The Themes Of Summer TV: Cannes Cops, Superspies And Superman

The TV shows of the summer season reviewed here ran the gamut from cops and firefighters to a teen who is 13 feet tall.

In the months stretching from the latter part of May until Labor Day weekend, some common themes ran through the TV Blog’s critiques.

One was the opinion that some shows produced for streaming or “alternative” networks are about as ordinary as any series made for regular, good ol’ TV -- such as broadcast television.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Netflix action series “FUBAR,” was a case in point. In this show, Arnold and his estranged daughter (both pictured above) play superspies who are the world’s best -- just like in countless other spy TV shows.



“The show plays like a spy show that could have been concocted for network television, minus the occasional f-words,” wrote the TV Blog on May 25.

A similar reaction came in a review of a new animated “Superman” series -- “My Adventures With Superman” on the always-adventurous Adult Swim.

But this “Superman,” which aired at midnight, swam against the tide of Adult Swim’s customary, edgy fare.

“ ‘My Adventures With Superman’ plays like an animated superhero series for kids that could air at any old time of day [or on any mainstream network],” said a TV Blog on June 30.

About a week earlier, Acorn TV’s “Cannes Confidential” -- a drama series about Cannes cops -- seemed exotic at first, but then turned out to be just another cop show, despite its glamorous setting on the Côte d’Azur.

“With its fierce female cop characters, its British-accented leading man and its multi-episode story arc, ‘Cannes Confidential’ plays like any cop show that could have been made for CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox,” wrote the TV Blog on June 23.

Other themes near and dear to the TV Blog’s heart that arose this summer included TV’s obsessions with violence, unhappiness and impending doom.

“AI, nukes, pandemics … the world can rest easy now that the Lazarus Project is on the case, even if none of us understand what it does, or how it does it,” said the TV Blog’s review May 31 of “The Lazarus Project,” a confusing end-of-the-world drama on TNT.

This was the show in which an elite, secret team called the Lazarus Project time traveled to different periods of the past to prevent worldwide cataclysms, such as nuclear wars, just before they happened. Luckily for the rest of us, the LP succeeded every single time.

This summer’s entry in the pantheon of gratuitous TV violence was Peacock’s “Based on a True Story,” starring Kaley Cuoco as a suburban mom who becomes embroiled in a murder investigation.

The TV Blog’s review on June 8 took issue with Peacock’s positioning of the show as a “dark, comedic thriller” because there was nothing comedic about the show’s violence, starting with a brutal multiple stabbing right at the beginning.

“A hideous and prolonged act of bloody violence is the scene that starts off a new Peacock mystery series positioned as comedic,” said the TV Blog. 

“When previewing Episode One of ‘Based On A True Story,’ I waited and waited for the parts that were supposed to be lighthearted.” For me, these parts never materialized.

On the TV unhappiness scale of 1 to 10, the Amazon Prime series “The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart” got an 11. 

“[The show] is an Australian-made drama about a nine-year-old girl (the Alice Hart of the title) who is repeatedly beaten for years by her father until the day he and his wife -- the girl’s mother who is 25 weeks pregnant -- die in a fire,” wrote the TV Blog on August 4.

The blog started with a question: “What do people get out of watching stories of tragedy and sadness?” I still don’t know the answer to that.

Let the record show that a number of shows reviewed here this summer received enthusiastic thumbs-up.

The best drama was FX’s “Justified: City Primeval” and the best comedy was “I’m a Virgo” on Amazon Prime about a reclusive, 13-foot-tall colossal teen, who gets his first taste of the outside world at age 19.

The TV Blog liked two docuseries. One was NBC’s “LA Fire & Rescue” from producer Dick Wolf.

The other was “MerPeople” on Netflix, about men and women, both professional and amateur, who put on underwater shows in elaborate mermaid costumes. And what could be better for summer viewing than a TV show about mermaids?

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