These days we measure the change of seasons by what’s arriving on streaming TV. Thus, summer starts with a new season of Stranger Things. It’s here already and more talked-about than the weather. The season resumes again for part 2 on Friday, July 1.
Summer TV is by tradition light, bright, breezy and, mainly a distraction from seriousness, aiming to keep you in a summer mood. There’s some breezy, undemanding TV this year but a number of noble attempts at high-minded diversion.
Ms. Marvel (June 8, streams on Disney+) is what the title suggests – the story of Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a Pakistani-American teenager from Jersey City, a Marvel super-fan, of course, who accrues superpowers, naturally, to defend the world from evil while dealing with common high school problems. Possibly has a cultural relevance, but lacking the subtlety of Stranger Things.
A more substantial and tangled tale is told in Dark Winds (June 12, on AMC) a mystery-thriller based on Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee book, it’s about two Navajo police offers (Zahn McClarnon, Kiowa Gordon). Noah Emmerich (The Americans) and Rainn Wilson also feature in a story set in 1971 on a remote outpost of the Navajo Nation near Monument Valley.
Chloe (June 24, streams on Amazon Prime Video) is a BBC thriller arriving with great reviews. It concerns Becky Green (Erin Doherty, from The Crown), who stalks her childhood friend Chloe (Poppy Gilbert) on social media. Chloe’s sweet life contrasts sharply with her own caring for her mom, who has dementia. Then there’s a murder.
Comedy comes in with God’s Favorite Idiot (June 15, streams on Netflix), with the not-unfamiliar premise of a low-level, uncharismatic guy being tapped by God for a higher purpose. Here it’s Clark (Ben Falcone) a tech-support fella, who has a crush on his co-worker Amily (Melissa McCarthy, Falcone’s wife), and loves his pets. He must save mankind from Satan herself (Leslie Bibb).
The Lake (June 17, streams on Amazon Prime Video) will get a ton of attention as Amazon’s first scripted Canadian original. Heavy on the Canadiana, being set in Ontario cottage country, it’s light on logic or comedy. Justin (Jordan Gavaris, Orphan Black) returns from living abroad and tries reconnecting with the biological daughter Billie (Madison Shamoun) that he gave up for adoption. They go to the lake cottage he loved in childhood, but his dad left the cottage to his stepsister, Maisy-May (Julia Stiles). Weirdly unfunny at the start.
Loot (June 24, streams on Apple TV+) has more heart and fun. Billionaire Molly Novak (Maya Rudolph) has a great, rich life, but when her husband cheats, she dissolves into a mess of tabloid-friendly shenanigans. Essentially, it’s a smart workplace comedy about the people who work for a billionaire.
The Umbrella Academy Season 3 (June 22, streams on Netflix) could be filed under “returning series,” but each eye-popping season tends to be unique. Last time out, the Academy members stopped an apocalypse in 1963. Now in the present day they face a competing band of gloomy superheroes in the Sparrow Academy. Havoc – well, explosions of specials effects – ensue. Returning cast include Elliot Page, Robert Sheehan and Colm Feore, plus an army of local Toronto actors and as usual, Toronto-area locations feature splendidly.
Black Bird (July 8, streams on AppleTV+) looks dark, intense and gripping. A guy in prison for drug-dealing (Taron Egerton) is offered a deal – he can get out early if he moves to maximum security and gets a confession from a guy the authorities believe is a serial killer. Based on a true story and developed and produced by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone).
SkyMed (July 10, CBC, streams on CBC Gem, later on Paramount Plus) promises “Life, death, and drama at 20,000 feet” and that means it exists to look at, rather than experience as drama. City nurse Hayley Roberts (Natasha Calis) joins the team of nurses and pilots at flying air ambulances who save lives in remote Northern Manitoba. It’s a soaper with better scenery than actual plotting, but a nice escape.
House of the Dragon (Aug. 21, HBO, streams on Crave) is the late-summer big-ticket entry. Set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the 10-episode series focuses on House Targaryen and origin of Westeros politics and feuding. Paddy Considine and Matt Smith (Doctor Who) star as King Viserys Targaryen and his son Prince Daemon Targaryen. Since Thrones ended with a whimper, this one needs to justify its extravagant budget and effects.
Returning shows: Only Murders in the Building (June 28, on Disney+ Canada), P-Valley (June 3, on Starz/Crave), Westworld (June 26, on HBO/Crave) Grantchester (July 1, on PBS Masterpiece) and the final season of Peaky Blinders (June 10, streams on Netflix).
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