The summer doldrums can be a tough time for TV fans. With barely anything new on networks, it can be hard to find something to watch. Luckily, cable is increasingly moving some of its most interesting shows to the summer, where they don't have to compete with big-name series. The results, while not always Emmy-worthy, are still compelling. I talked about some great summer shows in a previous column but here are 6 more for the summer of 2013.
3 stars, Amazon Prime, first three seasons now streaming
USA has made a name for itself by creating original programming in a pretty strict format. Each show follows a quirky protagonist in an otherwise fairly predictable genre show. For Covert Affairs (USA, 2010-Present) that formula wasn't a great fit at first. A spy show about a young secret agent who still sometimes lets her emotions interfere with the mission, Covert Affairs, managed to nail a fun mission of the week for its first two seasons in ways that kept it's lead character Annie (Piper Perabo) in a weird holding pattern as she made the same mistakes and barely succeeded despite them over and over again. In its third season, though, Cover Affairs became almost a different show, telling longer stories over several episodes and finally starting to take Annie and her decisions seriously. The results still aren't likely to earn too many awards (though it did earn Perabo a Golden Globe nomination) but they have managed to turn a show that was already an entertaining way to waste a little time into genuinely compelling television.
3 stars, Netflix, first season now streaming
I'll admit that I only started watching Longmire (A&E, 2012-Present) because it co-starred Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff, but by the end of its first season...actually that's still the only reason I was watching. But sometimes that's enough. The cast of Longmire is a pleasant, professional bunch headed by Robert Taylor and assisted by a group of enjoyable supporting actors of which Sackhoff is but one. Hanging out each week and just watching this group solve mysteries is a pretty good way to spend an hour. Unfortunately, Longmire wants to be much more than that, stacking emotional gut-punches for its characters on top of depressing revelations about their pasts in a lot of episodes. What makes that unfortunate is that it isn't very good at either of those things. As the crime procedural the show actually is every week, it's pretty enjoyable, but as the Emmy-nominated drama it so clearly wants to be, it's a depressing failure. Here's hoping that the just-begun second season will let it settle into a more comfortable groove as one show or the other.
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