The summer season is synonymous with a lot of things, most of which have to do with the wonderful word “vacation.” People who were cooped up indoors during the winter flock outside for anything ranging from a big family trip to a simple beach/lake excursion. Things like television hardly become a priority for many when a beautiful day is beckoning everyone outdoors. It’s mainly for this reason why the television landscape becomes so barren for several months. The biggest shows premiere from fall-spring because that’s when everyone’s staying in their homes. Quite frankly, when programs are aired in the summertime, the expectation to make a big splash isn’t there.
With a whole bundle of new shows coming out, this summer doesn’t look any different. Yet that doesn’t mean you should count everything out already. I’m here to present you five new shows that could actually be something special, along with some reasons why they could fade into the summer sun.
5) The Last Ship, TNT on June 22nd
Pro: Post-apocalyptic programming is hotter than ever now. The Last Ship looks like another addition to this already extremely popular trend. Its basic premise is that a pandemic has wiped out nearly all of the Earth’s population and this ship is a single bastion of hope before humanity is completely eliminated. Clearly the stakes couldn’t be higher, which can legitimately lead to some exciting programming. It also has the benefit of being tied to an already existing novel that received very positive reviews.
Con: Michael Bay is an Executive Producer. Sure, the man makes box office money, but his movies are almost always terrible. This show could unfortunately become another victim to his special effects heavy style. It also looks like most of the show will take place on the titular ship which can give viewers a real sense of claustrophobia. A lack of diverse setting means people will rely heavily on the acting to stay hooked, and if the stars aren’t compelling enough people will tune out.
4) Extant, CBS on July 9th
Pro: There are a couple reasons why you should be excited for this show. First and foremost, it has a killer lead actress with Halle Berry. She has an unimaginable level of talent at her disposal and still holds the distinction of being the only African-American female to win a Leading Actress Oscar. While she has unfortunately tied herself to a lot of questionable roles as of late, including the widely confusing Cloud Atlas and the vomit inducing Movie 43, it’d be foolish to completely count out her skill. With her is Steven Spielberg as an Executive Producer. Even though he appears to tie himself to a lot of TV projects as of late, for both good and bad, his name alone still carries immense weight.
Con: The premise is basically NBC’s Rosemary’s Baby but in space. In fact, the two are creepily similar. African-American female lead? Check. White husband in a supporting role? Check. Inexplicable pregnancy that could be monstrous? Check. Lots of screaming and panic? Big check. People absolutely hated the Rosemary’s Baby remake for a ton of reasons that could very easily plague Extant.
3) Welcome to Sweden, NBC on July 10th
Pro: What’s this? A sitcom? On NBC?! That’s right folks. Believe or not, NBC might actually have a sitcom hit on their hands here, which does not happen often. Why you ask? Two words: Amy Poehler. The comedic genius herself is the Executive Producer and will guest on the first episode. The show is also a comedic take on the real life experience of Greg Poehler, Amy’s brother who moved to Sweden to be with his Swedish wife. Aubrey Plaza, Gene Simmons, Patrick Duffy, and Will Ferrell will occasionally pop in as well. Guest spots with big names and operated by one of the funniest females in the biz? Count me in.
Con: It’s a fish out of water story, which very rarely work out. And why should they? Most tend to focus on the common tropes of foreign strangeness. This calls to mind the absolutely horrible Outsourced that also aired on NBC in 2010. That show followed an American that was outsourced to India, and a lot of the jokes were about clashing cultures. It’s essentially as low as you can go for a premise such as this. I have no doubt that Poehler is smart enough to frequently avoid these gags, but no one really knows until the show premieres. I fully plan to check it out, but if it becomes a never-ending string of jokes about “odd” Swedish culture, I’m out.
2) The Strain, FX on July 13th
Pro: Vampires are still a hot item within entertainment, though not nearly as much as when Twilight was plaguing our screens. Nowadays the term “vampire” calls to mind teenage heartthrobs with romantic fantasies and not the bloodthirsty (literally) monsters they used to be. The Strain looks like its bringing us back to vampiric roots with a modern twist, which is reason enough for any horror fan to get excited. There’s also some big names tied to this show too, including Corey Stoll, Sean Astin, David Bradley (likely looking for some more red for another wedding), and Guillermo del Toro.
Con: The series is based on a novel trilogy written by del Toro and Chuck Hogan which surprisingly didn’t get much notice. The first book of the trilogy, also named The Strain, received mixed to positive reviews with most people saying it was clearly written as a movie or TV series. Turns out that del Toro initially wanted it to be a television series all along and no one bought it. Whether or not that had to do with the quality is unknown, but there could very likely be a big reason why no one was interested. Also, the commercials do nothing to detail what the show is about. Only through research did I find out that it revolved around vampires. What’s with the several month secrecy?
1) The Leftovers, HBO on June 29th
Pro: This is a show that I’m particularly excited about, if only for the premise alone: a rapture-like event causes 2% of the Earth’s population to suddenly vanish. The people left behind are the titular leftovers. What really appeals to me about this show is it offers a fresh take on the global catastrophe concept. It’s not necessarily an apocalyptic event in the vein of The Walking Dead where society is completely obliterated. Over one million people have suddenly vanished, but all basic structures of modern life still exist like government or police force. What this means is that any conflict that comes is purely psychological from the vanishing and that’s bound to lead to some intense television. It also means that there will be people who are simply unaffected from this change, a point of view that’s rarely addressed in stories similar to this. Lastly, Lost’s Damon Lindelof is both Creator and Executive Producer. I smell a hit.
Con: Just like The Strain, The Leftovers is based on a book, written by Tom Porretta that also happened to escape mainstream attention. Reviews online were the definition of mixed as well. For one reason or another, it just didn’t resonate with readers, and that could mean bad things for the series. The show could also make the poor mistake of becoming way too involved in the religious aspects behind a rapture. Religion is a touchy subject for many, even those who don’t even abide by one, meaning this story could turn these people off by heavily pushing ideals. There’s a mysterious cult too that torments the town and shows like The Following have basically ruined any television cults for me. Please, for the love of anything, don’t turn this into another murder festival.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television and every Saturday afternoon you can read his retro video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.