Your Guide To Summer Genre Television
With the end of television season, we bid a final farewell to Lost and say goodbye, for now, to genre series like Fringe, Smallville, Supernatural, V and The Vampire Diaries. Late-starting shows like BBC America’s Doctor Who and Syfy’s Merlin and Stargate Universe will provide us with a fix, but what will get us through the Dog Days?
Lucky for us, the summer schedule features a genre-filled mix of the new, like The Gates and Haven, and the familiar, like True Blood and the welcome return of Futurama.
Happy Town (10 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC, beginning June 2)
Billed as a successor to Twin Peaks, the laboriously quirky mystery fell well short of expectations — and ratings. The network yanked Happy Town from the schedule after just three episodes, but will burn off the remaining five beginning June 2. We’ll probably never know who the Magic Man is, but hardly anyone cared to begin with.
True Blood (9 p.m. Sundays on HBO, beginning June 13)
When last we left Bon Temps, the maenad Maryann had been dispatched, Jason Stackhouse had (mercifully) killed Eggs, and Bill Compton had been kidnapped, leaving many to wonder whether we’d ever again hear shouts of “Sookah! Sookah!” Oh, alright, we all know he returns, but can’t a person hope? As we can glean from the preview trailer, the new season will deal with the kidnapping, an invasion of werewolves, Sam Merlot’s quest for his shape-shifting family, the introduction of many new characters (including the Vampire King of Mississippi) and Sookie’s investigation into her abilities.
The Phantom (7 p.m. Sunday, June 20, on ABC; four-hour “movie event”)
If the trailer for Syfy’s update of Lee Falk’s classic adventure comic didn’t put you off entirely, the network will present the entire four hours as a one-night “movie event.” Ryan Carnes (Desperate Housewives) stars as Kit Walker, a young man who’s approached by a shadowy, fedora-wearing organization to assume the mantle of his forefathers and battle injustice. Gone is the trademark purple bodysuit, replaced by … something far worse.
The Gates (10 p.m. Sundays on ABC, beginning June 20)
ABC probably would like viewers to think of The Gates as a supernatural Desperate Housewives, but it’s far more likely the soap will be lumped in with the likes of Happy Town. The series stars Frank Grillo (Prison Break) as Nick Monohan, a big-city cop who moves with his wife Sarah (Marisol Nichols) and children Charlie and Dana (Travis Caldwell and McKaley Miller) to a sleepy planned community called, naturally enough, The Gates, where he’ll serve as police chief. As these things usually go, Monohan quickly discovers the town’s residents aren’t all that they appear to be: There’s high-school football star Brett Crezski (Colton Haynes) and his surfer-dude best friend Lukas Ford (Justin Miles), who are both werewolves; homemaker/vampire Claire Radcliff (Rhona Mitra) and her vampire-husband Dylan (Luke Mably), who owns a bio-tech company; and Peg Mueller (Victoria Platt), the owner of an exotic/supernatural tea shop whose unscrupulous former pupil (Chandra West) has set up a rival business across the street.
Futurama (10 p.m. Thursdays on Comedy Central, beginning June 24)
Nearly seven years after Fox canceled Futurama, the staff of Planet Express returns for 26 new episodes, beginning with a one-hour season premiere (titled, fittingly enough, “Rebirth”).
Warehouse 13 (9 p.m. Tuesdays on Syfy, beginning July 6)
The Syfy hit that has been both praised as the best science-fiction show on television and blasted as an “unholy cross between The X-Files, Bones and Raiders of the Lost Ark,” returns for a second season. The comedy-drama centers on Secret Service agents agents Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) and Peter Lattimer (Eddie McClintock), who are reassigned to the government’s secret Warehouse 13, in which supernatural objects are stored. The warehouse is overseen by Artie (Saul Rubinek), who sends the agents to chase down reports of paranormal activity in search of new objects.
Eureka (9 p.m. Fridays on Syfy, beginning July 9)
Although I enjoyed early episodes, I lost track of Eureka at somewhere along the way, to the point that I was surprised to realize the series is heading into its fourth season. As you probably know by now, the show centers on a top-secret government-run town in the Pacific Northwest inhabited almost entirely by scientists, mad geniuses — oh, and Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson), a former U.S. marshal who stumbles up Eureka by accident. As we noted this week, this season will feature a cross-over between Eureka and Warehouse 13.
Haven (10 p.m. Fridays on Syfy, beginning July 9)
Based on Stephen King’s 2005 mystery novella The Colorado Kid, the series follows Audrey Parker (Emily Rose of Jericho and ER), a shrewd FBI agent with a lost past who arrives in a small town in Maine to investigate a murder. She soon discovers that the town, Haven, is a refuge for people with a range of supernatural abilities. Haven also stars Eric Balfour (24, Six Feet Under) as the mysterious Duke Crocker, and Lucas Bryant (Queer as Folk, M.V.P.) as local cop Nathan Wuornos. I’m not a big King fan, but adaptations of his work are a mixed bag, at best.
Being Human (9 p.m. Saturdays on BBC America, beginning July 25)
The U.K. series about three twenty-something housemates in Bristol who try to live normal lives, despite being a werewolf (Russell Tovey’s George), a vampire (Aiden Turner’s Mitchell) and a ghost (Lenora Crichlow’s Annie), gives it another go. Following the death of vampire leader Herrick (Adrian Lester) at the end of Season 1, the housemates hope they can move on with their lives. However, there’s an even greater danger lurking in the form of the mysterious Professor Jaggat and his colleague Kemp, religious zealots who have discovered the existence of supernatural beings are are determined to destroy them. Meanwhile, George copes with his part in the death of Herrick and a girlfriend who knows his secret, a newly confident Annie faces the implications of turning down the Door of Death, and Mitchell grapples with a leaderless, out-of-control vampire world.
The Venture Bros. (midnight Sundays on Adult Swim, beginning Aug. 22)
The wait for the second half of Season 4 has been excruciating, hasn’t it? It’s been so long since we last saw Team Venture — “Pinstripes & Poltergeists” aired on Dec. 13, 2009 — that we’ve nearly forgotten the team-up of Brock Samson and Henchman 21 against Monstroso, and Brock’s apparent return as the Venture family bodyguard. Seriously, I had to look up what happened; that much time has passed. But come Aug. 22, The Venture Bros. returns with the first of eight new episodes that creator Jackson Publick says will see the show re-embracing its “sci-fi/comic book/adventure roots.” We should expect more development of Hank and Dean, plenty of new characters and the return of old ones. The season will end with a one-hour special which, unfortunately, won’t air until just before Christmas.