Summer TV Roundup, Week 5

The days are hot and long, and the new scripted options are small and, ultimately, have been pretty unsatisfying. Must be summer. In these weekly posts I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don't see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Monday Nights:
Daytime Divas, Mondays at 10 p.m. on VH1 (Premiered June 5)
About: Based on the book from Star Jones and set behind the scenes at a show very much resembling "The View," "Daytime Divas" is about five co-hosts of a daytime talk show and the drama going on in front of and behind the camera. They all have problems. The main host (Vanessa L. Williams) is controlling and manipulative. And the rest of the ladies on her panel? Just as much of a struggle. A dangerous affair, blackmail, a loveless marriage, drug abuse, parental issues, spousal abuse, and more drive the drama in their lives. And there's some decent performances here (Williams seems at home in the role), but this show is mostly following some typical soapy tropes. There doesn't feel like a lot of originality in these characters of their challenges, The series is OK, and for those looking to fill the summer soap hole left by "Mistresses," this might fill the void. For the rest, this doesn't feel like a great mass appeal series.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C

Sunday Nights:
Claws, Sundays at 9 p.m. on TNT (Premiered June 11)
About: This latest drama from TNT doesn't feel like a typical drama from the network, and that's likely intentional. The show comes from Eliot Laurence ("Welcome to Me"), and is centered on a group of ladies working at a nail salon in Florida. But that's not their only role, as they're also part of a vast criminal network doing various jobs. The pilot begins to lay out the world and the characters. The show was hailed by some as a new "Breaking Bad," but I didn't totally get that vibe. But Dean Norris is in the cast, so you never know. I thought the pilot episode was a bit dry and I wasn't drawn into the world, but it's a talented ensemble (including Nicey Nash, Carrie Preston and Judy Reyes), so it could take time to develop. Those looking for something on-brand for TNT will likely be a bit surprised by this series, but it could find a place to land on a currently soft Sunday night schedule.
Pilot Grade: C-

I'm Dying Up Here, Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime (Premiered June 4)
About: This latest drama, set in 1973, follows those trying to make it in the world of stand up comedy. I wasn't wild about the pilot, which seemed to be pulling at too many uninteresting threads. The second episode felt a bit more focused, and gave some more time for the actual stand up comedy to shine. I liked it marginally better, but not enough to personally stick with this series. The idea isn't bad, and the cast (which includes Melisa Leo, Ari Graynor and RJ Cyler) is pretty good. But I wasn't hooked into these characters or the world. This reminds me a bit of another 1970s-era entertainment show, "Vinyl," that sounded a lot better on paper than it looked on screen. I was fascinated by the concept here, but the actual show is a bit of a bore.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode:C


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