Summer TV Roundup, Week 12

We're deep into summer, coming close to fall, and in the midst of the summer Olympics. You'd be forgiven if you forgot we still have new shows going strong. Below I look at the new shows of summer, reviewing the first and second episodes. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Secret Eats, Mondays at 10 p.m. on the Travel Channel (Premiered August 8)
About: I am a big fan of Adam Richman, who started his career with "Man vs. Food" and has done a variety of food-based shows since. His latest, "Secret Eats," takes the adventure overseas. So far four episodes have aired — two on each of the previous Mondays — and they've all been similar. He travels to hot spots in his chosen locations, and there he interviews chefs, shows how the dishes are made, and then shows and samples the final product. Don't watch the show hungry, but if you like mixing food and travel, this show is for you.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-

Tuesday Nights:
Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Los Angeles Rams, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on HBO (Premiered August 9)
About: "Hard Knocks" isn't new, but it's an anthology, so the story is new each year. This year it's the Los Angeles Rams. Football is back in Los Angeles after a 20 year absence, so it makes sense that it would be the focus of the show this year. But these shows live or die with the personalities they find on the team. That's what made last year's iteration with the Houston Texans compelling. The first episode of "Hard Knocks" in Los Angeles was, in a word, boring. If it doesn't pick up, this season might not work.
Pilot Grade: C

Sunday Nights:
Chesapeake Shores, Sundays at 9 p.m. on Hallmark Channel (Premiered August 14)
About: Hallmark is probably best known for its TV movies, particularly its Christmas movies that flood the airwaves from the beginning of November until January each year. But it's got original programming, too. This new series focuses on a career-driven woman in the big city (Meghan Ory) who hails from a small town. As an escape from her life and her ex-husband, she takes her kids home, where she helps her sister (Laci J Mailey), reunites with an old flame (Jesse Metcalfe), and visits her grandmother (Diane Ladd) and father (Treat Williams). There's also bed and breakfast, the bones of a romance, and plenty of heartwarming family drama. There is something appealing about this kind of show, which feels like a throwback. I liked the pilot, and I could see this working as some family programming on a Sunday night.
Pilot Grade: C+

Streaming Series:
The Get Down, now streaming on Netflix (Premiered August 12)
About: I have never been a fan of the style of Baz Luhrmann. Others are, and that's great. If you are, you might love this new series, which dropped its first six episodes on Friday. It's set in Harlem in 1977 and focuses on young love and aspiring musicians. There were parts of the pilot I found incredibly moving and compelling. I love Justice Smith in the lead role. But the pilot was uneven, and the second episode was, for me, just too weird and boring. There's the potential of a fascinating story here, chronicling a group of people and a time period we don't know much about. But there's too much of Luhrmann's typical style here for me, and I can't buy into it.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: D


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