Two years ago, I actually typed the phrase “renegade zoologist” in reference to Jackson Oz (James Wolk), the protagonist of Zoo (Season 3 premiere Thursday, June 29, CBS). Surprisingly, both Wolk and I still have jobs in 2017, even though Zoo has now moved past the material of the original James Patterson novel, wherein animals had taken over the planet because humankind was too weak and dumb to stop it. (Sounds about right.) In Season 3, the sci-fi-ish series jumps ahead 10 years to 2027, when the world population is dwindling due to sterility, but at least animals are no longer a threat—well, except for the new, military-spawned lab creatures that are even more deadly. Way to go, humans!
Nothing prompts me to cheer for a critter apocalypse like the major networks’ continued insistence on digging up long-dead “classics” and repositioning them as summer filler—the latest being Battle of the Network Stars (series debut Thursday, June 29, ABC). Battle of the Network Stars is a ’70s/’80s throwback that “blended TV celebrities with athleticism and hilarious antics” (but not in a literal blender; that, I’d watch). Tonight’s debut pits “TV Sitcoms” (Bronson Pinchot, Tom Arnold, Dave Coulier, A.J. Michalka and Tracey Gold) vs. “TV Kids” (Joey Lawrence, Corbin Bleu, Nolan Gould, Lisa Whelchel and Kim Fields). But wasn’t Gold technically a Growing Pains “Kid”? Christ, whatever.
A trio of sexy-scruffy bounty hunters (Aaron Ashmore, Hannah John-Kamen and Luke Macfarlane) continue to work the interplanetary warzone in what’s essentially Firefly meets Guardians of the Galaxy on a Canadian budget. Killjoys (Season 3 premiere Friday, June 30, Syfy), along with Dark Matter, got Syfy back into space a couple of years before the network decided to (re)become a sci-fi channel, and it continues to be an underappreciated gem in the schedule. Unlike Dark Matter, Killjoys has a sense of humor about itself, as well as a smaller, tighter-knit cast of characters to keep track of (and one, John-Kamen’s badass Dutch, who outshines them all). Catch up now at Syfy.com/Killjoys.
We all diverge on the Showtime revival of Twin Peaks—you say it’s an incomprehensible mess directed by a lunatic who’s just fucking our psyches; I say, yeah, so what? Let’s agree, however, that Naomi Watts is absolutely killing it as Janey-E Jones, OK? Gypsy (series debut Friday, June 30, Netflix) is another cool TV showcase for Watts, if not quite the “thriller” it wants to be. Jean Holloway (Watts) is a Manhattan therapist with an idyllic practice and home life, but she has a problem: She gets waaay too involved with her patients outside of the office, both personally and sexually. Unfortunately, it all unfolds like a straight-to-VHS ’90s semi-erotic potboiler. But, hey, at least we still have Janey-E.
Unbeknownst to, well, everyone, ABC has been airing/burning off a Shakespearean period drama in primetime for more than a month—and it’s a Shondaland production! I know, right? Still Star-Crossed (returns Saturday, July 8, ABC) answers the never, ever-asked question: “What happened after Romeo and Juliet took their dirtnap of love?” As you’ve already guessed, the Montagues and the Capulets are still assholes to each other, and Still Star-Crossed is as tedious as a twice-told tale, proving that the touch of Shonda Rimes doesn’t exempt a show from the vortex of suck. (Anybody remember Off the Map?) At least it’s only seven episodes long, brevity being the soul of shit or however that went.
Snowfall (series debut Wednesday, July 5, FX) has ramped up with some great, ’80-rap-infused promos prior to its premiere, but John Singleton’s dramatization of the rise of crack cocaine in 1983 Los Angeles isn’t as immediately gratifying. First, there’s the story of a young street dealer (Damson Idris). Then, a Mexican wrestler (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) with crime-family probs. And then, a troubled CIA agent (Carter Hudson) caught up with the Nicaraguan Contras and the seductive daughter (Emily Rios) of a crime lord. All of these storylines are unfolding simultaneously, but none are particularly compelling in the initial episodes. Snowfall may be ambitious, but it needs to get to a damned point, pronto.