As the summer drifts forward, the hits — or rather, the wannabe hits — will just keep on coming. You may be planning to take some time off, but the TV outlets are not going to follow suit; your downtime is another one of their windows of opportunity, another chance to bump up their stock in the attention economy.
There will be mysteries and thrillers in the coming weeks, and I will be there for them. When done well, a good, twisty drama can be particularly satisfying, like putting together a puzzle while scratching an itch. Apple TV+ has been on a roll lately, with “Black Bird,” “Slow Horses,” and “Severance,” and so I’ve got my fingers crossed for the streamer’s “Surface” (July 29). Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as a woman who lost her memory in what she is being told by her husband was a suicide attempt. Hmmm. Like the amnesiac protagonist in HBO Max’s “The Tourist,” she will need to secretly investigate her past to learn what really happened.
Apple TV+ will also premiere a more comic mystery this summer, in which four sisters may or may not be responsible for the death of a toxic family member. Set in Ireland, “Bad Sisters” (Aug. 19) is a remake of a Belgian series from Sharon Horgan of “Catastrophe” and “This Way Up,” and it promises a few laughs amid the whodunit trickery. Likewise, Peacock is premiering a darkly comic mystery that sounds a bit like — but lighter than — last summer’s excellent “The White Lotus.” Called “The Resort” (July 28), it’s about an unhappy couple, played by William Jackson Harper and Cristin Millioti, who get caught up in an unsolved mystery from 15 years earlier while vacationing in Mexico. The eight half-hour episodes, also starring Nick Offerman and Ben Sinclair from “High Maintenance,” are from “Lodge 49″ and “Palm Springs” writer Andy Siara.
I’m especially interested in “The Patient” (Aug. 30), a straight-up psychological thriller on Hulu. Why? It’s from the creators of “The Americans,” Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg. Also, the concept is intriguing. Steve Carell plays a therapist who finds himself held captive by a patient who happens to be a serial killer, and who happens to be played by Domhnall Gleeson. The serial killer demands that the therapist cure him of his homicidal impulses, a topic that “The Sopranos” dealt with as well.
There will be fantasy and magic, too, as the summer begins to fade and the movie blockbusters trail off. The two biggies are HBO’s “House of the Dragon” (Aug. 21) and Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (Sept. 2). The former is the first “Game of Thrones” spinoff, a prequel set two centuries before the original series. The 10-episode season will track the downfall of House Targaryen, and it will star Paddy Considine, Emma D’Arcy, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Rhys Ifans, Eve Best, and Fabien Frankel, some of them in blond Targaryen wigs. “The Rings of Power,” considered the most expensive TV series ever made, will tell a new story set in the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books, perhaps to distinguish itself from the celebrated Tolkien movie series. It’s set millennia before “The Hobbit,” and a second season has already been ordered.
Neil Gaiman is also on the summer’s fantasy docket with a series adaptation of his comic book series “The Sandman” (Aug. 5). Tom Sturridge stars in the Netflix series as Morpheus, joined by a star-stocked supporting cast including Gwendoline Christie, Charles Dance, Jenna Coleman, Joely Richardson, David Thewlis, Stephen Fry, Patton Oswalt, Mark Hamill, and OK I’ll stop now. Amazon’s “Paper Girls” (July 29) will blend sci-fi with coming-of-age adventures, as four newspaper delivery girls — played by Camryn Jones, Riley Lai Nelet, Sofia Rosinsky, and Fina Strazza — get caught in a battle between time travelers.
There will be comedies, naturally, for when you finish up the just-premiered new season of “What We Do in the Shadows.” Issa Rae of “Insecure” has created a new Miami-set series for HBO Max called “Rap Sh!t” (July 21). It stars Aida Osman and KaMillion as estranged high school friends who reunite to form a rap group. Over on Netflix, Neil Patrick Harris will star as a New Yorker whose boyfriend suddenly drops him after 17 years in “Uncoupled” (July 29). The show is from Darren Star (“Sex and the City”) and Jeffrey Richman (“Modern Family”), and looks into what it’s like to be a gay man looking for love in his 40s.
Greg Garcia of “My Name Is Earl” and “Raising Hope” will spring a new comedy on us called “Sprung” (Aug. 19). The setup of the show, which will be on Freevee, is that three nonviolent convicts who’ve been let out of prison due to the pandemic join forces to pull a Robin Hood act of sorts. The cast is promising, with Garret Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton from “Raising Hope” returning to the Garcia fold. And finally, Peacock is importing a British comedy about millennials in their 20s called “Everything I Know About Love” (Aug. 25) that features the wonderful Bel Powley (from “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and “The Morning Show”). She and Emma Appleton star as part of a group of four friends and housemates dealing with romance and careers in London.