In the past two decades of TV, summer has become an opportunity instead of a time for reruns and variety shows. Sure, the networks use the hot months to lean more heavily than the rest of the year on cheap reality and game shows. But the streamers and cable channels take full advantage of our downtime. More is coming in the next few weeks, and here are a few of the highlights.
Near the top of my eager-to-see list is a revival series: FX’s “Justified: City Primeval” (July 18). For eight episodes, we return to Elmore Leonard-ville, where Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens plays cat and mouse with a violent sociopath more than a decade after the events of “Justified” (which ended in 2015). The cast features Vondie Curtis-Hall, Aunjanue Ellis, Boyd Holbrook, Adelaide Clemens, and Olyphant’s real-life daughter Vivian Olyphant as Raylan’s daughter. The story is based on Leonard’s “City Primeval: High Noon in Detroit.”
Right up there, too, is an FX and Hulu miniseries called “A Murder at the End of the World” (Aug. 29) from the folks behind “The OA.” Emma Corrin, so excellent as Princess Diana in “The Crown” and in “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” stars as an amateur detective who’s invited with eight other guests to a billionaire’s isolated retreat. But, yeah, one of the guests is found dead, and she kicks into sleuthing mode. Clive Owen costars as the reclusive rich guy in what sounds a little like “Glass Onion,” except that it’s straight-up drama.
Speaking of “The Crown,” which returns for its final season in the fall, the production company for the royal drama is premiering a new Netflix thriller called “Who Is Erin Carter?” (Aug. 24). Set in Barcelona, the eight-episode show revolves around a British expat who gets caught up in a supermarket robbery that changes her peaceful existence. Turns out Erin, a wife and mother of one, may not be exactly who she says she is. Evin Ahmad stars.
I’m a fan of Sigourney Weaver, so I’m going to give her new Amazon miniseries, “The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart” (Aug. 4), a try. It’s a seven-part Australian mystery based on the Holly Ringland novel, with Weaver’s June, a flower farmer, taking in her 9-year-old granddaughter Alice after the child loses her parents in a mysterious fire. Weaver + Aussie Accent = Yes Please, Mate.
I can’t say that the adaptations of Harlan Coben novels count as “prestige TV,” but I can say that I watched “Safe” and “The Stranger” all the way through without forcing myself. They’re twist-filled mystery-thrillers that are easy to watch if you don’t think too much. “Shelter” (Aug. 18) is an Amazon adaptation of the first novel in Coben’s young-adult series featuring high schooler Mickey Bolitar (played by Jaden Michael). Turns out Mickey’s supposedly late father may not be dead, and his new girlfriend is missing, triggering a dangerous investigation by the 15-year-old sleuth.
I can’t say that the category “video game adapted into TV show” has meant much to me — that is until I saw the first season of “The Last of Us.” I’m now curious about Peacock’s “Twisted Metal” (July 27), a half-hour comedy adapted from the nearly 30-year-old PlayStation demolition derby franchise whose last new game came out in 2012. From “Deadpool” writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, it’s set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where a chatty milkman with amnesia is promised a better life if he can deliver a mysterious package. Anthony Mackie, Stephanie Beatriz, Thomas Haden Church, Will Arnett, and Samoa Joe star.
There are a few good shows returning before school starts, too. The comedy “Minx” (July 21) will be back for a second round, on Starz this time, since Max decided not to renew it. A fictional story about the creation of the first erotica magazine for women, it focuses on the creative tension between the feminist editor, played by Ophelia Lovibond, and the seedier publisher, played by Jake Johnson. FX and Hulu’s “Reservation Dogs” (Aug. 2) continues to follow the group of Indigenous kids, now back from California and living on their Oklahoma reservation. This season, the show’s third and last, will feature Graham Greene. Season two of the British teen series “Heartstopper” (Aug. 3) on Netflix picks up with friends-now-boyfriends Nick and Charlie navigating the next chapter of their relationship.