I thought this week I’d take a break from the serious business of generating my writing advice posts and talk about some of the TV shows I’ve enjoyed over the summer, now that the fall TV season is about to kick into gear.
These days TV is strong all year round, and there are some great summer shows that I really look forward to. If you haven’t seen any of these, I highly recommend them.
Honorable Mention: Rizzoli and Isles
This summer was the final season for Rizzoli and Isles, a police procedural set in Boston that was centered around the friendship of Detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and forensic expert Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander). It was a lighthearted show (mostly) with a great cast and fun writing. It’s also one of the only procedurals I’m aware of that had two female leads, making it easy to consistently pass the Bechdel Test.
If you like police shows, I highly recommend catching up on this one. As I said, it’s a fun watch, and I wish there were more procedural style shows featuring multiple female leads. I’m going to miss watching this one.
5.) Dark Matter
I think the second season of Dark Matter was an improvement on the first, but I think there’s a little good and bad here.
The writing for the season was better, more engaging. I thought that the characters really came into their own, and I felt more attached to them. The show also went down some interesting plot arcs and moved beyond just exploring the past of the different characters on the ship. We also got some interesting new crew members, and some of the character relationships that were considered boring or problematic were largely written out of the show.
I think the downside of this is that a lot of the tension built from the previous season was just sort of shuffled under the rug. There are some hanging plot lines there that I would’ve liked to have seen explored more fully. On top of that, some of the new plot lines set up early in the season were never really explored either. It’s possible that season three resolves some of these issues by going back and filling these areas in, but it’s a sort of circuitous story telling route to take. But if there’s a reason for it, that might be interesting.
That being said, I’m a Firefly fan, and I love a good space opera, so I still enjoyed watching this show and look forward to seeing what the third season brings.
I really enjoyed the second season of Killjoys, which in many ways was much of the same, smoothly building on the tension, mysteries, and relationships established in the first season. However, now we move beyond the team just being bounty hunters to being a group in position to stop a conspiracy against the Quad.
This show has remained consistently strong, and I see it as probably the greatest contender in the realm of heir-apparent to Firefly. It has the same sort of sharp dialogue writing, but it doesn’t try to emulate the Space Western feel, instead going for its own unique style. The characters are all really compelling and fun, and the plot just continues to become higher and higher stakes as the story goes on.
It also appears as though one of my favorite actresses, Stephanie Leonidas, who I really enjoyed in Defiance, will be joining the show as a regular cast member in season three, which has me very excited.
I don’t think a lot of people saw BrainDead, but it’s a show that you should really check out. It follows a young woman who begins working for her brother, a senator, at the behest of her father who says he will fund her film making career if she works in politics for a year. Slowly she discovers that a race of bugs has taken over the brains of several people in Congress and is wreaking havoc in Washington.
The show was really well written with great and highly on point political satire and comedy. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Tveit were very charming leads. Tony Shalhoub was utterly brilliant as the Republican Senator who is also leader of the bugs. The show might be worth watching for his performance alone, but the rest of the cast was very strong, and the series was a joy to watch.
Jonathan Coulton also performed the recaps of each episode, which was a unique touch, and for this reason I can say that BrainDead easily has the best recaps of any show I’ve seen.
In a political season where we’ve seen a lot of fanaticism and extremism, mostly from the right but certainly from the left as well, BrainDead provided a much needed call for moderation. I don’t know if it will get another season, but this season did come to a conclusion, so even if it doesn’t get renewed, you can enjoy the series and feel like you’ve watched a complete story.
2.) Mr. Robot
Of all the shows I watch, Mr. Robot is objectively one of the best. Everything from its writing, to its acting, and certainly its cinematography is a cut above the majority of other TV shows out there. This season goes even darker as it showcases the fallout following hacker group F-Society’s successful take down of the global corporation E-Corp (or “Evil Corp” as Elliot, the protagonist, calls it).
While the first season felt hopeful that the hack would work both as a way to fix society and also a way to get vengeance for the wrongs E-Corp committed, this season digs deeper into the flaws of the protagonists. The hack, as we find out, hasn’t really made things better, and in the struggle to survive the fallout we get to see the darker sides of a lot of the characters.
I think this season is also slower building than the previous one, but as it builds towards its finish, it has gotten really strong. The last episode of the season airs this week, and I’m excited to see how it all comes together.
1.) Stranger Things
This was one of the most hyped series of the summer, but I really felt it lived up to all of the good things I heard. I thoroughly enjoyed each episode and very quickly fell in love with all of the characters. The kids were especially impressive, all of them having great onscreen presence for being so young.
I think a lot of people are sold on the concept of this show for its “nostalgia” factor, but I didn’t think that the show reveled in the past, and it wasn’t nostalgic for the sake of it. It’s also popular among a lot of people around my age bracket who either weren’t alive in 1983 or don’t have any memories of it because we were too young.
The nostalgic factor the story really fulfills is nostalgia for the type of movies made during that time. There are some great films from the 80s, and in this time of constant remakes, reboots, and sequels, Stranger Things provides something both new and familiar. It’s stylized in a way that hearkens back to movies Millenials grew up with and love, but it is still its own, unique story with great and compelling characters and a really interesting setting.
So those are more top five favorite watches of the summer. Are there any shows you guys were watching the I didn’t list? Would you rate some of these shows higher or lower? Let me know in the comments, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.