Summertime is an unusual time of year for television. Major networks have shunned it for decades using it to rerun their top TV shows or to burn-off less successful TV shows. But as more and more cable networks began to prove that summer runs and launches of TV shows could carve out a nice chuck of the advertising revenue, the competition during summer months began to heat up. CBS had a big summer with the Stephen King series “Under The Dome” (well, that is until the infamous CBS/Time Warner fee dispute blew up). NBC dabbled with new summer shows with “Crossing Lines” and “Camp.” ABC already cracked into the summer season a few years back with “Rookie Blue” and debuted its latest Canadian series “Motive” this summer as well. Yet while the big 5 networks were still hesitant to jump in full-throttle with new original scripted programming, the cable networks continued to roll out new shows this summer.
With summer wrapping up with the close of August in just a few days, this is a good time to reflect back and celebrate a few notable new TV series that caught our attention and held it this summer:
HIT THE FLOOR – The sizzling hot new dance series gave us just what we were all craving for a summer fling. It offered an array of fresh faces with a few familiar ones blended together in a fun cocktail. The VH1 series offered a perfect mix of seductive dances with amazing choreography and raw athleticism that just made our jaws drop. It also dabbled on the naughty side wove together its soap-opera storylines in such a way that we were dying to find out what was going to happen next. The casting was particularly juice with the likes of Dean Cain, Kimberley Elise, Charlotte Ross, Rick Fox and newcomers Taylour Paige, Kat Bailess, Logan Browning, McKinley Freeman and Jonathan McDaniel. Astoundingly this unexpected ensemble brought an absurd premise to screen in such a compelling and addictive way that Monday nights became must-see TV just to see what outrageous story chapter would unfold next — and to watch our eyes pop out over the dance moves. As the buzz grew, so did the audience and VH1 smartly picked up this summer sizzler for a 2nd season next year.
CAMP – Perhaps the sleeper hit of the summer, the NBC sun-drenched series snuck up on us. Also offering a bunch of new fresh faces, the series capitalized on BROTHER & SISTER’s star Rachel Griffiths to lure an audience. But for those who discovered this summer gem, the show became much more interesting as it explored the intertwined lives of its charming cast. The parallel romances of Thom Green/Lily Sullivan and Tim Pocock/Dena Kaplan’s characters were engaging and ones that we rooted for steadfastly no matter what the obstacle. Then there was also a fair share of fun scene stealers: Nikolai Nikolaeff, Rodger Corser, Natasha Bassett, Charles Grounds, and Charlotte Nicdao. Whether it was the clumsy attempts at young love, silly campfire antics, or earnest moments of true joy and triumph the show made sure that we got to be a part of those great moments and reminding us again why summer camp should be a ritual for every young teen. Fingers crossed it comes back to play next summer!
DEVIOUS MAIDS – Fully embracing the idea of a summer soap-sudser, this series unhesitatingly jumped right into the wacky world of its fictional Beverly Hills families — the uber-rich versus the help that work amongst them. It was part murder-mystery and part titillation as the covers were pulled back on the secrets on both sides of the mansion doors. From voyeurism to lonely-hearts to cheating spouses and gold-digging, the series gleefully portrayed all its characters dirty little secrets. With a wink-and-a-nod, it invited us to play along and have a great time. With a stellar cast of Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sanchez, Judy Reyes, Edy Ganam, Susan Lucci, Stephen Collins, Rebecca Wisocky, Tom Irwin, Marian Kaveno, Grant Show, Brianna Brown, Brett, Cullen, Drew Van Acker, Wole Parks, Matt Cedeno and Melinda Page Hamilton — the show just glistened with well-polished surfaces and characters with more secrets and agendas than could possibly exist without at least one murder occurring. Coming from former DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES creator Marc Cherry and star Eva Longoria, they knew how to perfectly play with the dual worlds of the haves and the have-nots and how those worlds collide as they try to live and work together under one roof. It was delicious concoction of forbidden-fruit and boiling tensions and passions. With ratings continuing to climb, Lifetime quickly renewed this fun series for a second season and who knows which character’s head may end up on a platter next season. We can’t wait to find out!
THE BRIDGE – FX’s gripping drama series about a serial killer intent on making a political statement about police corruption and failure to investigate crimes on both sides of the border with literally thousands of young women disappearing and turning up dead each year was instantly addicting. It was unabashedly abrasive and brash in depicting the horrendous crimes towards women, and introduced deeply flawed characters to root for, but it also held us enthralled. Helmed by the extraordinary Diane Kruger and Demian Birchir, the series was captivating. Adding to the remarkable and just as mesmerizing cast are Ted Levine, Annabeth Gish, Matthew Lilliard, Emily Rios and Thomas M. Wright. The show was a harsh look at how jaded our society has become about problems involved the sex trade and murder/abuse of young women just over the border and how it is connected to our own problems here in the U.S. But credit goes to Kruger and Birchir, whose unlikely partnership ended up being both humorous and compelling, so much that we began to count the days to the next episode. Here’s to hoping FX snatches up this series for another season soon!
BROADCHURCH – Perhaps not as dark, but just as heart-breaking and haunting, the British murder-mystery series offered another unusual pairing with David Tennant and Olivia Colman as mis-matched detectives brought together to catch a killer. But in this story, it was the murder of a very young boy found on a beach and in a tiny seaside community where everyone knows each other and knows each other’s business. In that microcosm, each person’s personal life is exposed as they try to hide a secret-side. The microscopic look into every single person in their small town reminds us that anyone could be a killer and you would never know it. Despite the slow unraveling of this mystery, we became with each passing minute more enamored with the characters in it. Tennant and Colman’s characters unlikely friendship builds with each passing episode and we find ourselves wanting to spend more time with them as they hunt the killer. Neither DI Hardy or DI Miller is perfect and yet their flaws make them more endearing. They humanize the roles so that we relate and root for them — even in their darkest hours. BBC America has already picked up this phenomenal series for a second season and it intrigues to imagine where they may go next — but we will unhesitatingly follow them anywhere!
Summer is a wonderful time to sample and discover new TV shows. It is also a time to relish the seduction by shows that would normally never catch our attention. These were just a few of the many I had the privilege to watch this summer and enjoy — along with many returning favorites. I hope that you too had a little summer fling with some new shows and had some fun! ‘Til next summer . . .
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