Remember as a kid, when summer was just the time that the networks showed reruns for months, or occasionally dumped failed pilots? Summer programming has certainly come a long way since then. Especially for "cable." While we still have to put up with an over reliance on insipid reality shows, there are some really good things going on:
On HBO, we have a new season of Entourage. The getting better every single episode Big Love. The bizzare, challenging, yet strangely compelling John From Cincinnati.
On Sci-Fi, Eureka returned this week, and appears to be in fine form. Eureka is a perfect "sci-fi" show for people who don't know what the Prime Directive is or what kind of planet Hoth is. it features clever writing and winning performances from a talented ensemble cast, and shows signs this year of being slightly deeper and slightly darker. Doctor Who has returned also, and Friday's encounter with William Shakespeare was particularly entertaining. Plus, we have Flash Gordon coming up, that could be a fun romp, or another Painkiller Jane. We'll just wait and see.
TNT, of course, has The Closer. I posted about Monday's harrowing and intense episode (and cut off ending. Grrrr) yesterday, but the episode before that, with the "extra" corpse in the coffin and Brenda's encounter with a bridezilla, was completely different in tone, and totally hysterical. Other than the presence of Morena Baccarin, I can't find any reason to give Heartland a chance, so I can't personally say how that one is. But I'm mildly intrigued by Saving Grace, and the promos for The Company certainly make it seem Tivo-worthy.
I didn't know AMC was in the original programming business, but I've read a few good things Mad Men. It seems to have a premise we don't see on television that often, and I'll definitely give it a look-see.
The king of summer programming though, at least in my house, is USA. There's The 4400, which was kind of Heroes before there was a Heroes. But with a darker underbelly, smaller budgets and an increasingly complicated mythology. There's the new show, Burn Notice, which showcases a winning performance from Jeffrey Donovan (who was fantastic in USA's adaptation of a british show, Touching Evil, which was inexplicably not renewed for a second season) and features cult god Bruce Campbell. And Sharon Gless kvetching and chain smoking. Also of note is that Mere Smith, a writer and story editor on Angel, is a producer.
But the best news is the return of the Friday night block of Monk and Psyche. Monk (with whom I have nothing in common. Really) had a great premiere episode, with Sarah Silverman returning as Monk's "biggest fan." There were several amusing bits, including her character, Marci, "naming" Monk's adventures - just like the episode titles, and giving Monk "clue hugs." Her interaction with Natalie, fortunately no longer hiding a real-life pregnancy for the actress, was great. And like Monk, Psyche thrives on wafer thin plots and mysteries that basically serve as a framework for the characters to make with the funny. Psyche's premiere was one of the funniest of the series, with the detectives going undercover at an American Idol clone to find a killer. And is there some type of pineapple in every show? Is this like the watermelon in Buckaroo Banzai?
Christina Cole played one of the witches trying to get William Shakespeare to conjure the end of the world on Doctor Who. I recall her from the first season of another BBC show, Hex.
Tim Curry played the Simon Cowell role, to delicious effect, on Psyche. Gina Gershon was amazing as the drug addled faux Paula on the same show. The episode was also directed by John Landis, responsible for some of the seminal big screen comedies of the 70s and 80s.
Last week's episode of Burn Notice had Mark Pellegrino as the con man. Previously, he was Paul, Rita's dirtbag ex husband on Dexter.