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Summertime Bounty: TV, Like Fruit, Is Ripe and Delicious
July 11, 2011  | By David Bianculli

It's almost laughable that September still is considered the start of the TV season -- because if you think of seasons in terms of a bountiful harvest, now is the season of our contentment. This month, in particular, brings back fresh episodes of more great shows than we have a reason to expect at any one time.

Put it this way: How many series you're watching each week right now are likely to end up on your end-of-year Top 10 TV list? For me, it's a lot...

HBO's True Blood is three episodes in for the season right now, and continuing to enchant me with each episode. (Was there a funnier moment of TV recently than Eric's goofy, bloody expression as Sookie yelled at him, "You killed my fairy godmother!" ? No. There wasn't.)

The same network's Curb Your Enthusiasm started for the season Sunday with a not-screened-for-critics opener built around, among other things, Larry David's other-side-of-a-closed-door coaching of a young Girl Scout's first use of feminine hygiene products. (Out there? Yes. It was.)

Wednesday night, we have season premieres of FX's Rescue Me and the former FX series Damages, now exclusively on DirecTV's Audience network. This Sunday, we have the return of AMC's Breaking Bad, with a brilliant fourth-season opener.

That's five shows -- each serving up new episodes all summer -- that are quite likely to occupy half of my year's-end Top 10. That's not spreading the wealth. That's gorging on greatness.

And look at how many other shows are around right now, presenting new episodes: On Monday, TNT's The Closer and Syfy's Eureka and Warehouse 13, and the new series Alphas. USA's Burn Notice just started again on Thursdays, and NBC's Friday Night Lights, though already seen on DirecTV, concludes its brilliant run on Friday.

Add to that everything from Starz's Torchwood: Miracle Day to PBS's P.O.V. series and HBO's weekly documentaries -- and my list is missing other shows that could well be on yours, so feel free to enumerate some.

Clearly, summer TV is no time to take a vacation.





Looking forward to Rescue Me, a truly great show and so sad it's coming to an end.

A POX on FX for not carrying Damages, another great show. I do not have Direct TV, so I guess it will not be on my top ten this year!

As for Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry has succeeded in curbing mine for this new season. Something was off in the premiere episode and I cannot put my finger on it just yet, but I was not laughing.
The timing seemed off to me, and for the first time, the ad lib nature of the script seemed apparent, where it had not in past seasons. It looked forced.

I realize that he must continue to make his character "out there" so to speak, but the bit about the Tampons fell way short for me. It was uncomfortable to watch.

The "N" word bit, stating that if African Americans can call each other the N, then fellow bald people can call each other "Baldy", was a miss also.

Larry David is a truly funny man, and his show has been laugh out loud funny in the past.

Maybe his move to New York will return us to some laughs, and lord knows we all need some right now.

Comment posted on July 12, 2011 8:57 AM

Eileen said:

Rizzoli & Isles just began their 2nd season on TNT; they rated right up at the top of basic cable shows for their first season.

And let's not forget that PBS has a new "old" movie on every Saturday night at 9 pm. Last Saturday's offering was "Mississippi Burning" which, in my opinion, should be required viewing in every high school American History class.

Can't wait for Breaking Bad's new season.

With the commercial networks continually shortening the viewing season, it's nice to know there are so many other alternatives for the summer viewer. And, is it my imagination, or did the new shows always premiere right after Labor Day in the "olden" days? Now we see them showing up in mid-late October and ending in early May. And no summer "replacements" as was the custom years ago. Not that we're missing much, I'm sure.

Comment posted on July 12, 2011 3:40 PM

ESPN is airing Friday Night Light's first two episodes as counter programming to the MLB All-Star game. I am surprised that this did not make your cut David.

[It was ESPN Classic, and as of yesterday evening, they hadn't confirmed it on their own website, so I thought it was better to pass. Besides, the first episodes of Friday Night Lights have been available on NBC, and on DVD -- how many times do I have to beg people to watch these shows? -- DB]

Comment posted on July 12, 2011 5:09 PM
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