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Searching Out, and Finding, Summer TV Options

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Today I awoke and found myself oddly pleased with the summer television fare available to me.  Usually, I dread summer TV, or, at the very least, I recall dreading summer TV, whether I did or not may be debatable.  In any case, I don't tend to think highly of my options for summer television, usually I find my TiVo noticeably empty and me scouring my DVD collection for something I haven't seen in ages.  I know it's only the beginning of July, but that hasn't happened yet.

Perhaps – and I'm willing to admit this – the reason I've found myself so content is that I was away for a week and a half in June and my TiVo was able to load up 10 days worth of shows for my viewing please.  That, combined with various review materials which piled up during my absence, may have been what filled my time, but I just don't think that's the case.

An example of why I think that's wrong lies with last night's televisual opportunities.  Last night I sat back, turned on my TiVo and found The Apprentice UK, Hawthorne, The Superstars, and Better off Ted all there waiting for me.  Okay, they weren't all quite waiting for me when I started, the first two were and the other two magically appeared as I watched the first two.  But, that's not the point, the point is that four hours of television was readily available to me last night, and not just any four hours, four hours which I kind of, sort of, almost enjoyed.

I know, I've seen the ratings, and based on the above list of shows I watched, you may have watched Hawthorne, but that's probably about it.  I'm not going to do anything foolish like go out and call Better off Ted or The Superstars great TV, but both are more than adequate.  I actually look forward to Better off Ted every week, it's the exact sort of funny, quirky comedy that ought to do better than it does.  It's the exact sort of funny quirky comedy which I enjoy – not love, just enjoy – and which I hope for the successive.  It's also the exact sort of quirky comedy which tends to disappoint in the ratings and soon enough leave me forever. 

Better off Ted, however, has been picked up for a second season, it'll air with Scrubs again next season, which is a perfect pairing in terms of content, theme, and ratings.  Offbeat comedy?  Check.  Character which talks to the audience all the time?  Check.  Amusing but never (anymore) laugh out loud funny?  Check.  Attractive blonde actress?  Check.  Few people other than yours truly watching?  Check.

And then, even though I missed the first week, I opted to take a look at The Superstars too last night.  Outside of the foolishness of the name (few of these people are actually "superstars," although the roster of athletes is impressive), the show appears to be just a plain old fun competition.  I found myself terribly sad not to have seen the first week of the series because Terrell Owens and Joanna Krupa seemed on fire last night and it's hard to imagine how they could possibly have been eliminated the previous week (they were brought back due to another player getting injured).  The teammates weren't perfect, mostly because T.O., as we all know, has an attitude the size of… the size of… the size of… well, honestly I don't know that they've ever measured anything quite that large before. 

What I really enjoyed about the show was not just the fact that the events only had a little bit of a spin from basic sporting events, but the fact that everyone seemed to be having fun on the show.  What's not to like?  They do a couple of hours of work every day and get a free stay at Atlantis in the Bahamas for their trouble.  I'd take that job too.

I guess what I'm saying about last night's shows is that there definitely feels to be stuff out there to watch this summer, it might be in unexpected places – like The Superstars – but there's stuff there.  Just keep digging.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.