The Summer TV landscape is a barren one. This we know. Now is the perfect time to catch up on shows you’ve fallen behind on. And sure, there are a few diamonds in the rough this summer, but, well, overall it’s pretty rough. And that’s not the end of the world. We can temper/lower our expectations and enjoy what Dustin and I have taken to calling “solid, B-level Summer entertainment.” But it can hurt to see a great actor slumming it in material that is beneath them. I mean. We’ll get over it. Everyone has to work. And, for the most part, the following folks are doing their level best to elevate the material. I just wish they had been given better material to work with.
William Fichtner — “Crossing Lines”: This is a totally fine show. It’s an Avengers Assemble sort of procedural with more accents than you can shake Fichtner’s shriveled hand at. I don’t watch a lot of procedurals so I can’t tell you how it rates in comparison to say “Criminal Minds” or “NCIS,” but I can tell you that Fichtner deserves better than “former cop done dirty by his department with a crippled hand, a crippling morphine addiction and a crippled heart.”
Dean Norris — “Under The Dome”: I mean, basically the snobbiest TV watchers among us are just twiddling our thumbs until “Breaking Bad” comes back on the air. Norris has been an unending delight o that show and all signs point to Uncle Hank having a big role to play in the final eight episodes. Until then we have to see him squint his way through this increasingly dreary Stephen King adaptation. The pilot was fine and it looks like the dome peaked there.
Gina Torres — “Suits”: After being badgered into submission, I’ve come around to a grudging affection for this USA legal procedural. The two interchangeably affable leads are perfectly adequate in their roles. But Ms. Torres. Mrs. Zoe Washburne? She’s slumming. She looks good doing it. But she can do better.
Donal Logue — “Copper”: It’s hard for any of us who were huge “Terriers” fans to watch Donal Logue in anything else. The role of Hank Dolwarth fit him like a pair of slouchy jeans. It’s not to say the man doesn’t have range, I just don’t know that he’ll ever see that show’s like again. And while at least during his brief stint on “Sons Of Anarchy” he was surrounded by competent performers, he’s been given very little to work with on both “Vikings” and “Copper.” And I’ll tell you one thing, the hammy Irish brogue isn’t helping.
Rutger Hauer — “True Blood”: Last week I implied that I was happy to see Rutger Hauer on “True Blood.” And I am. The vampire-lore symmetry of it all is appealing. And he’s doing a great job. But still. This is Roy Batty. And now he’s the King Of The Fairies. Something about that is deeply broken.
Scott Foley — “The Goodwin Games”: Once again, I was bullied into watching this show’s seven episode run and the way in which the three leads fit into the tone of the series is actually really interesting. TJ Miller (one of my favorite podcasters) is completely out of his depth. He does not have a handle on any of the acting required of him. The lovely Becky Newton, on the other hand, is right at home. This is exactly what her light comedic talent is suited for. Scott Foley? Noel? Just. No. I love this man. He is a televisual treasure. He crops up everywhere and he always absolutely shines. But here the slapstick and the cartoonishly bright color-palette just don’t work for him. It’s a disaster. Fingers crossed they bring him back to “Scandal” where he belongs.
Charlotte Rampling — “Dexter”: Of all the shows on this list “Dexter” is the only one that was ever truly great. And once upon a time it made sense for a ridiculously talented actor to appear for a season. See: Lithgow, John. But the bloom is well off the rose and though the show is better than it has been, it’s still rattling out its last gasp. Rampling who is a screen legend and an enduring sex symbol can do much better.
Donald Sutherland — “Crossing Lines”: Unlike Fichtner who is at least throwing himself crippled body and crippled soul into “Crossing Lines, Sutherland is absolutely asleep. And who can blame him? His role is peripheral and his dialogue plodding. They actually had him talking to pigeons at one point. You can’t make that up. Don’t forget who you are, Hawkeye.