Summer Thrills and Chills: Why this summer offers some of the best TV ever (2011)

For fans and avid television viewers, this summer has offered an abundance of riches.  From the break-out alien sensation FALLING SKIES to the addictive TEEN WOLF to teenage crushes on THE NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING to the creepy medical mysteries of TORCHWOOD, no matter what one could possibly be looking for, this summer had it on TV.  It is said that ‘it is good to be king.’  But on TV, it is better to be the most talked about summer hits of the season.  The following is a quick round up of shows that you may already be watching, but if you have not yet discovered these shows, you are invited to check them out and become as enamored as everyone else.


Sunday nights have been brutal for viewers with no less than eight competing shows: FALLING SKIES, LEVERAGE, DROP DEAD DIVA, TRUE BLOOD, IN PLAIN SIGHT, THE PROTECTOR (which just moved to Mondays), THE GLADES, BREAKING BAD and AGAINST THE WALL.  Factoring in that THE KILLING and GAME OF THRONES were also around for early summer, Sundays were a tough night to figure out what to watch and when.  Fortunately, many of these shows repeated frequently throughout the week to allow viewers a chance to catch anything they may have missed.

But the standout was newcomer FALLING SKIES, which took the entire globe by storm and become a summer sensation.  With its trio of deadly aliens (the Skitters, the Mechs and the tall skinny freaks), Sundays were simply owned by FALLING SKIES.  Everyone wanted to see what was truly lurking beneath the surface and whether the survivors of the 2nd Mass had a chance in hell of ever fighting back.  With the 2-hour season finale scheduled to air this Sunday, August 7th and a rumored massive cliff-hanger, perhaps not all mysteries will be nicely tied up with a bow, but the good news is that FALLING SKIES will be back for its 2nd season next summer.  So don’t miss the season finale which promises an epic battle and revelations that will send our minds reeling until next summer.


Even more brutal than the jam-packed Sunday nights, Monday nights offered eleven competing shows all scrambling to capture a share of the viewers.  Tossed into the timeslot ring were: TEEN WOLF, EUREKA, WAREHOUSE 13, ALPHAS, THE CLOSER, RIZZOLI & ISLES, WEEDS, THE BIG C, THE PROTECTOR (it’s new night), SECRET LIFE OF AN AMERICAN TEENAGER and SWITCHED AT BIRTH.  It was nearly a blood-bath as viewers were forced to choose and unlike the Sunday night shows, these shows did not repeat so conveniently throughout the week.  Returning favorites THE CLOSER, RIZZOLI & ISLES, EUREKA, WAREHOUSE 13, and SECRET LIFE all held their own and recaptured their audiences.  What was astounding was that newcomers such as TEEN WOLF, ALPHAS and SWITCHED AT BIRTH were out of the gate successes and they too snagged a healthy portion of the viewing audience.  With a second season pick-up already announced for TEEN WOLF and an unprecedented order of 30 episodes for the 1st season of SWITCHED AT BIRTH, their respective networks were clearly pleased as well.  With ALPHAS holding onto the same audience that tunes in for EUREKA and WAREHOUSE 13, next season orders for all three are just about guaranteed.  The breakout hit for Monday nights is a tie between the supernatural thriller TEEN WOLF and ABC Family’s family heart-warmer SWITCHED AT BIRTH.  Both offered something vital to viewers seeking comfort TV:  a family they wanted to be a part of.

While a teenage werewolf transition tale does not exactly scream “family” – TEEN WOLF did offer a wonderful surrogate family through young Scott’s friends.  Whether it was the lovely Allison, who stole his heart with love-at-first-sight, the best friend Stiles who knows how to quip a handy one-liner in a stressful moment, the ultra-competitive quasi-evil duo of Lydia and Jackson, or the muscle-bound, yet with a heart-of-gold Derek, teens were not the only ones cozying up to the young group of teens fighting to survive while hunted from all sides.

In addition, SWITCHED AT BIRTH offered the most heart-breaking storyline couched in a warm, sunny world where two families chose to live together after discovering their daughters were switched at birth 16 years ago.  It was not just the “blue sky” appeal of the show that caught our attention, but rather the equally addictive and appealing characters that invited us into their homes.  From Bay to Daphne to Toby, Emmett, Liam and Ty, and all the charming parents, SWITCHED AT BIRTH introduced us to families and friends that we would all love to be a part of.


Tuesday nights, while somewhat less time-constrained, were also busy nights on TV.  Competing were:  WHITE COLLAR, COVERT AFFAIRS, MEMPHIS BEAT, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, THE NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING, COMBAT HOSPITAL, and MTV’s AWKWARD.  With 7 shows clamoring for attention, it was a little easier to juggle shows and watch them all, but it required some viewer dexterity.  Returning favorites WHITE COLLAR, COVERT AFFAIRS, MEMPHIS BEAT, and PRETTY LITTLE LIARS all fared well, but the newcomers stumbled under the weight of the stiff competition.

Viewers were less likely to sample the new shows on Tuesday nights than other nights of the week — which is a shame, cause each of the new series had something special to offer and are worthy of second seasons.  For the teenage crowd, both THE NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING and MTV’s AWKWARD offered heaping spoonfuls of heart-melting romance.  Only the heartless could have withstood such wonderfully woven tales of teenage angst and teenage romance mixed with fun doses of comedic relief.  Then over on the darker side, there was COMBAT HOSPITAL which gave a glimpse into the world of medical surgeons in the war zone of Afghanistan.  But it only sounded dark and depressing.  The actual show had a nice mix of odd personalities and heart-warming messages.  Plus, one look into Michelle Borth’s soulful eyes and you too would be caught up in the day-to-day struggles of life on the front lines.  To viewers who tuned in and tuned out too quickly and those who have resisted these fine shows, it’s your loss.  For those who discovered and stuck with these shows, you know what I’m talking about when I say, these are must-see shows on Tuesday nights.

As for the break-out hit of Tuesday nights, it goes once again to COVERT AFFAIRS.  Not even breaking stride from its first season break-neck pace, COVERT AFFAIRS took things to another level of action, globe-trotting and giving fans exactly what they want – more Auggie!  Piper Perabo’s Anne Walker may be the star of the show, but Chris Gorham’s Auggie Anderson stole all the hearts of the fans.  Kudos for all the hard work and inspired stories this season.  It’s been a fun and wild-ride!


A night of much more manageable TV viewing, Wednesday offered a nice light night of only six competition shows:  ROYAL PAINS, NECESSARY ROUGHNESS, FRANKLIN & BASH, MELISSA & JOEY, STATE OF GEORGIA and HAPPILY DIVORCED.  It was a night that also relied heavily on comedy to ease the weekly tensions as viewers found themselves mid-week and flagging a bit at the thought of two more work days.  Despite the prevalence of comedy and the quick success of HAPPILY DIVORCED, which has already been picked up for a second season, the show that was the break-out success was newcomer NECESSARY ROUGHNESS.

A tale of a therapist swept up into the high-stakes world of competitive sports, viewers latched onto Dr. Dani’s unique brand of therapy and her adrenaline-junkie clientele.  It also helped that the one client threaded throughout the season was charismatic Mehcad Brooks who stole scenes any chance he got and made us think of out-of-control football stars as great people to have hanging around the house.  The addictive trio of the unorthodox Dr. Dani, the mysterious fixer Nico and the hot-headed, but heart-warming T.K. made NECESSARY ROUGHNESS the break-out show of Wednesday nights.


As the week wound down, it was a night of easy delights as BURN NOTICE, ROOKIE BLUE and newcomer SUITS dazzled fans with their own blend of amped-up drama.  Whether it was explosions, gun-fights, cheating boyfriends, or a con man turned wanna-be-lawyer, Thursdays had exactly what viewers wanted as they raced towards the end of the work week – pure, unadulterated, octane-fueled adrenaline rushes.

SUITS does not exactly sound like a show for which a word like adrenaline would be associated, but it’s tight-wire act teasing us with whether Mike and Harvey’s high-stakes game of the ultimate con be found out kept viewers breathless with anticipation.  While both BURN NOTICE and ROOKIE BLUE brought their A-game this season, SUITS stole the night.  It was impossible to not fall for the charming handsome duo of Mike and Harvey and their new take on a legal drama can be wicked fun. Another show that if you haven’t checked it out yet, be prepared to fall in love!


Also an easy night of TV, with the sci-fi faves TORCHWOOD and HAVEN facing off and as FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS wound down its final season, Fridays were a delicious treat for world-weary TV viewers.  Real life can suck the life right out of you by Friday, so it takes special shows to infuse a bit of life back into viewers before they tackle their unruly weekends.  Fortunately, as the Emmy nominations proved, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS was exactly what viewers were in the mood for and it was a great way to say goodbye to a show that created a world that felt like a second home for most of us.  To this day, there are many savvy TV critics who still believe that there simply must be a real Coach Taylor and his wife Tammy living in a small town in Texas.  It felt that real and that special of a place.  Pray the Emmy voters get this right this year and crown FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS the best drama on TV.  It earned it.

So while FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS felt like home, the worlds of TORCHWOOD and HAVEN were nothing like any place we would ever dream of living.  Frankly, both those worlds scared the beegeebizes out of us.  TORCHWOOD’s “miracle day” where everyone on earth stops dying, only to find out that is a fate worse than death; and HAVEN’s isolated world where an entire town is plagued by a curse that makes them all wish they lived somewhere else – those were not exactly the places anyone wants to willingly go to.   Yet, funny enough, viewers still flocked to them.  Watching others suffer and endure mysterious torment is oddly appealing.  But, more likely, it was the captivating characters that kept viewers tuning in.  Without the magic and mystery of the relationships between Audrey, Duke and Nathan on HAVEN, and the star-crossed lovers Jack and Gwen on TORCHWOOD, surely the horror stories of each show would not have been enough.  But throw in a few people that fans are dying to see more of and you’ve got a Friday night hit.  So sci-fi Fridays are alive and well and we can’t wait to see where these gripping shows take us.  Don’t miss another second and be sure to tune in for both TORCHWOOD and HAVEN on Fridays – they offer an adventure like you have never seen before!


No matter how you look at it, Saturday nights are the slowest night of TV.  Other than the occasional Syfy or Hallmark movie of the week, the only network dipping its toe into Saturday night programming is BBC America, which offered both DOCTOR WHO and OUTCASTS on Saturday nights this summer.  DOCTOR WHO teased fans by starting the summer, then going on a short hiatus, and then will return on August 27th to finish off its 6th season.  This was a double-edged sword of disappointment as fans were outraged to have the mid-season interruption just when the show was picking up steam and left everyone shell-shocked over the identity of River Song, and that it was replaced by a show that was already announced to only extend one short season.  So OUTCASTS already had a death-knell hanging over it and DOCTOR WHO fans were chomping impatiently at the bit to get their show back.  The clear winner of Saturdays was DOCTOR WHO – and its tale is not over yet.  With its next episode entitled, “Let’s Kill Hitler” and knowing perfectly well the mystery of River Song is nowhere near being concluded, DOCTOR WHO promises to recapture hearts and imaginations all over again.  Is it August 27th yet????

Summer viewing has been long mistaken as a time that dead shows come to die and new shows come to debut to less competition.  While both those premises may be true, for the television connoisseur, it is a time of discovery and a chance to embrace and celebrate shows that would be overshadowed the rest of the year.    For the summer of 2011, it was like opening up a treasure chest with each piece more dazzling and delightful than the last. So I invite you to savor these last few weeks of summer TV and appreciate the final episodes of the season.  Summer of 2011 was simply spectacular!

Where to find this article:

One thought on “Summer Thrills and Chills: Why this summer offers some of the best TV ever (2011)

  1. Sundays for me: Falling Skies, Curb Your Enthusiasm (previously The Killing and Game of Thrones).

    Mondays: Eureka, Warehouse 13, Alphas, Masterchef, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report. (and Hell’s Kitchen for the husband).

    Tuesday: Masterchef, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report.

    Wednesday: So You Think You Can Dance, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report.

    Thursday: So You Think You Can Dance Results Show, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report.

    Friday: Catching up on whatever I haven’t gotten to see on DVR during the week.

    Saturday: Ditto.

    I’m in BIG trouble in September when Glee, Terra Nova, XFactor, New Girl, Hawaii 5-0, Fringe, Once Upon A Time, (and of course my daily Monday-Thurs dose of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report) are all on, oh, yes, and Dexter.

    Then early 2012, American Idol, Fairly Legal, Alcatraz, Game of Thrones, The Killing, Falling Skies, etc. are all coming back.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.