CVIndependent

Sun10202019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Black Mirror (Friday, Oct. 21, Netflix), season premiere: Charlie Brooker’s near-futuristic Black Mirror anthology series has been creeping out both technophobes and technophiles since 2011, kicking off with an episode wherein the prime minister of Britain was forced to have sex with a pig on live TV. (That seems quaint given our own Election 2016 cycle, doesn’t it?) The series’ third season is only slightly less pessimistic about today’s/tomorrow’s oversharing online society; one out of the six episodes actually highlights some positive, non-horrific application of smartphone tech, so that’s … something. Among the doomed digerati of Season 3 are Bryce Dallas Howard, James Norton, Mackenzie Davis, Eve Alice, Wyatt Russell and Hannah John-Kamen, starring in a swath of stories that subtly filter film genres through a “Social Media Can and Will Kill You” narrative. At least there are no pigs this time around.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (Saturday, Oct. 22, BBC America), series debut: Even if you’ve read the Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) novels upon which Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is based, it’s difficult to explain just what in the hell’s going on here; “sheer madness with a chewy mystery in the middle” seems too simple, but it’s a start. American Ultra/Chronicle writer Max Landis brings the tale of kinda-detective Dirk Gently (Samuel Barnett, Penny Dreadful) and his certainly-not-Watson partner Todd (Elijah Wood, Wilfred) to crackling, chaotic life—so much so that it seems the action might spin right off the screen at any moment. Unlike Black Mirror, Dirk Gently celebrates the connectedness of all people and things (hence, “holistic detective”), even when there’s danger afoot (hence, a “holistic assassin”).

Dream Corp, LLC (Sunday, Oct 23, Adult Swim), series debut: Premiering after the Season 3 (!) return of the hilariously bizarre Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell (it’s Office Space in hell, and the boss is Satan—yes, we’ve all been there), Adult Swim’s new Dream Corp, LLC could the network’s most blatant “Let’s not pretend we’re not all watching this high at 3 a.m.” pitch yet. A wild-haired Jon Gries (Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite!) stars as Dr. Roberts, head of the titular psychotherapeutic lab where he and his equally sketchy team analyze the traumatic dreams of patients. That’s essentially the plot; the rest of Dream Corp, LLC is brain-twisting, hallucinogenic visual F/X rendered in rotoscope (animation over live-action film). It all makes about as much sense as USA’s dream-centric drama Falling Water, but gets it done in less than 15 minutes.

Man With a Plan (Monday, Oct. 24, CBS), series debut: Matt LeBlanc joins fellow Friend Matthew Perry in CBS Sitcom Hell, and while nothing could be as mind-numbingly awful as Perry’s The Odd Couple or Kevin James’ Kevin Can Wait (yes, 2 Broke Girls is now the Eyeball net’s smartest Monday comedy—this is where we are now, ’Merica), Man With a Plan is definitely a contender in the race to the bottom. In this laugh-tracked throwaway, LeBlanc plays a blue-collar dad who agrees to stay home with his children while his wife (Liza Snyder, replacing the wisely fled Jenna Fischer) returns to work. Guess what? The kids are a nightmare! Dad’s in over his head! Mom says, “Told ya so!” There’s not a joke here that can’t be seen coming from 85 miles away! Look up LeBlanc’s meta-funny Showtime series Episodes instead; it’s best to remember him that way.

Rectify (Wednesday, Oct. 26, Sundance), season premiere: The first three seasons of Rectify are currently available on Netflix; before this fourth and final run ends, I’d recommend starting there … patiently. Rectify follows the existential struggle of Daniel Holden (Aden Young), a man released after serving 19 years in prison for rape and murder. New DNA evidence got him out of the joint, though it’s still not clear whether he committed the crime or not—and it may never be revealed by the end, according to creator/producer Ray McKinnon. The residents of his small Georgia hometown have divergent, occasionally violent opinions; the same goes within his own family (including his stalwart-defender sister, fantastically played by Abigail Spencer, Rectify’s true heartbreaking center). Warning: Rectify moves ssslllooowwwly, and Daniel’s guilt or innocence isn’t the point of the story. Enjoy!

Published in TV

Another Period (Comedy Central): After a meh first episode, Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome’s Downton Abbey/Kardashians parody became bolder and funnier (and dirtier) every week. It’s Wet Hot 1902 Summer.

Halt and Catch Fire (AMC): Just ended and most likely canceled, ’80s tech drama Halt and Catch Fire really did catch fire in Season 2 by focusing on its women (Kerry Bishé and Mackenzie Davis, killing it). Maybe just skip the first season.

UnReal (Lifetime): And another female-led powerhouse: UnReal’s behind-the-sordid-scenes drama about a Bachelor-esque “reality” show was brutal, discomfiting and, for all we know, completely accurate. Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer FTW.

Wayward Pines (Fox): It was obvious that M. Night Shyamalan’s Wayward Pines meant “limited series” business when it killed off two big-name cast members (no spoilers!) early on. A taut, weird sci-fi conspiracy yarn.

Maron (IFC): No hype, just Marc Maron being Maron in Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Next Generation.

Dark Matter (Syfy): The setup of really, really, really ridiculously good-looking amnesiac fugitives in space didn’t seem sustainable, but Dark Matter rolled out the back-stories (and ass-kicking action) more intelligently than expected.

Killjoys (Syfy): Ditto on the looks and action here, though Killjoys was a bit more complex (read: confusing) and even more low-budget than Dark Matter (which seems impossible). Still, Hannah John-Kamen is the sci-fi heroine to top this summer.

True Detective (HBO): Quit your whining and just watch all eight episodes in a row.

The Brink (HBO): It was sold as a Jack Black comedy, but The Brink (a modern-day Dr. Strangelove via Homeland) belongs to Tim Robbins as the tenacious secretary of state, and Maribeth Monroe as his impossibly loyal assistant.

Mr. Robot (USA): Rami Malek’s mumbling, monologue-ing hoodie-rat hacker isn’t a logical TV hero—which makes Mr. Robot’s Fight Club-meets-The Matrix-meets-Dilbert existence encouraging (especially on a network like USA). Another binge-watch candidate.

Humans (AMC): The biggest surprise from this British import about synthetic “humans” living/serving amongst us? Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill) waited four whole episodes before bedding his nanny-bot (Gemma Chan). Humans was creepy, but with a heart—rare combo.

Extant (CBS): Halle Berry’s alien-takeover thriller is still insane—but at least it’s evolved into decent sci-fi, and new Season 2 co-star Jeffrey Dean Morgan handily replaced what’s-his-name. Bonus: David Morrissey acting even harder than he did on The Walking Dead!

The Spoils Before Dying (IFC): Eric Jonrosh (Will Ferrell) and his lost crime-noir masterpiece somehow made jazz tolerable. That’s an accomplishment.

Rectify (Sundance): So rich, so moving, so … slow. Ray McKinnon’s Southern-gothic character study isn’t for everyone, but the quality of the performances (not limited to main stars Aden Young and Abigail Spencer) are undeniable.

The Strain (FX): Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire-invasion thriller kicked into high gear in Season 2, thanks partially to letting Kevin Durand’s badass Fet inject some comic relief into the occasionally too-damned-serious affair. Pretty vamps are so over.

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (FX): Denis Leary’s comic love letter to rock wasn’t groundbreaking by any stretch, but it was loud and fun. That’s rock ’n’ roll, right?

BoJack Horseman (Netflix): You will feel all the feels of a cartoon horse (Will Arnett).

Ray Donovan (Showtime): As if Jon Voight weren’t enough, Liev Schreiber’s titular thug-to-the-stars Ray had to fight for screen-chewing time with new Season 3 guest Ian McShane—and he held his own.

Stitchers (ABC Family): Impossibly pretty 20-something scientists “stitch” into the memories of the recently deceased in CSI: Dead Brains. Sure, it sounds similar to iZombie, but Stitchers was even stoopider—and yet oddly entertaining.

The Meltdown With Jonah and Kumail (Comedy Central): Backstage is sometimes funnier than what’s onstage at the comic-book-store stand-up show; comedians, actors and sometimes even porn stars drop in randomly, adding to the anarchic atmosphere of The Meltdown. So all stand-up shows aren’t like this?

Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell (Adult Swim): Season 2 of hell as a workplace comedy … not a workplace reality show.

Married (FX): The second season of Nat Faxon and Judy Greer’s domestic comedy may have found a groove, if not viewers. Married is pretty much canceled; proceed at your leisure.

Rick and Morty (Adult Swim): It’s probably best that Community is now dead as a TV show, because Rick and Morty is a far better use of Dan Harmon’s time. There’s not a more off-the-charts science-geeky show out there—sorry, Cosmos—and the funny is relentless.

Wet Hot American Summer (Netflix): First Day of Camp bested the 2001 movie by streamlining the gags and going for ridiculous broke. So how do I get a gig at Rock & Roll World Magazine?

Published in TV

Rectify (Thursday, July 9, Sundance), season premiere: Critics spent the first two seasons of Rectify trying explain a series that defies description; the dirt-simple outline being: “Daniel (Aden Young) returns to his Georgia hometown after 19 years on death row for murdering his childhood sweetheart due to inconclusive evidence, and the God-fearing townsfolk are understandably—and in some cases, violently—wary of his innocence.” Like them, viewers don’t yet know if he did it, and Season 3 seems intent on introducing some hard law and order to this dream-state Southern Gothic, much to the distress of Daniel’s long-suffering, supporting sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer). Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix: They’re short; they’re fantastic; and you should experience them now.

7 Days in Hell (Saturday, July 11, HBO), movie: So many questions: Was Game of Thrones’  Kit Harington aware that this would be his first post-Jon Snow role? Has there ever been a tennis mockumentary before? Did Andy Samberg already own that throwback John McEnroe/Andre Agassi wig? As the title states, 7 Days In Hell chronicles the longest match in tennis history, with “bad-boy” American Aaron Williams (Samberg) taking on British prodigy Charles Poole (Harington), as recounted by talking heads like Will Forte, Lena Dunham, John McEnroe and Serena Williams. At 45 minutes, 7 Days almost strains the limits of what’s essentially a beer-commercial sight gag, but Harington and Samberg commit. And really, what’s not funny about tennis?

The Strain (Sunday, July 12, FX), season premiere: Season 2 of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire-invasion thriller opens with the most terrifying bedtime story in the history of ever, and escalates from there. The Strain’s first season established New York City as Ground Zero for an ancient, horrific, not-sparkly-nor-pretty vampire race’s takeover of the planet (because, as any New Yorker will tell you, it’s the center of everything); now that it’s in full swing, Centers for Disease Control docs Ephraim (Corey Stoll, still wearing the wig) and Nora (Mia Maestro) may have sussed out a cure, whereas Prof. Geezer Van Helsing (David Bradley) would just as soon kill ’em all. It’ll never reach Walking Dead-levels of hyper-fandom, but The Strain deserves credit for being faster-paced and more genuinely scary than that zombie soap opera.

Ray Donovan (Sunday, July 12, Showtime), season premiere: As imposing as he and his giant head are, Ray Donovan star Liev Schreiber is always thisclose to being overshadowed by secondary players (namely Jon Voight as Ray’s unrepentant bad-ass father, Mickey). To complicate matters in Season 3, Deadwood scene-stealer Ian McShane joins the show as a billionaire movie producer who hires Ray to retrieve his kidnapped son (discreetly, of course). Lesser threat Katie Holmes also comes onboard. (Cue the Inevitable Sex With Ray countdown clock.) Fortunately, now that Ray’s estranged from his family and is acting as a lone-wolf Hollywood “fixer” free of boss/mentor Ezra (Elliott Gould), his swagger seems to finally match his billing. But don’t worry—Mickey’s still a bad-ass.

Masters of Sex (Sunday, July 12, Showtime), season premiere: It’s 1966, and Dr. Bill Masters (Michael Sheen) and Virginia Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) are now famous, published authors of the Human Sexual Response journal. Even more shocking than all of this was in the ’60s: Caplan finally has a TV series that’s survived to see a third season!

The Jim Gaffigan Show (Wednesday, July 15, TV Land), series debut: Darren Star’s Younger, which premiered in the spring, was TV Land’s first toe in the rebranding water as the retro-network dumps Baby Boomers in favor of Gen-Xers (can’t keep catering to a demo that’s almost extinct—unless you’re the GOP). Here, laugh tracks and cheap sets are being replaced with single-camera film and a snarkier attitude, and The Jim Gaffigan Show is a far more gentle bridge between the two than Younger was. If you’ve seen Gaffigan’s stand-up, you know what he and this sitcom are about: Tubby white guy who tries to do right by his wife and kids, whom he tolerates as much as they tolerate him—oh, and he loooves junk food. If you already like his all-inclusive comedy, The Jim Gaffigan Show won’t do you wrong. For slightly more edge, stick around for …

Impastor (Wednesday, July 15, TV Land), series debut: Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville’s Lex Luthor) plays a hard-partying gambling addict who, to escape thugs and loan sharks, assumes the identity of a new pastor who was supposed to take over a small-town parish—and he later learns that the no-show Craiglist hire is also gay, hence, wackiness. Despite the deep-cheese setup, Rosenbaum sells Impastor with rogue-ish charm and some surprising comedy chops. It’s a funny pilot, but will it hold up for nine more episodes? It had better—TV Land has to fill those Dukes of Hazzard slots with something.

Published in TV

True Detective (HBO): Creator/writer Nic Pizzolatto probably screwed himself by launching this mesmerizing crime anthology with stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson at the top of their respective games. Good luck following up these eight near-perfect episodes.

Banshee (Cinemax): This left-field, visceral mashup of Justified, Twin Peaks and Fight Club went pulp-gonzo harder in Season 2, expanding the world of Banshee, Penn., just enough to introduce even more Amish mobster/Ukrainian thug mayhem. It’s that weird, and that cool.

Shameless (Showtime): Things somehow got worse as they got better for the Gallagher clan in Season 4, with William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum delivering alternately heartbreaking and hilarious performances. This is America’s family.

Justified (FX): Star Timothy Olyphant put his boot down and rescued Justified from becoming entirely the show of Boyd (Walton Goggins) in its fifth and penultimate season, and brought some new colorful characters along for the ride.

Broad City (Comedy Central): Few comedies arrive as fully-realized as Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s Broad City (though it did have a head-start as a Web series); their broke Brooklynites are the female flipside of Workaholics, only smarter, funnier and occasionally grosser.

Helix (Syfy): This Arctic Andromeda Strain/Walking Dead hybrid from Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) crept up with no big splash, but it did earn a second season for 2015—catch up on Netflix now.

The Americans (FX): Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys continued to out-spy Homeland while still stuck in Cold War 1981, facing down more danger (and wigs) than Carrie and Brody could ever imagine.

Archer (FX): Meanwhile, Archer (code-named Archer Vice) blew up its spy premise and dove face-first into cocaine and country music. Literally.

House of Cards (Netflix): Vice president Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) delivered a shocking twist in the first episode of Season 2, and the train didn’t stop a-rollin’ from there. As with actual D.C. politics, it’s best not to think too hard about the machinations en route to the presidency

Fargo (FX): Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton), Lester (Martin Freeman) and Deputy Molly (Allison Tolman) shut down the “You can’t touch that movie” doubters from frame one with this dark, funny adaptation that faltered fewer times than True Detective. Oh, you bet’cha.

From Dusk Till Dawn (El Rey): Another film-to-TV transition that defied the haters, From Dusk Till Dawn expanded the 1996 cult classic into an even crazier, racier 10-episode ride where the definition of “the good guys” is subjective.

Game of Thrones (HBO): Like anyone’s going to make a list without Game of Thrones. Get real.

Silicon Valley (HBO): Mike Judge finally, if not intentionally, created the sequel to Office Space with Silicon Valley, a hysterically profane (and tech-jargoned, at least at first) saga about programmers in waaay over their heads. If only Halt and Catch Fire had been half this much fun.

Veep (HBO): Speaking of profane: VP Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her team continued to fail upward in Season 3, from WTF? to the brink of POTUS. Pray for your country.

Bates Motel (A&E): Murder, drugs, love triangles, commercial zoning disputes—Bates Motel has it all! Norman (Freddie Highmore) became as intriguing as mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) in Season 2, no small feat, as did some of the supporting players. Why wait for Showtime’s Twin Peaks revival? It’s already here.

Mad Men (AMC): Splitting the final season in half was a lousy idea (the Mad Men buzz is pretty much nil at this point), but those first seven episodes provided a course-correcting jolt that should make for a hell of a 2015 finale, whenever that happens (hopefully, not in the ’70s).

Orphan Black (BBC America): See Game of Thrones.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO): Sure, it’s a Daily Show knock-off with F-bombs—but those rants! Corporations, media, condiments—suck it! Everything the overblown Newsroom attempted over three seasons, Oliver nailed in 30 minutes.

Legit (FXX): Poor Jim Jefferies. His Louie-like Legit finally got good by the end of its first season, then FX exiled it to the untested FXX for Season 2: no promotion, no viewers, just yelling into a vast, empty room. See what you missed on Netflix (along with Jeffries’ stand-up specials).

Playing House (USA): Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham as almost-uncomfortably close BFFs failed on network TV, but found a niche on cable with Playing House, which could be the first series ever to make pregnancy play funny and inclusive.

Parks and Recreation (NBC): While as excellent as ever, Season 6 probably should have been the last (maybe even halfway through), but at least we’ll get a proper sendoff for NBC’s last great Must-See comedy in 2015.

Rick and Morty (Adult Swim): Few “get” Community, but Dan Harmon’s other TV project, the animated, and simultaneously brainy and crude Rick and Morty—imagine Back to the Future with more universes, booze and malicious aliens—clicked immediately on Adult Swim.

Louie (FX): Louis C.K. made us wait two years for a new season, then delivered 14 arty-if-not-always-funny installments of Louie, which were rightfully hailed as “brave,” “experimental” and “mostly free of black T-shirts.”

Maron (IFC): Marc Maron didn’t stray too far from the formula of his debut season in his second go-round—regarding how difficult it is to be Marc Maron, specifically, and a middle-aged white dude with a podcast in general. Still brilliant.

Orange Is the New Black (Netflix): Season 2 leaned more dramatic than comedic, and pulled killer performances from everyone in (and out) of Litchfield Penitentiary. Creator Jenji Kohan is well on her way to achieving the heretofore-thought impossible: Topping her previous series, Weeds.

The Leftovers (HBO): Life sucks when you’re not Raptured, and The Leftovers was the ultimate summer-bummer wallow, not to mention the vehicle that finally made Justin Theroux matter.

Rectify (Sundance): And while we’re on the topic of dramas filmed in Depress-o-Vision … damn.

Longmire (A&E): In its third season, Longmire fully broke away from its Justified Out West trappings and became a gripping, dusty crime drama in its own right. A&E rewarded this creative triumph—and high ratings—with a cancellation notice in order to make way for more Duck Dynasty. Fortunately, Netflix came to the rescue, and Season 4 will be streaming by late 2015. I’m beginning to understand you cable-cutters …

Coming next week: Part 2—even more shows!

Published in TV

Dominion (Thursday, June 19, Syfy), series debut: After the Season 2 premiere of cowboys-and-aliens future Western Defiance—yes, they’re still defying their asses off—Syfy drops another big-budget original, Dominion, which is waaay better than a series based on the 2010 mess of a movie Legion should be. Twenty-five years later, in the rubble of an Earth ravaged by lower angels bent on the destruction/possession of mankind, new, high-tech bunker-cities house remaining humans—including a Vega (the former Las Vegas, somehow even more obnoxious than before) soldier who happens to be, yep, The Chosen One who’ll save humanity. Dominion establishes its dark tone and New Ruling Class hierarchy quickly, thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Anthony Stewart Head, who lends serious weight even without his British accent, and writing that doesn’t dumb it down. (See again: Legion.)

Rectify (Thursday, June 19, Sundance), season premiere: If you missed the first season of Sundance’s dream-state drama Rectify—which is likely, because, well, Sundance—get thee hence to Netflix, Amazon, your favorite pirate stream, whatever. It introduced Daniel Holden (Aden Young), newly released from prison after serving 19 years for a rape/murder he may or may not have committed. With the exception of his sister (Abigail Spencer), no one in his small Georgia hometown is convinced of his innocence, maybe not even Daniel, himself. Watch Season 1 now; come back later.

The Last Ship (Sunday, June 22, TNT), series debut: Say what you want about Michael Bay—dude knows how to produce Big Action: The Last Ship looks like a pricey summer blockbuster movie, until you notice the B-list stars (Grey’s Anatomy’s Eric Dane and Strike Back’s Rhona Mitra) and the TNT logo and “Falling Skies Season Premiere Next” blaring in the corners. The Ship is a U.S. Navy destroyer on a weapons-testing mission at the Arctic Circle, but the skipper (Dane) is unaware that the “mission” is a cover for a scientist (Mitra) gathering samples to create a cure for an impending pandemic. Surprise! In the months they’ve been isolated and incommunicado, 80 percent of the planet’s population has been wiped out, and global chaos reigns. Will the crew and the science lady make it back to what’s left of civilization in time to save what’s left of mankind? Is there a mole on the ship? Did Bay spend all of TNT’s money? Shut up and grab the popcorn already!

True Blood (Sunday, June 22, HBO), season premiere: The Only TV Column That Matters™ could tell you which major character gets killed in the opening minutes of True Blood’s seventh and final season, but who cares? Every major character has been offed at least once on this show, so it’s 50/50 that this “death” won’t stick, either. At least the season premiere, “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” is mostly fast-paced and action-packed, with the townsfolk of Bon Temps sticking with the “one vampire for every human” plan, even after a vicious attack by the H-Vamps (rogue vampires cracked-out on the Hepatitis V virus … I know, I know). Only nine more episodes left!

CeeLo Green’s The Good Life (Monday, June 23, TBS), series debut: This is not so much an “unscripted” “reality” show about CeeLo “Baby T-Rex Arms” Green as a six-episode infomercial for the Goodie Mob, his ’90s hip-hop group that’s been attempting a comeback for well more than a year now. (They released a reunion album in 2013; nobody noticed.) If CeeLo’s international fame and truckloads of money couldn’t get the job done, a half-hour on Monday nights following 15 Big Bang Theory reruns probably ain’t gonna do it, either.


DVD ROUNDUP FOR JULY 24!

300: Rise of an Empire

The next chapter of the shirtless Frank Miller saga hits the sea, as Greek Gen. Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) takes on Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), Artemesia (Eva Green) and the whole damn Persian navy. Faaa-bulous! (Warner Bros.)

Cleaners: Season 1

You could watch it all for free on Crackle.com, or own the action series about a pair of contract killers (Emmanuelle Chriqui and Emily Osment) who piss off their boss (Gina Gershon) and become targets themselves. Dumb, Tarantino-y fun. (Sony; released June 3)

Masters of Sex: Season 1

The true-ish story of pioneering 1950s human sexuality researchers Masters (Michael Sheen) and Johnson (Lizzy Caplan) that looks like Mad Men, but with more Showtime nudity and language, and even more PBS science talk. (Sony)

Winter’s Tale

Colin Farrell, Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint and Russell Crowe star in a mythic story of “miracles,” “crossed destinies,” “the age-old battle between good and evil” and “ill-advised, doomed book adaptations.” (Warner Bros.)

Witches of East End: Season 1

A mother (Julia Ormond) tries to hide her familial magical powers from her daughters and lead a normal life—until her troublemaker sister (Mädchen Amick) shows up and tells all. Believe it or not, based on a young adult novel! (Fox)

More New DVD Releases (June 24)

The Boondocks: The Complete Uncensored Series, The Bridge: Season 1, Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 2, Enemy, The Jungle, The Larry Sanders Show: Season 1&2, Lost Girl: Season 4, Redwood Highway, Repentance, Rob the Mob, Unforgettable: Season 2, Wolf Creek 2.

Published in TV

Television used to take a break in the summertime—but that was back in the dark ages, Grandpa. Today, networks are more aggressive than ever about establishing the fabled 52-week programming schedule, so the real winner is you!

Here’s what you should be watching while it’s hot:

JUNE

Following the Season 2 premiere of 2013’s hit alien-western Defiance, it’s the debut of Dominion (right), a new supernatural drama about rogue angels bent on possessing mankind in the—wait for it—post-apocalyptic future. It’s based on the 2010 flick Legion, so the fact that Dominion doesn’t completely suck is a … miracle. (Syfy; Thursday, June 19)

Quiet breakout series Rectify, about a former death-row inmate trying to fit back into his small Georgia home town, returns for a 10-episode second season. The gorgeously hypnotic Southern Gothic doles out details slower than molasses, but it earns every last drop of its critical mass—binge Season 1 on Netflix for proof. (Sundance; Thursday, June 19)

Before the Season 4 premiere of alien-invasion epic Falling Skies, new series The Last Ship tackles an enemy of a different kind: Producer Michael Bay. Actually, it’s a pandemic that kills 80 percent (!) of the planet’s population, and only the crew of a surviving Navy ship is positioned to find a cure for the remaining 20. It’s like Battleship, but with more plot. (TNT; Sunday, June 22)

It’s about five years late, but the seventh and final season of True Blood is upon us—and after you begin saying your goodbyes to (everybody whisper it together now) Sookie and the Bon Temps fang-gang, say hello to the un-Raptured souls of The Leftovers, about a group of confused suburbanites stuck behind on Earth. It’s like This Is the End, but with less weed. (HBO; True Blood: Sunday, June 22; The Leftovers: Sunday, June 29)

If it weren’t already canceled, it would be easy to accuse FX of inhumanely putting down loveable mutt Wilfred by moving Season 4 to FXX, the euthanasia lab of cable. On the upside, we may finally get some answers as to why Wilfred appears to Ryan as an Australian asshole in a dog suit … but probably not. (FXX; Wednesday, June 25)

Also premiering in June: Halt and Catch Fire (AMC; Sunday, June 1); Longmire (A&E; Monday, June 2); Mistresses (ABC; Monday, June 2); Orange Is the New Black (Netflix; Friday, June 6); Power (Starz; Saturday, June 7); Rookie Blue (ABC; Thursday, June 19); Teen Wolf (MTV; Monday, June 23); Tyrant (FX; Tuesday, June 24); Covert Affairs (USA; Tuesday, June 24); Big Brother (CBS; Wednesday, June 25); Girl Meets World (Disney; Friday, June 27); Under the Dome (CBS; Monday, June 30).

JULY

Halle Berry gets knocked-up in space! That’s all the summation you need for Extant, CBS’ next stab at a Summer Event Thriller after the network got a little too cocky last year with the success of Under the Dome. How did this female astronaut become pregnant during her year alone in space? What’s growing inside her? Who came up with the lousy title Extant? Expect answers … maybe during the summer of 2015, if the ratings blow up. (CBS; Wednesday, July 9)

Now that Dexter is over, and Homeland has jumped (hung?) the shark, Showtime’s new flagship dramas Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex both return for their respective second seasons. A gritty crime/family drama about a troubled “fixer” for the Hollywood elite and a period soap about pioneering 1950s sex researchers Masters and Johnson may seem like an odd combo, but they’re the network’s best series in years. (Showtime; Sunday, July 13)

Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s book trilogy The Strain becomes a TV series, brought to you, coincidentally, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. When an ancient disease strain begins turning the world’s population into vampires—and not those pretty Twilight/Vampire Diaries bloodsuckers, either—it’s up to a Centers for Disease Control doc and a ragtag group of New Yorkers to save humanity. Apparently, it’s the Summer of the Apocalypse. (FX; Sunday, July 13)

Would you believe a soccer star by day who’s an international spy by night? That’s Matador. If the balls-out TV re-imagining of From Dusk Till Dawn has taught us anything, it’s to trust Robert Rodriguez and the El Rey network. (El Rey; Tuesday, July 15)

Harried-marrieds comedies have been done to death—but one starring Judy Greer, Nat Faxon, Jenny Slate and Bret Gelman? That’s a killer cast who’d be canceled in five minutes on a broadcast network; fortunately, the new Married is on cable, and it’s far funnier and more heartfelt then the generic title suggests. Fellow debuting comedy You’re the Worst, about two toxic singles who enter into couple-hood, wins the name game. (FX; Thursday, July 17)

Also premiering in July: Witches of East End (Lifetime; Sunday, July 6); Finding Carter (MTV; Tuesday, July 8); The Bridge (FX; Wednesday, July 9); Hemlock Grove (Netflix; Friday, July 11); Satisfaction (USA; Thursday, July 17); Rush (USA; Thursday, July 17); Sharknado 2: The Second One (Syfy; Wednesday, July 30).

AUGUST

You can’t kill The Killing: After being canceled by AMC, like, a dozen times, the crime drama returns for a fourth and final season on Netflix … but is it really the last? There’s still Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime and Yahoo! TV, right? (Netflix; Friday, Aug. 1)

A married World War II nurse is mysteriously transported from 1945 to 1743, where’s she’s “forced” (just go with it) to wed a dashing Scottish warrior. Outlander (below), based on a best-selling book series, is equal parts romance, sci-fi, history and utter ridiculousness. Hence, it’ll be a huge hit—at least by 10th-tier premium-cable standards. (Starz; Saturday, Aug. 9)

Also premiering in August: Masters of Illusion (The CW; Friday, Aug. 1); Legends (TNT; Wednesday, Aug. 13); Franklin and Bash (TNT; Wednesday, Aug. 13); Dallas (TNT; Monday, Aug. 18); Breathless (PBS; Sunday, Aug. 24); MTV Video Music Awards (MTV; Sunday, Aug. 24); Emmy Awards (NBC; Monday, Aug. 25).

Published in TV