News Column

Cronley: Summer is worst time to watch TV

July 7, 2013


July 07--How bad is summertime TV?

It stays with a person about as long as a big swig of spoiled milk.

Real sports are on holiday. About all there is to see is what Tiger will lose first -- two more majors or his hair? For somebody so image-conscious, a reweave figures to be part of his off-season training.

The good show "Hard Knocks" starts a five-episode run on HBO Aug. 6. This sometimes painfully real program will present a behind-the-scenes look at the Cincinnati Bengals NFL team, busted dreams and all.

Options: The worst show in network television history, "Big Brother," is a summer ratings mainstay. This one is soft-core pornography disguised as social significance, with slightly dressed dumbbells popping out of tubs of soap suds and pools of chocolate syrup, looking for love and money.

The only thing wrong with "So You Think You Can Dance" is the fact that the winner could wind up in the chorus line of a Broadway revival playing in Sheboygan.

To enjoy "America's Got Talent," which is heavy on the freak acts this summer, you have to figure out a way to tolerate judge Howie Mandel's phobias, one of them perhaps being the fear of having and demonstrating talent.

Of all the seasonal fluff, I like "Master Chef" best. It offers Gordon Ramsey sunny-side up and shows how to cook creatively.

The bad and good: "Dexter" is in its last season. And you can guess what that means: order in extra body bags.

"Dexter" is about a happy-go-lucky homicidal maniac who is a forensics cop and tries to kill only bad guys. It was interesting enough when it followed the novel on which it was based. After TV writers took over, it stopped making much sense.

The trendy critic's pick this summer is "Ray Donovan," a Showtime series about a guy who cleans up messes for stars.

If you enjoy spending time with the dregs of humanity, perhaps this is the one for you.

Summers like this make you happy you have all those channels so you can try to find some movies like these four.

"Blue Valentine": a tartly bittersweet story about marriage.

"The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada": a dusty and earthy contemporary western with Tommy Lee Jones.

"The Five-Year Engagement": at least 30 minutes too long, but funny.

"You Can Count on Me": though pitifully titled, one of the best family stories ever.

These films were too good for theater audiences and found homes in houses.


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