With the network finales over, leaving us hanging until the fall primetime season, and spring cable series winding down into their last few episodes of the season, I though it might be ripe to share a taste of summer newness. In the olden days, summer was the purview of place-holder variety shows and B-grade comedy series not (at all) ready for primetime (at least most of them).
In these days of freeform scheduling, in which the normal old “fall” schedule exists only as a starting point, with many great series beginning not in September, but in January and March (and any time in between), summer is no longer a no-man’s land, but a fertile grove of drama, comedy, reality, and anything in between. As I continue watching my favorite spring series: Game of Thrones (HBO, Sundays), Fargo (FX, Tuesdays), and Turn (AMC, Sundays), I thought I’d share what look to be some of the more promising new series coming this summer. What will you be watching?
Last Comic Standing (premiered May 23, Thursday nights on NBC) The series has been on hiatus since 2010, and I’m happy to see it back on the air. For its first few season Last Comic Standing was must-see TV for me, but the quality of the comics seemed to diminish after that. The first (audition) episode looked promising, and with Roseanne Barr, Russell Peters, and Keenan Ivory Wayans as judges, I’m looking forward to some reality-show laughs with this long-running series (and the only reality show on my viewing schedule).
The Night Shift (NBC, Series Premiere: May 27) M.A.S.H meets ER, according to star Eoin Macken. The series follows the adventures of two maverick, battle-trained (Afghanistan) doctors in a busy trauma center during the witching hours of the night. The series blends comedy and drama. Looks interesting enough to give it a try.
The Wil Wheaton Project (Syfy, Series Premiere: May 27)
Sci-fi geeks of the world unite! This half-hour weekly series covers fantasy, sci-fi, horror, comics and all of the comic-con crowd. Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation) is a bona fide genre fanatic. An amusing, fun peek at the genre, but also an exploration of its impact and power. I’m going to tune in!
Crossbones (NBC, Series Premiere: May 30)
Yo, ho, ho, me maties! Another pirate show, this one featuring old (well, middle aged) Blackbeard, himself. John Malkovich stars in this lavish period drama set in 1729. Edward Teach (AKA Blackbeard) presides over this rogue island-nation of various miscreants and rapscallions. Set against Blackbeard is Sir Richard Lowe (Richard Coyle), ship’s surgeon and English spy, whose real job it is to keep a crucial bit of 18th Century technology out of Blackbeard’s hands, and to assassinate the pirate. Look for my weekly reviews of this very cool-looking new series!
Halt & Catch Fire (AMC, Series Premiere: June 1)
OK, raise your hand if you’re nostalgic about the ’80s and the universe-changing invention of the personal computer (hand goes sheepishly up!). AMC’s new series is set during the pioneering days of personal computing and the introduction of IBM’s first PC. The series revolves around an ex-IBM employee who plans to reverse engineer the landmark product and ford the new and uncharted waters of the computer revolution. If HBO’s terrific Silicon Valley explores the most recent geek-generation, Halt and Catch Fire plays out its origin story. As a card-carrying owner of an original Commodore 64 (which got me through grad school), I have no choice but to tune in this summer! You can watch the full first episode on AMC’s website now, but here’s a sneak preview:
Through the Wormhole (Science Channel, Season 5 Premiere: June 4)
Yes, I know it’s not a new series, but…hey, science, right? Through the Wormhole is back for season five, and if you’ve not yet watched it, you should. And summer’s the perfect opportunity.
Narrated by Morgan Freeman, this award-winning popular science series explores questions pondered by scientists, thinkers, and anyone interested in understanding our universe. “Through the Wormhole brings together the brightest minds and best ideas from the very edges of science — Astrophysics, Astrobiology, Quantum Mechanics, String Theory, and more — to reveal the extraordinary truth of our Universe,” says the Science Channel. This season, the series will explore: time, gravity, the Zombie apocalypse, concepts of God, superpowers and the sentience of the oceans.
The Last Ship (TNT, Series Premiere: June 22)
After a virus has wiped out most of the world’s population, there is but one chance to save the remnants of Earth’s humanity. That hope is in the people on a U.S. naval destroyer and the people seeking a cure aboard her. The series looks promising based on the previews and trailers. Producer Michael Bay (Transformers, Black Sails) certainly knows his way around the action-adventure and sci-fi genres, so I’ll give it a try. Watch for my review of the pilot in June.
The Musketeers (BBC America, Series Premiere: June 22)
A 10-part mini-series import, is another historical drama, this one set in 17th Century France. A new dramatization of Alexander Dumas’ classic novel, and originally airing on the BBC, the series centers around King Louis’ guard: Athos, Portos, Aramis, and D’Artangnan, who of course stand for justice and honor in an age when there was very little of it. Of course there’s the thrill seeking part of it, and their adversary, the ruthless Cardinal Richelieu (Doctor Who‘s Peter Capaldi).
Tyrant (FX Series Premiere: June 25)
When the son of a Middle Eastern dictator ends his 20-year self-imposed exile and returns to his home country for a family wedding, he and his very American family become embroiled in a clash of cultures. From Homeland creator Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff (Homeland), Craig Wright (Six Feet Under, Lost), the series plunges an American family into the inner-workings of a turbulent political nation as the prodigal son is thrown into the midst of the politics of a nation he’d left years ago. A short video preview is available on the network’s Tyrant site.
The Leftovers (HBO, series premiere: June 29)
What happens, asks creators of Leftovers, when two percent of the population simply disappears–with no explanation? The series, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta and executive produced by Damon Lindelof (Lost), centers on a suburban New York police chief as he tries to cope with the new normal as the world tries to comprehend what happened, and what to do.
That’s enough for now! I’ll preview July and August later this summer! So, stay tuned. Let us know below what looks interesting to you!