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Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer of "True Blood," one of the better offerings coming back to television this summer (Art Streiber)
Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer of "True Blood," one of the better offerings coming back to television this summer (Art Streiber)

John Doyle: Television

Reasons to be cheerful - a sizzling summer of hot stuff and soccer Add to ...

As I write this, the huddled masses here at the centre of the universe go about the streets shivering. Hailstones and wet snow come tumbling from the sky. A chilly wind that arrives with a this-is-personal viciousness from Lake Ontario sends the innocents scurrying into latte-drinking emporiums.

Some say this weather is a judgment from on high, a rebuke to the hubris of fools who thought winter had been avoided, just this once. Others, who toil on Bay Street, say it is the work of the Ontario NDP, part and parcel of the Dippers’ plan to force the minority government to tax the super-rich. They bring bad weather, the Dippers. And others, those who thought on the weekend that it was time to mow the lawn again, merely wonder what the hell just happened.

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It is, then, a time to think about summer. Yes, summer. Days of wine and roses. Or, as happens hereabouts, days of whine and poses.

My own plans involve spending all of June in Poland and Ukraine, covering the Euro 2012 tournament for this great newspaper. Hotel prices in the Ukraine are in the Bev Oda-preferred range, so expect some reports to emanate from park benches and the back of the bus that goes around Kiev all night. The Euro tournament will take up a lot of TV time – and talk – in June. This brings us, at last, to thoughts of summer television.

On Tuesday, after arriving all shivery at work, I was delighted to spot an announcement in the inbox about what the channel known as Slice plans to offer in the coming balmy months. Hot stuff, surely?

Well, as it turns out, hot stuff is in the eye of the beholder. “Slice is cranking up the heat this summer with four brand-new Canadian pilot series,” declares the announcement. “The new dating series Love Hunters sends single women on a whirlwind, one-week search for the perfect love connection while the ultra-competitive Wedding Dress Wars sees designers go thread-to-thread to create one bride’s dream gown. The outrageous My Teenage Wedding takes viewers into the lives of teens who will stop at nothing to walk down the aisle and Make Me Over, Make Me Under, the new series rescuing victims from both extremes of a fashion crisis, will have audiences wishing for more.”

Oh, for heaven’s sake. The channel, which started out being called “Life” is primarily aimed at women and, it seems, takes the stance that its viewers turn into demented trolls in the summer months. I remember when “Life” turned into “Slice.” An announcement about programming included mention of “train wrecks and catfights to group dynamics spiralling out of control and underdogs coming out on top.” Indeedy. So it was promised in the spring of 2007 and so it will be in the summer of 2012.

Now, far be it from me to decry this summer programming as an emanation of a depraved value system derived from an obsession with weddings, dating, looks, instant gratification and a shallow reality-TV culture rooted in mocking the misfortunate. After all, I’m not a woman. Still, I’d speculate that the women I know don’t turn into demented trolls for the summer.

In fairness, there’s a lot of cheesy reality TV coming or returning this summer. You can gape at Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and Wipeout on ABC. On the same network comes Trust Us With Your Life, hosted by Fred Willard, which has celebrity guests discussing “important and interesting moments from their lives.” Some “improvisers” will act out the scenes. It’s giving me a summer headache already. Oh yes, there’s also Rookie Blue returning on Global. And from the same producers comes the new Canadian hospital drama Saving Hope, which will air in June on CTV and NBC. That’s an alternative for you if you’re put off by Bachelor Pad, which also returns.

The good news, if you’re of a certain disposition, is that True Blood returns to HBO in June and, that same month, HBO debuts Aaron Sorkin’s new show about an all-news channel, The Newsroom. Mind you, your disposition might incline you toward Anger Management, the Charlie Sheen vehicle, which comes to CTV in late June.

If nothing from that list cheers you up during the grim weather, I can’t help you. But, if you think that Italy playing Spain in Gdansk on June 10, or the Netherlands playing Germany in Kharkiv on June 13, means the promise of a sizzling summer, I’m your man.

Jiminy, it’s cold and miserable. Bring on the summer.

AIRING TONIGHT

Thought Crimes (HBO Canada, 9:45 p.m.) is rarely seen and was first called Strip Search. Directed by Sidney Lumet ( Serpico, The Verdict) and written by Tom Fontana ( Oz and Homicide: Life on the Street), it was described by The New York Times in 2004 as “intensely earnest” and “painfully wrong-headed.” It’s about the decline of civil liberties under the U.S. Patriot Act. In parallel stories we witness the detention of a Muslim immigrant (Bruno Lastra) in the United States and the arrest and interrogation of an American (Maggie Gyllenhaal) in China.

All times ET. Check local listings.

Follow on Twitter: @MisterJohnDoyle

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