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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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Somebody must have watched the first season of Will Arnett’s Flaked (Season 2 premiere Friday, June 2; Netflix), right? I mean, I did, but I get paid to watch shows … at least I think I still do. Arnett’s recovering-but-not-really alcoholic Chip wasn’t exactly 2016’s most sympathetic character—a 40-something Venice Beach emotional leech who lied to his friends, sold out his community and routinely slept with women half his age. But! Late in Season 1, a satisfying-ish payoff finally arrived, which might explain why Season 2 is six episodes instead of eight—Netflix’s way of saying, “Get to the damned point,” maybe. Flaked is about Chip’s redemption this time around, and the show is asking for a second chance as well. Plus, it’s all just visually gorgeous; more TV series should be filmed through Instagram filters.

Meanwhile, would you believe that it’s already time for Fear the Walking Dead (Season 3 premiere Sunday, June 4; AMC)? It seems like only yesterday that you were screaming, “I’m so done with The Walking Dead!” at your TV, and here’s another run of the AMC prequel that bears the impossible burden of not being Better Call Saul. Now that Madison, Travis and Alicia have been kicked out of the Hotel Zombiefornia, they’re trying to flee Mexico and cross back onto the U.S.—too bad a band of border patriots are there enforcing anti-immigration policy, as Ofelia has already learned the hard way. The most intriguing new development on FTWD is the addition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer wildcard Emma Caulfield to the cast in a still-mysterious role. As for Nick … yeah, no one cares about Nick.

Speaking of fighting for your life against impossible odds and split ends: I’m Dying Up Here (series debut Sunday, June 4; Showtime), based on William Knoedelseder’s nonfiction book of the same name, dramatizes the struggles of Sunset Strip comedians in the ’70s, bad hair and all. Even though the “it’s a hard-knock life being a comic” trope is everywhere—most recently, and most gently, portrayed in Pete Holmes’ Crashing—the cast of I’m Dying Up Here is impressive: Melissa Leo, Ari Graynor, Michael Angarano, Clark Duke, Andrew Santino, Erik Griffin, R.J. Cyler, Al Madrigal and Jake Lacy, with drop-ins from Jon Daly, Robert Forster, Alfred Molina, Sebastian Stan and others (but not exec producer Jim Carrey). It’s like Boogie Nights, but with dick jokes instead of actual dicks. Ba-dum-bump!

The shoot-first-don’t-bother-with-questions-later action hero ’Merica needs now more than ever returns in Decker: Unsealed (Season 2 premiere Sunday, June 4; Adult Swim), Tim Heidecker’s … tribute? … to Tom Clancy novels, Steven Seagal movies and the comedic power of utterly incompetent production. How incompetent? In last year’s debut TV season, the show was titled Decker: Unclassified; this time, it’s Decker: Unsealed—referring to secret government files, and it means the same damned thing! Anyway: Superspy Jack Decker (Heidecker) and his codebreaker sidekick Jonathan Kington (Gregg Turkington) face new threats national and personal, if not at all logical, with guest appearances from powerhouse Hollywood A-listers like Joey Travolta, Jimmy McNichol and Steve Railsback. What, no Scott Baio?

If you think that sounds stoopid, you’ve obviously never seen Stitchers (Season 3 premiere Monday, June 5; Freeform). Kirsten (Emma Ishta), a ridiculously good-looking 20-something with no discernable personality and “temporal dysplasia” (no sense of time—and no, this condition isn’t real), is recruited by a black-ops government outfit to have her consciousness “stitched” into the quickly-slipping-away minds of the recently dead to help solve crimes, because, science. After an initial season of misplaced grim seriousness, Stitchers lightened up and embraced the dumb, adding Allison Scagliotti (Warehouse 13) for comic relief and dropping hints as to why the Stitcher program even exists (which will finally be revealed this season). If it all sounds similar to the methodology of iZombie, you’re overthinking it.

No one at FX was overthinking the relocation of the late, great Legit to then-baby network FXX a couple of years ago, which essentially killed the potential-laden comedy, helmed by Jim Jefferies. Nevertheless, the Aussie comic persisted with a string of solid stand-up specials that have now led to The Jim Jefferies Show (series debut Tuesday, June 6; Comedy Central). His new not-quite-a-talk-show follows the format adopted by comedians like Chelsea Handler and Iliza Schlesinger, among others: some monologuing, some desk work, some man-on-the-street chatter, and some international flair, broken up with the kind of biting, scorched-earth political and cultural commentary that only Jefferies can deliver. If you think the other late-night hosts have been hard on the Cheeto in Chief, you might want to brace for Hurricane Jim.

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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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