Summer is the perfect time to indulge in and relax with all kinds of entertainment, whether you want to beat the heat and hunker down inside with some A/C, or if you want to take your media mobile and consume it outside, under the sun at the beach or park. There is both a wide variety of brand new, potentially ground-breaking programming as well as many chances to return to old favorites, thanks to the ease of DVD or online streaming. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer selection these days, allow me to make a few suggestions for where to start, focusing right now on older or otherwise ended shows that are worth checking out late than never. They may be gone, but they shouldn’t have to be forgotten!
Arrested Development (available online and on DVD; new episodes debut on Netflix on May 26) – There has been so much social media buzz about the new episodes coming to Netflix, complete with taglines and in-jokes that undoubtedly made you feel left out if you didn’t understand them. Were you transported back to days on in the schoolyard when your friends had secrets from parties or events you weren’t invited to? It’s okay, don’t let the flashback ruin your summer; you can pick up on all of the Arrested Development character quirks and one-liners easily by marathoning the first three seasons. It won’t be long until you’re yelling “No touching!” or bemoaning making a “huuuge mistakes” to your own loved ones. The timing couldn’t be more perfect to get into the series because summer means the perfect weather for both frozen bananas and cut-offs! Plus, then you can compare the original to the new episodes and see if you feel like a late in the game redux was a good thing or not.
The Shield (available online and on DVD) – I may be a bit biased because I recently read Alan Sepinwall’s “The Revolution was Televised” and was reminded just how daring this show was at a time when cops were mostly portrayed as black and white personalities. However, with the slew of new crime shows cropping up all these many years later, some featuring more anti-hero characters front and center, and some relying on the same old procedural formulas and tropes, I think it’s the perfect time to go back and (re)visit Vic Mackey and all of his fantastic flaws. It more than holds up over time, but more importantly, you may even find that it is actually still stronger than the programming being released today.
Happy Endings (all three seasons available online; first two seasons on DVD) – ABC sadly cancelled this clever relationship comedy, and though USA has toyed with the idea of picking it up, they have not pulled the trigger yet. But that doesn’t mean the three seasons the show did deliver shouldn’t be checked out and cherished. In fact, the three seasons of special vernacular, pop culture references, and unintentional Friends callbacks are that much more special since they’re the only ones we will get. Series star Adam Pally put it best when he explained that the show was created to be enjoyed at any time, anywhere, by any fan; it has that kind of timeless and universal quality. Once you pop in the pilot, you will undoubtedly find yourself ripping through episode after episode, addicted. But don’t worry, Happy Endings knows how to throw an intervention, too.
The L.A. Complex (available online now; on DVD on August 13) – The Los Angeles setting of this drama about struggling artists lends itself perfectly to the summer vibe, but so does the light and easy way in which the separate stories find themselves intertwining. The characters are all very different as people, the kinds that probably wouldn’t be friends outside of the fact that they all have similar dreams, and it is impossible not to find yourself relating to at least a couple of them– even if you’ve never attempted to be a stand-up comic like Nick or constantly got in your own way on job interviews like Abby or struggled with your image versus your truth like Kal. Their situations are unique and on more than one occasion extremely refreshing compared to what’s usually portrayed on television, but the stories aren’t told with a heavy hand to make everything a teachable moment PSA. Whether you’re laughing or crying or both, you’re having a ton of fun watching this one.
The Wonder Years (available online and on DVD) – Storytelling trends are cyclical, and showrunners from the upcoming 2013-2014 television season are clearly interested in capitalizing on the nostalgia trend arguably made most successful by this coming-of-age 1980s sitcom. But why settle for copy cats when you have access to the original? Set in the ’60s, The Wonder Years was a period drama that dealt not only with a young boy’s adolescence but also the changing political and social climate. This was a show that had a lot to say and did so in a sweet, embracing the whole family demographic kind of way. You may find its shooting style dated (the voice-over is severely overused, for example), but its heart still rings true all these years later.
Which will you watch, and what do you think I left out? Leave your thoughts on Summer 2013 TV in the comments below!
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