Summer TV Roundup, Week 7

It's hot outside and the new series keep coming fast and furious. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don't see a new series listed below? Check previous weeks.

Tuesday Nights:
Dead of Summer, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Freeform (Premiered June 28)
About: This latest series from Freeform (previously ABC Family Channel) is about a group of counselors recruited to help open a summer camp. The camp's new owner (Elizabeth Mitchell) is hoping to get the camp going again and make it a great experience for kids. But one of the counselors (Elizabeth Lail) comes in with a lot of baggage. And some strange things start happening. This is the latest in a string of summer horror series, and it works pretty well. I like the summer camp conceit and I like the way the pilot developed the characters. It's not great, but it's intriguing. I'm curious to see where it's going. And I like that it's anchored by a veteran actor like Mitchell, who is a good presence in the lead role. So far, this seems like a potentially fun summer adventure.
Pilot Grade: C+

Wednesday Nights:
American Gothic, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS (Premiered June 22)
About: This new series from CBS is another long form mystery/horror series. It's set among a wealthy family in Boston who become embroiled in the hunt for the Silver Bells Killer, a serial killer who disappeared 14 years earlier. But when new evidence surfaces, the investigation heats up again. Could one of the members of the family be the killer? That's the question. The pilot established the characters and the world, and I was intrigued. The second episode felt like a bit of a step backwards. I am a fan of this type of series, especially during summer. And this has a good cast -- led by Juliet Rylance, Justin Chatwin and Virginia Madsen. I am still intrigued, but concerned that this might not have the pop I'd have hoped.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C

Thursday Nights:
Queen of the South, Thursdays at 10 p.m. on USA (Premiered June 23)
About: This series from USA is about a Mexian woman (Alice Braga) who gets pulled in deep with the cartel. The pilot begins with an indication she ends up on top, and that this is the story of how it happened. That serves to put a damper on the potential danger for the character. Hard to believe she's constantly facing life-or-death stakes if we know how it's going to turn out. So instantly, that doesn't work. Also, this isn't that interesting of a world or characters. This type of story was done much better on "Breaking Bad" and "Narcos." USA is trying to stretch it's brand to be more edgy, but this doesn't get it done.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: D

Thirteen, Thursdays at 10 p.m. on BBC America (Premiered June 23)
About: This latest British series focuses on a girl who was kidnapped at age 13 and escaped back into the world 13 years later, in a state of arrested development as a 26-year-old woman with a lot of baggage. The series focuses in part on how she re-adjusts to the world and how her family, which had fractured in her absences, adjusts to coming back together. But it's also the story of trying to find her attacker, who has nabbed another girl. And of the police trying to figure out of she's really a victim or, perhaps, a co-conspirator in this new abduction. So there's plenty to consider here. And the show is well acted and well put together. But through two episodes, I also found it dull at times. I'm intrigued by the concept, but I'm not entirely sold on the execution.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C

Sunday Nights:
The Night Of, Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO (Premiers July 10)
This latest limited series from HBO was originally designed as a starring vehicle for the late James Gandolfini. Now it's taken on a new life with John Turturro in the lead role. It's hard to say, based on the pilot, how that's changed the narrative. What's clear is this is a slow burn examination of race, justice, and an intensive character study. HBO made the pilot available early on its streaming platforms, and the series will officially bow on Sunday night. I liked the pilot, which introduced the characters, the world, the crimes, and set the stage. It was fascinating at times and paced in a deliberate manor that added to the tension. It wasn't perfect, but I think this could develop into one of the best pieces this summer.
Pilot Grade: B-

Roadies, Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime (Premiered June 26)
This latest Showtime series comes from Cameron Crowe and super producer J.J. Abrams. It's about the people that work behind the scenes for a touring rock band. Among the leads are Luke Wilson, Imogene Poots, and Carla Gugino. This is a series that isn't for everyone. Crowe has a unique storytelling style. If you've enjoyed his movies in the past, you'll probably enjoy the rhythms and pace of this series. The second episode felt like a minor step back in terms of pace and development, but I still like the general idea of the series and the cast. It's great to have Crowe helping tell this story each week.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C


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