Summer TV Roundup, Week 11
Can you believe July is almost over? Where did the summer go? NFL training camps are beginning and we're about two months from the new fall season. But that doesn't mean there's not new shows. There are. Both on network, cable, and the seemingly unending number of streaming services out there. This is Peak TV. 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.
Loaded, Mondays at 10 p.m. on AMC (Premiered July 17)
About: This series, an import from across the pond, basically takes four tech nerds who hit it big with an app, make a mint, and then try to figure out what to do next. It has been likened to what would happen if our core group from "Silicon Valley" ever achieved success. That might be a fair concept comparison, but the cast and characters here aren't strong enough. While I enjoy Mary McCormick as the no-nonsense American CEO who comes to rein these loveable losers in, that's not enough for me to care. The first episode was flat, and I thought the second episode was insufferable at times. This is an interesting attempt by AMC to expand its programming options, but I'm not buying this one.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: D
Midnight, Texas, Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC (Premiered July 24)
About: Coming from the books of Charlaine Harris, this series is a bit of a supernatural soap opera, and one NBC is hoping pulls a crowd this summer. Harris was the author of the books that served as the inspiration for the HBO series "True Blood," and doubtless fans of that series were hoping for another go around. I wasn't really a fan of "True Blood," and what I felt was an over-the-top tone. But those expecting "True Blood" here will be disappointed. First off, NBC's content standards are quite a bit different. Second, this is a series that, based on the pilot, seems to take things a bit more seriously. That might not be a good thing when you're set in a supernatural town that has a vampire, werewolf, talking cat and a main character named Manfred Bernardo. This isn't really my kind of show, typically, and I wasn't buying what the ads were putting down. That being said, I sort of enjoyed aspects of the pilot. I thought there was some interesting potential and, since it's the dog days of summer, I might actually be able to picture myself watching this series. God help us all. Let's see how I feel in a week.
Pilot Grade: C+
Somewhere Between, Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC (Premiered July 24)
About: ABC in recent years has been a hit during the summer by airing soapy limited series. That's why "Somewhere Between" feels like a stretch out of their typical brand. The limited series, starring Paula Patton, centers on a news producer married to the District Attorney in San Francisco and mother to a head strong eight-year-old girl. There's a serial killer on the loose, and when he claims Patton's daughter as his seventh victim, she's despondent. She decides to end it all. Instead, she's transported through a rift in time to a week before her daughter's murder. Can she stop it? Can she change fate? Or will she be doomed to suffer an unbearable loss again. We'll find out in nine more episodes... This is the kind of hook that is meant to grab you and hold you tight. The pilot premiered last night and the second episode actually airs tonight. I'll be curious to see the ratings change. I thought the pilot was OK, but uneven. And the characters weren't that compelling, nor were the explanations and set up. This seems like something that is more compelling as a hook on paper than in reality. And I'm not sure it's ideally paired with "The Bachelorette" on Monday nights. So far, I'm on the fence. I liked the idea, but not the execution.
Pilot Grade: C
Salvation, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on CBS (Premiered July 12)
About: CBS has found a groove in recent years with some high-concept sci-fi series during summer. That's the case with "Salvation," which is about a group of scientists and government officials racing the clock to invent technology that will save humanity from an impending deadly asteroid. I like the set up, as of course I love disaster movies and stories. This feels like the kind of show that's got one season at best. In fact, if they don't complete their plan and resolve this crisis in the first season, I would likely sour on the experience. But through two episodes, I enjoy the ideas and the cast. This has network-level production values and it feels like the perfect kind of light and enjoyable summer watch.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-
Hooten and the Lady, Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW (Premiered July 13)
About: The CW brought in this European co-production to fill out its summer lineup. It's a light, breezy series that feels sort of on brand for the network. It centers on an American adventurer, Hooten (Michael Landes), and an English Lady (Ophelia Lovibond), who pair on a series of archaeological adventures. It is a cross between "Indiana Jones" and "The Mummy," and doesn't take itself too seriously. I like the leads, and think they have good chemistry. For those that enjoy these kind of stories, this feels like a light summer series. It's a bit cheesy, and the production values aren't quite on par with other summer series. I liked the first two episodes just fine, but not enough to feel hooked to continue. Others may feel differently based on their love of the genre.
Pilot Grade: C-
Second Episode: C
Ozark, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered July 21)
About: This latest Netflix drama stars Jason Bateman as a financial advisor whose partner skims money from a major drug cartel. In a last ditch effort to save his life, and the life of his family, he pitches a scheme to move the business to lake Ozark, offering it as a place to make business operations easier. Soon, he's forced to drag his family and his cheating wife (Laura Linney) to the middle of the backwoods and hope his Hail Mary plan succeeds. Bateman is normally known for his comedic roles, but he does a nice job in this series, which he also directed the first two episodes and four total in the first season (which spans 10 episodes). I liked the first two episodes I saw, and I think this is a series with a bit of potential. Early in the process, with Bateman running through the woods as his character offers a deep and pensive voice over about life, I got some "Bloodline" vibes, and not in a good way. Luckily the rest of the pilot and the second episode head in a different direction. This is somewhat darker than other shows, but I'm curious to see how it evolves.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-