Last time, we took at a look at the new shows of the 2012 summer TV season. Now, let’s see what kinds of shenanigans our favorite (well, okay, my favorite) established shows got up to throughout their limited-episode returns…
(Note: If you are not caught up on the current season of these shows, read at your own risk of SPOILERS.)
USA’s Burn Notice came back from a fifth season slump to really pile on the twists and turns in Season 6—with Michael (Jeffrey Donovan) no longer entirely a burned spy and his girlfriend Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) recently out of jail and now working with the Agency herself, conflict between the pair is ever only a misspoken word or withheld secret away, which is always fun. Bruce Campbell as Sam and Coby Bell as Jesse continue to provide excellent support, and, oh! Alas poor Nate, we hardly knew ye.
Also on USA, Covert Affairs has our neophyte CIA agent Annie Walker (Piper Perabo) Mata Hari-ing her way through her third season, with the inevitable emotional complications that kind of thing brings with it. The death of Sendhil Ramamurthy’s Jai in the season opener came as a shocking blow, because surely he was Too Pretty to Die, and the bizarre treatment of blind tech guru Auggie (Christopher Gorham) has kept me scratching my head, but nevertheless this show improves with every episode, and the way they backed right off the Annie/Auggie thing was very well played. It still has a stupid title, and even stupider title sequence, though. Just sayin’.
Elsewhere, the second season of Falling Skies offered up a bunch of shocks and some intriguing new information on the invading aliens who have overrun our planet in this alternate now. Great performances, a great hope dashed, two romances realized—go, you senior (Noah Wyle) and junior (Drew Roy) Masons! —and the death of more than one fan favorite (Jimmy, okay, fine… but Dai! Come on, how could you kill Dai?) made the show utterly gripping, and since it has happily been renewed by TNT for a third season, there is doubtless a lot more where that came from.
In other things sci-fi, Warehouse13 is Syfy’s flagship show, and with Season 4 they aren’t fooling around. We have one Warehouse agent back from the dead, another keeping a secret big enough to rend the fabric of the universe, another potentially turning into a monster and our nominal leads, Myka (Joanna Kelly) and Pete (Eddie McClintock), kind of just…doing their thing. Good times. Wacky times, admittedly, but definitely still good.
Across on Showtime, Season 2 of the Hollywood mockudrama/comedy Episodes was quite as hilarious as the first, with Matt LeBlanc fearless as the worst possible version of himself and the main cast—particularly Kathleen Rose Perkins as perky network exec Carol and Tamsin Greig as sarcastic writer Beverley—endlessly entertaining. Why hasn’t Season 3 been greenlit yet? (Come on, BBC! Make it happen!)
Also, a quick mention of TNT’s Franklin and Bash. In many ways it is a nothing more than a rather silly legal dramedy, but is made very enjoyable by the laddish chemistry between leads Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. One of TV’s great bromances, and a Season 3, while not yet certain, seems pleasingly likely.
One of TV’s great womances, meanwhile, can also be found on TNT, in Rizzoli and Isles. Based on the mystery novels by Tess Gerritsen, it follows forthright Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and elegant Chief Medical Examiner Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) as they avenge wrongs perpetrated by various ne’er do wells, while also navigating their difficult family situations. Season 3 kicked off weirdly, but managed to right itself before too long, even having the always adorable Eddie Cibrian (oh, those dimples!) show up not once but twice—and turn out to be a serial killer! Happily, Jane and Maura will be back with more this spring, and then with Season 4 next summer.
Oh, and then there’s AMC’s Hell on Wheels. Season 1 never quite reached the heights I was hoping for it; it was all Cullen (Anson Mount) grunting monosyllabically and generalized corruption and greed rather than the tale I had been so hoping for: that of an embittered anti-hero sweeping across the land to exact vengeance, against the backdrop of, well, a railroad being built. The second season, however, is far more vengeance-y, and certainly far more railroad build-y, and Colm Meaney’s corporate fat cat Durant remains an intriguing puzzle yet to be solved. I also really like that Lily (Dominique McElligott), and am shipping she and Cullen hard—even though I have just learned that their fan-given ship name is CulLily, which is dreadful and kind of makes me ashamed to join their ranks.
And… um. ABC Family’s Melissa and Joey. When it comes to guilty pleasures they don’t get much guiltier, but…yeah. I kind of love it. Also, I am finding its second season just as enjoyable as the first, and am thoroughly smitten by the grown-up antics of Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the “Whoa” guy from Blossom. (Who is super-hot now, by the way.) I so want them to get together! Pity me?
The Glades, oh, The Glades, where did you go so very wrong? Was it just that you finally got our unconventional detective Jim (Matt Passmore) together with his longtime crush Callie (Kiele Sanchez), before having her move to Atlanta for a trumped up keep-us-guessing reason? Was it the addition of the hot new Bureau Chief, who was supposed to be in charge of a large spate of Florida’s law enforcement but instead of doing that job spent a good part of her day following Jim around to evaluate/flirt with him? Was it the decline in case complexity and/or incessant advertorials for Kia? I’m not sure, but whatever it was, I just don’t dig you so much anymore. And stop abusing our good nature with the unreasonable brilliance of your “paid intern” Daniel (Jordan Wall)! There’s got to be some branch of science the kid hasn’t yet conquered. Come on, A&E, fix this show! I want to love it again.
USA’s Necessary Roughness delivered a last minute save by finally acknowledging a long-promised love triangle—and drastically reducing the screen time of petulant teen Lindsay (Hannah Marks) was a wise, wise move—but between the tired old rehab plotline of football star TK (Mehcad Brooks), the Weeds-esque behavior of idiot kid Ray Jay (Patrick Johnson), the demystifying of the enigmatic Nico (Scott Cohen) and the general obliviousness of our central figure, therapist Dani (Callie Thorne), I’m just really not sure I can do this anymore, and makes me wonder why I ever did. (Damn you, the ever-handsome Marc Blucas! This is all your fault.)
Suits is another USA show I really wish I had never started watching, except that the caliber of its cast—Gina Torres, Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams—was immediately so appealing. This show is the very definition of First World Problems, as a bunch of high-priced Manhattan lawyers and their assorted helpmeets jockey for position and worry about having their corner offices taken away or—horrors!—being downgraded to the forty-sixth floor. Adams plays Mike, a brilliant slacker who only pretends to have gone to Harvard; Macht is his co-conspirator and mentor, the “great closer,” Harvey; the effortlessly commanding Torres is their boss, Jessica, and there are other cast highlights00love you, Sarah Rafferty, as Donna!—but this season has been alternately dull, what with all the office politicking, and confusing (is Harvey really that good of a litigator? We rarely see him actually winning anything; is Mike actually allowed to be practicing law, having passed the bar, or is he “unlicensed,” as has been claimed more than once?), and really terrible about fabricating reasons for keeping nascent couple Mike and Rachel (Meghan Markle) apart. Considering all of this, I’m not sure I’ll be back for the winter half of Season 2.
And also on the same network, there has also been at least one episode of White Collar so far this season that has made me regret having ever watched the show at all. The one with the George Washington-era spies and Mozzie (Willie Garson)’s delusions? Terrible. Just…terrible.
Stop ruining good shows, USA Network!
White Collar in general. Still love the interaction between our leads Matt Bomer and Tim Dekay as reformed master criminal Neal Caffrey and the FBI agent who caught him respectively, but the stories have been increasingly ludicrous, Neal’s expertise in all things increasingly dubious, and surely his distinctive hat collection hinders his increasingly unbelievable attempts to go undercover among the brotherhood of thieves? On the plus side, this show is remains unendingly stylish, pays proper tribute to the grandeur of Manhattan, DeKay’s Peter has a sweet home life with spunky wife Elizabeth (Tiffany Theissen), and Matt Bomer brings the pretty like nobody’s business. But it’s certainly not what it once was.
Season 2 of Syfy’s Alphas… hmm, how to explain? Like the fourth season of Heroes, but even less interesting. Like that.
Leverage, Season 5… is it just me, or is it all feeling a little same ol’ same ol’? Even with the (somewhat random) move into a Portland microbrewery. A shame; I used to love this show. Nowadays, though: meh. Even the Hardison (Aldis Hodge) and Parker (Beth Riesgraf) thrill has gone. What’s that about?
THE DEEPLY DEPRESSING
In this case, when I say “deeply depressing,” I mean it in regards to the show itself. That’s right, I’m talking Breaking Bad. I have only ever been a sporadic viewer, but this season has cured me of even that; it just makes me tired, and sad, and angry and uncomfortable, and just generally very, very disheartened, where I find myself jut engulfed in misery and convinced of the utter futility of existence, at least for the length of each episode. And life’s too short for that, don’t you think?
Meanwhile, The Closer only had six episodes to go before closing—heh—out its seven season run, and it spent those six episodes a) retreading old ground (hey there, Billy Burke!) and b) setting up a spinoff, the Mary McDonnell-driven Major Crimes. Dreary doesn’t begin to describe it; how I wish I had bade a fond farewell to Brenda (Kyra Sedgewick) and the boys after our heroine and her FBI agent love got married three seasons back. I would have saved myself a lot of aggravation. Hence: Major Crimes, hell no!
Now, goodbye, summer shows! And a big hello to fall…
Rachel Hyland is the Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.