This summer the U.S. TV season is developing mildly and, in deference of the power of the studios, the weather has adjusted accordingly.
Series achieving critical or popular acclaim were, as usual for the summer, mostly limited to cable channels, like Starz’s Power, co-produced by and co-starring Curtis Jackson, more commonly known by his nom de plume, 50 Cent. Another successful show is AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire: a startup story from before the age of startups set in 1980s Dallas.
As for the FTA networks, CBS has earned some favorable early reviews for Extant, a super-hyped science fiction series starring Halle Berry. NBC’s new series Taxi Brooklyn inserts a police action-comedy plot into an already amazing story: a New York cab driver willing to take a customer anywhere outside Manhattan. NBC has also seen some sitcom success with Welcome to Sweden being renewed for `a second season. Medical drama Night Shift has also been renewed for a second season next summer with fourteen episodes instead of this year’s eight, despite following up a strong premier with lackluster ratings. At the other end of the spectrum, NBC’s Crossbones, a new series about the pirate Blackbeard, only made it to nine episodes. ABC’s Astronaut Wives Club has also suffered from tough luck; it was originally due to debut in July, but has been pushed back to this coming spring. Other channels that have had it tough include the CW: two new comedy series, Backpackers and Seed, have already been cancelled.
Reality wise, this summer wasn’t much of a scorcher either, with many networks playing it safe, either bringing back old series or investing in proven formats. WipeOut came back to ABC for a seventh season along with the 10th season of The Bachelorette. ABC also debuted Rising Star, an Israeli format, in June, as well as a spinoff of the Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, in early August. Big Brother came back to CBS for a 16th season, and American Ninja Warrior is entering its sixth season. The CW brought back Who’s Line Is It Anyway for a second season (the series is remake of a remake; the original show was from the U.K.). Among the new entrants, the CW’s Famous in Twelve was cancelled after a five episodes in spite of strong synergies with social media. While FOX brought Gordon Ramsay back with Hotel Hell, already in it’s second season, celebrity-dueling show Riot faced the axe after four episodes. Fox’s dating/hoax show I Wanna Marry Harry — which duped contestants into thinking that the British prince was looking for a wife on U.S. television — met a similar fate.
BBC America has been having some success with its first comedy series, a documentary called Almost Royal, while other successful shows include FX’s The Strain, directed by Guillermo del Toro, based on a book he co-authored, and relying on the premise, “Our Vampires are Different.”
But the absolute leader in summer vampires is still HBO, with True Blood going strong in its seventh season. The strongest shows have yet to be knocked off the podium; USA’s Suits (fourth season), CBS’s Under the Dome (in its second season, although ratings are spiraling downwards), and ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars (seventh season) as well as Peabody-winning Switched at Birth (third season).