Are you ready for the summer? (2011 edition)
Guess what, boys and girls? The TV season is over!
The 2011-12 network TV season officially ended last night at 11, and back in the ancient mid-90s days when I started covering TV for a living, that would essentially be time for TV critics and TV viewers alike to take a nice, relaxing (albeit at times tedious) three-month siesta. There was original summer programming, but not a lot of it, in part because the networks still made money on repeats in those days, in part because cable channels weren't producing original content at remotely the volume they are today.
Now, though, I look at the premiere schedule for the next few months and it's easy to imagine I'll be writing and watching nearly as much as I did when the season was in-season.
Some of that's just a continuation of what I've been doing lately "Game of Thrones," "The Killing" and "Treme" still have many weeks to go in their respective seasons, and the NBC run of "Friday Night Lights" is going to stretch into early July.
But lordy, lordy lordy will there be an influx of new and returning series over the next few months. Just in terms of blog favorites, "Breaking Bad" should be back in mid-July (the 17th seems to be the most logical date), "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is back on July 10, "Men of a Certain Age" resumes its second season on June 1, "Burn Notice" and "Louie" are back on June 23, and the new Starz incarnation of "Torchwood" on July 8. There are also other returning shows like "Covert Affairs" (June 7), "The Big C" (June 27) and "White Collar" (June 7), among others, that I might sample again, even though I ran out of blogging material to say about most of those a while ago. (There are certain shows like, say, "Leverage," that I enjoy but never have anything much to write about.) And though I'm not going to let myself get sucked back into the final seasons of either "Entourage" (July 24) or "Rescue Me" (July 12), I imagine I'll at least stop by their respective finales to see how these characters I once liked ended up.
And then there's the new stuff. Again, I play it by ear, and summer shows tend to be a bit lighter by design, which makes them less inherently bloggable, but I'm at least going to weigh in briefly on TNT's "Franklin & Bash" (June 1), TNT's "Falling Skies" (June 19), USA's "Suits" and FX's "Wilfred" (June 23), USA's "Necessary Roughness" (June 29) and some others. Some may get ditched after an episode or two, and some might become fixtures. We shall see.
But perhaps my favorite part of summer blogging is a tradition I started back in the summer of '07, when I revisited the entire run of "Freaks and Geeks." Every summer since, I've tried to revisit at least one, if not multiple, classics on DVD, often doubling back on seasons that predated my career as an episode-by-episode blogger. Last summer I did "Firefly" and the third season of "The Wire" (the last one that I hadn't previously blogged), and I also discussed "Undeclared" each week on the podcast with Fienberg.
Three shows (even if one was discussion-only) wound up being a little more than my schedule could handle, so I'm going to pare things down to one blog show and one podcast show. Fienberg and I will announce the latter in Tuesday's podcast, but as for the former...
"Deadwood" season one, folks.
"Deadwood" - David Milch's revisionist, spectacularly profane Western about one of the last truly untamed parts of the continental United States - is another one of those HBO classics whose existence bridged my pre- and post-blog writing, as only the third season aired after I began blogging. (And if you go back and read those reviews, you'll see they're a fair bit skimpier than the sorts of things I write for the top cable shows these days.) The show's amazing, and still has footprints on some of today's best dramas. (If the early run of FX dramas were inspired by "The Sopranos," both "Justified" and "Sons of Anarchy" seem very indebted to "Deadwood," and not just because both feature so many "Deadwood" actors.)
The plan is to do one episode a week (give or take some summer vacation), with each review posting on Thursday morning, starting with the first episode (titled, simply, "Deadwood") a week from today. I'm still debating whether to do two versions of each post - one for newcomers to the show, one for veterans revisiting it - like I did for those early "Wire" seasons. For some reason, "Deadwood" feels like it lends itself better to doing one unified post - and to discussion where the veterans should be able to comment without spoiling stuff for the newbies - but I may rethink that position over the next seven days.
Point being, lots and lots of cool stuff comin' on the blog over the next few months. I can't wait.