Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (Sunday, July 31, Syfy), movie: Who’s joining Ian Ziering and Tara Reid (apparently, the #AprilLives campaign from Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! worked) this time? David Hasselhoff (Baywatch), Gena Lee Nolin (also Baywatch), Alexandra Paul (again with the Baywatch), Gary Busey (snubbed Donald Trump VP candidate), Cheryl Tiegs (elderly model-shamer), Carrot Top (elderly prop comic), Stacey Dash (pretend Fox News “conservative”), Duane Chapman (“Dog” the Bounty Hunter), Vince Neil (Motley Crue), Corey Taylor (Slipknot/Stone Sour), various “personalities” from Bravo reality shows, and more from the “Is Pepsi OK?” department of central casting. After chomping on Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C., the next logical (?) locale to be hit with a Sharknado is, of course, Las Vegas. (Don’t fret; Palm Springs will probably get its turn by Sharknado 16.) Now the story … doesn’t matter in the least, duh.
2016 Teen Choice Awards (Sunday, July 31, Fox), special: The Teen Choice Awards are voted by kiddies age 13-17, so can anyone explain the nomination of Jennifer Lopez’s barely-seen cop serial Shades of Blues for “Choice TV Drama”? Or geezers like Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton in the music categories? Or R-rated Deadpool for, oh, everything? Technically speaking, these are not “teen” choices, nor are any other nominations recognizable to the writers, and readers, of publications such as this one—if it can’t be experienced at an outdoor amphitheater in a $200 camping chair with pinot, brie and a golden retriever within reach, it doesn’t exist. The YouTube and Vine “Star” categories, however, make complete sense—expect Nash Grier to clean up at the 2028 Teen Choice Awards for his dramatic work in Chicago A/V, produced by Dick Wolf Jr.
Squidbillies (Sundays, Adult Swim), new season: Both Squidbillies and Duck Dynasty premiered for their respective 10th seasons this month, just a week before the 2016 Republican National Convention—coincidence? All three represent modern ’Merican (note, not necessarily American) values: god, guns, gumption, plus a general rejection of science, facts and reality. But while one is a tedious, worn-out, idea-depleted show about a crew of self-absorbed fakes who are only in it for the money, and so is Duck Dynasty, Squidbillies remains a vital, instructive window into the soul and “thoughts” of Redneckia, USA, whether it resides in the Deep South, at your neighborhood Walmart, or in those “Hussein Obama” emails your parents keep forwarding. These characters are among us …
Ghost Hunters (Wednesday, Aug. 3, Syfy), season premiere: … and they watch Ghost Hunters, guaranteed. This is the Season 11 premiere—11! More than a decade of finding no ghosts! Would you be able to keep your job if you produced zero results in that timespan? (No need to answer that, chiropractors and TV critics.) Like Finding Bigfoot (still not “found”) and Keeping Up With the Kardashians (nothing ever happens to “keep up with”), Ghost Hunters is an explicably long-running reality series that spawns even-worse imitators every year and … wait … did you hear that? I’m sensing something over there in the corner! Let me turn on my EMF meter … hmmm, it’s not picking up anything … BECAUSE GHOSTS DON’T EXIST! HUNT OVER! JUST! STAHP! Oh, this is the final season? I’m off to see my chiropractor then.
Stranger Things (Streaming, Netflix), new series: I could use the “There’s Too Many Shows” excuse yet again for letting the premiere of Stranger Things slip by me—but it stars Winona Ryder, so the whole incident is just unforgivable. This retro-creepy fright fest throws Steven Spielberg, Stephen King and a dizzyingly giddy amount of ’80s horror-flick references into a blender and hits “Puree,” becoming progressively scarier as episodes roll out. Ryder plays—and occasionally overplays, but NBD—a grief-stricken Indiana mom holding out hope that her missing teen son might be found, but Stranger Things isn’t just her story: There’s also a Goonies-worthy troupe of misfit kids, a telekinetic girl, a government conspiracy, a flesh-eating monster, a parallel dimension and … well, you should be all in, or completely out, by now. Note that this will be the one and only time I’ll ever recommend ’80s revivalism.