Despite the ongoing un-summer and even un-spring like weather we’ve had in Jersey lately, I take some comfort in the knowledge that it will eventually warm up. I know this because summer TV has slowly started to come back (and because it’s almost June).
So here’s a quick rundown of some of this summer’s new and returning TV series, you know for those rainy and lazy days.
TV Dramas For Every Season
I’ve got a long list of hour-long series I am excited about, which is tricky to balance given my desire to also go outside. Among my favorites – Pretty Little Liars (6/11 Tuesdays 8pm ABC Family) and True Blood (6/16 Sundays 9pm HBO). Both are so ridiculous, in a completely entertaining kind of way.
Falling Skies is also on my to-watch list. TNT’s original sci-fi series has really come into its own in the last two seasons and returns June 16th at 10pm. Under the Dome (6/24 Mondays 10pm) has also piqued my interest. This new series is based on a Stephen King novel and was produced by Steven Spielberg, it also kind of reminds me of Jericho and its cast is highly recognizable to TV nerds like myself.
I can’t say I’m excited about it, and I don’t know if I’ll even watch, but The Killing is coming back for a third season. Yes, it was cancelled and yes they solved Rosie Larson’s case, but if watching somewhat incompetent cops drive around in the rain is your thing, then make sure to tune in on June 2nd at 8pm.
And unfortunately it’s still going to be a long wait for Breaking Bad and the return of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. The last few episodes finally return to AMC on Sunday August 4th at 9pm.
Warm-Weather Reality TV
One of my favorite summer series, So You Think You Can Dance (Tuesdays on FOX) has already returned, but don’t worry you haven’t missed much – they are still in the audition phase.
In the realm of guilty pleasures – Wipeout is back. Catch it at 8pm on Thursdays on ABC. If your a fan of fake scripted series, the second season of TLC’s Breaking Amish airs Sundays at 10pm.
America’s Got Talent kicks off its competition on Tuesday June 4th 2013 on NBC at 9pm. And for anyone who prefers winter, well, Ice Road Truckers is all new Sunday June 9th at 10pm on the Discovery channel.
There are also a good number of culinary competition shows making their debut over the next few weeks, if that’s your sort of thing.
Click here for a complete list of 2013 Summer TV premier dates.
Some Other Notable Returning TV Series
- Rookie Blue – 5/23 10pm ABC
- Arrested Development – 5/26 Netflix (Happy Marathoning!)*
- Longmire – 5/27 10pm A&E
- Pawn Stars – 5/27 10pm History
- Melissa and Joey – 5/29 8pm ABC Family
- Teen Wolf – 6/3 10pm MTV
- Burn Notice – 6/6 9pm USA
- Continuum – 6/7 10pm SyFy
- Switched At Birth – 6/10 8pm ABC Family
- Wilfred – 6/20 10pm FX
- Big Brother – 6/26 9pm CBS
- The Newsroom – 7/14 10pm HBO
If your favorite summer series wasn’t mention, my apologies, there is seriously way more ‘new’ TV on during the summer than you might think. Networks are even burning off cancelled series like 666 Park Avenue and Zero Hour, so if you were a fan now’s the chance to set the DVR and see what never was. But seriously, check out this comprehensive list of premier dates for summer TV -happy viewing!
If you aren’t already watching Orphan Black, then you’re seriously missing out on some excellent serialized TV.
Without giving too much away, trust me it’s better to be unspoiled, here’s 5 reasons you ought to be tuning in to BBC America’s newest drama.
1. The lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, is incredible. On a regular basis she plays three characters, but has also appeared as at least three more. This will all make sense once you’ve seen the pilot, but let’s just say the acting is excellent.
2. For as much TV as I watch, I am drawing a blank on what I could say Orphan Black is like. Which is a good thing, it’s certainly not another cookie cutter series where characters fit into archetypes and plot lines can easily be sussed out in advance. Seriously, just sit back and enjoy the ride – it’s been a fun one thus far.
3. A lot of themes and genres are at play in Orphan Black. It’s dark yet snarky and incorporates sci-fi, thriller, crime, and noir elements. However, and most important to me, the characters and interpersonal relationships remain at its core. And in my experience, the most engaging and enjoyable shows let the characters drive the action.
4. Orphan Black airs on BBC America, which means the season order is a very manageable 10-episodes. As an added bonus it currently airs on Saturday nights at 9pm, and I’m not saying to stay at home and watch, but your DVR sure as hell shouldn’t be busy.
5. And lastly, Orphan Black has already been picked up for a 2nd season so you don’t have to worry about committing to a show that may or may not provide a satisfying conclusion. And given what I’ve seen this far, Orphan Black is not the kind of show to tie everything up in a nice neat little bow.
Hello fellow TV fans! It’s May, which means two things – Sweeps (finale time!) and Network Upfronts (the last of the renewal and cancellation announcements).
While some shows have come to an early end, May Sweeps is just getting start, which means there is plenty of drama, laughs, guest stars, plot twists, character deaths, weddings, and cliffhangers ahead. Here’s a handy calendar of TV finale dates for all of your favorite cable and broadcast shows concluding in the coming weeks.
*Click on the image to enlarge.
Big thanks to TVLine.com’s Matt Mitovich for making the above season finale calendar.
Is Your Show Renewed or Cancelled?
So your favorite shows are wrapping up for the current TV season, but will this year be its last? Most renewal and cancellation announcements have already been made, but if you’re like me and waiting to hear the final verdict on a few shows, here’s a couple of important dates to keep in mind.
According to TVByTheNumbers.com, here’s the schedule for the 2013 Broadcast Network Upfront Meetings:
|May 13, 2013||NBC||Morning|
|May 13, 2013||FOX||Afternoon|
|May 14, 2013||Univision||Morning|
|May 14, 2013||ABC||Afternoon|
|May 15, 2013||CBS||Afternoon|
|May 16, 2013||The CW||Morning|
Of course there are always some exceptions, or funky situations (given how late Hannibal premiered I don’t expect NBC to have a decision by May 13th), but for the most part you ought to the know the fate of your shows by these dates.
So happy viewing, and may the odds be ever in your favor. My fingers are crossed for Happy Endings, Parks and Recreation, Hannibal, and Nikita – what are you hoping will live to see another season?
How some people manage to watch an episode of something live and then not stayed tuned for the promo is beyond me. I need those few extra seconds of whatever I am watching and always make sure to set my DVR to run a minute or two late so I don’t miss anything, which includes the ‘next time on’ portion of my program. Even when I’ve watch TV online I’ll seek out the show’s promo immediately after.
But there is a real art to making TV promos and trailers. Of course a TV show’s genre is going to dictate the hook or the tease, but sometimes I really feel like less is more.
For episodic and procedural series, I get it, networks need to show something crazy in order to keep the casual viewer coming back for more, but for serialized series, I’m going to assume that viewers will be tuning in again and again no matter what airs after the credits. (Spoilers Below)
TV Promos Set the Expectations
I’ve got a theory that most TV promos, and movie trailers for that matter, are going to make something look better than it really is. After all, 30-60 seconds is not enough time to really highlight flaws.
But with that being said, I do think it is possible for a promo to oversell how incredible the next episode will be. In fact, the more an episode becomes a ‘must see’ or ‘can’t miss’ I become weary of what I am about to see.
From my experience, ER is the most notable repeat offender of setting unrealistic expectations, especially in its later seasons:
Should TV Promos Tease or Spoiler?
Maybe the oversell is unavoidable, I mean they are meant to create hype, but spoiling big plot points is not. In fact, it’s my biggest pet peeve with TV promos – Is it really necessary to give away a major twist or character death just to ensure viewers will return?
And I’m not talking about the ones that allude to an upcoming ominous event, I’m talking about ones that flat out say someone is going to die:
Much like ER, as House M.D. aged it began relying on more and more ridiculous plot twists and similarly crazy promos, but I do have to give them props for this more-subtle preview for “Simple Explanation” (5×20), the fifth season’s infamous Kutner episode.
Next Time On…
I don’t want this blog entry to only be a rant about TV promos, so I figured I’d also share some of my favorites:
Fringe promos were, and are, some of the most creative previews I’ve ever seen. To check out more of the series’ standouts I recommend reading E! Online’s interview with Ari Margolis, the mastermind in FOX’s special ops department.
The following Smallville and House M.D. promos are also effective, but for me they are more memorable for their choices in music:
So what’s your TV promo pet peeve? Do you even watch promos? If so, are there any previews that standout to you, either for their excellence or absurdity? Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section below.
Pilot season rolls around every year, but for the first time TV fans can participate. Like Netflix, Amazon is getting in on the original programming game, so they’ve had 8 comedy pilots made and are now letting viewers weigh in on the options.
All eight episodes are available to stream for free on Amazon.com, so I spent the weekend watching each and every one of them. (Okay, it wasn’t that hard, most of the episodes are only about 20mins.) Here’s my take.
First Impressions Of Amazon’s Original Comedies
About: Follows four Republicans Senators who live together in one house.
Thoughts: Really impressive cast: Bill Murray, John Goodman, Mark Consuelos…and as a pilot it worked well to introduced the characters and set-up future plots.
Bottom Line: It’s not my cup of tea, I’m uneasy about political comedies. I feel like its probably a bit more honest about our government then I’d like it to be, but with that being said I still think it was one of the stronger comedies and could see why others would want to watch Alpha House.
About: Four friends living in Silicon Valley created an algorithm and the beginnings of a mobile app that they hope will make them a lot of money.
Thoughts: The cast may not be loaded with well named stars like Alpha House, but for a TV nerd like myself I did recognize several faces. I also really enjoyed the A-plot and was impressed that there was a bit of a twist in the B-storyline, which began as an overused and un-original geeky guy goes after girl storyline.
Bottom Line: This was my favorite pilot so obviously I’d watch it again. I’d like to see the characters develop, there was some interesting relationships/dynamics brewing in the Betas pilot.
About: Browsers follows four unpaid interns at a big-named gossip website. And oh yeah, its a musical.
Thoughts: Despite watching it in standard def, my audio seemed like it never quite synched up, which was particularly annoying during the musical numbers. I also felt like I might have enjoyed it more if I had an unpaid internship experience to draw from.
Bottom Line: In my opinion it would be better if it weren’t a musical. One of the songs was called “When I Tweet”, no thanks, not funny at all.
About: Two average guys work for an evil intergalactic corporation.
Thoughts: If it were made into a series, Dark Minions would be done in claymation, but only small portions of the pilot were actually animated, which made it hard to watch. Unmoving sketches don’t exactly hold the attention.
Bottom Line: Feels like its not fair to judge an incomplete work but seeing as I’m not really into animated series, I don’t think I would want to watch more. If you’re a fan of Adult Swim or Animation Domination then you might feel differently.
About: You know The Onion, which satirizes newspapers? Well the Onion News Network satirizes The Newsroom.
Thoughts: Like Betas, this show was chalked full of actors I’ve seen elsewhere on TV. I found the pilot to be amusing, but I like The Onion so it’s not too much of a stretch.
Bottom Line: I think this show might actually work better as a series of shorts rather than as a real series. I just wanted to see the fake news stories, I didn’t really care about the characters all that much, although a 20 min. time constraint will do that to you.
About: Two ‘divas’ defend the world against supernatural forces.
Thoughts: Between its description and being animated, this was the comedy I was least looking forward to watching. And although it was honest about it’s hater-humor, I’m not a fan of cruel comedy.
Bottom Line: It was better then I thought it would be, but not good enough for me to care about watching anymore. Although Supanatural does get bonus points for making references to Stargates and Hellmouths.
About: Three high school teachers who never really grew up.
Thoughts: Like Supanatural, Those Who Can’t was more cruel then funny. I thought I’d like it because I tend to watch a lot of high school based TV shows and movies but I wasn’t enamored.
Bottom Line: Not interested, despite the fact that its told from the teachers’ perspectives, the pilot didn’t feel any more original then any other high-school based series.
About: A sequel to the 2009 movie of the same name.
Thoughts: Out of all 8 comedy pilots this one seems like it would be the most expensive to make, although I don’t know what kind of budget Amazon is working with so that might not matter.
Bottom Line: Despite having to reconcile the recasting, the enjoyable essence and humor from the movie are still there. Although I did feel like the character of Tallahassee was a bit off. Overall, I did enjoy the Zombieland pilot, and would gladly watch more.
Amazon also had six kid’s pilots created, they’re also free to watch right now. Out of all 14 pilots, at least two will get the greenlight. So go check them out and take the survey when you’re done.
If you’ve already watched a few, or all of them, which comedy would you like see as a series?
Did you know that people write books about TV? Crazy right? Well I’m enough of a TV nerd to have actually read a few.
Here’s one of my favorites, you know for when your TV shows go on hiatus or the power goes out or something.
Nickelodeon Nation: The History, Politics, and Economics of America’s Only TV Channel For Kids – Edited by Heather Hendershot
I don’t know about you but I grew up on Nickelodeon. Disney was alright, I mean I remember how excited I would be when we got to watch the free preview of the Toon Disney channel, but for me Nickelodeon was where it was at for cartoons, live action TV, and everything in between. (Seriously, how do you categorize Wild & Crazy Kids, KaBlam!, or Weinerville?)
Given how much I loved the network’s many shows and resident Popsicle stick – Stick Stickly, I was pretty excited to get my hands on this book. Broken up into four sections – ‘Economics & Marketing’, ‘The Production Process’, ‘Programs and Politics’, and ‘Viewers’ – there’s a little something for everyone.
Nick Is For Kids – Nickelodeon Nation Is For Kids At Heart
Interested in marketing or the television industry in general? Several of the early chapters provide insight into Nickelodeon’s carefully crafted orange logo, programming decisions, and general show development.
Growing up it always seemed that Nickelodeon was made just for me, but of course that perception was the result of many, very deliberate, decisions regarding the branding message of the network. Contributing authors helpfully provide the context needed to understand how Nickelodeon’s core principles differed from other children’s television shows and programming blocks of the time.
In the ‘Production Process’ section, I especially enjoyed “Diversifying Representation in Children’s TV: Nickelodeon Model” by Ellen Seiter and Vicki Mayer. Portrayals of gender and ethnicity are the main focus in this chapter, but for me the main takeaway was that Nickelodeon figured out pretty early on that girls and boys alike were willing to watch TV shows with girls in lead roles. Which is what led to Clarissa Explains It All, The Secret World of Alex Mack and later more ‘dramatic’ shows like The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo and Caitlin’s Way.
Strong female characters are probably one of the few unifying themes found throughout the many TV shows I watch, and Clarissa Darling and Alex Mack are partially to blame for that. Both characters were so cool yet completely relatable, that is if you exclude the little GC-161 accident.
From Nicktoons To Nick At Nite
If you’re thinking that’s really nice and all, but I only care about the shows, then hold your horses. The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rugrats, Spongebob SquarePants, and Blues Clues all get their own chapters too. As does Nick News, but let’s be real, did any kid really watch Linda Ellerbee on their own volition?
In a particularly engaging chapter, Linda Simensky, Nickelodeon’s former Director of the Animation department recounts the early days of Nicktoons, which includes Rugrats, Doug, and Ren & Stimpy.
In addition, Nick At Nite and TV Land have their own chapter, because kids can’t have all the fun and there’s also an in-depth and insightful interview with Geraldine Laybourne, Nickelodeon’s Network President from 1989 to 1996.
As with any anthology book, some sections will be more captivating than others, but overall Nickelodeon Nation offers an interesting glimpse into the origins of a network that so many kids grew up on.
If you like reading and love Nickelodeon, then here’s a few other books that might be of interest:
Kids Rule!: Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship by Sarah Banet-Weiser
Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons! by Jerry Beck
Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age by Mathew Klickstein (Available on 9/24/2013)
After my crazy Breaking Bad binge back in December I vowed to only marathon shows that were either over or had only aired 1-2 seasons. Thankfully that meant that Game of Thrones was fair game.
Twenty episodes seemed like nothing, and even better yet I really didn’t know anything about the series (I’m clearly not a spoiler-phobe, but it is nice to be surprised). And surprised I was. Game of Thrones isn’t typically a show I would be inclined to seek out on my own, but it’s rich world and intriguing characters quickly sucked me in.
And for me that is the biggest indicator of whether or not I’m in for the long haul. If I care about the characters then I’m willing to ride out stupid plot lines, if and when they appear: Friday Night Lights season two murder, Buffy’s stint at the Doublemeat Palace, Lorelai and Christopher getting married on Gilmore Girls, etc…
But anyone who has seen or read Game of Thrones already knows how badass the series is and its many characters, so there is really no need to dwell on that fact. What I want to talk about is the actual act of watching – marathoning versus week to week.
Next Time On Game of Thrones…
Usually 20 episodes would be a breeze, especially since I started to marathon the series in the beginning of March; however, real life got in the way and I ended up watching the entire second season over the holiday weekend. I finished with just about four hours to spare before the season 3 premier.
After so quickly consuming 11 episodes of Game of Thrones I had to admit I was bummed when the end credits rolled and a preview aired. I didn’t want to wait 7 days to see more. With so many characters and plot lines, its not possible for the series to serve everyone in every episode, and they shouldn’t try to, but now that I’m all caught up I can’t just hit play on the next episode to get my Game of Thrones fix.
Marathoning or binge watching is great, its like the equivalent of reading a really good book and not putting it down until you’ve turned the last page, but in a medium like television where the story is parsed out over time there is also a benefit to the slow and steady method.
After all, marathoning is a rather time consuming proposition, once a week is much more manageable. Plus, for someone like myself who enjoys talking TV and dissecting it, a quick binge session doesn’t really lend itself to discussion or reflection, unless you’ve got a partner in crime.
Appointment viewing might be an antiquated idea, but for TV shows with a lot of social media activity (The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, reality competitions) there aren’t many other options for the well connected viewer. If I don’t watch certain shows live I am almost certain to know about any major plot points before I actually have a chance to watch, thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and other entertainment sites I frequent.
With the “second screen” fueling the social TV phenomenon and still taking the “water cooler” effect into account, a decent argument remains for live viewing despite the obvious perks of marathoning. I know I can’t just wait around for all of my favorite shows to become available on Netflix. I don’t want to miss out on the conversations at work or the chance to see the next chapter of a story I am invested in as soon as possible.
Which is why I look forward to watching the new season of Game of Thrones each Sunday night, and tweeting while I do so. But perhaps that’s just me, how do you prefer to watch TV? All at once or one at a time?
For vacation this year I happily left the cold weather behind for a few days and traveled south to Universal Studios and SeaWorld in Florida. And while I loved the roller coasters and warm weather – The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was one of the main highlights. I read the books, saw the movies, and now I can say I’ve had Butterbeer, wandered through Hogwarts, and ate lunch at the Three Broomsticks restaurant in Hogsmeade.