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June 5, 2007 |

By Seth Freilich | TV | June 5, 2007 |

Well, we are officially in the dog days of summer television. The dregs, if you will. But that’s not to say there’s nothing new on. In fact, there’s quite a slew of new programming in the coming months, and even a few shows worth your valuable eye-time (although, unfortunately for those of you without cable or certain pay stations, not many of the worthy shows are on the broadcast networks). So here’s a quick rundown of most of the shows hitting the tube this summer. It’s worth noting that: (a) I haven’t covered every single new show airing on every single station this summer, because there’s just too damn many; and (b) I’ve listed the shows I am or will be watching first, in order of preference and excitement, followed by the shows that I won’t be watching but thought were worth a mention anyways. So let’s have at it! (Oh, and the date given for each show is the scheduled premiere date.)

“Top Chef” (Bravo, Wednesdays at 10 p.m., June 6). Well, the third season doesn’t actually kick until a week later, on June 13, and I’m excited as piss about it (as I talked about last December, “Top Chef” has become my new favorite reality show). But it should be worth tuning in a week early, as Bravo decided to precede the third season with a one-off “all-stars” show. The special, airing this Wednesday at 10, will have four of the finalists from each of the first two seasons teaming up to compete against each other in a $20K charity event. The show will end with the teams serving their food to the 15 contestants for Season Three, acting as a perfect lead-in to next week’s season premiere. If you’re a fan of good reality TV and/or if you’re a foodie, you have no excuse not to watch. Trust me.

“Weeds” (Showtime, Mondays at 10 p.m., August 13). I feel like I’ve been talking about this show’s return for a while in my weekly round-ups. So suffice it to say that I’m very excited for Season Three — Mary Kate Olsen be damned (and I apologize, as I now realize that it’s totally Ashley who’s the fat one!) — particularly since the second season left off with a rather tense and thorny cliffhanger. If you have Showtime and you love Pajiba, you have no excuse not to be watching this show. And if you don’t have Showtime, do yourself a favor and check out the DVDs. And if you don’t love Pajiba, then get the hell outta here.

“Big Love” (HBO, Mondays at 9 p.m., June 11). This show is really a gem. It’s not as engrossing or captivating as “Deadwood” or “Six Feet Under,” nor is it as flat-out brilliant as “The Wire.” But it has a quiet beauty that sneaks up on you out of nowhere. It’s just engaging as hell — I just re-watched the first season, and despite knowing every moment that was coming, I still couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I don’t know much of what’s in store for our favorite polygamist family in Season Two, aside from the fact that a potential fourth wife purportedly enters the picture, but I don’t care — if it’s half as good as the first season, it’ll be one of the best things on TV this summer.

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (FX, TBA, Late Summer). I’m excited as hell about the third season of this show, as it really hit its stride in Season Two, becoming one of the funniest shows on TV. No word on when it’ll be premiering, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted. In the meantime, I assume this show is out on DVD (I’m too lazy to check for you), so do yourself a favor and rent them right now.

“Entourage” (HBO, Sundays at 10 p.m., June 17). It’s odd that HBO chose to go from the second-half of Season Three, which ended this past Sunday, and jump right into Season Four, but I’m not complaining. Overall, I thought the third season was a touch on the weaker side. But the previews for Season Four, showing the crew going to Colombia to film Medellin, offers some promise since we’ll get to see some new things thrown at the boys as they deal with the trials and tribulations of producing their pet project. And I just hope those new things lead to more consistent laughs.

“Californication” (Showtime, Mondays at 10:30 p.m., August 13). David Duchovny’s return to television gets the post-“Weeds” spot, a place that sounds perfect for a comedy about a sarcastic whorish novelist who doesn’t seem to spend enough time actually writing his books. Duchovny has shown that he has good comedy chops, and I’m very excited to see him hopefully shine here (I don’t know much else about this show, so I’m just running on mostly-blind anticipation here).

“Rescue Me” (FX, Wednesdays at 10 p.m., June 13). I loved the first two seasons of this show. Luh-uhved. Season Three had several problems which I found myself willing to overlook because there were still moments of goodness hiding under those warts. And with such a paltry amount of good television this summer, I’m quite excited for more “Rescue Me,” possible warts and all. More Denis Leary in my life is just never a bad thing.

“John from Cincinnati” (HBO, Sundays at 9 p.m., June 10 (at 10 p.m.)). Well this is the show that’s partly responsible for “Deadwood’s” premature death. When HBO offered creator David Milch an opportunity to do a shortened 6 episode Fourth Season, Milch passed because he was so involved with this new show of his (and while we did end up with the two two-hour movies, we all know not to believe in them until they’re actually airing). Milch’s new show is described by himself as “surf-noir,” and it looks intriguing from the previews — all I really know is that it involves surfers, and a dude who can levitate. Now I’ve read two brief write-ups from folks who have seen some of the show and while a critic who saw just the first episode said it was great, another critic who saw the first three episodes said it was “a total mess.” So who knows which way the wind will blow here. But despite my bitterness over “Deadwood,” I will give this show a shot, although I’m keeping my hopes and expectations very reasonably tempered.

“Meadowlands” (Showtime, Sundays at 10 p.m., June 17). This new Showtime series is about a witness protection family that relocates to an interesting suburb. I don’t know a damn thing about it beyond this. But Showtime shows get an automatic bid from me nowadays, so I’ll check it out (and I believe the premiere episode is already online, so I’ll probably check it out before the premiere date and hook y’all up with a review).

“Last Comic Standing” (NBC, Wednesdays at 9 p.m., June 13). This show is hit-or-miss from season to season. But I love stand up comedy, and every year this show manages to produce at least a handful of laughs. So I’ll take that. In fact, it’s the kind of show that’s perfect for TiVo’ing and watching while you’re doing work the next day.

“Damages” (FX, Tuesdays at 10 p.m., July 24). Well I’m quite mixed about this one. FX has reached the HBO/Showtime apex, where I’m generally willing to try out any of its new shows. And I know Glenn Close can rock the house in the right role (I’m still waiting to catch up with “The Shield,” but I heard she was great in her season-long arc on the show). But this is a show where she plays a lawyer. Blurg. A lawyer who tries to walk the righteous path as she conducts her legal career against big-baddies, although she is willing to use sketchy tactics to achieve her goals. Blurg blurg. However, I’m intrigued by the casting of Ted Danson as the big-baddy she’s going after, and I think it’s a good sign that little of the show will actually take place in a courtroom, as the show’s creator says that “it’s not meant to be a procedural law show.” So I will definitely check this show out to see which way the wind blows.

“Flight of the Conchords” (HBO, Sundays at 10:30 p.m., June 17). Airing after the Fourth Season episodes of “Entourage” comes this import that’s some type of reality/comedy hybrid about a folk duo. It looks absolutely terrible from the clips and commercials I’ve seen (I haven’t been able to yet muster the energy to check out the full episode that’s posted on MySpace). So while I’ll watch the first episode (because it’s HBO), this sucker has a serious uphill battle to convince me that I should come back for additional episodes.

“Pirate Master” (CBS, Thursdays at 8 p.m., started last week). Mark Burnett is basically ripping himself off with this one, making a campier version of “Survivor.” I was relatively unimpressed with the first episode, although I think I enjoyed it more than the atrocious “On the Lot.” This is another one of those shows that I probably won’t waste my prime-time viewing hours on (even if I have nothing else to watch — I’ll just read a book or something), but I’ll probably continue to TiVo it for while-I’m-working viewing.

“Who Wants to Be a Superhero” (SciFi, Wednesdays at 9 p.m., July 25). What I said about “Pirate Master?” Same thing here.

That’s it for the shows I’ll be tuning in to. But here are some other ones worth mentioning and/or deriding.

“Eureka” (SciFi, Tuesdays at 9 p.m., July 10). I quit on this show, about a town full of wicked-smart scientists who are involved in all types of out-of-this-world shenanigans, about half-way through the first season. I was actually enjoying it well enough, but simply found myself getting distracted every time I sat down to watch an episode. I may give it another shot, depending on my mood and schedule. But regardless, if you’re looking for something light and entertaining, you could certainly do worse.

“Doctor Who” (SciFi, Fridays at 8 p.m., July 6). I watched all of Season One and quite enjoyed it, despite of (or because of) its camp. For some reason, I just never made it to Season Two, so I’m not going to try to jump back onboard until I’m caught up. But I’ve heard that this season was more-or-less on par with the first two, so you fans of the good Doctor should be pretty happy.

“The Closer” (TNT, Mondays at 9 p.m., TNT). I haven’t watched Kyra Sedgwick’s show, and honestly don’t know anything about it aside from the fact that she won a Golden Globe earlier this year for her work on the show. So I guess there’s at least some merit to it. But more importantly, this show is only one degree from Kevin Bacon (I don’t know when the degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon jokes went out of fashion, but I’m deciding right here and now that it’s time for a minor resurgence).

“Saving Grace” (TNT, Wednesdays at 10 p.m., July 18). Starring Holly Hunter in what is, I believe, her first full-time television turn, this is a show about a detective with a bit of a booze problem, who also happens to have an honest-to-goodness guardian angel (played by Leon Rippy, formerly Tom Nutall on “Deadwood”). Hunter usually gives terrific performance, so this might be worth tuning in to, just for that. But I have to admit that I will likely forget to look for this show by the time it rolls out next month, as it’s just not that interesting or intriguing to me (and TNT hasn’t established itself on my TV series radar just yet).

“The 4400” (USA, Sundays at 9 p.m., June 17). I don’t know why I never tried watching this show because, even though I’ve heard mixed reviews, its strange premise is right up my alley. Nevertheless, I’m not about to jump into Season Four blindly, so I’ll be passing. But for those of you who are fans of the show, here you go.

“Monk” (USA, Fridays at 9 p.m., July 13). As much as I like Tony Shalhoub, I have never understood the fascination of and love for this show. Particularly as it’s taken award spotlights away from much more deserving comedies that are, you know, actually funny.

“America’s Got Talent” (NBC, Tuesdays at 9 p.m., June 5). I didn’t watch the first season, and I shan’t watch the second. Especially since the now-he’s-just-sad David Hasslehoff is returning as a judge, along with Sharon Osborne (who replaces Brandy) and … somebody else. But if the first season was your cup of tea, I’m sure this season will be more of the same.

“Lil’ Bush” (Comedy Central, Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m., June 13). This is an animated comedy about a young W and his pals, Lil’ Condi, Lil’ Cheney, etc. I am refusing to watch it simply because of the incessantly annoying commercials that have inundated me during my viewings of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”

“Flash Gordon” (SciFi, Fridays at a time TBA, August 10).” A supposedly light and fun reboot of the campy SciFi “classic.” Whatever.

“Hey Paula” (Bravo, Thursdays at 10 p.m., June 28). This is a reality show following drunk stoned crazy genial “American Idol” host Paula Abdul around on her adventures of being a “stressed celebrity and tough business woman.” The seven-episode run will also apparently focus on the folks who, according to the Bravo press release, help keep “the Abdul empire running smoothly.” Smoothly? Riiiiight. Anyway, tune in if you want. Personally, I do not want.

Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He’s having minor back surgery soon, and his doctor told him that he should not spend his recovery time just laying on the couch watching TV — little does the good doc know that there’s not enough TV to make this an enticing proposition in the first place.

One Crazy Summer

The Clip Show / The TV Whore
June 5, 2007

TV | June 5, 2007 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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