OKLAHOMA CITY, June 9, 2011 – With summer television usually comes a healthy serving of reality programming, guilty pleasure, mindless entertainment and network shows that’ll be burned off after never finding a foothold in the schedule.
This summer will also bring the return of two shows that are tops in their fields, FX’s “Louie” and AMC’s been-gone-for-too-long “Breaking Bad.”
FX has hit the sweet spot of late with their triumvirate of comedies in “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “The League” and “Louie,” and on June 23, they add a fourth series to their lofty repertoire. Actually, it would be the fifth comedy counting the hilarious “Archer,” but I really wanted to use the word triumvirate.
Elijah Wood stars as Ryan, a dejected, in-between-jobs bachelor who is unraveling at the seams and all but completely unravels when he meets his neighbor’s dog, Wilfred. Wilfred looks like the run of the mill pooch to everyone else, but to Ryan, he sees a dumpy, fowl mouthed Aussie in filthy dog costume.
Based on the Australian import of the same name, Jason Gann returns in the same furry title role as the original. With its dark overtures and off kilter humor, the tone and visual style sort of plays out on the small screen like a Duplass Brothers film (“Cyrus,” “The Puffy Chair”).
Wood provides an interesting performance as young professional in the process of losing his mind. The 30-minute comedy will also sport appearances by Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation”), Chris Klein (American Pie), Mary Steenburgen and Ethan Suplee (“My Name is Earl”).
Also debuting June 23 following “Wilfred” at 10:30 p.m. on Thursdays will be one of TV’s best comedies and the return of the most brilliant comedic mind of our times, “Louie” starring Louis C.K. In a hysterically gloomy send up of the “Seinfeld” blueprint, C.K. blends his stand up act with ultra uncomfortable situational comedy in a way that only his sharp but twisted mind could pull off.
NBC, despite it’s success with “The Voice,” will use the summer months to burn off a couple of “couples” comedies that the network stashed back far, far on the shelf. Unfortunately for “Love Bites” and “Friends with Benefits,” their pilots were put on the back burner during the transfer of power between the old peacock regime and the new Comcast bosses.
Beginning June 25, “Friends with Benefits” will get its debut during the unattractive 8 o’clock hour on Saturdays. Seriously, NBC cares so little for this comedy, they’ve relegated it to the graveyard of television, Saturday evenings.
The ensemble piece stars Ryan Hansen (“Party Down”), Daneel Ackles (“One Tree Hill”) and Zach Cregger (“The Whitest Kids You Know”). A likable cast, the bad thing the show has going for it is that it’s just another one of those comedies about young, successful, well of couples. Well, not couples exactly, just like the title indicates, friends with benefits.
NBC finally blew the dust off of the other holdout, the confusingly hour-long “Love Bites.” The strangely paced, vignette style comedy debuted two weeks ago in the 10 p.m. Thurs. time slot.
Season four of “True Blood” will draw blood June 26 at 9 p.m. for the first of 12 episodes.
Television’s favorite curmudgeon, Larry David heads back to New York for the eight season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Ricky Gervais, Michael J. Fox and Cheyenne Jackson (“30 Rock,” “Glee”) join the improv heavy cast as the 10-episode season (who knows if it’s the last) kicks off July 10 at 10 p.m.
After crumbling into TV’s laziest show, the boys from Queens Boulevard will finally start their farewell season of “Entourage” on HBO. The final eight episodes will air at 10:30 p.m. starting July 24.
After a full calendar year, the long awaited “Breaking Bad” season 4 premiere will debut July 17 at 10 p.m. on AMC. Everyone’s favorite meth-cooking science teacher (Bryan Cranston) returns after a hiatus which might open the door for “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm to actually win an Emmy this year since Cranston is not eligible.
Tons of reality programming will make its way to DVR hard drives this summer, two of the most enjoyable guilty pleasures have to be CBS’ “Big Brother” and MTV’s Road Rules / Real World “The Challenge: Rivals.”
The three-time-a-week competition show returns with host Julie Chen and likely plenty of twists and surprises July 7 at 9 p.m.
For my money, every iteration of “The Challenge” is can’t miss entertainment, but this upcoming season’s version is unparalleled. “Rivals” teams up 28 of the most bitter of arch enemies and throws a $300,000 purse up for grabs, given these adversaries can swallow their pride and work together. What’s most likely to happen? They’ll swallow a lot of alcohol and fight like children. Who could ask for anything more? “Rivals premieres June 22, 10 p.m.
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