The Televixen Summer TV Sampler

Summer TV

Here at The Televixen, we have our favorites, the shows we recap, and the ones we set appointments around. This summer has held a few lovely surprises where the decision to sample a show, or casually pick it up, turned into really enjoyable TV. Here’s a rundown of shows we didn’t expect to love but then sort of did.

Heather’s Picks

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Murder in the First

I watched the first season, which centered around a single crime, and I’m not going to lie, but when [SPOILER ALERT] the focus of the entire season’s investigation was arrested and then suicide in the closing moments of the finale, I was more than a little bit put out about my time invested in watching all of the episodes. This season, they got away from the single-case arc and instead have focused on a few throughlines that began with a mass student shooting and have intersected with a police corruption scandal.

At its heart it’s a procedural, but the cast is fantastic. Headlined by Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson, it also includes Currie Graham, Raphael Sbarge, and new this season, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Laila Robins, A.J. Buckley, and Sons of Anarchy‘s Mo McRae. I definitely recommend catching up on Season 2, which will wrap at the end of the month. Murder in the First airs Mondays at 10e/9c on TNT in the US and 10 pm e/7p on Bravo in Canada.

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Aquarius

David Duchovny. The end. I’m only partially kidding there. I bailed out of Californication a few seasons in, so I was glad to see Duchovny back on TV so soon again (to be followed by The X-Files revival in January –WHEE!). This was an experiment, with the whole season put online the night the pilot aired, but I’ve still been watching ye olde fashioned way. The only drawback is that they hilariously mute the swears for broadcast.

It’s a procedural set in the 60s before anybody knew who Charles Manson was, and Duchovny plays a detective in the LAPD who’s less-than-poltically-correct on most things but still a solid cop. The cast is rounded out with The Secret Circle‘s Grey Damon and The OriginalsClaire Holt. I liked it much more than I expected to, but I will wholly admit to speeding through a lot of the Manson stuff — Gethin Anthony is wicked effective. Aquarius airs Saturdays at 9e/8c on NBC and is available online.

DEREK WEBSTER, KRISTEN CONNOLLY, BARRY SLOANE, LILY RABE, MILO VENTIMIGLIA

The Whispers

I was looking forward to this one for Barry Sloane. Period. And then it got doubly interesting when the show was picked up from pilot and promptly transplanted out of LA to Vancouver, upsetting many of the cast, who had signed on for an LA-based run. I think it definitely lent itself to the right look, although cost drove that decision. What began as a spooky kids-are-easily-made-evil yarn has grown more interesting each week, primarily on the strength of the relationship between Sloane’s character, Wes, and Claire, played by Lily Rabe.

They were Federal agent colleagues who began an affair while married to other people, and then her husband was killed in a mysterious military plane crash. They ended their affair, but it’s very clear that they’re still in love with each other and trying hard to do the right thing. That’s complicated by the fact that her presumed-dead husband (Milo Ventimiglia) is very much alive and back in the picture. And they’re trying to stave off a potential alien invasion. So there’s that. It’s got just the right amount of tension and mood, and Canadian guest cast, i.e., Martin Cummins is playing POTUS. They were off last week but return this week. The Whispers airs at 10e/9c Mondays on ABC.

YUNJIN KIM, SONJA BENNETT, ED QUINN

Mistresses

This show was in the same boat as The Whispers — they had two LA-based seasons and then were punted to Vancouver, losing lead Alyssa Milano in the process. I didn’t watch those, which followed four friends as they navigated romantic entanglements, but I was intrigued by the casting possibilities of the move, so I picked it up.

I’m not nuts about all of the arcs, but one of the most interesting has been to have one of the leads, Karen (Yunjim Kim), fall into a polyamorous relationship and try to figure out how all that works emotionally. Ed Quinn and Sonja Bennett play the married couple, Alec and Vivian, who grow close to her when she agrees to a medical procedure to help treat Vivian. It’s been surprisingly very compelling (vs. salacious).

Rookie Blue fans would get a giggle out of Noam Jenkins paying a really smarmy cheating husband to new cast member Jennifer Espositio, and Lost Girl fans will appreciate Emmanuelle Vaugier as a saucy, tatted bartender. Mistresses airs at 9e/8c Thursdays on ABC and 9e/6p on CTV.

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Humans

Every now and again, I completely misread a promo campaign, and this was one of those times. I thought it was a reality show and then I caught it halfway through the second episode and realized it wasn’t so I went back and watched the pilot. It’s set in a parallel current timeline where Britons have taken to installing Synths (synthetic humans) in their homes to help with child care, senior care, and general household chores.

Unbeknownst to the general population, there’s a faction who have achieved AI and they’re trying to reassemble their family after an accident leaves one in custody and another reprogrammed. The best piece of casting is William Hurt as a scientist who ended up bonding with his Synth and is secretly fighting to not have to surrender a robot he values as s son. Humans airs on AMC Sundays at 9/8c in the US and 9e/6p in Canada.

Melissa’s Picks

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The Astronaut Wives Club

I hadn’t heard much about this one going in, but some of my small screen faves — including Yvonne Strahovski and Wilson Bethel — were enough to pique my curiosity. The story of the seven women married to America’s first astronauts, the series is based on the book by Lily Koppel. At the very least, I expected to enjoy the amazing wardrobe, but I was sucked into the stories from the first episode, especially those of Rene Carpenter (Strahovski), an aspiring writer, and Trudy Cooper (Odette Annable), a pilot who thinks she has every right to go to space as her husband. It’s

The Astronaut Wives Club is a tale of American royalty, unlikely friendships, coming together under tragic circumstances, and changing times. It airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC.

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UnREAL

This was the show that I planned to casually watch for some fun and fluffy summer TV, and ended up being so swept up in its complexity and darkness. From the amount of buzz that the show has received so far, I’m not the only one that was impressed.

This fictional look at what goes on behind the scenes in a dating competition show, “Everlasting,” UnREAL centers on Rachel Goldberg (Shiri Appleby), a producer on the show tasked with manufacturing the drama while battling her own demons. Constance Zimmer plays Quinn, the executive producer that manipulates Rachel and the other producers into creating a ratings hit. The Season 1 finale airs tonight at 10/9c on Lifetime, and it’s been picked up for a second season.

About Heather M.

Heather M. is a longtime TV addict (she’s admitted the problem and has whittled herself down to a *reasonable* number of shows) and writer/editor. She pays the bills by writing marketing communications in the tech sector. She’s been writing about genre TV since Invisible Man and Dark Angel and loved Jensen Ackles before you did. You can read more of her TV writing at TV Goodness and follow her on Twitter @approximofnice.