Summer is upon us, television is a rocky wasteland, and you're probably out grilling right now. This was the week in TV Land:
• Summer's a weird time for TV viewers and often a terrible one for TV fans: There are loads of new and returning series, but many of them aren't even worth the breath it would take to deride them. (Unless you're the kind of sick freak who actually wants to watch Toddlers & Tiaras, in which case, God help you.) Mostly, summer TV is like summer at the movies: Lots of flash, some fun rides, and a few doses of darker stuff scattered here and there. Here are a few shows to keep an eye out for:
Tosh.0, Comedy Central, June 2; like The Soup for online videos
Burn Notice and Royal Pains, USA, June 3; blatant escapist porn but still harmless ways to kill an hour
True Blood, HBO, June 13; steamy vampire thriller for people who like their supernatural stories with plenty of S&M
Futurama, Comedy Central, June 24; the resurrection of one of the best animated comedies of all time
Rescue Me, FX, June 29; preachy but solid drama
Psych, USA, July 14; surprisingly sturdy buddy comedy that gets good mileage out of pop culture references
Mad Men, AMC, July 25; definitely one of the better shows of the summer
My Boys, TBS, July 25; airy and occasionally forgettable, but the male banter is some of the most natural on TV
The Good Guys, Fox, June 7; a cute concept and welcome chance to see Bradley Whitford's mustache in action
Memphis Beat, TNT, June 22; summer's the time for cop comedies, and this one, with Jason Lee as a detective in Memphis, looks like it's worth a shot
Covert Affairs, USA, July 13; maybe worth watching for the pilot, but really, I can't help but think that my time would be better spent rewatching the first two seasons of Alias
• Unable to look away, I watched the season finale of How I Met Your Mother. The show's always had to work from a bit of a disadvantage because the end is set, so instead of getting to enjoy Ted's romances, we're constantly wondering if this will be the one he's supposed to be with. The finale seemed to indicate that Ted's increasingly strained search for The One will be balanced with some far more interesting stories arising from Marshall and Lily's decision to have a baby. That's a smart choice for a couple of reasons: For starters, Ted is never less than obnoxious and dull, and letting the other characters carry the show will only help things. But it's also good because it will let the show get back to its roots of exploring life in the big city while also letting its characters mature into their 30s and deal with new problems. I still don't know how I feel about the show long-term -- there seems to be a misconception that having Ted meet his future wife would suddenly put him in a happy, easy, story-free relationship -- but I'll probably be just curious enough to keep up with it.
• Your latest three celebrity deaths: Art Linkletter, Gary Coleman, and Dennis Hopper. Linkletter, best known for Kids Say the Darnedest Things, was an amazing 97 years old when he died. Coleman, of course, was the sad butt of jokes about his stature and failed celebrity, and there's no way to not feel bad for the guy's sordid career at the hands of manipulating parents and an increasingly disinterested public. Hopper was of course known for his film work, but he cut his teeth on the mid-century TV classics, including The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and more. On the Twilight Zone episode, entitled "He's Alive," Hopper plays a neo-Nazi who takes lessons from the ghost of Hitler on how to persuade a crowd. So, you know, an upper:
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• ABC's FlashForward ended for good last week. I was briefly tasked with blogging about that show last fall until, having proven its enduring shittiness, I was able to move on. Given the way the season wrapped, I made the right choice. The show was meant to take the reins from Lost and be the network's new sci-fi/mystery show, but with even weaker plotting and no good characters in sight, it limped to extinction. The whole thing ended with another flash-forward, this time to 2015, and you almost have to hand it to the show's producers and writers for thinking their watered-down mystery-soap would hang in for years to come. Anyway, I'm just glad it's gone.
• In the wake of the Lost finale, the folks at CollegeHumor put together a video asking questions about the perceived loose ends. Although some of the questions are answered fairly easily -- see Movieline's comprehensive if pissy and half-assed attempt to respond to the video -- a lot of them are worth asking. My problem with Lost's resolution has nothing to do with the magical elements occasionally featured on the show. I am perfectly content believing that the island's light is the source of all human power/good, and that it must be guarded. Fine. What I do have a problem with is the way the series seemed to diminish in scope at its end, offering an emotional conclusion that only focused on the events of the final season instead of a narrative one that involved the entire series. Anyway, take a look at the video and see what you think: