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The Heat is On: What I'm Watching This Summer

Growing up, the summer television season used to consist of endless reruns and maybe the burn-off for a few middling series left over after the end of the schedule. But in the last few years, networks have used the airtime as a fertile ground to launch new series (remember The OC's original summertime run?) and many a reality juggernaut has started its run in the warmer months, including Survivor, American Idol, and The Amazing Race.

While it's anyone's guess as to whether this season's offerings will reach those heights, this summer will bring couch potatoes quite a lot to snack on. While this week's Entertainment Weekly lists "67 Shows You Can't Miss," I do have a life and can't spend ALL my time in front of the telly. (Well, nearly all my time, anyway.)

So, crank up the A/C, grab a mojito, sit back, and relax... Here are the fifteen series that I'll be watching this summer.

9 pm: Hell's Kitchen (FOX).

Sadistic chef Gordon Ramsay is back for a second season of culinary catastrophes in FOX's summer reality entry Hell's Kitchen. While these chefs are nowhere near as polished as their Top Chef counterparts, Ramsay hopes to (brow)beat them into becoming chefs capable of handling lunch AND dinner services (a change this season) while withstanding criticism that makes Top Chef's Tiffani look like a Samaritan. Tears will be shed, dishes will be toppled, and feuds sparked. I can't wait! Though I am a little concerned by the fact that six of the twelve contestants (HALF!) are from the state of Texas. Hardly the diversity I was hoping for... (Two-hour premiere on 6/12; launches in regular timeslot 6/19.)

9 pm: Treasure Hunters (NBC).

I'll also be watching Treasure Hunters, Imagine Television and NBC's newest reality series that supposedly costs a gazillion dollars to produce. Ten teams of three people will follow clues, attempt death-defying stunts, and race around the world to uncover a huge treasure. The effect is The Amazing Race fueled by crack supplied by The Da Vinci Code's Sir Teabing. While it might be on at the same time as Gordon "Don't Mess with Me" Ramsay, I'll be tuning in to both series and expect Treasure Hunters to take the lead. (Two-hour premiere 6/18; launches in regular timeslot 6/19.)

10 pm: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (Travel Channel).

From one sarcastic, impertinent chef and TV personality to another... I just can't say no to Tony Bourdain. Whether he's trekking through a blizzard in Iceland, attending a maharajah's ornate birthday party in India, or eating cow organs in China, I'll follow this guy anywhere. Tony's no-nonsense approach to travel and love of local food and culture have earned No Reservations a permanent Season Pass on my TiVo. (Currently airing.)

11 pm: Lovespring International (Lifetime).

Yes, I know. It's on Lifetime, home of dreaded TV movie-of-the-weeks about diseases, abductions and adultery. But it's also pretty damn funny. With the arrival of new president of entertainment Susanne Daniels, Lifetime is attempting to shed its mothballed image and Lovespring International is part of a new programming initiative to lure new viewers. The improvised comedy follows the trials and travails of the employees of Lovespring International, Beverly Hills' elite dating agency... located in Tarzana. Look for executive producer Eric McCormack to show up in the second episode as a shark-obsessed client and stick around for the rip-roaringly funny third episode which has series regulars Jane Lynch (40-Year-Old Virgin and Arrested Development's Cindy Lightballoon) and Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911!'s Deputy Clementine Johnson) engaging in a stakeout gone horribly, horribly wrong. (Currently airing.)

9 pm: Eureka (Sci-Fi).

Colin Ferguson stars in this sci-fi lite drama about the weird goings-on in the small Pacific Northwest town of Eureka, which just happens to be where the U.S. government, um, relocates the best and the brightest brains of today (and their families) to work on top secret projects, ranging from developing weapons to... messing around with the space-time continuum. I've seen the two-hour pilot, which starts off slow but soon becomes engaging. Ferguson is a likeable lead man and his reluctant U.S. Marshall Jack Carter soon finds that he has bit off more than he can chew... with both his daughter and the town of Eureka. (Premieres 7/18.)

10 pm: Project Runway (Bravo).

I'm new to Project Runway (don't ask me why I've hesitated until now) but I am jumping on board for the reality series' third season, which follows the combination of catfights and couture that have earned this series a whole flock of devoted followers. Plus, Heidi Klum gets to say, "In fashion, you're either in or you're out" every week in her adorable Germanic accent. What could be better than that? (Premieres 7/12.)

10 pm: Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares (BBC America; 9 pm EST).

More Gordon Ramsay? I guess one night a week of Ramsay's tirades just aren't enough for me. In this reality series import from Britain, Ramsay tackles failing restaurants and spends a week whipping the chefs and owners into shape. While somewhat less acerbic here (a smidge anyway), Ramsay comes across as intensely knowledgeable and genuinely interested in helping these people save their livelihoods. After all, the ex-pro soccer player built a hugely successful restaurant empire himself, so he knows what he's doing. (Currently airing.)

7 pm: Hex on BBC America.

British Buffy in a boarding school. At least that's what the promos currently airing on BBC America make this supernatural drama seem to be. You've got witchcraft, fallen angels, and blonde teenagers struggling with supernatural legacies. I'm looking for a summertime guilty pleasure to sink my teeth into (no Buffy pun intended). (Premieres 6/8.)

9 pm: My Name is Earl and The Office (NBC).

Okay, I know I am pathetic. Watching reruns of comedies My Name is Earl and The Office during the summer? Well, I need my fix, damn it. And I'll also be watching those soon-to-be ubiquitous Office webisodes following Angela, Kevin, and Oscar as they attempt to solve the mystery of the $3000 missing from Dunder-Mifflin. I am so there. (Currently airing.)

10 pm: 5 Takes: Pacific Rim (Travel Channel).

My very favorite travel/reality program continues their trip around the Pacific Rim. With only a few episodes remaining, will the gang end up in Cambodia, Thailand, or Japan? Personally, I don't really care where they end up as I am having a blast following them wherever they go. And, strangely, I think I'll miss all of the travel journalists... even Josh. I'm getting a case of the sniffles just thinking of them saying goodbye to one another. (Currently airing.)

10 pm: Windfall (NBC).

I'll admit that I don't have high hopes for this NBC drama about the winners of a huge lottery jackpot as NBC opted not to air it during the regular season and is instead burning it off this summer. But Luke Perry's mere presence is making me nostalgic for early '90s Beverly Hills 90210 episodes, so I'll do Dylan a favor and check out the first episode anyway. (Premieres 6/8.)

9 pm: The 4400 on USA.

Again, I'm new to this show but just recorded USA's recent 4400 marathon to get the scoop on Jordan Collier and the other abductees after just about everyone I know raved about this show. While I might be late to the game, I'm excited about what lies in store this season. (Premieres 6/11.)

10 pm: Entourage and Lucky Louie (HBO).

With Big Love taking a rest after its wonderful freshman season, HBO has recruited returning comedy Entourage and frosh comedy Lucky Louie to tide us over for now.

Entourage really grew on me in a major way during its second, more narratively successful season and I'm eager to catch up with Vince, Eric, Turtle, and Drama. Will Vince's Aquaman feature suck as much as the CW's failed pilot? Will Ari's new boutique agency get off the ground? Will we ever discover exactly how much hair product Adrian Grenier uses? Pop open a six-pack and hug it out: the boys are back. (Premieres 6/11.)

HBO defined the identity of the single-camera sitcom with shows like Sex and the City and Curb Your Enthusiasm and now they've done something completely unexpected. With Lucky Louie, they're launching a multi-camera sitcom, filmed before a live studio audience that, if they play their cards right, could redefine the boundaries of the traditional sitcom. Comedian Louis C.K. plays a foul-mouthed family man who just can't catch a break. Plus--hello!-- Laura Kightlinger! (Premieres 6/11.)

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Gameshow Marathon (CBS); Dateline (NBC); Blue Collar TV/Blue Collar TV (WB); George Lopez/Freddie (ABC); So You Think You Can Dance (FOX); Gang of Roses (UPN; 8-10 pm)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); Dateline NBC (NBC); Lost (ABC); So You Think You Can Dance (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Law & Order (NBC); Commander in Chief (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

10 pm: Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America (9 pm EST).

On tonight's episode ("Lanterna"), Gordon takes on the failing La Lanterna, an Italian restaurant on the verge of closing. It's up to Gordon to tackle the lack of customers, the disgustingly filthy stoves, the inauthentic menu, and the truly clueless staff. Did I mention that the owner and head chef, despite re-mortgaging his house, still drives around town in a car that's worth more than the restaurant? Hopefully Gordon can knock some sense into this knucklehead.


Anonymous said…
Treasure Hunters sounds like fun. I might have to check it out.

I have been wavering on Windfall. I like the concept, but there must be a reason it was dumped in the summer. Still, Dylan McKay...
Anonymous said…
I was interested in HEX, so I did a little checking into it. Most of the reactions I got from people that had seen it on SKY were pretty negative. I'll still probably give the first episode a shot just cause there's little else I'll be watching this summer.
Anonymous said…
Good day This website is really great and I will surely come back to it as often as I can See you later!

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