Mid-summer TV round-up

1. Reality

Summer is truly the time when you should not feel ashamed about indulging in some reality TV. At least, I don’t. I’ve already thoroughly enjoyed The Real Housewives of New Jersey (previously I had seen most of the Atlanta installment, but I can’t handle O.C. or New York at all), and gotten sucked into a season of The Bachelorette for the first time in years. Actually, maybe I should be a little ashamed at how invested I am in which generic white guy Jillian chooses in the end (go Reid). And let’s not get into Daisy of Love. I have to watch it but I can’t explain why. Lemme alone.

In more respectable reality, there’s the trio of So You Think You Can Dance, blissfully new episodes of What Not to Wear (please let them never stop making this show), and Top Chef Masters (not as exciting as original flavor but still mouth-watering). Dance is the classiest competition of its kind (as long as you fast forward through Nigel’s perviness), with deeply endearing host Cat Deeley perennially winning the award for most crazy/awesome dresser on TV. And it’s just getting to the really good part of the competition, folks, so tune in tonight if you know what’s good for you. Also, their results show doesn’t suck!

2. Awesomeness

Can we talk about the amazing return to form that Rescue Me is experiencing this season? Season four was a let down, seeming like nothing happened or everyone was going around in circles. This season, people are still going around in circles…but the circles are getting tighter and tighter, and we can sense an impending something—a sensation that was glaringly missing for a while. The show is also outdoing itself in its patented brand of leaping from shattering pathos to absurd humor. From Sheila’s haunting life-without-Jimmy monologue (Emmy? Hello?) to Tommy and Janet drunk at that B&B, from Tommy practicing his own brand of cutting by turning on himself with a blowtorch to a “cancer kid” absconding with the fire truck, the show is unpredictable and heartbreaking and hilarious. Emmy time, seriously.

My other fave-of-the-moment is clearly HBO’s gruesomely entertaining True Blood. How pissed was I that there was no new episode this weekend? Real pissed! A well-done vampire story is always welcome, but the thing this show gets right that no other such project does is the sheer grossness of it all. Vampires are enduringly appealing because of the whole sensual immortal angle, but we must not forget that they are also almost cannibals, having been human themselves, and the concept of a body sustaining itself in that manner is, in a word, icky. When the first vampire staking occurred on this show and instead of a pile of ash we got an explosion of blood-soaked entrails, I knew I was hooked for life. This show is funny and weird and dark, and the only thing they could have done to earn more of my respect after last season would have been to add Michelle Forbes as a regular. Which they did.

Also totally watchable: USA’s In Plain Sight. Female main character kicking ass, male sidekick quipping hilariously, satisfying crime solving in every episode, and their boss is that one guy who was the liaison between the Greeks and the Sobotkas on season two of The Wire. So there’s a lot to like. Just be warned that the B stories with our heroine’s family are occasionally maddeningly insipid.

3. New Stuff

Two new shows so far that show promise, though we’re only one episode into each of them: Hung on HBO and Warehouse 13 on Syfy (yep they started their name change thing). Hung features your requisite HBO anti-hero, a down-on-his-luck dad and teacher (Thomas Jane, random) who doesn’t mind a little moral ambiguity if it will help him get back on top. (Get it, on top. Cuz it’s a show about a male prostitute.) The pilot was funny in parts, but too obvious with its jokes in others (see my last parenthetical for the sort of thing I’m talking about). But the main character is compelling, as is his would-be pimp/hapless poet, played by Jane Adams, who I like quite a bit in most things. I will be giving it a few episodes before I make my final verdict.

I had very little interest in Warehouse 13 until I found out it was co-created by Jane “totally wrote your second-favorite episode of Buffy” Espenson. While I didn’t see why it was the type of show that needed a 2-hour event premiere (“wrap it up already” went through my mind a couple of times toward the end), it was funny in that great Jane way and the cast and characters fall squarely into the brand of likeable I’m sure they were going for. Bonus: the presence of the great CCH Pounder (she has the most bad-ass name, right?), who I am currently enjoying very much as a no-nonsense detective as I DVD my way through The Shield, and who I’m sure will be very enjoyable here as a no-nonsense mysterious government official. Probably won’t go on the must-watch list, but it’ll be worth a hulu when bored for sure.

4. Anticipating returns

Finally, while my schedule already seems packed, I’ve got at least four favorites still returning before summer ends: Entourage this Sunday, Mad Men on August 16, Project Runway on August 20, and Psych, on some undetermined date in August.

I have no idea how I have time for all of this.


2 Responses to “Mid-summer TV round-up”

  1. 1 maliaann July 9, 2009 at 10:15 am

    I’ve been enjoying “Royal Pains” on USA. I’d recommend it. It’s fun to watch and the lead actor is charming and likeable. He’s the McGyver of medicine. And it was great to see the Bachelorette Gillian finally wise up about slimeball Wes. I’m rooting for Ed, by the way. True Blood! I’m trying not to think about what I’m missing. :( I’m behind on “Rescue Me”, but looking forward to catching up. Love that show. And Dennis Leary is fantastic in it.

  2. 2 Emily July 13, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Scifi changed it’s name? Please excuse me while I smack myself in the face and lose all respect for them.

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