Ugly's Summer TV Preview

Tradition suggests that summer TV is a place for reruns, soap operas and made for TV movies. But these days, with Netflix and HBO allowing content to be consumed at our convenience rather than theirs, it seems like there is no bad time to watch good television.

No disrespect to the television that is currently airing this spring (it’s been great), but it’s this summer that has me the most excited. Game of Thrones has never been stronger or more evenly paced, which was a large problem in the past 4 seasons. Mad Men is currently enjoying an almost boring amount of high quality steadiness that has characterized its entire run as it sails through it’s swan song. Other contenders (who we’ll talk about next week) are also having the best seasons of their series run so far in Silicon Valley and Veep. All this is to say that the summer schedule is so damn good that it is making me peek forward through my DVR even with all this happening.

Summer used to be about blockbuster action movies and being outside in the sunshine, but with the amount of high quality television set to air, it looks like we will all still just be sitting on the couch.

So, what follows is a list of some particularly good (and Ugly) television set to air this summer for your viewing pleasure.


True Detective

This is one I am particularly excited about, and for good reason. Last year’s debut season was among the most riveting television out there, and that was with a cast of basically three (admittedly top notch) actors in Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Michelle Monaghan.

This season has a deeper cast and a new mob centered storyline written by the series creator Nic Pizzolatto. Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn and Rachel McAdams are the three standouts, but Taylor Kitsch and Kelly Reilly are also strong performers. Ferrell (and his awesome mustache for the part) is an often misused actor capable of incredible range, McAdams seemingly can’t have a bad performance, and Vince Vaughn seems to have finally found out that his comedies aren’t that funny anymore and turned toward serious work again. This is all promising, especially because last year’s story arch was so captivating, and this one is a completely new narrative.

According to rumors the show will focus on the occult history of transportation in California, whatever that means. But the incomprehensible story descriptions are not what the show is about. If last year was any indication, it is a vehicle for talented actors to do what they do best, exploring crazy narrative ideas and absolutely stunning cinematography. With a stronger and larger cast, this season should blow us away.

Don’t miss it.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

Look, the reboot is all the rage right now, but the original movie was so damn funny and is such a cult classic now, any attempt to revisit that is a welcome one. The movie served as a launching pad for a variety of actors such as Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper, among others. What is compelling about this visit back to Camp Firewood is that all of those names are back, and they convinced others to join them too. Jon Hamm and John Slattery from Mad Men are involved, as is Kirsten Wiig. Say what you will about the premise, but there is way too much talent here for it to not be at least worth checking out.


Fear the Walking Dead

Confession: I don’t particularly like The Walking Dead. The first season was spectacular, but then it fell flat, got boring, and midway through the third season I had had enough. Fans who persevered tell me it’s gotten better, and I have no reason to doubt them, but one go around was enough for me. That being said, this spinoff series (can we talk about how many spinoffs there are these days? Maybe in another column…) has me very curious. It seems to be focusing on the days just before the walker outbreak and eventual apocalypse, meaning instead of the mindless slaughter of mindless zombies driving the show forward, it’ll be the characters and a sense of fear (cleverly tossed in the title) and foreboding that will pace the show.

This is a huge relief. It revisits everything that was good about The Walking Dead when it first aired: characters challenging each other, real and complex emotions informing convoluted relationships, and a healthy sense of direction for the plot. If my patience for the original has worn out, I am still happy to give the zombie apocalypse another go around with Fear The Walking Dead.

Blunt Talk

I am not going to do you the disservice of telling you about this show when you can just watch the trailer and see for yourself why it looks to good.

Patrick Stewart? Check. Patrick Stewart doing cocaine? Check. Patrick Stewart getting arrested? Check. What more could you ask for? That’s right, nothing. Moving on.


Orange is the New Black

This show is excellent, there’s no two ways about it. But, where the first season soared, the second was content to plateau. Sure, it was a very high, successful and quality plateau, but it leveled off nonetheless. If that seems like criticism, forgive me, but I expected more. Perhaps that is just getting greedy (I mean look at this list!), but even if Orange doesn’t meet my high expectations, it will still be one of the best shows out there, and that is not a bad place to be.

There you have it, the Ugly Summer T.V. preview. As always, stay Ugly out there and let me know if you think I missed anything in the comments section, we always love to hear from you!


Robert Grange