Hottest Picks For Summer 2012 TV Viewing
Summertime is upon on us and sadly, that means most of your favorite TV shows have disappeared until the fall.
The good news is that it’s a chance to catch up on shows you've been missing out on.
Here's one writer's take on four somewhat underrated shows you should look into:
Louis C.K. is a very busy man these days. Between standup, starring in his show and having Ashley Tisdale star in his CBS pilot, C.K. is really on top of the comedy world right now in the same way Dave Chappelle was 10 years ago. Unlike Chappelle, C.K. has entire creative control of his show, "Louie," and the results have been nothing short of masterful.
C.K. plays somewhat fictional version of himself on "Louie" and the humor comes from dwelling on being a single dad and standup comic in New York City. The show often goes to some very dark places but it remains funny all the same because C.K. is willing to poke fun at himself and life in general.
In many ways, "Louie" is the guy’s version of the new HBO hit “Girls.” Neither C.K. nor Lena Dunham is the traditional attractive person to headline a show but both bring such a real emotional depth to each episode that it more than makes up for the lack of “eye candy.”
To boot, there may not have been a better episode on television last year than the “Louie” episode “Duckling,” which took the show to Afghanistan for an amazing hour-long piece. If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it right now (especially if you like animals), I’ll wait.
How to watch: Both seasons of “Louie” are available on Netflix Instant and even if you don’t have time to catch up, each episode is basically a short film so you won’t be out of the loop come the season three premiere on June 28.
Watch if: You enjoy dark or awkward comedies in the vein of the U.K. version of “The Office,” “Girls,” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Don’t watch if: You’re already not a fan of C.K.’s standup act, you’re easily grossed out.
It continues to boggle my mind that so few people have heard of this show. The late, great, “Terriers” was on paper just another buddy private investigator show.
But, wow, it was so much more than that.
Donal Logue starred as Hank, a former cop who after his divorce opens up his own P.I. business. His best friend and partner, Britt, played by Michael Raymond-James, is a former criminal. Despite their flaws (Hank is also a recovering alcoholic), they work very well as a tandem and I can think of few instances where a duo has had better on screen dialogue and chemistry than Britt and Hank.
When a friend of Hank’s is murdered, they begin to look into the murky underworld of Ocean Beach in San Diego. As they do this, they unravel that there’s a conspiracy, a cover-up and more murders.
With the picturesque Southern California backdrop, a great cast and great writing it came as a surprise that the show was cancelled after only one season. But the 13-episode journey is more than worth delving into and at the very least the finale does give you closure of sorts.
If nothing else, “Terriers” had the catchiest theme song you’ll ever listen to.
How to watch: All 13 episodes are on Netflix Instant.
Watch if: You like witty dramas with two very fun lead characters.
Don’t watch if: Just watch it.
VD revolves around Elena Gilbert (Nina Dobrev), a mere mortal who’s town, Mystic Falls, is suddenly awash in vampires. Oh, and for some reason she has a vampire doppelganger. Because of or in spite of that, some want to love her (there’s definitely a sometimes cheesy love triangle here). Others would prefer her dead.
Sure, that sounds pretty much like every other vampire book, movie or TV show in existence. But VD distinguishes itself in its characters and pacing.
The comic relief and most interesting character on the show will always be Damon Salvatore (Ian Somerhalder) who happens to be a vampire caught up in the Elena love triangle.
Meanwhile, Elena’s boyfriend and Damon’s brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley) starts out as the run of the mill brooding vampire but by the third season, he’s actually almost as fun to have around as Damon.
Villains like Klaus and Elijah are straight up fun to watch on a weekly basis and if you don’t like the storyline one week, not a problem—the next week will bring something new.
Characters, even fan favorites, are often killed off left and right ensuring that you will never get bored of what’s going on. A lot of what goes on is totally absurd but you can’t help but enjoy it.
I used to say VD was so awesomely bad it’s good but now it’s fair to say the show is just awesome. It’s not “Breaking Bad” or “The Wire” and it’s not trying to be. Instead, it’s the smart guilty pleasure show and that’s more than enough for the perfect summer TV fling.
How to watch: The first two seasons are on Netflix. I’d strongly recommend skipping the first 6 episodes or so, which basically feel like a bad 90’s teen drama. After that though, it’s smooth sailing ahead.
Watch if: You’re interested in something that requires some, but not a lot of brain activity, you’re a fan of all things vampires, you like watching lavish parties that will inevitably be crashed by vampires or vampire-werewolf hybrids on a weekly basis.
Don’t watch if: You’d rather stake yourself than watching something else vampire related, you hate love triangles, you’re easily put off by crazy story line developments.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this J.J. Abrams project is a rip-off of the “X-Files.” True, it started off that way. But “Fringe” has really become a great series in its own right.
The show revolves around the Fringe Division of the FBI led by Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) and Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson). They, along with Peter’s father, Walter (John Noble) investigate the “fringe” events that are concentrated around the Boston area.
Over the course of four seasons, Torv and Jackson have become a very good at their roles but Noble is the show’s must-watch performer as well as its emotional core (plus, the guy really likes his LSD).
Dr. Walter Bishop and his partner Dr. William Bell’s (played by Leonard Nimoy of all people) experiments have had serious consequences in our universe as well as a parallel universe where the Fringe team has their own doppelgangers.
It’s actually a small miracle “Fringe” is still on the air. Put in the Friday night death timeslot, “Fringe” weathered some not-so-great ratings and somehow managed to snag a fifth and final season this fall. It’s only fair to fans given the fascinating ending the show seems to building towards.
How to watch: The downside is that Fox makes it next to impossible to catch up online. Only the last five episodes are available on Hulu and it’s not available on Netflix Instant yet. If you want to catch up you’ll have to resort to DVD’s or wait for syndication. On the upside, if you start watching from the season two episode “Peter,” you’ll catch up quickly enough.
Watch if: You’re down for watching accessible sci-fi series that will frequently blow your mind and deliver laughs.
Don’t watch if: The idea of there being an evil version of yourself in a parallel universe terrifies you.
Hororable mentions: "Archer" (Netflix Instant) and "Misfits" (Hulu).