Wed
Jun 11 2014 12:00pm

The Warm Glowing Warming Glow: Summer 2014 TV

Summer 2014 television previewBack when I was young and free, unencumbered by a “job” and “higher education” and “rent” and “buying groceries,” I could easily channel surf the entire summer away looking for something, anything to watch that wasn’t daytime talk shows or some mind-bogglingly terrible 80s movie. In this wonderful modern age, however, the push for off-season viewing is growing stronger. That being said, quantity does not equal quality.

The summer schedule may be more crowded than normal with shows just gearing up rather than repeats or burn-offs, much of what we’re left with is either asinine (Under the Dome, Crossbones) or choking on failed potential (Halt and Catch Fire). There’s also a ton of pulp, some entertaining in its brazen audacity (Penny Dreadful, Teen Wolf), most just 42 minutes of audience eye rolling (True Blood, Witches of East End). So, out of all that, what’s worth watching live, what’s worth saving up for a late summer binge, and what’s worth forgetting it ever existed?

Shows with an * are new this season.

*Crossbones (NBC, Fri 10p): John Malkovich as a beardless Blackbeard on NBC’s watered down version of a pirate yarn. Too bad the plot isn’t as stunning as the scenery.

Defiance (Syfy, Thu 8p—June 19): I suppose I should add this to my To Watch queue...eventually...

*Dominion (Syfy, Thu 9p—June 19): It’s a Syfy show based on the movie Legion. I mean, come on.

*Extant (CBS, Wed 9p—July 9): David Tennant’s expressive face says it all...

Falling Skies (TNT, Sun 10p—June 22): The most I can muster is a hearty “meh.”

*Halt and Catch Fire (AMC, Sun 10p): The pilot could’ve been worse, but it doesn’t inspire a lot of faith...or interest. I suspect this is going to be Low Winter Sun all over again—a reverse-engineered drama full of directionless emotions and utterly forgettable.

Hell on Wheels (AMC, Sat 9p—Aug 2)

Hemlock Grove (Netflix—July 11)

*The Knick (Cinemax, Fri 10p—Aug 8): Please, Hera, let this be good. I strongly suspect it won’t—it’s on Cinemax, so—but a girl can dream.

*The Last Ship (TNT Sun 9p—June 22): When I saw the trailer for this in the movie theater, I laughed so loud the usher gave me a stern look.

*The Leftovers (HBO, Sun 10p—June 29): Didn’t Kirk Cameron already do this?

*Legends (TNT, Wed 9p): Sean Bean is in this. Um, spoilers?

*Masters of Illusion (CW, Fri 8p—Aug 1): All this talk about prestidigitation makes me want to re-read Neil Gaiman’s The Books of Magic.

*The Musketeers (BBC America, Sun 9p—June 22): All I’ve seen of this show is the Tumblr fanart/slash, so my opinion is skewed. But I do love me some British people dressing up in old-timey clothes and going on adventures (especially ones created by a PoC).

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix): Ya’ll came for “affluent white girl goes to jail,” ya’ll stayed for the Wonderful Adventures of Taystee, Crazy Eyes, Red, Poussey, and Sophia.

*Outlander (Starz, Sat 9p—Aug 9): On one hand, Ronald D. Moore. On the other hand, the trailer looks like an over-budgeted Lifetime movie. On the other other hand, Ronald D. Moore

*Penny Dreadful (Showtime, Sun 10p): Think of it like the crazy bastard lovechild of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen the comic and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen the movie. (Psst! Our very own Ryan Britt is covering it.)

*The Strain (FX, Sun 10p—July 13): Guillermo del Toro plus vampires equals sign me up!

Teen Wolf (MTV, Mon 10p—June 23): Just gonna leave this here...

True Blood (HBO, Sun 9p—June 22): The final season. At long last, our national nightmare is almost over.

Under the Dome (CBS, Mon 10p—June 30):

*The Wil Wheaton Project (Syfy, Tue 10p): Densely geeky show in the same vein as The Soup. Pleasant but familiar. Here’s hoping it improves with age, as I’d hate to see it go.

Wilfred (FXX, Wed 10p—June 25): A weird, weird, weird show that sadly never got the ratings it deserved comes to its final season. In need of a tv marathon? This is the show for you.

Witches of East End (Lifetime, Sun 9p—July 6): I coulda sworn this got cancelled, but I guess it was just wishful thinking.

 

Hate to disappoint, but I’m probably not going to watch most of these. And neither are you, if we’re being honest. Although you couldn’t pry Teen Wolf or OITNB from my cold, dead hands, and I’ll likely watch Extant for the same slow-motion-train-wreck-fascination that made me tune into Rosemary’s Baby, a majority of that list will fade from memory until next season when I discover that Falling Skies is still on (really? Really?). There are a few shows I remain cautiously optimistic about, and even fewer that’ll get knocked down to Something to Have on in the Background Whilst Folding Laundry. There’s a Don’t Touch That Dial coming up covering 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 fall.

Bates Motel: Uh, this is probably going to sound weird and kinda creepy, but turns out this is the perfect show to watch at the gym. The episode length is just right for a solid sweat, it’s silly enough that I don’t have to focus too hard, and also intense enough to distract me from counting down the minutes until I can get off the frakking elliptical.

Bob’s Burgers: My lunch breaks have gotten exponentially better in recent weeks with the addition of the Belchers... I just completely forgot where I was going with this section. What started as a YouTube hunt for a Tina clip turned into a Tumblr rabbit hole and then devouring 4 episodes. Basically, this show is the best and Tina is my spirit animal.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: I, like just about everyone else, gave up on this show after about 3 episodes. From the reviews, I gather it still hasn’t gotten great, but is definitely better than the dreck it started out as. I doubt it will ever be one of the best shows on television—too many restrictions to what they can and can’t do, storywise—but I’d like it to at least be marginally better than the premiere. Definitely looking forward to adding it back onto my radar, and hopefully season 2 will keep the trend of “slightly better than decent” moving upward.

Orphan Black: This is akin to heresy on a site like Tor.com, but Orphan Black has never really done anything for me. The reviews are generally positive (if somewhat frustrated), and I adore Tatiana Maslany, but, man, I’m halfway through and I’ve already lost all interest in every single character. I can’t explain it, either. It has everything I usually love—feminist hero, twisty sci-fi, murder mystery, terrible wigs—but every viewing feels like a chore.

Enough of my blabbing on. What shows are you binging on? What are you looking forward to with a cloud of dread? Or perhaps you just want to tell me why I’m wrong for not liking Orphan Black. Whatever it is, go forth, commenters, go forth!


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.

35 comments
Luis Milan
1. LuisMilan
Crossbones looks and feels like a watered-down version of Black Sails. Its only saving feature is, of course, John Malkovich. Who just wanted to play a pirate sometime in his career, I guess.

"On the other other hand" Also known as the Gripping hand...
Luis Milan
2. LuisMilan
Also, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got slightly better in the second half of the season, when it dealt with all the fallout from the Captain America 2 film.
rob mcCathy
3. roblewmac
I am SO GLAD somebody likes Bob's burgers!
Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
Re Outlander - have you read the books? If you like the books (and I do), the combination of that, plus Ron D. Moore, plus (as far as I can discern) promising casting make it a must see.

Re Orphan Black - don't give up before Episode 6. That's the Hugo nominated one, it is pure fun, and it is a sign of the types of things to come that has made it a popular show for critics and watchers alike. (If you still don't like it, then DIE HERETIC!!) (LOL, of course).

Re other bingeworthy shows - I'm very tempted by Fargo.
Random22
5. Random22
If you listen to the fanbase Agents of SHIELD became the bestest thing ever to be bestest at everything and so utterly awesome, but only after you stopped watching (the "you" and episode to be purest expression of televisual artform ever, always seems to change depending on who they are talking at though) and if you ever tune back in, then they'll assure you that you only caught an episode on a temporary blip into dullsville and Mary-Sue Skye territory. That's part of the reason it can't win back any audience, we've all become innured to the promises of improvement what with every week being preached that it is hitting unprecedented new heights. Objectively though it is awful.
Random22
6. tigeraid
You're missing out if you stopped watching SHIELD. From the halfway mark on it's been tremendous. And I don't just mean the story, the actors have all kicked it up a notch too. It's like a lot of us said--they were just sitting around waiting for The Winter Soldier to come out so they could stop sitting on their thumbs.
Chris Nelly
7. Aeryl
You SHIELD haters would have gotten Buffy cancelled, is all I'm saying.

And I swear I will cut the next person who calls her Crazy Eyes, her name is Suzanne!

I was cool with calling her Crazy Eyes until the show revealed she wasn't in on the joke. And Piper may have her problems, especially with how she relates to Suzanne, but in this she was right. Calling her Crazy Eyes, when she can't even understand it, is beyond cruel.

Ok, my overly attached to a fictional character rant is over. (I'm seriously over attached. I had to stop watching this seasons third episode, because people who make Suzanne sad make me ANGRY)
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
8. Lisamarie
LOL, I loved your comment on 'Leftovers'. I am so sick of previews for that show (they seem to air every time we watch Game of Thrones on DirectTV) and I had the same thought.
jeff hendrix
9. templarsteel
I watch Under the Dome cause it's hilariously bad
Chris Nelly
10. Aeryl
I only read the Tor.com reviews of it, because they are just hilarious.
Random22
11. Kirshy
I like Falling Skies. What's wrong with it? Decent FX, decent acting, decent story.

Also, this isn't a bad post but would it have killed you to give a bit more of a desciption for each new show or include the youtube trailer for them? Your descriptions leave much to be desired.
Rob Munnelly
12. RobMRobM
@11. Outlander - Adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's best selling series about a married British World War II combat nurse who visits a Stonehenge like rock formation in Scotland during a second honeymoon trip with her husband and mysteriously ends up in the mid-1700s on the Scottish side of an incipient war between Scotland and England. Drama ensues. First season will have 16 episodes and cover Book One of the series.
Chris Nelly
13. Aeryl
In regards to Leftovers "Didn't Kirk Cameron already do this?"

Allow me to first plug one of the best blog's ever, Slacktivist's Fred Clark, who does a weekly review of Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins's Left Behind series, which is what the Cameron movie is based on(there's a remake planned, starring Nicholas Cage). The reviews are on hold at the moment but they are well worth starting from the beginning.

The difference between Leftovers, and the Left Behind series, is Leftovers is interested in actually telling the story of the Left Behind. Left Behind is interested in telling a story to those who believe they won't be, so they can feel superior to those poor fools. There's never an examination of what the world would be like without children.
Rafael
14. Ryamano
Alex,

Your link in the Musketeers section is to an article about Thomas Alexandre Dumas, the father of the writer of the Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas, peré. There are several famous people in the Dumas family. Thomas Alexandre was a general, a former slave and a noble (not exactly in that order, he was also a prisioner that kind of served as inspiration for the Count of Monte Cristo story). His son, Alexandre Dumas, peré, was a novelist (author of Three Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo, etc). His grandson, Alexandrer Dumas, fil, was a playwright (author of The Lady of the Camellies).
Random22
15. DRickard
RE: Legends
I'll open the dead pool and predict that Bean's character dies by the... fourth episode!
Alex Brown
16. AlexBrown
All the SHIELD lovers:Yep. All ya'll are saying the exact same things I've heard before, namely that it got much better halfway through. Which is precisely why I'm going to give it another shot. That being said, everyone said Fringe got better by season 2, and I still can't stand that show, so who knows. But dealing with the MCU is the whole reason I tuned into SHIELD in the first place...and their initial refusal to do so was why I dumped it. I am genuinely looking forward to giving it another try.

@LuisMilan: JM is about the only thing worth tuning in for.
@roblewmac: Ninja star!

@RobMRobM: Nope, but man, they couldn't have made the TV show look any more soapy.

Oh, that Orphan Black episode. I remember that. Yeah, no, still didn't care. But Fargo is great!

@Aeryl: Well, the first 2 seasons of Buffy were some of my favorite. But to be honest, the show was probably worthy of cancellation back then, because it really wasn't very good. I'm thrilled they were given time to improve, and I'm glad SHIELD has the option as well. Still not entirely convinced they can sustain the MCU tie-ins for multiple seasons, but here's hoping.

I see your point about Crazy Eyes. But she also does kinda have crazy eyes...however, we all get hopelessly attached to fictional characters. I am filled with boiling rage when I hear people talk smack about Dean Winchester.

I grew up fundie, so I remember the Left Behind series. Hated those books. And I trust Damon Lindelof about as far as I could throw him. It's on HBO, so it's bound to be of quality...but then again True Blood is also on HBO, and that show sucks.
Alex Brown
17. AlexBrown
@Kirshy: Nothing's particularly wrong with Falling Skies, if decent is your thing. I'd rather spend my time on something that leaves a mark, whether fantastic or disatrous.

As for descriptions, for synopses, might I suggest visiting the network sites. For reviews, well, there aren't any because there aren't any episodes to review for most of them. The preview post is a well-worn concept, but it also tends to be pretty boring just reading a bunch of general descriptions pilfered off the official summaries. Sorry this didn't hit your mark.

@Ryamano: I know, but his dad is just sooo cool. And the page mentions Junior at the end. You're right, though. The whole darn family is awesome.

@DRickard: I'll take that bet!
Chris Nelly
18. Aeryl
Well, I don't know if it will be quality, but the fact that the focus is on the loss, instead of the AntiChrist, makes it head and shoulders better than L&Js dreck.

And since you're recovering fundie, you should really check out that Slacktivist blog, you'll be right at home!
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
Alex - Outlander books are soapy but also fun, surprisingly well written, and strangely addictive. I'm expecting the same from the show.

Orphan Black - *shakes head*. Take a break and go back to it sometime.

P.s. Looking back at your original post ...Reviews, by the way, are far better than "generally positive." The omibus Hitfix poll of best shows of 2013 by more than 20 national critics had OB as the 11th best show and several major critics had it in top 5. Both of my home town newspapers in Boston had it in their top 10 lists.
Alex Brown
21. AlexBrown
@Aeryl: Will do!

@RobMRobM: I guess what I mean by "generally positive" is that while many critics love the show, they often have problems with fair bits of it. GoT regularly tops the Best Of lists, but it struggles mightily in several key areas ("The Watchers on the Wall" is a perfect example of everything the show does best and everything they suck at). I enjoy Felix's personality, but in most of season 1 he's sorta a wasted character. The plot twists are glaringly obvious (at least to me), which stunts a lot of the surprise factor.

I love Tatiana Maslany, and thank Hera that the show is such a strong example of Strong Female Characters who aren't just a bunch of SFC tropes. Perhaps "generally positive" wasn't dramatic enough, but even ignoring what I didn't care for, I don't know how it could make it into the top 5 best new shows. Top 10, sure. I know we didn't exactly have a ton to pick from, but still.

Regardless, I'm sticking with it. Maslany makes it almost worth the rest of it. She's just so fantastic. I really want her and Allison Tolman (Fargo) to run off and do television together for the rest of eternity.

@stevenhalter: "I have a raging staph infection under here. You touch this hat and we all go down! You want to play dodge ball in the hospital?"
Rob Munnelly
22. RobMRobM
Thanks for the clarification. I can understand what you are saying even if I'm not in the same camp.

One clarification back - the Hitfix all critics poll was for all shows, not just new shows. There is a separate new shows piece as well.

pps. I mis-remembered the numbers. 15th in Hitfix all critics poll (ten critics had it as a top 10 show and five had it in top 5), 5th in the new shows sub-poll (behind OITNB, Masters, Americans, and Broadchurch).
Shelly wb
23. shellywb
I opened this post up expecting to find at least a one sentence description of the shows coming up. I didn't get that for most, not even links to something describing them. How is this the least bit useful?
Alex Brown
24. AlexBrown
@RobMRobM: Those numbers make much more sense, though. And I decided to go back to the beginning with OB instead of continuing where I left off. Give it another chance. New weekend plans!

@shellywb: Again, I'm sorry some people feel this was an unhelpful post. I've done almost the exact same thing several times before, with no complaints and lots of great comment-y conversation. Not much I can do about it now except say that come fall when I do another "Warming Glow" column, I'll take the criticism into consideration.
Steven Halter
26. stevenhalter
While I'll miss it, I am looking forward to just how they go about ending Wilfred. Probably the oddest show on right now.

I watched the first two Wil Weaton Projects. I was somewhat underwhelmed, but hope it will improve. I'll give it a bit longer.

Shield did get a lot better at the end of the season.

I hadn't heard of The Musketeers before this. Thanks. I've loved the books foreever and if done well it could be really good.
James Whitehead
27. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
@26stevenhalter, haven't been impressed with the Wil Weaton Project much either. Some good bits but missing the mark overall. They should kill the laugh track and maybe let Weaton go more improve/off-script. His podcasts/on-line stuff are good fun that way.

I agree with Alex that I'd like to see it improve because I think there's room for a "Talk Soup" style show for the geek/nerd in us all.

Kato
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
I saw the first two WWP's as well. I found them to be reasonably amusing but but somewhat shallow.

Since I'm an OB fan, I've seen just under a billion (estimated) teaser commercials for the Musketeers. Look and feel seems pretty similar to the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies - people jumping out of windows in slow motion, witty repartee, etc., which works for me. It will either be great or crash and burn, depending on the writing.
Bridget McGovern
30. BMcGovern
Stepping in with a quick reminder to please keep your comments civil, as outlined in our Moderation Policy--constructive criticism is welcome, rudeness and personal attacks are not. Thank you!
Alex Brown
31. AlexBrown
Just came across this little diddy, ISA. The description sounds pretty interesting for a made for TV movie, although it doesn't get very high marks overall. But yay for diversity!
Random22
32. rfresa
It's weird how I dislike Defiance. It has a lot of elements I like, but as a whole I just can't get into it. Maybe it's just too overhyped. I'm enjoying SHIELD since it started feeling like its own story rather than a dvd-extra for the MCU. Something about Under the Dome keeps me watching, not sure why. I love Orphan Black and Teen Wolf without reservation. Will watch Musketeers, if only to judge whether or not to recommend it to my sister.
Alex Brown
33. AlexBrown
@rfresa: Sounds like me with Orphan Black, except I've already dismissed Defiance without having seen it. I hate doing that, usually I give a show at least 3 eps before throwing it out (like I did with SHIELD...although I'm giving it a reprieve and a chance to win me over).

As far as Teen Wolf, check Tor.com Tuesday the 24th...I'm reviewing it :)
Jim Adcock
34. dlairman
Crossbones - Balck Sails has sex and Bear McCreary. Crossbones has Malkovitch and believable machinations and motivations (that are consistent with one another!!!!! - at least so far). Black Sails wins by a Bear McCreary, but I'm onboard for the Crossbones voyage.
Defiance - The only reason to watch this is the Bear McCreary soundtrack. And Julie Benz.
Dominion - I suspect that I am going to regret giving this a shot. The movie didn't do much for me.
Extant - Curious to see what happens with this - will it be a trainwreck or watchable?
Falling Skies - I want this to do well, and I love that they had Terry O'Quinn, Matt Frewer and Stephen Collins. But it is an effort to get through.
Halt and Catch Fire - Didn't seem of interest to me
Hell on Wheels - Didn't seem of interest to me
Hemlock Grove - Hadn't even heard of this
The Knick - Hadn't even heard of this
The Last Ship - I find it interesting they changed to a bio disaster from the nuclear one in the book the series is based on. I'm giving it a chance.
The Leftovers - It's Lindelof, so it could be interesting.
Legends - Preview looked interesting.
Masters of Illusion - I saw The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
The Musketeers - I missed hearing about this. I have a fondness for the characters, I may check it out.
Orange Is the New Black - On my "to binge" list.
Outlander - Bear McCreary. Again. So I'll be there.
Penny Dreadful - This was slow starting, but has grown on me.
The Strain - Looking forward to this.
Teen Wolf - Missed this completely, and it didn't bother me a bit - until I read the linked review. Hmmm.
True Blood - Missed this completely, and it doesn't bother me a bit.
Under the Dome - Meh. The premise is interesting, the execution is a bit lacking.
The Wil Wheaton Project - I wasn't really impressed with Orphan Black Clonversation he hosted.
Wilfred - Hadn't heard of this.
Witches of East End - Hadn't heard of this.
Bates Motel - I was aware of it, but just didn't think it was a premise that could carry a show.
Bob’s Burgers - I have heard good things about this
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Card-carrying member of SHIELD. Yeah it has problems (too much on the leash to Captain America, and um, what was Hydra's master plan again? And how does jumping out into the open first support that plan?), and really, rather than trying to drive viewers to the movies, the tie-ins should work the other way 'round, since the movies are pretty much guaranteed to have more viewers anyway. Oh, and Bear McCreary.
Orphan Black - The first season was incredible. The second hasn't grabbed me as much - we've run out of clones (whoops, missed one!), and rather than showcasing nature/nurture and Maslany's acting chops it has mostly been a prolonged chase scene. But it has Matt Frewer (oops).
Random22
35. Jesslyn H
Is someone blogging on any of these shows? I mean I see the one on the truly awful 'True Blood', which has become a waste of time. Surprisingly, Extant is pretty good and as usual, SyFy flopped again on Dominion.
Alex Brown
36. AlexBrown
@Jesslyn H: Several of these shows are being reviewed. I've got Teen Wolf, and just did the premiere ep of Outlander. I believe others here are doing True Blood, Under the Dome, and Penny Dreadful.

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