The summer TV blahs are about to be over as a slate of fresh fall shows and returning favorites gets ready to rumble for ratings.
The season has been filled with nearly all competition shows all the time in my house since early summer, with little scripted fare that sounded appealing. Honestly, it can make a viewer a little lazy.
Not that I don’t love (LOVE!) a good food or fashion competition. But those shows require pretty much zippo brain function. And, once done, most are pretty much forgotten.
It’s been a summer of lollygagging over such carefree fare as “Chopped,” “Cutthroat Kitchen,” “Food Network Star,” “Master Chef,” “Project Runway” and “Last Comic Standing.” Entertaining as all get out, but not exactly challenging or thought-provoking viewing.
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It’s possible I’ve actually lost some brain cells in the overly passive process.
The laziness overtook me so badly that even a show I’d been looking forward to for months didn’t actually get a look until this week, when I binge-watched seven episodes in one night.
It was a lot of “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” for one evening, but someone had to do it.
The FX show from one of my favorite acerbic, straight-talking comedic actors – Denis Leary (What can I say? He appeals to my inner Carla Tortelli.) – also carries a couple of other strong attractions in John Corbett and, of course, its rock ’n’ roll premise.
Leary plays a washed-up rock star whose self-destructive behavior wrecked his band’s chances for hitting it big in the 1980s. Still trying to live the rock-star life at age 50, his up-to-now unknown daughter shows up with his talent, times about 1,000, and talks the band back together to write songs and get her own career off the ground.
Side note: Leary doesn’t really have the singing chops to carry off the lead rocker schtick, but it’s forgivable. At least Corbett – as some Modestans know, thanks to his previous shows at the Fat Cat in downtown – does have musical talent.
The show is, as expected from Leary, pretty darn funny. Streaming online offered a chance to watch either the televised version or the “explicit” one. I picked explicit because … well, it’s Leary. A person has to know. Seven episodes in, the raunch has been pretty much all in the language, less visually sexually explicit than a few of the envelope-pushing scenes in Leary’s other FX hit, “Rescue Me.”
Binging on “Sex & Drugs” – the TV show, people! – helped shake off the competition-series stupor just in time for the about-to-start new fall season and a lineup of comedies and dramas that people have made an effort to actually write.
Of course, I’m not going to give up on competition shows – a new season of “Top Chef” starts in October, after all, and “Project Runway” just returned in August.
Look in the Sunday Bee’s Explore section for a look at the new shows on the fall TV season lineup. In the meantime, here are the returning series I’m most looking forward to in the coming weeks:
▪ Sept. 21 – “Gotham”: Full disclosure: While I spent the summer wasting away in TV competitionville, several unwatched “Gothams” from last season sat wilting on the DVR. While a big fan of the “Batman” prequel, watching waned for no good reason other than my son lost interest and it was a show we’d enjoyed together. It’s time to punt on the last episodes and pick up with the new season. Fox
▪ Sept. 22 – “Fresh Off the Boat”: I came late to this gem, but caught up with Season 1 by – natch – streaming online. It’s a funny trip back to the ’90s with a Chinese immigrant family of a hip-hop-loving boy making a new start in Orlando. ABC
▪ Sept. 23 – “Modern Family” and “black-ish”: Two more clever and oh-so-funny comedies about the adventures of irreverent families. ABC
▪ Sept. 24 – “Grey’s Anatomy”: What will the hospital drama be like in a post-McDreamy world? We’ll all find out pretty soon. Given that the show’s major story line has been the relationship between the recently departed Derek Shepherd and the titular Meredith Grey, it will be interesting to see where the show goes. ABC
▪ Sept. 27 – “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”: Can’t wait to see where Capt. Holt ends up as the new season begins. When last seen, the captain had given up the precinct to save it from being broken up by his nemesis. Odds are pretty good he’ll be back. Fox
▪ Oct. 1 – “Sleepy Hollow”: Oh, how I look forward to this deliciously otherworldly drama’s return. This one my son will not give up on – it’s too much fun as a resurrected Ichabod Crane returns to the infamous town to help save the world from the apocalypse. Fox
▪ Oct. 4 – “The Good Wife”: What will happen to Alicia now that her campaign is a bust and she’s out of the law firm? It better involve her returning to the law firm because the show risks burning one too many bridges for this fan to stick with it. CBS
▪ October – “Top Chef”: Ahhhh, the best for last. Again, I’m not going to stop watching competition shows – especially with the best of the best ready to begin its 13th season back in California (Season 1 was in San Francisco). No exact date yet, but it’s set to return next month on Bravo.