Once A TV Backwater, Summer's A Season For Award-Winning Shows

We’re so addicted to TV these days that summer is no different than any other season.

Once upon a time (here I go again), the summer was a time for reruns. If memory serves, the reason for this was twofold. The first reason was that the big networks were the only game in town. So if they decided to run their “regular” season from September to May, and then basically take the summer off by scheduling repeats of their regular-season shows, then so be it.

The other reason had to do with summer lifestyles. HUT levels (homes using television) plummeted due to the switchover to daylight savings time and the allure of warm-weather activities out of doors. Who would want to waste time watching stupid TV when there was a summer to enjoy?



More recently, as the TV universe began fragmenting, the summer became a season for experiments. Think “Survivor” on CBS in the summer of 2000, for example -- an experiment that worked out well.

Here in the present day, we’re not only awash in new TV shows in the summer months, but many of them are actually good. In fact, two of them just won one of the most prestigious awards in media -- the Peabody.

The awards, bestowed just last week, were richly deserved. And it just so happens that the two honored shows are about media. One of them was “Mr. Robot,” the USA Network series about a conspiracy of computer hackers. The other was Lifetime’s “UnREAL,” the scripted drama series about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at a dating-competition show on TV (inspired by “The Bachelor” and that ilk).

They’re both about to start their second seasons -- “UnREAL” on June 6 and “Mr. Robot” on July 13. They are just two shows on a list of summer premieres that grows longer and more attractive every year.

Coming up soon are “Feed The Beast” (June 5), AMC’s new drama series starring David Schwimmer about a pair of would-be restaurant owners, and “Animal Kingdom” (June 7), TNT’s new drama series about a crime family with Ellen Barkin as the clan’s queenpin. I’m looking forward to previewing both of them soon.

On June 12, CMT (Country Music Television) premieres “Still the King,” a scripted sitcom about a washed-up singer played by Miley Cyrus’ dad, Billy Ray Cyrus. This show looked great in the clips CMT showed at its upfront in March.

Jay Leno returns on June 15 for the second season of “Jay Leno’s Garage” on CNBC. Hmm, sounds like it’s time for my second annual “What’s Jay Leno Been Up To?” column. I’m sure the readers of this TV blog cannot wait for that one.

Here’s something I never thought would ever happen: A remake of one of the most no-Tori-ous made-for-TV movies of the 1990s, “Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?” This 1996 movie starring Tori Spelling as a young woman dating a psychopath was most notable for the creativity of its title. Not only was it memorable, but it managed to represent an entire genre of melodramatic TV movies Lifetime seemed to specialize in at the time about young women in peril.

And since 1990s revivals are all the rage these days in the Millennial-happy TV biz, “Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?” has been remade. And it’s been rewritten by none other than James Franco. He’s also in it, along with Spelling and her original co-star, Ivan Sergei. The new “Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?” premieres June 18 on Lifetime.

As if that isn’t enough, the fourth installment in Syfy’s “Sharknado” series -- “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens” -- premieres on July 31. Now that the East and West coasts have already been attacked by tornado-borne sharks, expect this fourth movie to feature airborne shark attacks further inland. I’m resorting to guesswork concerning this scenario because the description on Syfy’s press site is so vague. Maybe they’re just keeping the plot a secret for some reason.

June 21 will bring the premiere of a new scripted drama on OWN called “Greenleaf.” The show stars Keith David as Bishop James Greenleaf, the leader of a Memphis megachurch. This is a big series for OWN, which thinks so highly of it that it was renewed for a second season back in April -- two months before the first season is scheduled to premiere.

All of this and more, including the return of “Ray Donovan” on Showtime June 26, and a new “Uncle Buck” sitcom on ABC, starring Mike Epps in the title role, premiering June 14.

As one who comes from a long line of Uncle Bucks, I would like to say: Thank you, ABC.

2 comments about "Once A TV Backwater, Summer's A Season For Award-Winning Shows ".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 26, 2016 at 4:46 p.m.

    The summer months were sometimes quite interesting in the old days as well. I am reminded of the huge success of a summer replacement show called "Mr Peepers", starring Wally Cox and Tony Randall. It appeared in the summer of 1952 and was so well recieved that it got a regular slot on NBC's primetime schedule and ran until the summer of 1955. The show won an EMMY in 1953 and got many more EMMY nominations. Another example, which I cite in my book, "TV Now and Then", is "All In THe Family", which made its debut in the winter of 1971 but earned so so ratings until the summer reruns when its ratings suddenly took off---a classic case of a late bloomer.

  2. Tom Siebert from BENEVOLENT PROPAGANDA, May 26, 2016 at 6:26 p.m.

    Because my teenage son is counting down the days, I know "Sharknado 4" is actually airing July 31, not June 31 (not that there is a June 31). Chomp chomp!

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