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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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Now that Netflix is addressing the Too Many Shows epidemic and just canceling stuff for the sake of canceling stuff—buh-bye Sense8, The Get Down and Marco Polo—let’s get on with killing off The Ranch (Season 3 premiere Friday, June 16, Netflix). This laugh-tracked cowpie’s initial novelty of reuniting That ’70s Show stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson wore off quickly, leaving just a hacky sitcom with painfully slumming costars (Sam Elliott and Debra Winger—WTF?). Much like Tim Allen’s recently deceased Last Man Standing, The Ranch is red-state bait that thinks it’s cleverly poking P.C. culture, but ultimately just comes off as lazy. Netflix’s F Is for Family does it better—try that.

Was anyone aware that Turn: Washington’s Spies (Season 4 premiere Saturday, June 17, AMC) was still a thing? Only me? The Revolutionary War drama’s fourth season will also be its last, and we all know how it ends (’Merica wins; the British get revenge centuries later by sending us Piers Morgan, etc.). The final chapter finds Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman) looking to take down George Washington (Ian Kahn)—but there’s a new player in the mix! Abe Woodhull (Jamie Bell)! History-nerd boners are poppin’ now! Turn: Washington’s Spies has never been one of AMC’s sexiest properties, but it’s almost up there with John Adams in the RevWar TV canon, and certainly better than Fox’s Making History.

You’ve probably heard by now that Erlich Bachman is done with Silicon Valley—but T.J. Miller: Meticulously Ridiculous (standup special, Saturday, June 17, HBO) is proof that the guy who plays him isn’t done with HBO. According to Miller, his schedule is getting too crowded to continue on the series (true), and he’d rather get out now than become a one-note TV character overstaying his welcome (potential to become very true). As an actor, he’s been in damned near everything; as a standup comic, Miller only has one previous special to his credit, 2011’s No Real Reason. Meticulously Ridiculous is even more energetic, prop-happy and, yes, ridiculous, as Miller exits the stratosphere of Fucks Given.

Speaking of ridiculous, this weekend’s episode of Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly (Sundays, NBC) just might feature the un-Fox-ed anchor’s already-infamous interview with InfoWars’ Alex Jones, an initially friendly exchange that sent Jones into a tizzy about how he’d been duped by a “sociopath” who was “not feminine … cold, robotic, dead” before he delivered the ultimate insult: “I felt zero attraction to Megyn Kelly.” Damn—float like a chemtrail and sting like a black helicopter, Al. Kelly could use a ratings-grabber like an exposé on America’s favorite conspiracy-slinger/paint-huffing uncle; so far, her much-hyped new show is an airball in terms of presentation and ratings. Show ’em who’s a robot, Meg!

Another mild disappointment, Wrecked (Season 2 premiere Tuesday, June 20, TBS), is back for another round of Gilligan’s Island/Lost antics. The comedy about a plane-wrecked group of survivors stranded on a tropical island had a hit-and-miss debut season last year. Its likable crew of characters (which includes Flight of the Conchords scene-stealer Rhys Darby) and knowing winks at Lost lore were undercut by aimless subplots and weak gags. (Wrecked is the first production of a pair of Hollywood-outsider brothers from Kansas, so they should be afforded a little slack.) It’s no People of Earth or The Detour, or even Angie Tribeca, but Wrecked is a risk-taking TBS comedy that deserves a second look.

I gave The Carmichael Show (Season 2, Wednesdays, NBC) a second chance after the Television Critic Intelligentsia unleashed another blizzard of accolades for the laugh-tracked sitcom, and … I’m almost there. Comic Jerrod Carmichael and the show’s cast are solid (especially comedy vet David Alan Greer), but the weekly hammering home of Very Important Issues is tiresome—come for the laughs; get a lecture. Sitcoms can tackle controversial topics, but The Carmichael Show currently falls between CBS’ Mom (which continues to surprise) and Superior Donuts (which continues to suck): It’s almost there, too.

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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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