Summer TV Roundup, Week 9

We’ve made it to August. Summer is winding down. Back-to-school sales are in full swing and we’re looking ahead to the Fall. But before we let go of summer completely, new shows keep popping up. What of them are worth your time as you enjoy these remaining carefree summer nights? Let this weekly post be your guide as I look at the pilot and second episode of new scripted series this summer. Don’t see a new show listed below? Check previous weeks.

Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, Streaming Thursdays on HBO Max (Premiered July 28)
: This isn’t the first iteration of the Pretty Little Liars franchise, and it isn’t even the first to drop on HBO Max. This one focuses on a new group, beginning years earlier with an ugly incident at a school event. Fast-forward 20 years and we find Imogene (Bailee Madison) as a pregnant teen whose mother (Carly Pope) was part of said ugly incident. Her mother’s sudden suicide throws Imogene’s life into more turmoil, as does a series of incidents that reveal someone behind the scenes pulling the strings. This is a familiar formula and while the pilot had some moments that I enjoyed; we quickly fall into a typical pattern. Doubtless those who enjoyed the Pretty Little Liars franchise will be thrilled at another slice. While this one at times feels like horror movies in the vein of I Know What You Did Last Summer, it’s mostly just OK. It feels like a decent expansion of the teen/young adult brand on HBO Max, but probably doesn’t have incredibly broad appeal. Three episodes are available now while subsequent episodes stream weekly.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

The Resort, Streaming Thursdays on Peacock (Premiered July 28)
: I’ve been skeptical of the original programming on Peacock since its debut. The streamer has consistently struggled to establish a brand and a following. I don’t know if The Resort will change all that, but it feels like a step in the right direction. This series focuses on a couple married for 10 years who take an anniversary trip to the Mayan Riviera. Emma (Cristin Milioti) and Noah (William Jackson Harper) seem to be stuck in a rut, and even this vacation isn’t breathing life into things. But when Emma stumbles on cell phone in the woods, she uncovers a mystery involving a man (Skyler Gisondo) lost 15 years earlier. Will solving the puzzle bring them together or tear them apart? That’s the point of the series. The pilot is a bit of a slow build, introducing the characters all the world and setting up the premise. The second episode, however, crackles with humor as we dive into the story. It’s also quite a bit of fun. Three episodes are available to stream with the rest of the eight-episode series dropping weekly. This feels like the most compelling new series on Peacock and a journey I’m excited to take.
Pilot Grade: C+
Second Episode: B

Surface, Streaming Fridays on Apple TV+ (Premiered July 29)
: The latest Apple drama centers on a woman, Sophie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who is recovering from a trauma. She threw herself off a boat in the ocean but survived. However, she’s different. She can’t remember who she was or much of her life before rescue. She’s trying to settle into life with her husband (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and her best friend (Ari Graynor) trying to help her. The thing is the story she’s being told isn’t quite the truth. A cop (Stephan James), who was also her lover, tries to open Sophie’s eyes. What’s real? What really happened? And is her life now a lie? Those are all the questions raised in the pilot which will be the focus of the series. Three episodes were released Friday with new episodes released weekly. Mbatha-Raw is strong in the lead role and I like the idea of this mystery. The first two episodes unfold at a decent clip with the mystery building. The cast is strong and this feels like another creative win for what’s fast becoming the best of the streaming services.
Pilot Grade: B-
Second Episode: B-

Streaming Series:
Keep Breathing, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered July 28)
: This Netflix limited series Melissa Barrera stars as Liv, a young woman who is trying to get somewhere. When her flight is cancelled, she charms her way onto a small plan with a pair of pilots. When an accident occurs and the plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness, Liv soon discovers she was aboard a plane with no flight plan that no one is looking to find. Now, she’s in a battle to survive. There’s more to it, including some flashbacks to her life prior to the flight. The series is six episodes, each running about a half an hour. Even at that length it feels a bit long. As a self-contained film, it might work. But this is well-trod ground and the series doesn’t seem to add much to the genre. It’s OK but wasn’t overly compelling.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Uncoupled, Now Streaming on Netflix (Premiered July 29)
: Neil Patrick Harris is back in a comedy from Darren Star among others. In it, Michael (Harris) is a real estate broker working with his partner (Tisha Campbell) and in a happy, committed relationship. However, in the pilot, his boyfriend of 17-years, Colin (Tuc Watkins), breaks it off and moves out. Suddenly, Michael is thrown for a loop and stuck looking for love once again as he picks up the pieces of his broken life. Harris is a long-time TV veteran and great at sitcoms. He has a natural charisma in this role, too. However, the set up and execution is just OK. The supporting cast is decent and some will be drawn to the light and quick format, each episode of the eight-episode season running about a half an hour. It’s fine and will have some appeal but it’s not one of the better Netflix original series.
Pilot Grade: C
Second Episode: C

Paper Girls, Now Streaming on Amazon Prime (Premiered July 29)
: This new series is adapted from the graphic novel Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang, focusing on four young girls who deliver newspapers near Cleveland. It’s the morning after Halloween and, suddenly, they’re pulled into a time travel war that lands them in 2019. This is an ambitious and high-concept series. The full eight-episode season is available to stream, with each episode running from 40 minutes to an hour. I thought the cast and the idea were decent but I wasn’t completely sucked into the narrative. Still, there is a built-in fanbase here thanks to the source material and this should be a decent addition to the Amazon Prime lineup of streaming series.
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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