Early summer TV Doldrums

We’re at that point in the TV season where many shows have had their season finales, and new summer replacement series have just started to begin their seasons.  The scarcity of new programming has forced me to take a look at Netflix to see what I’ve been missing there.

I rediscovered the Danish TV series Rita about a free spirited high school teacher.  I had watched season 1 some time ago and this time caught up with seasons 2 and 3.  Rita is a very confident woman who speaks her mind and doesn’t suffer fools.  She is totally sexually liberated and has raised 3 children as a single mom.  She’s not an easy person to live with but she is admired by her colleagues and beloved by her students.  She is a truly original character.  It’s a great portrayal of Danish society whose social mores are much more liberal than we are accustomed to in North America.

I also took a look at some Indy movies, including Hateship Loveship, starring Kristin Wiig, which I hated. I tried to watch a British TV series called Wolf Blood (about teenage werewolves,as I love Teen Wolf), and I deemed this show Not Suitable for Grown Ups. Friends have praised the Aussie series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, which I had watched a couple of episodes a few years ago but hadn’t persevered with, so I caught up with one episode about Latvian emigre anarchists in Sydney in the 1920’s.  Love the costumes and setting, but this series is a bit slow for me. Essie Davis is lovely as the prickly lead character, Phryne Fisher.

I caught up with HBO’s The Last Man on Earth (starring Will Forte from SNL) and I loved it.  I have been a big Kristen Schaal fan from her work on Jon Stewart and she’s wonderfully annoying in this as she is determined to repopulate post virus apocalypse earth with Will Forte’s character.

I took a look at the first episode of New Worlds on Superchannel, a British historical fiction series about the efforts of Charles II of England to punish the group that executed his father including those who have emigrated to America.  It stars Jamie Dornan (50 Shades of Grey) and a host of British actors (Jeremy Northam plays Charles II).  Great for afternoon snoozing as it contains my requisite elements of costumes and British accents.

We had a family get together last Sunday to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones.  What an ending!  (no spoilers) For those of you who want to catch Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) in a different role, he will soon be seen in the feature film, Testament of Youth, based on a classic British memoir about life before, during and after World War I, and the effects of that war on British society.  Can’t wait! British accents and costumes in Downton Abbey territory.

Last week also saw the season finales of 3 other HBO series:  Silicon Valley, Veep and Nurse Jackie.  All are terrific shows and all had momentous finales (no spoilers).  They are all very cleverly written series.  The first two are social satires with great writing and performances.  Nurse Jackie stars the incredible Edie Falco (best known for her performance as Carmela Soprano) as a drug addicted nurse who struggles with her love life and career. Great supporting cast.  Very poignant story lines. This series has great depth for a comedy!

Tyrant has returned for its second season on FX Canada and it is a wonderful show set in a fictitious Middle Eastern state ruled by the Al-Fayeed family dynasty.  Trouble ensues when a prodigal son, Barry (played by Adam Rayner) returns from his comfortable life in LA as a pediatrician to attend a family wedding and he becomes embroiled in political intrigue.  Very entertaining, especially for the performance by the character Jamal (played by Ashraf Barhom) who is the loose cannon dictator and the brother of the doctor.

I attempted to continue watching the second season of Power on Superchannel.  Somewhat similar to Empire, Fox’s hip hop musical juggernaut series, this one is much darker.  It is about a nightclub owner in NYC who is really a drug kingpin and the DEA/FBI’s attempts to take him down.  Not very much fun and I think I will sit out the rest of this series.

I have recorded the most recent Hannibal episode but haven’t had a chance to catch up with it yet.  Similarly, I have also recorded the season debut of The Astronauts’ Wives but haven’t watched it yet either. I caught up with the new Steven Spielberg ABC series The Whispers which is an intriguing look at an imaginary friend who gets children to do terrible things and may be a space alien.

This Sunday, the series True Detective returns to HBO.  Supposedly even darker than season 1, it stars Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn and Taylor Kitsch.  Sunday nights will continue to be overloaded with great shows like HBO’s Penny Dreadful, Poldark on PBS Masterpiece, The Crimson Field (also PBS), Borgen (another great Danish series) on TVO.  Defiance, the sci fi series on Showcase about a post-apocalyptic Earth returned for its second season last Sunday. I believe Salem (the bonkers show about witchcraft in colonial Salem, Massachusetts, is nearing its season finale on Sunday nights on Space channel. Under the Dome, the CBS series based on a Stephen King storyline (which I vowed never to watch again as last season went completely bonkers) does make its return on Thursday.  Wayward Pines continues its mysterious dark journey on Fox on Thursday.  Our local PBS affiliate is running two back-to-back cosy British mysteries, Father Brown and The Doctor Blake Mysteries on Thursday nights.

As there are many series that debut this summer I am including some important dates compiled by a friend  (Thank you Eric!)  Apologies as I’m a bit late getting this out because of travel, but hopefully you can stream or find shows you’d like to catch on demand plus there are a couple of links to other guides of season debuts included in the list.

Spring/Summer 2015 Broadcast and Cable Premieres

This year, there has been no attempt to list the myriad reality programs like Keeping up with the
Kardashians. I am making an exception for the Caitlin Jenner reality series. I am Cait is making its debut on US TV on E on July 26. I really did find her Diane Sawyer interview very moving and I found the Vanity Fair cover story absolutely fascinating.  Her journey has opened up the conversation around gender issues. If you are interested in the many other reality series that are airing this summer, the source material for many of these programs can be found at:

http://www.cinemablend.com/television/
2015-Summer-TV-Premiere-Schedule-Dates-Returning-Shows-70993.html
http://www.tvguide.com/special/summer-tv/calendar/
http://www.metacritic.com/feature/tv-premiere-dates

Global Rookie Blue May 21 +5 wks in US
NBC Aquarius May 28 21:00 2hr premiere
(Eps 3-13 dumped to the Web, which could be a bad sign)
AMC Halt and Catch Fire May 31 22:00 Lifetime Devious Maids Jun 1 21:00
Bravo Royal Pains Jun 2 22:00
Superchannel Power Jun 6 21:00
Superchannel Major Crimes Jun 8 21:00
Bravo Murder in the First Jun 8 22:00
Netflix Orange Is The New Black Jun 12 00:01 PT Binge watch
Superchannel Rizzoli & Isles Jun 16 21:00
FX Tyrant Jun 16 22:00
TNT Proof Jun 16 22:00
ABC The Astronaut’s Wives Club Jun 18 20:00
Showcase Complications Jun 18 21:00 Mat Nix
Space The Last Ship Jun 21 21:00 2hr premiere
HBO True Detective Jun 21 21:00
Comedy Another Period Jun 23 22:30
Bravo Suits Jun 24 21:00
USA Mr. Robot Jun 24 22:00
CBS Under The Dome Jun 25 21:00
ABC Rookie Blue Jun 25 22:00
Bravo Graceland Jun 25 22:00
AMC Humans Jun 28 21:00
Space The Last Ship Jun 28 21:00 Regular slot
Superchannel Falling Skies Jun 28 22:00
CBS Extant Jul 1 21:00
CW Penn & Teller: Fool Us Jul 6 20:00
SHO Ray Donovan Jul 12 21:00
FX The Strain Jul 12 22:00
HBO Masters of Sex Jul 12 22:00
AMC Hell on Wheels Jul 18 21:00
NBC Welcome To Sweden Jul 19 20:00

Most TNT shows can be seen in Canada on Bravo, Superchannel or Showcase.

Enjoy the summer viewing!!

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