Thursday, September 5, 2013

Goodbye to the Boys and Girls of Summer

Summer has traditonally been the dead zone for TV, with the networks cramming their schedules full of reruns, bad reality shows, and burning off episodes of cancelled series. I don't watch a great variety of shows, I don't have HBO or Showtime and I'm still miffed at CBS for canceling "Vegas," "Golden Boy" and "CSI: Miami." 

Thanks to the cable networks, summer viewing has improved the past few years. I've found the writng to be sharper and the content edgier, especially the series on USA with their tag line, "Characters welcome." "Burn Notice" has been a fave since it debuted and I was sorry to hear that this would be the final season. This spy series mixed adventure, interesting characters and sly humor with a touch of romance. While I've found the exploits of Michael, Fiona and Sam entertaining, Sharon Gless stole the show as Michael's exasperated mother, who didn't understand why her secret agent son couldn't come home for dinner more often. 

On the opposite end is "Cover Affairs," a straight adventure set within the CIA. Watching Piper Perabo playing a female 007 without the attitude is a treat, and there's as much action and suspense packed into one episode as an entire Jason Bourne movie. I particularly like the evolving relationship between Perabo's character and Auggie, the blind techno geek who comes to her aid. If there's a better legal drama on TV than "Suits" I haven't found it. Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams play well off each other, but I like seeing Gina Torres' managing law partner out-sleaze the men in the firm. I have to give a shout out to Louis, the office weasel. How many people like him do we meet on a daily basis? This show actually makes watching inter-office politics fun. 

"White Collar" puts a different spin on the cops and robbers genre, with an FBI agent who uses a con artist to help him solve crimes. Matt Bomer makes a stylish con man and Tim DeKay personifies cool authority as his handler. If only they could find more for Tiffany Thiessen as DeKay's wife to do, it would be perfect. The secondary character Mozzie is a hoot, and be sure to catch his lopsided bits of wisdom, known as "Mozzie-isms." "Royal Pains" reminds me of another offbeat medical series, "Northern Exposure." The premise is similar - big city physician finds himself working as a concierge Doctor in the Hamptons, treating the rich and pampered residents. Quirky characters abound, the locations are beautiful and there are enough light moments to offset the medical drama of the week. 

"The Glades" is always fun to watch, mainly because of Matt Passmore's cop whose easy-going demeanor masks a steel trap mind. It's often reminiscent of "Columbo" but the writers add enough tension and humor to make it more than a routine cop show. The location filming in the Everglades is a plus. 

Another show I try not to miss is "Major Crimes." Mary McDonnell is believable as the no-nonsense but very human squad commander, and I get a kick out of watching G.w. Bailey as a grumpy, I'm-too-old-for-this-shit detective. This show also boasts one of the best ensemble casts on TV. I must confess that like millions of viewers, "Under the Dome" has become a habit and I really want the answers to some questions. Where did the dome come from? Will the people in Chester's Mill kill each other before it's over? And what's up with the guy at the radio station? 

If the broadcast networks could come up with something as good as the above, I could cancel my NetFlix subscription. Tim Smith


Tina Donahue said...

I love "Suits". Awesome series from the very beginning and it just keeps getting better. On AMC (or is it A&E?), I love "The Walking Dead" and "Hell on Wheels".

Cable TV series have it all over network ones IMO.

jean hart stewart said...

Enjoyed your viewpoint but can't comment as I don't like TV that much. Should try it more, I guess