News Column

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel On TV/Radio column

June 10, 2013

YellowBrix

June 10--Outside of "Game of Thrones" and "Mad Men," I have no appointment TV scheduled this summer.

But "GOT" aired its final episode of a too-short season Sunday night, and "Mad Men" ends in three weeks.

I'm so desperate for distraction that I sampled each of the CW fall shows -- including one about vampires ("The Originals") and knockoffs of "Game of Thrones" ("Reign") and "Terra Nova" ("The

100"), all starring twentysomethings. It took 10 minutes of each to know I won't watch any of them (although I'm stubbornly sticking with "Arrow.")

So I downloaded "Scandal," the ABC series set in Washington, D.C., from Vudu, the Walmart streaming service on my Blu-ray player with Wi-Fi. I saw the last few episodes of this season, streamed the first season free on Netflix, and got caught up in star Kerry Washington's infinite variety of facial expressions.

The Vudu icon sits next to the Netflix icon when I power up, but I never thought to explore it until original programming died this season. I also bought last season's "The Walking Dead" on Vudu for half of what it cost on iTunes. It and "Scandal" will represent almost 40 hours watching that I won't spend with traditional broadcast and cable sources.

It's the sort of a la carte viewing that cord-cutting viewers have been enjoying for some time now.

Cable channels debut their series during summer because network TV is a vast wasteland from June to September.

To combat viewer defections, the networks have scheduled a patchwork lineup of summer programming.

Last-ranked NBC is already showing "America's Got Talent" and has the crime drama "Crossing Lines" (June 23). On tap are the dramedy "Camp" (July 10) and two game shows, "The Winner Is" and "Hollywood Game Night," hosted by Jane Lynch, who created the concept with Sean Hayes (both July 10).

ABC is airing "Mistresses" and "Rookie Blue." CBS brings back "Unforgettable" July 28.

And Fox has "MasterChef,""So You Think You Can Dance" and "Does Someone Have to Go?"

But the real action is on cable, where there are limitless options.

What follows is a list of summer shows available on streaming, cable or broadcast that I'll be checking in with this summer.

"Good Day"(CNN, June 17) With the morning news-talk-variety show audience in flux, CNN floats its version of the format anchored by Andrew Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Periera. Brainchild of network chief Jeff Zucker, who produced the "Today" show and Katie Couric's talk show.

"Top Chef Masters"(Bravo, July 24) Thirteen proven chefs compete in the "Top Chef" spinoff, this season set in Los Angeles. Judges are Curtis Stone, James Oseland, Ruth Reichl, Francis Lam, Gail Simmons and Los Angeles Magazine food critic Lesley Suter.

"Moone Boy"(Hulu, July 10) Loosely autobiographical Irish sitcom created by, co-written by and co-starring Chris O'Dowd as the imaginary friend of a 12-year-old boy in the 1980s. O'Dowd -- of "The Sapphires" and "Bridesmaids" -- also stars in "Family Tree" on HBO.

"Falling Skies"(TNT, Sundays; began new season Sunday) Premiere this week of "War of the Worlds"-type drama with Noah Wyle as leader of a human resistance brought big changes and new aliens. But the bigger stories come at the expense of the more intimate nature of the struggle.

"The Killing"(AMC, Sundays; began new season June 2) The show too stubborn to die has returned for a third season, despite having been canceled briefly. The atmospherically dense crime drama based on a Danish series features a pair of appealingly intense opposites -- a sullen cop played by Mireille Enos and her recovering junkie partner, played by Joel Kinnaman -- stalking a serial killer.

"Ray Donovan"(Showtime, June 30) Liev Schreiber as a "Scandal"-type fixer, with Jon Voight as his gangster father. By Ann Biderman, creator of the acclaimed "Southland."

"True Blood"(HBO, June 16); "Dexter"(Showtime, June 30); "Breaking Bad"(AMC, Aug. 11) I don't currently watch any of these shows, but I look forward to catching up with them in retirement.

"The Bridge"(FX, July 10) U.S. adaptation of Danish-Swedish crime drama "Broen." Demian Bichir, an Oscar nominee for "A Better Life," and Diane Kruger play cops who cross the bridge connecting their two countries to investigate a series of murders along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer"(HBO, Monday) Documentary about Russian rock music group and art collective whose members were sentenced to prison for protesting President Vladimir Putin. First in a summer documentary series that includes "Love, Marilyn" (June 17); "Miss You Can Do It" (June 24); "The OUT List" (June 27); "Gideon's Army" (July 1); "Gasland Part II" (July 8); "The Crash Reel" (July 15); "The Cheshire Murders" (July 22); "First Comes Love" (July 29); "Casting By" (Aug. 5); and "Americans in Bed" (Aug. 12).

"Orange Is the New Black"(Netflix, July 11) Comedy-drama about middle-class woman whose decade-long relationship with a drug smuggler causes her to be sentenced to prison. From "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan.

"Under the Dome"(CBS, June 24) Miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's novel about a town that finds itself surrounded by an impenetrable dome. Nothing can get in and nothing can get out. First episode was directed by Niels Arden Oplev, who directed the Swedish version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

"Major Crimes"(TNT, Monday) This spinoff of "The Closer" is made in that show's image and features its supporting characters, including G.W. Bailey -- from TV's "M*A*S*H" -- and Tony Denison. But Mary McDonnell is no Brenda Leigh.

Email: ddudek@journalsentinel.com

Follow Dudek on his blog, The Dudek Abides, on Facebook and on Twitter

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