It's been kind of a bummer of a summer on TV this season.
Last week, we bemoaned a particularly dark event on AMC's admittedly dark series "Breaking Bad." But that isn't the only bleak story line that's marred the warm-weather viewing this year. (By the way, I'm so over Walt after this past Sunday's episode. Now, I'm just rooting for Jesse for the rest of the show's run).
Similarly, "Damages" appears to be killing off main character Ellen Parsons to close out its television run with its fifth and final season. Shocking and not just a little depressing that, but, as with "Breaking Bad," not especially out of the ordinary, given the ongoing tenor of the show.
But taking things into grimville over on frothy little "Burn Notice"? What's up with that? For many a season now, "Burn Notice" has been a giddy little spy romp fun, flirty, somehow light even when things are blowing up and bad guys are dropping dead.
Set in the sun and surf of the beaches of Miami and always punctuated with hip-swaying salsa music, "Burn Notice" never took itself all that seriously. And even though the central character, outcast spy Michael Weston, always has been an intense dude, the people around him have more than lightened up the overall mood to make up for it.
But this season, for some reason, the writers decided they had to get all dark and bleak, as noted in the press when the show opened earlier this summer. And, as promised, a "main" character was killed off.
That character was Michael's brother hardly a main character, really, because he's been only sporadically recurring over the years. But it was particularly jarring, given the family dynamic on the show. It took "Burn Notice" from romp to drama, and, frankly, that's not what I want from this show.
Compounding the death story line, the show opened the season with co-lead character Fiona toughing it out in a women's prison.
Yep, they went all "Prisoner: Cell Block H" on us.
It was obnoxious. And boring. And not just a little bit stupid. It was a story line viewers had to endure for several episodes and I, for one, was glad when it was over.
Except Fiona got out of prison only after Michael's brother, Nate, was killed off.
So not fun and frothy.
It's just a big dramatic can of worms. Michael's feeling guilty because Nate was killed while helping his big brother prove Fiona was framed. It added to the gloom, because Michael's scrappy mom is, obviously, devastated. How can she not blame Michael? Or Fiona, for that matter?
It's just all too bleak for what's supposed to be a humor-tinged, frolicking spy caper series that's known for its sun-drenched scenes of the beach, bikinis and drinks with little umbrellas sticking out of them.
Moving over to summer TV that wasn't a bummer, Modesto's No. 1 reality series star just wrapped up his second season at the helm of increasingly popular competition show, "The Glee Project."
Robert Ulrich, an Emmy Award-winning casting director for "Project's" mother show, "Glee," led the action as the latest winner was crowned last week.
"Glee Project" has become a favorite in our house, appointment TV for family time. Having Modesto native Ulrich in the host/mentor role is just icing. And we can't resist a little loving mock now every time Ulrich walks into the room filled with his coterie of hopeful, young contestants to announce that the elimination decision for the week has been posted. His weekly drill: Sad face, eyes downcast, heavy sigh, "Go take a look."
Unlike last year when not one, but four competitors got the prize to be on "Glee" including Modesto's own Lindsay Pearce just one person won this season, all-American boy Blake. He'll get seven episodes on the Fox hit in the upcoming season.
And Ulrich will be in town this weekend, along with his actress wife and Ripon native, Kim Johnston Ulrich, to judge our own little talent contest, the Valley's Got Talent show at the Gallo Center tonight and Saturday.
If I wasn't excited enough about party band extraordinaire The B-52s coming to the Gallo Center this season, seeing two of the lead members show up as judges on "Top Chef Masters" last week just sealed the deal.
Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider judged a quickfire round in the "Top Chef" franchise spinoff, which pits acclaimed chefs against each other while fans await the return of the original series season later this year.
Sadly, though, no one rocked lobster in the salad-bar challenge.
Still, they were fun and the chefs were fans and now they're coming to Modesto.
The B-52s play Sept. 9 at the Gallo Center.
Reach Scene Editor Pat Clark at email@example.com.