Big-Money Games, Sexy Dramas, Ailes Film Heat Up Summer TV
Networks lean heavily on game and reality shows but there are stellar dramatic options
Summer travel packing list: sunscreen, power bars, television.
The miracle of portable media frees you to roam and still catch a favorite returning series or promising newcomer, and without overloading a DVR. Hold that smart phone or tablet close and play traveler and viewer at the same time (but, honestly, the Grand Canyon deserves your undivided attention. Also Mount Rushmore.)
There's still a fall TV season ahead, but broadcast, cable and streaming outlets proudly tout their efforts to keep you hooked year-round to screens big or small. Networks lean heavily on game and reality shows but there are stellar dramatic options, including season three of "The Handmaid's Tale," out now on Hulu, and HBO's second iteration of "Big Little Lies," back Sunday — and with Meryl Streep, no less!
U.S. & World
Among the other possibilities to consider (all times EDT):
— "Bring the Funny," NBC, 10 p.m. July 9. Acts ranging from standups to sketch troupes to old-school variety compete in a new talent show judged by Kenan Thompson of "Saturday Night Live," comedian Jeff Foxworthy and Chrissy Teigen. Among the hopefuls: the Chris & Paul Show, a pair described as "modern vaudevillians."
— "City on a Hill," Showtime, 9 p.m. June 16. The 1990s-set drama's pedigree alone demands attention, with Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge ("Underground") starring and Tom Fontana ("Oz," ''Homicide: Life on the Street") as showrunner and an executive producer. Bacon plays a corrupt FBI veteran who joins with Hodge's assistant D.A. to fight a Boston crime operation and a subverted criminal justice system.
— "Masterpiece: Endeavour," PBS, 9 p.m. June 16. British police detective Endeavour Morse, played by Shaun Evans, is at a crossroads as the prequel to the original "Inspector Morse" series returns. An unwelcome reorganization has broken up the Oxford police team as it confronts a colleague's unresolved murder. Evans directs the second of the season's four episodes.
— "Grand Hotel," ABC, 10:01 p.m. June 17. Produced by Eva Longoria, the drama series stars Damian Bichir as the patriarch of a debt- and scandal-ridden family at risk of losing its luxurious Miami Beach resort. The story unfolds among the well-heeled upstairs and the downstairs staff, with Roselyn Sánchez, Denyse Tontz and Bryan Craig among the cast.
— "Spin the Wheel," Fox, 9 p.m. June 20. Justin Timberlake has a new sideline, as producer of a high-stakes game show that promises to combine pop-culture trivia, strategy and the luck spun out by a 40-foot wheel. Players have a shot at winning $20 million-plus in each episode, with Dax Shepard presiding as host.
— "Reef Break," ABC, 10 p.m. June 20. Poppy Montgomery stars as Cat Chambers, a former thief who's putting her skills to work as a fixer in this Pacific island-set crime drama. Montgomery also is a producer for what's described as a "character-driven cocktail of crime, surf, sex and sunshine" — in other words, a summer concoction.
— "The Loudest Voice," Showtime, 10 p.m. June 30. How Roger Ailes solidified his political and media power and what drove him is the core of this miniseries about the late Fox News Channel mastermind. Russell Crowe is makeup-transformed to play Ailes in an impressive cast that includes Naomi Watts as ex-Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson, Sienna Miller as Ailes' wife and Seth MacFarlane as a publicist.
— "Love Island," CBS, 8 p.m. July 9. Another U.S. version of an international reality show, with singles deposited on a tropical island to pair up or risk being exiled from paradise. Players, known as "Islanders," must woo viewers as well as a partner to emerge as a winner in romance on the show airing nightly, Monday through Friday. There's also a cash prize at stake.
— "Top Gear," BBC America, 8 p.m. July 16. The hosts change but the thrills are intact as the show enters its 27th season. Newcomers Freddie Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness join returning host Chris Harris as the car showcase zooms from Borneo to Wales to Iceland. As for the stars, they include a McLaren 600LT; Ferrari 488 Pista; Lotus 79 F1, and — a test for true buffs — an obscure, 1970s Matra Bagheera.
— "Four Weddings and a Funeral," Hulu, July 31. The familiar title aside, this miniseries produced by Mindy Kaling isn't copycatting the original Richard Curtis romcom. Nathalie Emmanuel stars as a New York campaign staffer who scoots to England for a wedding and lands amid old friends' assorted crises. Curtis is a producer for the show, so it should achieve the correct ceremony tally.