When I was a kid, Summer meant re-runs, but that is no longer the case. Summer TV is transforming. With the availability of streaming services like Netflix, Video on Demand, and DVR functionality the practicing of catching up with reruns has almost completely evaporated. In the last decade or so, networks and cable channels have been moving towards original content during the late spring/summer season. It all started primarily with reality TV which could be cheaply produced, and this is largely still the dominant content during summer. Scripted content, however, has begun to seep into this time as well. And so, we have compiled a schedule of summer content we feel may be of interest to our readers. Dates may change, and surprise content might present itself, so this list could see updates throughout the season. As always, feel free to discuss, and make suggestions in our comments.
Friday, May 30th, 2014
Derek – Netflix Ricky Gervais brings us the second season of his heartfelt comedy about a mentally disabled man who works at a nursing home. The first season spread the phrase “Kindness is Magic” as its message to the world. Derek is a Netflix exclusive in North America. As with all Netflix originals, Derek season 2 will be released all at once for your binge watching pleasure. The first season is already available on Netflix.
Crossbones – NBC Hopping on the pirate bandwagon, Crossbones brings the story of notorious pirate Edward Teach (Black Beard) to the small screen. This incarnation of Teach is played by John Malkovich, and comes by way of showrunner Neil Cross (Luther). Crossbones is based on Colin Woodard’s book The Republic of Pirates. The story, setting, and some of its characters will be familiar to those who watched the recent Starz series Black Sails.
Sunday, June 1st, 2014
Halt and Catch Fire – AMC AMC is bringing another period series to air this summer with Halt and Catch Fire, a show about fictional characters in the midst of the personal computer revolution of the early 1980s. Halt and Catch Fire stars Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) as a Steve Jobs type charismatic business man, and Scott McNairy (Argo) as a Steve Wozniak type brilliant engineer.
Friday, June 6th, 2014
Orange is the New Black – Netflix While House of Cards got all of the attention, another Netflix original ended up getting much of the praise. From Jenji Kohan, the creator of Weeds, Orange is the New Black tells the story of a privileged white girl going to prison after events from her past catch up with her. The strength of the show is in the way it presents its cast of characters as one note stereotypes and then expands upon them to give you greater insight into their characters. Orange is the New Black makes great use of the flashback to show us bits of these girls’ lived before they landed themselves in jail. What were initially cartoonish figures become endearing and sympathetic people that we care about it. As with all Netflix originals, Orange is the new Black season 2 will be released all at once for your binge watching pleasure. The first season is already available on Netflix.
Thursday, June 19th, 2014
Rectify – Sundance Perhaps the most criminally under-watched and under-appreciated show on TV. Rectify is a deep character study that addresses many of the issues in our criminal justice system and our society beyond. Its slow and deliberate pace drives you directly into the headspace of a man who has spent most of his life in jail for a crime we are not certain he committed. Though we are given insight into his current challenges, we are not gifted the direct answers of his past. Rectify is not about that mystery, it is not about what happened. Rectify is about what happens next. Season 1 is currently available on Netflix.
Defiance – SyFy Defiance returns for a second season as the Earth Republic takes over the town. Defiance is a unique project in that it is directly tied to a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. The series also returns the SyFy channel to its harder science fiction roots. The game will move to a free to play business model in time for the second season of the series. Season 1 of the show is available for free to Amazon Prime subscribers.
Dominion – SyFy Based on the world of the 2010 film Legion, Dominion takes place in a post apocalyptic world in which Angels are at war with humanity and themselves. Legion can be purchased or rented from most local or digital video stores.
Sunday, June 22nd. 2014
Falling Skies – TNT Steven Spielberg’s post apocalyptic alien epic returns for its 4th season. the first 3 seasons of Falling Skies are available for free to Amazon Prime subscribers.
The Last Ship – TNT Michael Bay is bringing a deadly virus to the small screen in this story of a navy ship that just might be the last hope for the world. Based on a novel of the same name by William Brinkley, The Last Ship stars Eric Dane and Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Chuck).
True Blood – HBO True Blood is back for its final season as a dangerous new breed of vampires shakes the world to its foundations. True Blood’s past seasons are available on HBO Go which is free to all HBO subscribers.
Monday, June 23rd, 2014
Teen Wolf – MTV The strangely dark reimagining of the 1980s Micheal J Fox Werewolf movie enters its 4th season. Season 3 left off with a significant death, and a surprising resurrection (of a different character). Teen Wolf’s first 3 seasons are available for free to Amazon Prime subscribers.
Sunday, June 29th, 2014
the Leftovers – HBO From Damon Lindelof (Lost) comes a new HBO series based on the book of the same name by Tom Perrotta (Little Children). The Leftovers is about the world after a rapture-like event, and the chaos left behind. The book it is based on is critically lauded, and HBO is batting 1000. Lindelof’s involvement in any project is divisive after Lost and Promethius, leaving some skeptical or unwilling to invest their emotions and time.
Monday, June 30th
Under the Dome – CBS Based on a book by Stephen King, and marking CBS’ new strategy of short run high concept serialized shows during summer, Under the Dome returns for its second season. The first season of Under the Dome is available for free to Amazon Prime subscribers.
Wednesday, July 9th
Extant – CBS Produced by Stephen King, and starring Halle Berry, Extant brings together space, conspiracy, and unexplained pregnancy. Extant continues the short run high concept serialized summer show model that CBS introduced with Under the Dome.
Friday, July 11th, 2014
Hemlock Grove – Netflix Vampires, Werewolves, an awkward teenaged female Frankenstein’s Monster, and a strange small town make up this Netflix exclusive series from Producer Eli Roth (Hostel). The series first season skewed to the strange with inspiration from Twin Peaks and brought about very divisive opinions from viewers. As with all Netflix originals, Hemlock Grove season 2 will be released all at once for your binge watching pleasure. The first season is already available on Netflix.
Sunday, July 13th
The Strain – FX From Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) comes a new series based on a book series by director Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim). A vampiric virus with ties to the holocaust is central to the story of this series whose pilot was co-written and directed by Del Toro himself.
Masters of Sex – Showtime The real life sexual research by Masters and Johnson is the subject of this Showtime series that is now entering its second season. Dealing with the puritanical mindset towards women and sexuality in the 1950s, Masters of Sex is another window into a distinct time period that should (like Mad Men) show a radically changing culture through the lens of its characters. The first season of Masters of Sex is available on Showtime Anytime for all Showtime subscribers.
Sunday, July 27th
Manhattan Nuclear Family – WGN Masters of Sex writer Sam Shaw brings us another fascinating period piece, this time of nuclear proportions. Manhattan as you have no doubt guessed is about families in the Manhattan Project which lead to the creation of the atom bomb and one of the most epic quotes of all time: “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Period dramas have done well on TV recently, most notably with Mad Men and the Americans. WGN is a relative non-entity in the content game right now… but then again so was AMC 6 years ago.
Friday, August 1st, 2014
the Killing – Netflix The show that can’t be killed (it has been cancelled twice) returns for its final season exclusively on Netflix. After a redeeming 3rd season, fans have raised their expectations for the final run. As with all Netflix originals, The Killing season 4 will be released all at once for your binge watching pleasure. The first 3 seasons are already available on Netflix.
Saturday, August 9th, 2014
Outlander – Starz From Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Caprica) comes a new series based on the time travel book series of the same name by Diana Gabaldon. The series will follow a 20th century English woman who travels back in time to 18th century Scotland. Our hopes are high for anything Ron Moore is attached to, but the series leans away from his typical hard sci fi style.
Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Legends – TNT Sean Bean is the main draw for this action spy series about an agent struggling with his identity. Legends comes to us from Howard Gordon, the Executive Producer of Homeland and (the recently returned) 24. Though the casting sheds doubt on the the potential lifespan of the series protagonist, you had us at Sean Bean.