This column gets around. Sometimes it goes to the opera, theatre and dance. Once it went to a baseball game and fell asleep. But that's another story.
By the time you read this, I will be in Moncton, covering a portion of the Women's World Cup for our excellent Sports section. Then, Montreal for a bit. Last time this column covered a World Cup it spent a month in Rio. This time, it's five days in Moncton. But it's going to be a fun-filled ride in Moncton and Montreal. If you see this column alone and palely loitering in those places, say hello. And do follow me to the Sports section for a while.
Now, then – summer TV. We are currently in that fallow period between the end of the regular season and the start of a schedule of blockbuster returns and new series. From the serious to the frivolous. Herewith, a handy, skeleton guide to summer viewing.
Orange Is the New Black (Netflix, June 12) returns for a third season. There's major tension as the series resets the narrative. When we last met the characters, Litchfield Penitentiary was on lockdown after the escape of Vee and Rosa. Our sometime-heroine Piper was enraged by the relationship between ex-fiancé Larry and ex-best friend Polly. Things turn surreal as Piper's love interest Alex is back in the slammer. Very surreal.
Full Circle: Chicago (Super Channel, June 15) is the second batch of the 10-episode dramatic series that's essentially about conversations. It follows a small group of people whose lives are intertwined. The Chicago batch focuses on Jimmy Parerra, a cop who, 18 years earlier, exposed police corruption in Chicago. He sent his own father-in-law to jail and, as the series opens, the man is about to be released. Written by Keith Huff (who wrote for Mad Men and House of Cards), the drama is very actorly, slow-moving and rich in the texture of regret and rage. It draws a stellar cast, including Terry O'Quinn, Stacy Keach, Rita Wilson, Calista Flockhart and Eric McCormack.
The Astronaut Wives Club (ABC, June 18) is a high-gloss soaper set in the early 1960s. Based on the Lily Koppel novel of the same name, it follows a group of women whose bond is the profession of their husbands. These wives are of their time, used to playing secondary roles and now have celebrity status. On the evidence of what's available, it's big on fashion, music and has hints of looming female empowerment. It's hard to tell if ABC is going for outright nostalgia here and, while there's depth to it, this isn't Mad Men, obviously. There are no well-known stars in the cast, which is unusual. A likely stand-out in the cast is Irish actress Dominique McElligott, who was in the movie The Guard.
True Detective (HBO Canada, June 21) is an entirely different series in season two. Set in California in a fictional small city, it is anchored in a murder – the body of a man, "a corrupt city manager," is found along the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur. There are hints of some serious depravity in his personal life, a theme that does connect to the satanic-cult suggestions in the first season. Here, however, the three main investigators are played by Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch. Vince Vaughn plays a dodgy businessman connected to the depravity, the Mob or both. What's promised is seriousness without the stark gloom of the first series.
Humans (AMC, June 28) is terrific. A British/U.S. production, it is based on the Swedish sci-fi drama Real Humans. Set in suburban London, in a time that's close to now but different, it is rooted in a new fad – every family wants a Synth, a highly developed, artificially intelligent servant; a robot that's profoundly close to being human. The series is a dark comedy but one that delves into a great deal that's serious. Gemma Chan is marvellous as Anita, a seemingly servile robot whose actions are sometimes not programmed at all. And William Hurt is great as an older man whose bond with his Synth is both touching and melancholy.
Finally, if your taste runs mainly to British TV, Poldark returns to PBS on Masterpiece, June 21. More lust and brawn and beautiful damsels, all in beautiful Cornwall. At about the time it returns, I will also be back. See you later, my hearties.
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