COMMENTARY: Your summer TV favorites … how good, how bad?

A scene from TNT's The Last Ship, episode "We'll Get There." Photo courtesy of Karen Ballard.
A scene from TNT’s The Last Ship, episode “We’ll Get There.” Photo courtesy of Karen Ballard.

The summer television season is going strong, so strong that it can be difficult for TV aficionados to keep up. Here are some thoughts on the programming in these air-conditioned days …

  • BBC America’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is an enjoyable costume drama that takes a while to develop. For those fans willing to stay for the long haul, the miniseries event has some unexpected delights. The two central performances — Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan — make the show, and it’s difficult to see how the the literary adaptation would work without their spot-on, yet subtle takes on these magician roles.
  • Killjoys is the latest Syfy space drama-comedy. This one follows a group of bounty hunters as they navigate the violent corridors of interstellar space. The first couple of episodes are light on the drama and heavy on the comedic one-liners, and that actually sets it apart from other science-fiction programming. Hannah John-Kamen has a lot of fun in her role of Dutch.
  • The Last Ship returns for season two on TNT. The outbreak drama is watchable but lacking in several key departments. It’s tough to latch on to individual characters when there’s so much action going on. However, once the plot settles down, there are some dramatic rewards. This one feels like a TNT mainstay for some time. It’s accessible and easy to follow. The plot has been done before, but the talented cast tries its best to elevate the story.
  • Mr. Robot’s pilot on USA is one of the strongest TV programs in a long time. This one feels cinematic or at least cable-ish. Rami Malek is spellbinding as a hacker who decides to upset corporate America. The social commentary is biting and of-the-minute, while the overarching story is fast-paced and infectious to watch. This could be a huge hit.

Others worth checking out …

  • True Detective, season two, HBO
  • Tyrant, season two, FX
  • Under the Dome, season three, CBS
  • Deutschland ’83, Sundance
  • Extant, season two, CBS
  • Dark Matter, Syfy
  • Defiance, season three, Syfy
  • Halt and Catch Fire, season two, AMC
  • Hannibal, season three, NBC
  • Humans, AMC
  • Wayward Pines, FOX
  • Scream, MTV

By John Soltes / Publisher /

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at, among other publications. E-mail him at

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