Summer TV Roundup, Week 4

We’re rapidly moving toward July and in the midst of careening through longer summer days, we’re continuing to get interesting new shows. But when you’re curled up around the air conditioning vent, which show is worth checking out? Let this weekly post be your guide as I review the pilot and second episode of new scripted—and select unscripted—series this summer. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Mondays:
Mind Over Murder, Mondays at 10 p.m. on HBO (Premiered June 20)
About:
HBO has had some success in recent years with documentary series, especially crime documentary series. It’s a mixture of an examination of the crime, investigation and trial, as well as a look at the town, the people, the time period and the play that is being put on to tell the story. A woman in Beatrice, Nebraska died horribly. Six people were convicted of the crime and more than 20 years later, they were freed due to DNA evidence. And yet, several claim they were, in fact, guilty. It’s a weird story and the pilot did a nice job laying all the facts out. The second episode, by comparison, felt a bit slow. This is a six-episode exploration, so it’s coming got a ways to go. The idea of the story is compelling but the execution here doesn’t quite live up to that hype. The final product might be worth the journey, but this feels right now like something that could have been condensed.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C

Tuesdays:
37 Words, Streaming Tuesdays on Disney+ (Premiered June 21)
About
: It’s the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the 37 words that helped shape the battle for equality in the Women’s Rights Movement. As a celebration of that landmark legislation, and what it means for the world of sports. The first two episodes dropped on Tuesday, with the following episodes in the limited documentary series dropping weekly. I enjoyed the first two episodes, which feature a mixture of contemporary interviews and file footage. It does a nice job of weaving in the history of the time and helping explain what the legislation did to change things as the series explores the fight for equality in the Women’s Rights Movement. This feels like an important and timely series, especially given what’s happening in our world right now.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

The Future Of…, Streaming Tuesdays on Netflix (Premiered June 21)
About
: The third straight documentary series on this countdown this week, this one comes from Netflix. It’s a 12-episode first season, each episode tackling a different topic and looking at how it might change in the future. The first episode tackled pets, with the second tackling dating. In each case, it’s an exploration of what has been, what scientists are working on and what might be possible down the line. The first six episodes dropped Tuesday with six more episodes dropping today. The episodes are each about 20 minutes, making it a quick and informative binge watch. I thought the idea here was sound but the engagement to the series will likely depend somewhat on how interested you are in each topic.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: C+

Fridays:
Loot, Streaming Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered June 24)
About
: This new comedy from Matt Hubbard and Alan Yang focuses on Molly (Maya Rudolph), the wife of a billionaire John Novak (Adam Scott) who seems to be living an idyllic life. That is until she discovers her husband is cheating, leading to a high-profile divorce. It leaves Molly alone with only her $37 billion settlement and charity foundation to help her find a way forward. Suddenly with a lot of time on her hands, Molly decides to get more involved in a hands-on way, leading to some pushback from her staff, especially boss lady Sofia (Michaela Jaé (MJ) Rodriguez). It’s a clever idea that should provide plenty of fertile ground for comedy. The supporting cast, which includes Ron Funches, Nat Faxon and Joel Kim Booster, among others, is also solid. I love Rudolph and this kind of story offers a lot of possibilities. That being said, the first few episodes were just OK. The blend of comedy and drama is solid but it wasn’t incredibly engaging. This could be the type of series that needs a bit more time to build. The first three episodes were released Friday with subsequent episodes in the 10-episode season releasing weekly. Each is about a half an hour, so it’s not a big-time commitment. I like the cast and the potential and the first couple episodes were OK, but I’m hoping to see it move in new directions quickly.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C+

Streaming Series:
The Bear, Now Streaming on Hulu (Premiered June 23)
About
: The partnership between FX and Hulu has been a fruitful one. Currently The Old Man is airing on FX and dropping on Hulu, and it’s turning into one of the most interesting current shows airing. Now, we get The Bear. It’s a half-hour series from Christopher Storer that focuses on a young chef, Carmy (Jeremy Allen White), who is back home in Chicago to take over the family restaurant after his brother’s death. All eight episodes of the first season dropped on Thursday and this is one of the best new series of the year. I enjoyed the first couple of episodes and then quickly binged through the rest. The supporting cast—including Ebon Moss Bachrach and Ayo Edebiri—are great in the series as well. In the tradition of where series are moving, the time length of episodes doesn’t translate to a specific genre. This is part drama, part comedy but mostly interested in telling a moving story. I enjoyed the early episodes and the whole thing very much.
Pilot Grade: B+
Second Episode: B+

Gordita Chronicles, Now Streaming on HBO Max (Premiered June 23)
About
: Hailing from producers Zoe Saldana and Eva Longoria, this new sitcom takes things back to the 1980s, focusing on the story of Cucu (Olivia Goncalves) and her family came to live in Miami from the Dominican Republic. The series is part period piece, part culture clash and all heart as it aims to be more of a throwback to a different era of sitcoms. This is the kind of series we’re used to seeing on networks but have struggled on streaming platforms. All 10 episodes of the series are available to stream, with each about a half an hour. It tells a unique story and has its moments but it feels more like a traditional TV offering. I watched the first couple then felt free to let the rest of the story go. In the packed world of streaming, it didn’t stand out enough to me but it does offer a little something different to the HBO Max lineup.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Man vs. Bee, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered June 24)
About:
This new series stars Rowan Atkinson as a man who is down-on-his-luck and finds a job as a house sitter. He’s supposed to watch the house of a wealthy couple with a number of priceless artifacts. When a bee gets into the house, things go off the rails. If you’re familiar with Atkinson’s work, this won’t come as much of a surprise. In reality, it feels like a short film broken into bite-sized pieces. The pilot is 19 minutes, but the subsequent eight episodes are between 10-11 minutes. Each offers a new adventure with Atkinson and the bee, all building toward the hilarious conclusion that’s referenced in the early moments of the series. It makes for a unique and quick binge and I thought it was a novel concept. This makes for a fun little outing that was more engaging than I’d expected.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-

Chloe, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Premiered June 24)
About
: Erin Doherty stars in this limited series that debuted on Amazon Friday. It’s a British crime series that sees Becky (Doherty) as a social climber who is given a new mission when her childhood friend, Chloe, turns up dead. Becky soon works to insinuate herself in her friends life to learn a bit more about what might have led to her death. She had only followed Chloe’s life on social media and now spends some time living in her shoes, pretending to be someone and something she’s not. Is it in service of solving the puzzle, or a bit of voyeurism gone awry? That’ the question left to the audience. This seven-episode series is now available to stream in its entirety, each running 45-60 minutes. It has a decent cast—I was even happy to see Brandon Michael Hall in the series—but the narrative is strange. The performances were solid but I wasn’t particularly taken with the arc of the narrative. I couldn’t tell where it was going and the first two episodes didn’t particularly make me care to find out. Perhaps others will feel different but this was a mystery that didn’t land.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C-

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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