to tell.
*Crossing Lines (NBC, Sun 9p)
Dexter (SHO, Sun 9p): NO. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. PUT THAT SCRIPT DOWN. NO MORE SHOW FOR YOU.
Falling Skies (TNT, Sun 10p)
The Glades (A&E, Mon 9p): This show is still on? Really? Can anyone tell me anything at all about it other than it’s one of a zillion dramedy cop shows currently clogging up the airwaves?
Hell on Wheels (AMC, Sat 9p—premieres 8/3)
The Killing (AMC, Sun 8p): Season 3 is doing well solely by having dropped that asinine Rosie Larson plot. But it’s still very far from quality television.
*Low Winter Sun (AMC, Sun 10p—premieres 8/11): Two cops kill one of their own then try to cover it up. It could be the next Breaking Bad. Or, more likely, the next The Killing.
*Moone Boy (Hulu—premieres 7/10): Chris O’Dowd! Need I say more?
Primeval: New World (Syfy, Sat 10p): Once Cutter left, this show ceased to exist for me.
*Sinbad (Syfy, Sat 9p): A failed BBC spectacle makes it way to Syfy, filling the time until Sharknado premieres.
Teen Wolf (MTV, Mon 10p): Don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here fangirling like a desperate teenager.
True Blood (HBO, Sun 9p): I can’t. I just can’t. And no amount of Eric Northman impersonating a whooping crane expert can win me over. Theresa Delucci is a braver woman than I.
*Under the Dome (CBS, Mon 10p): There’s a lot of room to grow, and a lot of ways to fail. Cautious optimisim. Grady Hendrix has reviewer duty.
The Venture Brothers (Adult Swim, Sun 12a): “Why is it every time I need to get somewhere, we get waylaid by jackassery?”
Wilfred (FX, Thu 10p): I just don’t even know where to begin to even attempt to describe this show. Go watch it. Don’t think about it, just go and thank me for it later.
Say you’re like me and you’ve added a bunch of new and returning shows to your viewing schedule, but still have a lot of TV-watching hours to kill. Summer is the perfect time to catch up on all those shows you missed or willfully abandoned. I’ll have a “Don’t Touch That Dial” post coming up soon that covers a few shows SFFers should watch if you haven’t already, but until then, here’s a look at what’s occupying my laptop/DVD player/mom’s hacked Netflix Watch Instantly account until the fall.
Alphas (never seen before): I know absolutely nothing about it except that it’s an American sci-fi show about superpowered young adults. Don’t know the quality or tone, but I’m feeling adventurous.
American Gothic (never seen before): All I know is that it sounded intriguing when it was on in 1996, but I can’t recall ever watching it.
The Americans (catching up): Started this and loved it, but there’s just so much TV to watch that it slipped off my radar. By the time you’re reading this, I’m sure I’ll be having a total Cold War existential crisis about having to wait a whole year for more eps.
Dead Like Me (never seen before): Just started the second/final season. It’s clear where Bryan Fuller made his departure—as the quality drops precipitously—but it’s still more or less enjoyable (although sometimes it’s so insipid I want to pull my hair out). The cast and the unique story, as per Bryan Fuller usual, makes it stand out no matter how meh it gets.
Deadwood (rewatch): The great Alan Sepinwall has just started up his annual summer rewatch and review of Deadwood. I’ve followed along since the beginning, tackling an episode a week. His rewatch is awesome for a variety of reasons, most especially because former cast and crew keep turning up in the comments. The inestimable Jim Beaver is a regular contributor, and always has insightful, charming, and fascinating things to say about his role, his personal life, and his interpretations of the show itself and the behind-the-scenes stuff.
Defying Gravity (never seen before): H/t to the commenter in one of the previous “Don’t Touch That Dial” posts who recommended this to me. It’s moved to the top-ish of my Netflix queue, and, if I stay on schedule—and I never do—I should get to it by September.
Dollhouse (finishing): My work schedule changed after the first season, and without a DVR and reliable internet access at the time, I lost track of it. Then it was cancelled and I couldn’t even catch it on reruns. It’s been in my queue for ages, and I think it’s finally time to finish it off.
Elementary (catching up): Another show I thoroughly enjoy (especially the Tumblr fan posts) but lost track of somewhere around episode 6. I absolutely loathe CBS’ online player for watching shows. Half the time the quality is fine, but during peak streaming hours, the quality is drops to about 3 steps below someone recording a TV show off the screen using their 5 year old cellphone and then uploading it to Youtube. Catching up is going to require some creative ingenuity on my part.
Fringe (never seen before): I’ve said for years now that I’d eventually give Fringe another shot, and this summer has unexpectedly become the right time to do it. As of now, I’m about halfway through the first season. I hate it even more than I hated it the first time around, so it’s been a struggle bearing with it. It gets better, right? RIGHT? The only thing keeping me going is that it is perfect for the gym. It is just distracting enough to get me through my workout yet annoying enough to not require my undivided attention.
Hawaii Five-O (catching up): Shut up. Don’t judge me. Besides, I only watch it when I’m doing laundry or washing dishes. It’s not like my whole life revolves around Alex O’Loughlin taking his shirt off or anything...OK, so maybe I have an addiction to Alex O’Loughlin. There are worse things I could be obsessed with. Probably.
Misfits (never seen before): See: Alphas except British.
Moonlight (rewatch): Yes, I’m rewatching Moonlight for the millionth time. Alex O’Loughlin has deliciously sexy hair and is a shirtless vampire in LA. Hate on, haters. Plus: Jason Dohring. One can never go wrong with Jason Dohring. Never. It’s physically impossible. He’s just that amazing.
Southland (never seen before): Like Fringe and Breaking Bad, Southland has been on my list for a long while. I love cop shows like nobody’s business, and always thought Ben McKenzie was one of the best things about the already entertaining The O.C.
Wonderfalls (rewatch): I’ve seen this show a dozen times at least, but this summer The A.V. Club is covering it in a weekly rewatch, so I’m following along. One of my favorite shows ever produced, and its unmerited cancellation is one of the great crimes in television history.
X-Files (rewatch): Actually, I started my X-Files rewatch back in January when TV went on hiatus, but got distracted by new TV premieres and it fell off my radar. If nothing else, it’s great fun to go back to a childhood favorite. I was too cowardly to watch the earliest seasons when I was a wee lass, so it’s a lot of fun to see Mulder and Scully so fresh faced and adorable. I’ve purposefully avoided Meghan Dean’s rewatch because I didn’t want to be spoiled, but once I get back into it’ll be fun to play along.
Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.