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Endless Summer… Television: Some Seasonal Alternatives

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The time of year us television fanatics dread most is quickly approaching. Summer. As the temperature rises, the quality of network programming plummets faster than Nicole Richie’s waistline. You know it’s officially summer when So You think You Can Dance becomes appointment television. Panicked at the thought of watching bingo, celebrity impersonators, and wannabe pirates all season, I did some research and found some alternatives that sound promising.

Other than the aforementioned dance show which possesses a guilty pleasure quality, the only other network show that seems remotely interesting to me is the CW’s Hidden Palms from Scream creator Kevin Williamson. The preview I watched had a soapy, The OC meets Twin Peaks kind of vibe that could be fun and addictive. The show, which premieres May 30, hopes to end Williamson’s post-Dawson’s Creek career slump. The CW took a page from FOX’s playbook by airing a teen drama in the summer and I think it’s a wise move.

In cable land, the programming is a tad more diverse.

Naturally, Bravo will serve up another helping of Top Chef on June 6 in an effort to help us forget that Project Runway won’t be coming back until fall. I have no interest in finding America’s next top basket weaver or nail technician, so in protest I’ll mostly avoid Bravo until Tim, Heidi, and Nina return. I will, however, be tuning in for Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-list on June 5. I watched the season three opener and it’s funnier and more poignant than previous seasons. Griffin’s recent divorce and personal tribulations definitely add drama to the mix. Love her or loathe her, she’s a fascinating and utterly watchable comedian.

Showtime, the little network who continues to beat HBO at its own game, shows no signs of slowing down this summer. Meadowlands, set to debut on June 17, is a drama about a family relocated through the witness protection program to a twisted suburban community filled with secrets. Known as Cape Wrath in the UK, this import is generating a lot of buzz and the trailers look intriguing. This should keep me occupied until the fabulous Weeds returns August 13 with more episodes and Matthew Modine and Carrie Fisher joining the cast. Last season’s cliffhanger was amazing and I can’t wait to see what happens next. The long-awaited David Duchovny vehicle Californication also premieres in August on Showtime. The premise sounds a little self-indulgent but I’ll hold off judgment until I see an actual clip.

Aside from the occasional Valerie Bertinelli baby-stealing movie, I rarely watch Lifetime. That might change in July, when State of Mind debuts. The therapist drama stars the always-fascinating Lilly Taylor and was written by Amy Bloom, a novelist I personally love. Bloom’s work is insightful and could translate well on the small screen.

TNT’s audience favorite, The Closer comes back on June 18 along with the new Treat Williams doctor show Heartland. Not really my cup of tea but both are guaranteed to be more stimulating than E!’s tanning salon reality show (I’m not kidding, by the way) Sunset Tan. More to my liking on TNT is Saving Grace popping up in July. Sure it’s another detective show but it has Holly Hunter, an actress I happily watch clean out a junk drawer.

I’m also excited to see LOGO’s first animated series, Rick & Steve The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World. Done in Lego-style animation, the series features the vocal talents of Alan Cumming, Wilson Cruz, Margaret Cho, and Taylor M. Dooley. Friends who’ve attended screenings say it’s hilarious, subversive, and even a little cute.

More hits return this summer like USA’s The 4400, FX’s Rescue Me, and ABC Family’s Kyle XY. I don’t yet watch any of these programs but summer might be a good time to pick one of them up. 30 Rock is another show that I like but for some reason never watched so I hope NBC airs re-runs. I've recently become a Greg Berlanti fan so the Everwood DVDs might be a nice escape.

If all else fails, reading a book or going to a movie (which, for the record, don’t look that great either) are also an option. Realistically though, I’m bound to indulge in some of the cheesier summer television shows. So don’t judge me if my next article is about pirates, bingo, or even a tanning salon.

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About Sean Paul Mahoney

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com TV and Film Guy

    what about Hell’s Kitchen, Eureka, Monk, and Psych?

  • sean Paul Mahoney

    TV & Film Guy- Hell’s Kitchen is coming back and although I find it a bit staged, I’ve watched the previous seasons and will mostly likely watch this year. I never watched the other shows you mentioned but I hear good things about each of them. I’d like to watch Eureka but would I be lost since I didn’t see last season?