Andy Samberg’s 2015 mockumentary, 7 Days in Hell, was all about tennis and ridiculous wigs; his latest sports-doc send-up, Tour de Pharmacy (movie, Saturday, July 8, HBO), is all about cycling and ridiculous wigs—at least he’s consistent. Set in 1982, “a dark and fictitious time in cycling history,” Tour de Pharmacy chronicles a doping scandal within a Tour de France-ish cycling competition, getting weird with a game array of guest stars: Orlando Bloom, Freddie Highmore, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Julia Ormond, Dolph Lundgren, James Marsden, Kevin Bacon, Will Forte, Maya Rudolph, Mike Tyson, J.J. Abrams and, of course, Lance Armstrong. Not all of it works, but there’s so much that it hardly matters.
National Geographic already covered this three years ago with its The ’90s: The Last Great Decade miniseries, but leave it to a failing Fake News outlet to rip it off: The Nineties (series debut, Sunday, July 9, CNN) is an eight-part series about the glory years of flannel, Clintons and Zima (at least two have staged a viable comeback), with the first two hours focused not on politics, racial unrest or tech advances, but … television? Great, let’s rehash Friends, Frasier and The Sopranos (which premiered in 1999, so it barely counts) from the decade when I began writing about the tube for an indifferent audience—and nothing’s changed in the age of Peak TV. Yeah, I made this about me—deal with it!
Adult Swim continues to answer the nagging question “Where’s Season 3 of Rick and Morty?!” with, “Dunno, but here’s another shitty new cartoon.” The setup for Apollo Gauntlet (series debut, Sunday, July 9, Adult Swim) sounds promising: When Earth cop Paul Cassidy is transported to a “futuristic medieval” (?) world by the diabolical-if-misleadingly-named Dr. Benign, he decides to dole out local justice his way with the help of a magical suit and a pair of talking gauntlets. Unfortunately, Apollo Gauntlet is just another badly drawn stoner ’toon that’s not even up to the standard of its ironic low-bar inspiration, He-Man—and it’s certainly no Axe Cop, the gold standard of animated lawmen.
After the sad, quiet failure of Still Star-Crossed, no network is going to be dumb enough to launch another new Shakespearean dramedy, right? Ha! Modernized period piece Will (series debut, Monday, July 10, TNT) juices the legend of a young William Shakespeare as he arrives in the “punk-rock theatre scene of 16th century London.” Gahhh. TNT is having a decent summer with rough-and-tumble dramas Animal Kingdom and Claws; the foptastic Will feels off-brand, to say the least (which no one does here, like, ever). Sure, it’s filmed gorgeously, but lead Laurie Davidson appears to have answered a casting call that read “a younger Bradley Cooper, minus personality, charm and beard potential.”
Staging your sexy millennial drama at a magazine—you know, those glossy-paper dinosaurs found in dentist’s offices and Jiffy Lube waiting rooms—in 2017 makes about as much sense as publishing an actual magazine in 2017. The Bold Type (series debut, Tuesday, July 11, Freeform) is wishful thinking on the part of Hearst Magazines boss Joanna Coles, who’s listed as an executive producer on this inconsequential perfume insert of a show. Standard-issue Freeform models Jane, Kat and Sutton are making their way in the glam world of Scarlet magazine, exploring the young-adult Big Four of “sexuality, identity, love and fashion.” Fashion? There’ll never be a series about an alternative paper.
In Salvation (series debut Wednesday, July 12, CBS), MIT student Liam (Charlie Rowe) discovers that an asteroid is six months away from colliding with Earth, so he teams up with this TV season’s cliché of choice, a tech billionaire (Santiago Cabrera), plus the U.S. government, to save the planet! But after a lead-in hour of Big Brother, who’s feeling charitable about humanity? Anyway: The guv’ment has its own shadow contingency plan, and who can blame them when Liam does shit like hiring an improbably gorgeous young sci-fi writer (Jacqueline Byers) as a theorist while ignoring the lessons of Armageddon, Deep Impact and Night of the Comet? At least Neil deGrasse Tyson—as himself!—is here to help.