Apologies for our absence of late, but it’s summer and we’ve had jaunting and frolicking to attend to. And then sunburn and insect bites and bruises and so forth to tend to.
It’s the summer hiatus season at the moment too, with lots of shows disappearing off air before the new seasons begin in September. And lots of short season cable shows like Girls, Mad Men and Game of Thrones are already over and done with for the year. But don’t fret, there’s enough television airing over the summer for plenty of fun to be had.
Here are ten of my picks for TV shows airing this summer. If you’re looking for a way to fill your time, look no further! And if you’re not, well then tough, because there’s a whole load of things that you really ought to be watching.
Season five of True Blood is already in full swing, and the show’s just as batshit crazy as ever. We’ve been introduced to the fascinating inner workings of the vampiric Authority, found out about some of the ickier werewolf traditions, learnt a bit of Pam and Eric’s history together, and delved into Terry’s back story properly. There’s still plenty of blood, sex and mysterious supernatural happenings, but this deepening of the show’s world looks set to keep it fresh, as well as answering some pressing questions- especially about what the fairies are up to, a plot point that’s been bubbling along for the past few seasons. And the writers actually seem to know what they’re doing with Tara this season, which is a surprising bonus!
With the fifth season premiere of this fun show around the corner, if you’re not already watching then now may be the time to get caught up. It’s essentially a glossy American version of the UK show Hustle, but less cheesy, and with Gina Bellman instead of Jaime Murray. Every week this Robin Hood-esque gaggle of con artists, with their leader played by Timothy Hutton, rob from the nasty rich to give back to the deserving poor. The characters are well fleshed-out, and eminently likeable, and although it’s basically a procedural there are longer story arcs playing out in the background. Plus Mark Sheppard sometimes guest stars, and what with Supernatural being on hiatus and him being a bit less of a constant presence on screen these days, I’m hoping to see him around on Leverage again.
The final season of Weeds has just begun, and I for one will be sad to see it go. Even if it has become increasingly preposterous with each season it’s still a fun and witty dark comedy with great characters. And I love me some Mary-Louise Parker and Justin Kirk, I’ll take them wherever I can get them. (I’m probably even going to watch Animal Practice, though the premise sounds truly dreadful.) Season eight kicked off dramatically (with a shooting!), and seems to have signalled the show taking a more serious and introspective turn (laced with plenty inappropriate humour of course), and maybe it’ll even be a tad more down to earth- focussing more on the effects of the ridiculous drug-dealing lifestyles of the people, than the random situations they end up in. Though really I gave up on trying to predict where this show would go a long time ago (round about the croquet mallet murder incident), I don’t mind what it does now, it’s bound to be entertaining!
Pretty Little Liars
This show is like crack. Seriously. It’s the most addictive mystery series I’ve ever seen, fuck Revenge. Last season ended with the supposedly big reveal of who “A” (the text-tormentor of the four main girls) is, but they haven’t had it any easier in season three. There’s still plenty of unanswered questions, the killer of two teenage girls to track down, and apparently a much bigger plot to harass Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily than they’d realised. This show’s a lot smarter than it seems, and I think has a very honest (and thus rare) take on teenage female friendships, with their murdered friend Alison being portrayed as quite the shit-stirrer. While there’s more twists and turns than in a J.J. Abrams show, and it can be hard to keep up with the massive amount of plot, it does actually seem to tie together and make sense, and hell it’s fun to just enjoy the ride! Especially when Hanna says or does basically anything.
Damages is about to enter its final season, and I know very little about the plot of this final installment, but I’m convinced that it’s going to be phenomenal. The show’s use of multiple timelines and tight pacing makes it thrilling and intense, kind of like a grown-up version of Revenge but really, really good, and you’re often left on the edge of your seat desperate to know more. Rose Byrne seems to be getting movie roles all over the place these days, so having her and Glenn Close as the show’s stars doesn’t exactly hurt either. They’ll be joined this year by Ryan Phillippe, which as diehard Cruel Intentions fan I’m very excited about, as well as more fabulous guest stars like Jenna Elfman, John Hannah and even more Judd Hirsch, whom I don’t think one can ever have enough of.
Breaking Bad is another show that’s nearing its end, with its fifth (and final) season of sixteen episodes reportedly airing in two batches- the first eight this summer, and the next eight next year. The wait for the final half may well be agonising, but then again I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this marvellous series to end. (And maybe there’s hope for a resurrection film after all…) This intense study of man’s desperation can be almost painful to watch at times, but it’s also deeply compelling and impossible to turn away from. The last season was, simply put, amazing- and I can’t wait to see where it’s going to go from there. I do hope it involves lots of Walter and Jesse just about getting along (rather than his former pupil being sidelined), because I’m an absolute sucker for their friendship, and because I find Aaron Paul in oversized clothing inexplicably adorable.
This solid sci-fi show, that sort of plugs the Heroes gap, is returning for its second season. While I wouldn’t say that it’s doing anything particularly revolutionary (at least not thus far), it does a good job of providing entertainment and tension with its world of superpowers and government intrigue. I’m also particularly interested in their portrayal of Gary’s autism, which is done sensitively and believably, and Rachel’s “synaesthesia”. In her case they seem to be using the term to mean enhanced sensory perception which I find disappointing because I think synaesthesia- the involuntary association of one sense with another- is endlessly fascinating, which is why I’m hoping against hope that it may actually be explored. I’m certainly interested to see where the second season is going to take the characters beyond just that though, and I reckon that if you’re an X-Men fan, or you just like it when Summer Glau is in things, then you might be too.
Aaron Sorkin has come back to television! And it’s cable! So there’s swearing! If you’re not a fan of his work (A Few Good Men, The American President, Sports Night, The West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Social Network etc) then admittedly this might not be one for you. Sorkin definitely has a certain distinctive style that you probably either like or you don’t. His work, even when it’s not directly about politics, tends to be very politicised, his characters are generally extremely passionate and do-goody, his dialogue often consists of lots of long speeches, and his female characters are maybe not always the best written in the world. But his shows are well written, and occasionally even inspiring. And they’re funny, which I don’t think he gets enough props for- The Newsroom definitely also has impeccable comedic timing, along with a touch of pomposity. And despite the fact that only two episodes have aired, it’s already been renewed for a second season, so clearly somebody thinks he’s doing something right.
From Gilmore Girls creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, comes this off-beat show that’s ostensibly about ballet. It follows the story of Michelle (Sutton Foster) a classically trained dancer turned Vegas showgirl who gets married on a whim to a persistent suitor, who dies soon after. She ends up with living with his mother (Kelly Bishop) in a small town named Paradise, helping out with her ballet school and touching the lives of some of the young girls there. There’s rapid-fire, funny dialogue, a generally charming feel and kooky situations focussed on the strangeness of locales like this, reminiscent of early Weeds or Suburgatory. All of the main cast are female, which I think creates an interesting dynamic, especially because it’s a multi-generational mix of voices. There’s bound to be plenty more dancing, drinking and drama as the show progresses- and I’m looking forward to seeing how it unfolds.
Although in its second series this British supernatural show has lost most of the original lead actors, including fitty Theo James, sweetheart Will Young and the intensely irritating Ashley Madekwe (who’s fucked off to Revenge), it has soldiered on, with Lacey Turner taking on the role of the now main character Ellie Flint, and making her pretty likeable in the process. I thought the first series of Bedlam was very promising, and while it’s a shame that a lot of the former main cast have disappeared, it’s still a solid genre show and it seems that it may answer some important questions about its ghost-ridden world before the finale. Of course since it’s a British show the second series consists of a mere six episodes, so it’s almost done already! At least that means that if you want to caught up, it’s not going to take too long.
What else are you watching over the summer? Tell us all about it in the comments!