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Tue08222017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

The summer of 2017, like the summers of Peak TV before it, has been overloaded with buzzy hot-weather series like GLOW, Preacher, Twin Peaks, Rick and Morty, Orphan Black and, of course, Game of Thrones, to name just a few. Fortunately, there weren’t any other, below-the-radar shows that you’ll need to add to your catch-up cue once you’ve had enough of the sun and the outdoors and whatever the hell else life away from the screen offers, right?

Wrong. Here are 10 you probably missed:

The Jim Jefferies Show (Comedy Central): The overworked late-night talkers have done an admirable, if repetitive, job of taking the piss out of our Made-for-TV president. But none have done it with the glee and zero-fucks-given swagger of Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, who backs up his barbs with cold facts, on-location bits and “weatherman” Brad Pitt (yes, really) consistently predicting climate doomsday.

Blood Drive (Syfy): In the “distant future of 1999,” environmentally ravaged America’s favorite new spectator sport is the Blood Drive, wherein the cars run on human blood! The jarringly perverse and stoopid series is just Death Race 2000 with a cartoon-grindhouse twist (real Syfy complaint line: 325-400-DGAF), but emcee Julian Slink (Colin Cunningham) is a delicious villain for the ages.

Claws (TNT): Women chew Florida scenery and buff cuticles in this nail-salon crime thriller, led commandingly by Niecy Nash, drawing upon her comedy and drama backgrounds equally. Somehow, Claws’ colorful characters (like Dean Norris as Uncle Daddy, “a Dixie Mafia crime boss who’s deeply Catholic and actively bisexual”) never overwhelm the tense drugs-and-money-laundering narrative.

The Strain (FX): Eternal darkness has fallen, and a totalitarian regime that rules though fear and intimidation has taken over. Relax, it’s only Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire-apocalypse epic The Strain, now in its fourth and final season. Interest has waned (ratings are down to half of Season 1’s), but The Strain is still bigly more compelling and creepy than The Walking Dead.

Queen of the South (USA): The path by Teresa (Alice Braga) toward becoming a future drug queenpin got even more tangled than her hair in Season 2—surely, she can afford a brush by now—upping the stakes and the body count along the way. Also, the woman she’ll eventually replace, Camila (Veronica Falcon), transformed from an icy caricature into a fleshed-out, almost-sympathetic character. But only almost.

Wynonna Earp (Syfy): The demon-hunting great-great-granddaughter of Wyatt Earp may have a bit of that Jessica Jones smolder, but she’s ultimately a goofball, pushing Wynonna Earp closer to Buffy the Vampire Slayer territory. As Wynonna, Melanie Scrofano bites into an impressive array of emotional flavors when the show gets serious; when it’s not, Earp is Syfy’s funniest series after Blood Drive.

Odd Mom Out (Bravo): It’s Season 3—does Bravo even know this is still on? Odd Mom Out, an adaptation of author Jill Kargman’s Momzillas (and starring herself; Kargman’s also an adept comedic actress), is everything the Real Housewives are not: smart, self-aware and funny. In particular, SNL cast-off Abby Elliott shines as a Manhattanite so dim and self-absorbed that she’s practically a black hole.

Wrecked (TBS): Much improved from its first season, which apparently didn’t map out anything past, “Let’s mash up Gilligan’s Island and Lost,” Wrecked found its groove in Season 2 by adding outside conflict (pirates!) and internal lust (hot … well, weird castaway-on-castaway action!). Watching pampered idiots struggle to survive on an island is better when Jeff Probst isn’t calling the action.

I’m Sorry (TruTV): Longtime comedic side-player Andrea Savage’s first all-about-me vehicle doesn’t care to differentiate itself from other Comics as Themselves But Not Really half-hours—it’s all about the jokes. I’m Sorry, referring to mom/comedy writer “Andrea” and her tendency to say the most hilariously wrong things, is a white-wine spritzer of a sitcom: not too heavy, not too sweet, perfect for summer.

Decker: Unsealed/Mindwipe (Adult Swim): The shoot-first-think-never action hero ’Merica needs returned in Season 2 of Decker: Unsealed, Tim Heidecker's … tribute? … to Tom Clancy novels, Steven Seagal movies and the comedic power of incompetent, but patriotic, production. Then Decker segued into Mindwipe, because who cares? Heidecker could probably upsell this to InfoWars as a documentary.

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After a fall-winter-spring blur of Too Many Shows, you’re thinking to yourself, “Summer is finally here—I can take a break from TV. Praise the Lord!”

Sorry. Your god has abandoned you: Here are 32 new and returning series you’re going to have to watch this summer, because peak TV knows no season.

In the unexpected return of Flaked (Season 2 premiere; Friday, June 2; Netflix), Chip (Will Arnett) heads back to Venice to rehab his ruined Local Hero status, if not his booze problem. Matters are even more dire for the gang on Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3 premiere; Sunday, June 4; AMC), as vigilante Build the Zombie Wall border patrollers won’t allow them to cross back over from Mexico. It could be worse; they could be struggling comedians in 1970s Hollywood—which is the setting for I’m Dying Up Here (series debut; Sunday, June 4; Showtime).

Tim Heidecker re-ups for more ultra-violent spy action in Decker: Unclassified (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, June 4; Adult Swim), while Aussie comic Jim Jefferies takes another stab at ’Merican TV with late-night talker The Jim Jefferies Show (series debut; Tuesday, June 6; Comedy Central). Latina heroine (?) Teresa (Alice Braga) continues her quest to rule the drug trade in Queen of the South (Season 2 premiere; Thursday, June 8; USA), and the ladies of Litchfield are still doing time in Orange Is the New Black (Season 5 premiere; Friday, June 9; Netflix), hackers be damned.

The ragtag crew of ridiculously good-looking intergalactic criminals remain lost in space in Dark Matter (Season 3 premiere; Friday, June 9; Syfy), and TV’s coolest demon hunter is back and gunning for souls in Wynonna Earp (Season 2 premiere; Friday, June 9; Syfy). Meanwhile, the end is near for the Clone Club in the final run of Orphan Black (Season 5 premiere; Saturday, June 10, BBC America), and even nearer for frenemies Billie and Gene in the two-weekend burn-off of Idiotsitter (Season 2 premiere; Saturday, June 10; Comedy Central).

An all-star cast chews scenery and buffs cuticles in new Florida nail-salon dramedy Claws (series debut; Sunday, June 11; TNT), and primetime goes grindhouse with Blood Drive (series debut; Wednesday, June 14, Syfy), about a cross-country death race where the cars run on—what else?—blood. The Mist (series debut; Thursday, June 22; Spike) rolls out more subtle Stephen King-y scares, and the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling finally get their ’80s-spandexed due in the Alison Brie-led docu-comedy GLOW (series debut; Friday, June 23; Netflix).

Fiddy Cent’s nightclubs ’n’ drugs drama Power (Season 4 premiere; Sunday, June 25; Starz) finds kingpin Ghost (Omari Hardwick) caught in the middle of a, yep, power struggle, while Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy finally hit the road looking for God in Preacher (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, June 25; AMC). Liza (Sutton Foster) deals with the fallout of her bestie Kelsey (Hilary Duff) learning her dark, old secret in Younger (Season 4 premiere; Wednesday, June 28; TV Land), and everybody’s favorite ragtag trio of ridiculously good-looking interplanetary bounty hunters gear up to fight the good-ish fight in Killjoys (Season 3 premiere; Friday, June 30; Syfy).

John Singleton’s Snowfall (series debut; Wednesday, July 5; FX) dramatizes the crack-cocaine epidemic of ’80s Los Angeles, while modernized period piece Will (series debut; Monday, July 10; TNT) juices the legend of a young William Shakespeare as he arrives in the, wait for it, “punk-rock theatre scene of 16th century London.” Back in the present, a pair of college eggheads break it to the White House that an asteroid is six months away from mercifully colliding with Earth in Salvation (series debut; Wednesday, July 12; CBS).

Game of Thrones … yeah, nothing more needs to be said here (Season 7 premiere; Sunday, July 16; HBO). In the final stretch of The Strain (Season 4 premiere; Sunday, July 16; FX), nuclear winter is in full effect; the Strigoi vampires have seized the planet; and our heroes are down for the count—but are they, really? Meanwhile, Ballers (Season 3 premiere; Sunday, July 23; HBO) and Insecure (Season 2 premiere; Sunday, July 23; HBO) are paired up for the most incongruent HBO hour ever, while Midnight, Texas (series debut; Monday, July 24; NBC) takes Charlaine Harris’ supernatural novels for a TV spin.

Would you believe … Sharknado 5 (movie premiere; Sunday, Aug. 6; Syfy)? Marvel’s The Defenders (series debut; Friday, Aug. 18; Netflix) finally brings together Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist for a dysfunctional superhero team-up, while the 21st go-round of South Park (season 21 premiere; Wednesday, Aug. 23; Comedy Central) attempts to find the funny in Trump’s America—if he’s still in office at that point. Fortunately, Abbi and Ilana drop the long-long-long-awaited comeback of Broad City (Season 4 premiere; Wednesday, Aug. 23; Comedy Central), and the new take on The Tick (series debut; Friday, Aug. 25; Amazon Prime) may reunify the country, after all. Spoon!

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Queen of the South (Thursday, June 23, USA), series debut: USA continues to get somewhat browner—this is a baby step for the not-quite-whitest network on cable. (That’d be Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.) In the net’s new Queen of the South, Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) flees to America from Mexico when her drug-dealer boyfriend is murdered, and then plots her bloody revenge upon the cartel that killed him. Queen of the South is flashier and pricier than the Telemundo series, La Reina Del Sur, from which it was lifted, but the grit and pain remain, and Teresa’s transformation from grieving victim to vengeful badass would make Walter White tip his fedora. The initial episodes occasionally feel rushed and jam-packed, as if this production is attempting to squeeze the original’s 63 hours of action and drama into 10, but Braga carries it effortlessly (and sometimes terrifyingly). Now let’s see if USA’s audience is ready for a Scarface/Blow/Narcos mashup fronted by a Latina.

Adventures in Babysitting (Friday, June 24, Disney), movie: The Disney Channel’s 100th “original” movie is a remake of a 1987 classic that cannot be improved upon, an iconic era film that launched the careers of Elizabeth Shue and Ron Canada (yes, The Strain’s Ron Canada!), and featured a surprisingly legit blues soundtrack. Wasn’t molesting the corpse of Uncle Buck over on ABC enough for you, Mickey? This version is Adventures in Babysitting in name only, altering the storyline nearly beyond recognition and extracting any sense of danger in favor of cranking out a cheapo Disney flick indistinguishable from the previous 99. But, hey, if we’re doing this, let’s do it: How about Blue Velvet 2016, starring Selena Gomez as the “older” femme fatale? Natural Born Killers with Austin and Ally? Dog With a Blog as Cujo!

Ray Donovan (Sunday, June 26, Showtime), season premiere: After a nasty brush with the Armenian mafia, a failed attempt at NFL ownership, and getting caught between the overacting of Ian McShane and the underacting of Katie Holmes last season, Ray (Liev Schreiber) finds himself at a personal and professional crossroads in Season 4—you know, just like in Seasons 2 and 3. Ray Donovan doesn’t stray from its troubled-Hollywood-fixer-to-the-rich-and-famous formula, but Schreiber—and Jon Voight, and Paula Malcomson, and the show’s uncredited true star, Schreiber’s immaculate facial stubble—are so damned good, it matters not. This season’s secondary subplot to the Donovan family drama involves a human-trafficking ring with ties to a pro boxer. (Dog fighting and spousal abuse are so passé.) But, really, it’s all about “What’s Mickey (Voight) up to in Nevada?”

Roadies (Sunday, June 26, Showtime), series debut: It’s Almost Famous: Backstage! Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, Imogen Poots and cameo bands galore star in Cameron Crowe’s ode to the hard-knock life behind the rock ’n’ roll fantasy. Unlike HBO’s dark, retro Vinyl, Roadies is set in current times and more comedic (because, Cameron Crowe). Wilson and Gugino play well off one another as longtime road colleagues who are obviously in love, which is part of the problem: This is more rom-com than rock show, while the rock side is rife with music-biz-movie clichés by the semi-truckload. (“It’s about the music, man!” declarations, rock-star eccentricities, fake British accents, old road dogs dispensing tour wisdom, unhinged groupies, rampant band namedropping, the inevitable wheezing Bob Dylan “classic,” etc.) Roadies has nine more episodes to prove itself as more than an unfinished Crowe movie from the ’90s, but the pilot is an underwhelming opening act.

Dead of Summer (Tuesday, June 28, Freeform), series debut: Pretty 20-somethings in a 1980 summer-camp slasher flick that's a weekly series! There’s a killer on the loose at Camp Stillwater, and if these kids can't keep it in their pants, they’re all dead ... so, yeah, they’re all pretty much dead. But, Dead of Summer isn’t just a straight-up Friday the 13th riff; there’s a supernatural element as well, with “demons” from characters’ pasts “literally manifesting themselves” (the showrunners’ words, because that’s how showrunners talk). Also, DoS is meant to be a multi-season anthology series, à la American Horror Story, with new characters and time-periods every year, which sets it apart from the rest of Freeform programming in terms of sheer ambition. Or suicidal delusion.

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Ride With Norman Reedus (AMC; Sunday, June 12, series debut): The Walking Dead star gets his own motorcycle road-trip series because AMC sure as hell wasn’t going to tell him no. Ride works well enough as a biker-culture travelogue show, as long as Reedus isn’t called upon to talk too much (just like with Daryl Dixon).

Guilt (Freeform; Monday, June 13, series debut): A London-set millennial murder-mystery soap about a young woman (Emily Tremaine, Vinyl) out to prove her sister’s innocence with the help of … Billy Zane?!

BrainDead (CBS; Monday, June 13, series debut): This government-is-stoopid political dramedy may have a killer cast (including Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Danny Pino and Tony Shaloub) and the producers of The Good Wife, but CBS isn’t going to let them get away with anything close to House of Cards or Veep, because, CBS.

Uncle Buck (ABC; Tuesday, June 14, series debut): ’Merica has rejected a TV version of the beloved 1989 movie before—but this one has an all-black cast, so at least give ABC (further) credit for chipping away at TV’s Whiteytown. But, yeah … Uncle Buck suuucks.

Animal Kingdom (TNT; Tuesday, June 14, series debut): After his mom dies of a heroin overdose, “J” Cody moves in with his sketchy grandmother, “Smurf” Cody (Ellen Barkin), the matriarch of a sketchy SoCal crime family. Producer John Wells (Shameless) knows his way around dysfunctional clans, but Animal Kingdom just looks like Surfboards of Anarchy.

Wrecked (TBS; Tuesday, June 14, series debut): Another promising new comedy from TBS—words no one ever expected to utter. Like a mashup of Gilligan’s Island (Wiki it, kids) and Lost, Wrecked follows a clueless group of plane-crash survivors stranded on an island. It’s at least funnier than Fear the Walking Dead.

American Gothic (CBS; Wednesday, June 22, series debut): Compared to the long-lost 1995 American Gothic drama about a supernaturally evil small-town sheriff menacing the locals, the new American Gothic (posh Boston family has a secret serial killer among them) seems like a snooze. It is—with a recycled title, no less.

Queen of the South (USA; Thursday, June 23, series debut): Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) flees to America from Mexico when her drug-dealer boyfriend is “unexpectedly” murdered (come on—it’s a high-risk gig), and she then plots her bloody revenge upon the cartel that killed him. Queen of the South is flashier and pricier than the Telemundo series from which this is lifted, therefore huger and better. Make American television great again!

Roadies (Showtime; Sunday, June 26, series debut): It’s Almost Famous: Backstage! Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, Imogen Poots and cameo bands galore star in Cameron Crowe’s ode to the grimy life behind the rock ’n’ roll fantasy. Unlike HBO’s dark Vinyl, Roadies is set in current times and more light-hearted. Don’t worry; there are still drugs.

Dead of Summer (Freeform; Tuesday, June 28, series debut): Pretty 20-somethings in a 1980 summer-camp slasher flick that’s a weekly series! There’s a killer on the loose at Camp Stillwater, and if these kids can’t keep it in their pants, they’re all dead … so, yeah, they’re all pretty much dead.

The Get Down (Netflix; Friday, Aug. 12, series debut): Baz Luhrmann dramatizes the rise of rise of hip-hop in ’70s New York City in what will surely be a subtle, understated affair.

Returning in June: Hell on Wheels (AMC; Saturday, June 11); The Last Ship (TNT; Sunday, June 12); Major Crimes (TNT; Monday, June 13); Another Period (Comedy Central; Wednesday, June 15); Aquarius (NBC; Thursday, June 16); Orange Is the New Black (Netflix; Friday, June 17); The Jim Gaffigan Show (TV Land; Sunday, June 19); Murder in the First (TNT; Sunday, June 19); The Fosters (Freeform; Monday, June 20); Pretty Little Liars (Freeform; Tuesday, June 21); Ray Donovan (Showtime; Sunday, June 26); Zoo (CBS; Tuesday, June 28); Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (FX; Thursday, June 30).

Returning in July: Marco Polo (Netflix; Friday, July 1); Killjoys (Syfy; Friday, July 1); Dark Matter (Syfy; Friday, July 1); Tyrant (FX; Wednesday, July 6); Difficult People (Hulu; Tuesday, July 12); Suits (USA; Wednesday, July 13); Mr. Robot (USA; Wednesday, July 13); Power (Starz; Sunday, July 17); Ballers (HBO; Sunday, July 17); Bojack Horseman (Netflix; Friday, July 22); Survivor’s Remorse (Starz; Sunday, July 24).

Returning in August: Fear the Walking Dead (AMC; Sunday, Aug. 21); The Strain (FX; Sunday, Aug. 28); You’re the Worst (FXX; Wednesday, Aug. 31).

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