Time was when summer TV meant reruns and sporting events – and sometimes even reruns of sporting events. But nowadays, there’s original programming to fill those dog days, some of it even eminently watchable and most of it coming to us from our friends in basic and premium cable. Here, a heads up on yet more of June’s forthcoming premieres, some of them offering up the birth of brand new series, others returning favorites back for another (non-ratings) season.
Season 2 Premiere: Sunday, June 17
In a parallel timeline, meaning technology, pop-culture and pretty much everything else is utterly recognizable, aliens have invaded our planet and are setting about conquering our entire population. Commonly known as “Skitters” due to their insectoid appearance, they enslaved human children to do their unknowable bidding—including the middle son of former college professor-turned-militia leader Tom Mason (Noah Wyle). Replete with his reckless elder son and precocious younger son, the Masons’ roving militia company seeks out ways to survive, and even fight back against, the invasion; which, at the conclusion to last season, saw Tom board an alien mothership to seek answers, in what can only be considered a very Mulder way. (The aliens apparently didn’t expect humans to put up much of a fight, and are confused by our ongoing resistance, so naturally they turn to the one remotely-qualified person on the planet we know in order to discuss this turn of events. Nice work, aliens. You couldn’t have scripted it better.)
Where’s the love? With both having quite recently lost their respective spouses, Tom and troupe doctor Anne (Moon Bloodgood) are at last finding comfort in each other—presuming Tom returns from that mothership, of course. (Which he will. He’s on the posters!)
Reason to tune in: This show is great! If you like sci-fi alien invasion stories, that is. And with any luck, this season will feature more of the magnetic, if often objectionable, John Pope (Colin Cunningham) alongside the kickass, if traumatized, Maggie (Sarah Carter), and might even see the slow, painful death of the direful, dewey-eyed Lourdes (Seychelle Gabriel), though this last seems less likely.
Series Premiere: Wednesday, June 20
A former girlfriend leaves a surprise baby on the doorstep of carefree twenty-something Ben (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), which he then raises on his own, with the help of his eccentric friends and family. Meanwhile, the producers of Raising Hope consider legal action.
Where’s the love? Ben’s next door neighbor and best-friend also happens to be a hot blonde (Chelsea Kane). Anyone care to lay odds?
Reason to tune in: If you ever saw ABC Family’s breakout sci-fi hit Kyle XY, you’ll recognize star Bilodeau as the impish Josh Trager, who was the comic relief standout of that show’s cast, in a young-Matthew Perry kind of way. That’s probably the only reason, though—and it’s tenuous at best.
Season 7 Premiere: Wednesday, June 20
Cryogenically frozen in the year 2000 and then awakening a thousand years later to a world both utterly changed and still remarkably the same, pizza boy Fry (Billy West) works for a mad scientist at his inter-stellar delivery company, alongside assorted wacky characters.
Where’s the love? Fry’s long-time love is Leela (Katey Sagal), the mono-visioned pilot of the crew. After many years, the two have entered into a fairly tame relationship, characterized by a lot of maternal caviling at Fry’s simple-mindedness by a much beset Leela...
Reason to tune in: ...let’s face it, if you’re still watching, it’s probably just for crass—and still funny—robot, Bender (John DiMaggio), right?
Series Premiere: Sunday, June 24
Having previously gone behind the scenes on a sports show (Sports Night), a sketch comedy show (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) and, most famously, in the White House (The West Wing), Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin now turns his attention to the hidden doings of a 24-hour cable news channel. Intriguing!
Where’s the love? No doubt all over the newsroom, if we know our Sorkin, though anticipate a very slow build should this be the case. At a guess, sparks will doubtless fly between Jeff Daniels’s irascible news anchor and his new producer, played by Emily Mortimer. (Do we want them to, though?)
Reason to tune in: Aaron Sorkin, people! He’s like sex and pizza: even when he’s bad, he’s good.
Series Premiere: Thursday, June 28
Based on the horrible 2003 Adam Sandler movie of the same name and starring Charlie Sheen in the Jack Nicholson role, with a proposed cameo from Denise Richards...yep, that’s about all you need to know.
Where’s the love? Selma Blair plays Charlie’s (yes, his character’s name is Charlie—what is it with this guy?) therapist and, we are told, “possible love interest.” Dear God.
Reason to tune in: The same reason you’d watch a train wreck.
Season 2 Premiere: Thursday, June 28
Unemployed, alone and on the brink of suicide, sad sack Ryan (Elijah Wood) begins to hear the voice of his neighbor’s dog, Wilfred (Jason Gann)—which for some reason speaks in an Australian accent—and soon the two begin a most unusual friendship, getting stoned and drunk and discussing girls and sex and all of Ryan’s deepest phobias. Of course, to everyone else, Wilfred is a mere dog. But to Ryan, he is pure id, a creature of no shame, no fear and no political correctness. (So yeah, it’s kind of Fight Club, but with a guy in a dog suit instead of Brad Pitt.) Based on the acclaimed Australian series created by Gann, Wilfred is an often very uncomfortable, but usually very funny, experience that really must be seen to be believed.
Where’s the love? Ryan’s heart belongs to Wilfred’s owner, Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann), but this show is really all about the bromance. Wait...dogmance? Delusionmance?
Reason to tune in: When they call this a “dark comedy”, they are not kidding around, but with Elijah Wood (and his hypnotic eyes) stellar in the lead role and Gann positively crackling with manic energy as Wilfred – somehow looking not only perfectly comfortable but also kind of right in a dog suit – this is certainly worth your time, if for no other reason than moments of canine-based hilarity like this:
RYAN: Why the hell would you leave my wallet outside his window?
WILFRED : I don’t know, Ryan. Why is the sky grey? Why is the grass grey? Why is a rainbow grey, grey, grey, grey, grey and infra-grey?
Season 2 Premiere: Friday, June 29
Based on the inexplicably successful Stephen Dorff mini-series of 2008, XIII: The Conspiracy (well, inexplicable except in that Stephen Dorff is superhot), which was in turn based on a cult comic book title, this Canadian series carries on two years later, but with Stuart Townsend in the titular role as the former amnesiac spy and presidential assassin-lookalike XIII (it’s complicated) who uncovers a massive—and you won’t believe it, considering the mini-series’ title—governmental conspiracy at the highest levels.
Where’s the love? One of the best things about the mini-series—apart from the aforementioned superhotness of its star – was striking Italian actress Caterina Murino as a hapless civilian pulled into XIII’s web of intrigue. Here, she reprised her role, hooked up with our hero... and was then abruptly, and ill-advisedly, killed in episode 3. In other news, XIII’s former partner is one Agent Jones, with whom he once had a dalliance and who is played by comedienne and 24 alum Aisha Tyler—which, what the hell is comedienne and 24 alum Aisha Tyler doing in this lame duck show?
Reason to tune in: Incessant fight scenes, turgid dialogue and Stuart Townsend faking one of the worst American accents ever witnessed sound like a good time to you.
STAY TUNED FOR A ROUND-UP OF YET MORE SUMMER TV PREMIERES, IN SUMMER LOVIN’—JULY 2012.
Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.