Ah, summer — a time when TV used to suck eggs, because all of the shows were on hiatus. Thank goodness that’s no longer the case, since the TV bigwigs realized that people like to watch their tellies year-round! Of the many shows being offered this summer, here’s what we’re checking out:
So You Think You Can Dance (FOX): We can tackle each 2-hour performance show in around 20 minutes, by only watching the dancing and fast-forwarding through everything the judges say. I do the same thing with American Idol. So while I have no idea who’s on Mary Murphy’s hot tamale train, I have my favorites. We’re rooting for Melanie (who, due to her vague Bioshocky look, we’ve nicknamed “the splicer”). We also like Jordan (codename: “Orion slave girl”) and Jess (“that broadway kid”, which is our worst nickname ever).
Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (ABC): It’s like a whole season of The Biggest Loser every episode! Plus, this Chris guy seems much more likeable than Jillian Michaels. It’s nice to see the Extreme Makeover franchise lean back toward its roots, when it was a show about everyday people getting ten plastic surgery procedures. They’ve kept a bit of the heartwarmingness of the home edition, but not so much that it gets sugary.
Platinum Hit (BRAVO): In the same vein as Top Chef and Top Design and Work of Art, in this show you have singer/songwriters battling it out every week to craft a hit. It’s trainwrecky for the most part — contestants have a half-hour to write a hook, then get a day or two to write the rest of the song (which frequently appears to be a single verse to go with the hook). And many of those songs aren’t as good as songs I’ve seen improvised on the spot. But there are some really good drama llamas in the contestant pool, and it’s always fun to hate on the wooden performances of head judge Kara DioGuardi.
Wilfred (FX): After a failed suicide attempt, Elijah Wood sees his neighbor’s dog as a crude Australian guy in a cheap dog suit. A fascinating concept, and after 2 episodes we’re still sticking with it. My only issue is it’s too heavy on the pot use for me.
Falling Skies (TNT): We tried. Honestly we did. But we stopped the pilot after the first hour. The show is utterly humorless, and I just can’t picture Noah Wyle as any kind of tough guy. I understand wanting to be a big serious show, but you need little moments of levity now and then. They need to take a lesson from The Walking Dead — even just a line here and there can break up the solid wall of serious.
Warehouse 13 (SyFy): It’s back in three days, and I can’t wait! This show is just the right mix of fun, corn, cheese, cheap special effects, steampunk, buddy cops, mystery, and history retcon.
Jon Benjamin Has a Van (Comedy Central): This show may be even weirder than Wilfred on the weird scale. Everything is an exercise in the completely unexpected. Even if you can guess where they’re headed with a joke, they put a twist on it that leaves you wondering, what kind of crazy nutso freaks wrote this? Plus, Scott has put Jon Benjamin on his list of potential Scotts for his pie-in-the-sky imaginary casting of a Basic Instructions sitcom.
Masterchef (FOX) / Food Network Star (Food): The summer cooking shows are all about winnowing down a crowd of hopefuls until we get one champion to rule them all. But what I don’t get is this: if the grand prize is either a studio cooking show or a meaningless title and a cookbook, then what on earth sense does it make to have the contestants cater meals for 200 guests in a panic-inducingly-short amount of time? I wish Masterchef would concentrate more on the actual cooking of single delicious dishes, and skip the alternate episodes where the contestants have to team up and cater large events. Likewise, FNS contestants should spend more time in performance classes and less time making huge batches of food for the fickle masses.
Alphas (SyFy): This show starts on Monday the 11th. When I first saw a preview, I was all, another Heroes, no thanks. But then I saw a later preview, in which it appears that these everyday people who discover they have superpowers … also fight crime! And solve cases! With their superpowers! So I’ll give it a chance.
Battlestar Galactica (BBCA): Okay, so this show originally aired years ago. Thing is, I didn’t see the episodes in order then. Scott watched from the beginning, but I didn’t start watching until the very end of season 2. So all of the episodes from seasons 1 and 2, I saw in scattered order afterward. Right now, BBC America is running the episodes in order from the beginning, and it’s fascinating to see the show as it was meant (although I know who all the cylons are already, but that’s still a kind of cool I-know-a-secret feeling while watching). It’s so weird for me to see episodes 1 (“33”) and 2 (“Water”) after the miniseries, since for me those stories happened way further into the show. This Sunday they’re showing episodes 5 thorugh 8, if you want to get in near the ground floor. As for why it’s on BBC America? Apparently it’s all because of Jamie Bamber.
Outcasts (BBCA): Speaking of Bamber, we’ve set episode 4 of this show to record. Missed one through three, but hopefully there’ll be enough “previously on” backstory to get us set. The entire series is only 8 episodes, since it got cancelled fairly quick. Let’s hope this coming fall’s Terra Nova (which I’m totally watching) does better in the ratings, since it has a sort of similar colonists-in-a-dangerous-land theme.