The summer months, which historically were a TV graveyard, are here at last. But unlike the first 6 decades of TV, we now live in a time where the summer is not meant for enjoying the great outdoors, but for barricading yourself in the bedroom and binging on small screen excellence. Without further ado, here’s all the shows that matter that will be premiering this summer. Don’t get stuck exercising, camping or hiking in our lush valley. There’s boob tube to be gazed upon.
Grace and Frankie (Netflix) – This is a new show that actually premiered this past Friday, but it’s a powerhouse and sure to be on the tips of tongues come award time. Since it’s a Netflix offering, the whole first season can be viewed anytime. Stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen.
Girl Meets World (Disney) – This execrable piece of nostalgia violation premiered its second season this past week. If you like this, I hate you. Stars Ben Savage and several other people you don’t care about. It’s a spinoff/revival of the 90’s sitcom, Boy Meets World.
Moone Boy (Hulu) I hate that Hulu and Netflix buy up existing shows, re-air them and then call them “originals.” This is a nice, if not overly sentimental British show that already finished its run across the pond. The 3rd and final season gets its Hulu premiere this month. Stars the incredibly popular Chris O’Dowd.
Maron (IFC) – The almost mythically popular and influential standup comedian Mark Maron’s darkly funny show gets a third season that promises excellent guest turns from more of his talented friends and fellow comedians. Ken Marino and the incredibly talented Mary Lynn Rajskub are the names I’m most excited about. Stars Mark Maron.
Wayward Pines (Fox) – I’m not sure if it’s the title, premise or network of this show that makes me not want to watch it so much, but it is sporting a hell of a cast. Matt Dillon, Melissa Leo, Toby Jones, Carla Gugino and Terence Howard headline a hot cast in this “event series” (read: show they doubt will last past one season) mystery.
Between (Netflix) – Just as the networks can do their best to impersonate the online specialties, the online specialties will attempt to impersonate the network. For this Canadian produced thriller, about a town in quarantine after a virus wipes out everyone over 21, Netflix will actually roll out the episodes one week at a time instead of their popular instant gratification method of dumping the wholes season simultaneously. Stars Jennette McCurdy.
Texas Rising (History) – The History channel has already proven their original narrative programming bona fides to me with their excellent Vikings and Klondike, so I’m definitely on board for this action packed telling of the birth of the Texas Rangers. The awesome band of crime fighters, not the mediocre band of baseball players. The eight part miniseries stars Bill Paxton, Ray Liotta and Kris Kristofferson.
Aquarius (NBC) – A period drama that follows a 1960s LA cop infiltrating the Manson family, starring David Duchovny? Sounds great. On NBC? You had me then you lost me. NBC is quite literally incapable of creating a television program I give a fig about at this point. Pass. NBC is trying to go all Netflix/Hulu/Amazon with this one and send all 13 episodes to NBC.com immediately. Will it work? Nope. I’m still psyched to see Duchovny as Mulder again next year, though.
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC) – The second season of this surprising little drama has me pretty excited. This show is like Silicon Valley, in the 80s, with none of the comedy. That’s a terrible way to describe such an excellent production, so just trust me and give it a try. This narrowly avoided cancellation after year one, so it needs some help. Stars Scoot McNairy and Lee Pace.
The Whispers (ABC) – An alien invasion show about aliens who turn children on their parents. Eh… I’m afraid I just can’t muster much excitement for this tired sounding premise. Sometimes sci-fi can get too specific. Plus it’s on ABC which means it’s almost guaranteed to be nutless and boring. Stars Milo Ventimiglia and Lily Rabe.
Hannibal (NBC) – This NBC (in name only, it’s a foreign production) show is one of the absolute best on TV, and showcases a potential for the idiot box that I think snuck up on a lot of people. I thought it should have ended after the mind blowing second season, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited to see what they’re gonna do with this third, likely final, tilt. Stars the incomparable Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne.
Sense8 (Netflix) – A number in the title isn’t the only thing to hate about this dull looking sci-fi effort from the Wachowskis (who you think would still be smarting from Jupiter Ascending). In fairness, Netflix has delivered way more often than they’ve failed with their true originals. Worth giving a shot. Stars Jamie Clayton and Max Riemelt.
Power (Starz) – Not to be confused with the fun and ambitious Powers, this is the second season of rapper 50 Cent’s show about a club owner moonlighting as a drug kingpin in New York. It’s also fun and ambitious. Surprisingly strong production values and a bite carry this one. Stars Omari Hardwicke.
Defiance (Syfy) – Despite its problems, this is one of the best thing Syfy has ever produced. Third season boasts a new caliber of actor, the brilliant TV vet Lee Tergesen, and big surprises. Starring Grant Bowler, Julie Benz, Graham Greene and Stephanie Leonidas.
Orange is the New Black (Netflix) – The numbers don’t quite back it up, but this feels like Netflix’s hottest show, right? Season three is back with no delay and expectations are high for this overachieving prison comedy. But you already know this, I imagine. Stars Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon and Kate Mulgrew.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (BBC America) – This miniseries, based on the book by Susanna Clarke, is one of the most exciting things happening this summer. The book is a historical fantasy classic, and that’s a genre that can pay off huge when done right. Think The Prestige. Stars the great Eddie Marsan as Mr. Norrell.
Clipped (TBS) – A sitcom, on a channel that only makes terrible sitcoms, about a barbershop. If you’re excited for this show, I must insist that we just bareknuckle box each other. Stars Ashley Tisdale and George Wendt. Can’t believe I just typed that.
Deutschland ’83 (Sundance) – Sundance’s last offering in original TV was the Red Road, which is actually pretty great. Here’s they’ve bought a German production that’s a cold war spy thriller. It looks amazing. And it’s in German.
Killjoys (Syfy) – A sci-fi joint about a ship full of salty bounty hunters getting into trouble across the galaxy. It’s got a bit of Cowboy Bebop mixed with a bit of Firefly. I’m cautiously pessimistic. Which means I’ll reserve my bad review until after I’ve watched the first 10 minutes. Stars Thom Allison, Aaron Ashmore and Tamsen McDonough.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Adult Swim) – The final season of this inexplicably long toothed animated trailblazer begins. If you watch it, you already know. If you don’t, there’s no way you’re starting now.
Ballers (HBO) – HBO basically only makes great shows, and the Rock looks like he’ll be right at home in this vehicle about pro athletes and their hijinks. I’m in. Stars Dwayne Johnson.
Battlebots (ABC) – A snapshot of the desperation of the networks. Dusting off a decade old fighting robots show. I’ve actually seen these robots being worked on at the Techshop in San Francisco. This could be cool, but I’m not holding my breath.
The Brink (HBO) – HBO, Jack Black, Tim Robbins, political comedy involving international politics. Yes please. This show looks great, and as previously stated, HBO doesn’t have a lot of misses. Stars Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Pablo Schreiber.
True Detective (HBO) – I think everyone can pretty much agree this is the most highly anticipated 2nd season maybe ever. New story, new characters, new darkness. Stars Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch.
Another Period (Comedy Central) – Created by the crazy talented Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome, this period spoof of Downton Abbey mixed with Keeping up with the Kardashians looks utterly bananas. Stars Natasha Legero, Riki Lindhome and Paget Brewster.
Key & Peele (Comedy Central) One of the best sketch shows on TV is back for an extended season four run. Stars Key and Peele, duh.
The Spoils Before Dying (IFC) a Sequel to the bizarre and completely hilarious Spoils of Babylon takes us back to the twisted booze soaked world of author Eric Jonrosh, played by Will Ferrell. Stars Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Will Ferrell, Michael Sheen, Michael Kenneth Williams and Val Kilmer.
Masters of Sex (Showtime) This critically acclaimed sex romp brings back Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, maybe TV’s best pair of stars, for more drama and sex and sex and sex…
Ray Donovan (Showtime) My favorite thriller/family drama on TV. Liev Shreiber is a beast. And Eddie Marsan is also a scene stealer in this show returning for a third season. Stars Live Schreiber, Paula Malcomson and Jon Voight.
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix) – Maybe summer’s most anticipated project. A TV prequel to the brilliant film could only be great, right? I’m holding my breath. Stars Ken Marino, Paul Rudd, Michael Showalter and everybody else.
Mr. Robinson (NBC) Ugh. This looks terrible, but I love the star. He needs a vehicle that won’t suck, like this clear clunker about a high school music teacher. Stars Craig Robinson.
Public Morals (TNT) A period cop drama from Ed Burns, who also stars. This could be great, but Burns was sort of unspectacular in Mob City last year for TNT, which looked a lot like this one. Burns is a hard boiled copper on the NYPD Vice Division in the 1960s.
By Ygal Kaufman