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Summer 2013 TV Preview: ‘The Bridge,’ ‘Broadchurch,’ ‘The Fall,’ & More

Jace Lacob rounds up new and noteworthy TV this summer, from ‘The Bridge’ to the return of ‘The Killing.’

Summer isn’t the television wasteland that it used to be. While the broadcasters are still figuring out what to do with their real estate during these lazy months (original drama? reality competitions? burn-offs?), cable channels have long known the power of airing high-profile series throughout the heat, and there is quite a lot of original programming to be seen during these next sweltering months.

 

CBS is launching the event series Under the Dome and attempting to tap into the runaway success of BBC’s The Great British Bake Off (which I reviewed here) with American remake The American Baking Competition. So You Think You Can Dance, The Bachelorette, Masterchef, and America’s Got Talent are all back on their respective networks’ schedules, while many of you will be too busy bingeing on the return of Arrested Development on Netflix to notice much else.

 

But as far as what shows you should be putting on your TiVo’s Season Pass, here are 17 new or notable returning shows—from the expected (Breaking Bad) and high-profile (FX’s The Bridge) to the more offbeat (Netflix’s The Fall and BBC America’s Broadchurch).

BBC

‘The Fall’ (Netflix)

Netflix’s gripping and devilishly intense drama The Fall—starring Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), Jamie Dornan (Once Upon a Time), and Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife)—which is now airing on BBC Two in the U.K., revolves around the quest to track down an intelligent and sadistic serial killer in Belfast who is stalking and targeting dark-haired professional women. Anderson is Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, seconded from the Metropolitan Police to assist with an unsolved murder investigation. What she discovers instead is a string of serial killings and a killer who is one step ahead of the police. Dornan plays Paul Spector, a loving husband and father who is killing women in his spare time. A full review of the five-episode season can be found here. (Available to stream beginning May 28.)

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

‘The Killing’ (AMC)

I know, I know. I too swore that I was done with AMC’s The Killing (based on the superlative Danish murder mystery Forbrydelsen) after its appalling second season. But the two-hour opener of Season 3 shows signs of improvement. One: the plot—which revolves around the serial killing of teenage runaways/prostitutes—isn’t based on any of Forbrydelsen’s three seasons, allowing the show to go in its own direction. Two: Peter Sarsgaard, who plays a death-row inmate put away by Mireille Enos’s Sarah Linden, delivers a terrifically disturbing performance. Three: Jewel Staite, Grace Zabriskie, and Gregg Henry turn up. Four: There’s some nice tension and distrust between Linden (Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman), whose partnership was split up. The second hour—not written by showrunner Veena Sud—is stronger than the first. If I can give it another shot, you can, too. (Returns June 2 at 9 p.m.)

Sundance Channel

‘Push Girls’ (Sundance Channel)

If you missed Season 1 of the Sundance Channel’s outstanding docusoap Push Girls—a stunning exploration of four paralyzed women who embrace the possibilities of life from the vantage point of their wheelchairs—do yourself a favor and catch up on this incredible reality show before the second season begins June 3. Season 2 of Push Girls finds Angela, Auti, Tiphany, and Mia as they “explore new romances, tackle longstanding issues, mentor newly injured patients, and try out modern technologies that will allow them to pursue happiness and independence on their own terms.” They’ll be joined again by 21-year-old Chelsie, who looks to the “push girls” for inspiration and guidance after becoming paralyzed four years ago. Eye-opening, powerful, and emotionally nuanced, Push Girls proves that the reality genre isn’t limited to cutthroat competitions or over-the-top rich housewives. (Returns June 3 at 10 p.m.)

BBC/Des Willie

‘In the Flesh’ (BBC America)

Yes, there’s a veritable proliferation of zombies on television, but BBC America’s clever and surprising drama In the Flesh, which airs across three consecutive nights in early June, offers a drastically different take on the undead, focusing on the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse rather than the “rising” itself. Luke Newberry stars as Kieren Walker, who has PDS—Partially Deceased Syndrome—and who, thanks to medical breakthroughs, has been able to reclaim his humanity after the horrific zombie attacks years earlier, despite flashbacks to his rabid state. As he returns home to his parents’ house, armed with contact lenses and flesh-toned body mousse, Kieren discovers that not everyone in the sleepy village of Roarton wants to see PDS sufferers reintegrate into society… and an underground fringe group of patients, which pushes fellow former zombies to take a drug called Blue Oblivion, may not be willing to suffer quietly. What follows is a somber and sobering look at domestic and social tensions, enacted through the prism of a bloody zombie apocalypse. (Airs June 6-8 at 10 p.m.)

James Minchin/USA Network

‘Graceland’ (USA)

Creator Jeff Eastin (White Collar) is behind the new USA drama series Graceland, which is inspired by true events. Revolving around a group of undercover agents from federal law-enforcement agencies—including the FBI, Customs, and the DEA—who live together in the titular beach house, Graceland stars Aaron Tveit, Brandon Lay McLaren, Courtney B. Vance, Daniel Sunjata, Manny Montana, Serinda Swan, and Vanessa Ferlito. (Launches June 6 at 10 p.m.)

Eric McCandless/ABC Family

‘Switched at Birth’ (ABC Family)

The back half of Season 2 of ABC Family’s groundbreaking hearing/deaf drama Switched at Birth finds more change coming to the Kennish-Vasquez clan. With Regina (Constance Marie) away at rehab, Daphne (Katie Leclerc) grows closer to her biological family, which doesn’t make Regina happy. Elsewhere, Bay (Vanessa Marano) gets reacquainted with former flame Ty (Blair Redford), newly returned after serving in Afghanistan; Emmett (Sean Berdy) and Travis (Ryan Lane) become closer friends; and the wedding between Toby (Lucas Grabeel) and Nikki (Cassi Thomson) looms large. Plus, I’m told that there will be a “what-if” episode (airing July 8) that imagines what would have happened if Regina had told the hospital about the switch when the girls were 3 years old, while Lea Thompson will make her television directorial debut with the July 22 episode. (Returns June 10 at 8 p.m.)

ITV/Mammoth for MASTERPIECE

Masterpiece Mystery: ‘Inspector Lewis’/‘Endeavour’ (PBS)

Inspector Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) and DS James Hathaway (Laurence Fox) unite for a potentially final go-round when Inspector Lewis returns with three new feature-length episodes that once again find the duo solving murders amid the dreaming spires of Oxford. Meanwhile, after its successful Endeavour pilot, Masterpiece brings back a young Inspector Morse (Shaun Evans)—known here by his first name, Endeavour—with four feature-length Endeavour episodes. Here’s the pre-red Jaguar investigator cutting his teeth as a young detective constable in 1965 Oxford under the watchful eye of his superior, Detective Inspector Fred Thursday (Roger Allam). (Inspector Lewis returns June 16 at 9 p.m.; Endeavour returns July 7 at 9 p.m.)

HBO/John P. Johnson

‘True Blood’ (HBO)

Sigh. I’ll admit that I’m more or less hate-watching True Blood these days after the disappointment of the last few flawed seasons. But I’m curious to see what Season 6 of True Blood is like, given the departure of showrunner Alan Ball (who decamped to Cinemax’s Banshee) and then the departure of Ball’s successor, Mark Hudis, midway through the sixth season… as well as the fact that Season 6 of True Blood will be comprised of just 10 episodes, instead of the usual 12. Will it make for a tighter, more cohesive run, or will this trip back to Bon Temps prove to be just as depressing and messy as before? Season 6 finds the Authority in ruins and Bill (Stephen Moyer) newly resurrected, while Sookie (Anna Paquin) and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) search for their parents’ killer, the enigmatic Warlow. (Returns June 16 at 9 p.m.)

CBS Broadcasting

‘Under the Dome’ (CBS)

Based on the Stephen King novel, Under the Dome is an intriguingly eerie 13-episode “event” series that revolves around the residents of Chester’s Mill, Maine, a sleepy burg where nothing much seems to happen … until the town is cut off from the rest of civilization by a mysterious invisible barrier that appears from nowhere. While locals attempt to come to terms with the shocking events—including being separated from loved ones—personal agendas, vendettas, and desires bubble up, even as those in charge attempt to keep the peace. On the outside, the government attempts to breach the barrier as all eyes turn toward Chester’s Mill. Under the Dome—overseen by Brian K. Vaughan and Neal Baer—stars Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Dean Norris, Natalie Martinez, Britt Robertson, Alexander Koch, Colin Ford, Nicholas Strong, Jolene Purdy, and Aisha Hinds. (Launches June 24 at 10 p.m.)

Showtime/Jeff Riedel

‘Ray Donovan’ (Showtime)

Ann Biderman—who was behind TNT’s much-mourned Southland—created Showtime drama Ray Donovan, which stars Liev Schreiber as the eponymous character, a Hollywood fixer known for being the best at getting the job done, a product of his rough-and-tumble Irish Catholic upbringing in Boston. But Ray has a few skeletons in his closet, which get rattled when his father, Mickey Donovan (Jon Voigt), is released from prison after 20 years. Arriving in Los Angeles, Mickey is out for payback against his son, who engineered his arrest, and his unpredictability puts everyone in the sprawling Donovan family in danger. This provocative and taut series also stars Paula Malcomson, Dash Mihok, Eddie Marsan, Katherine Moennig, Johnathon Schaech, Peter Jacobson, and Elliott Gould. (Launches June 30 at 10 p.m.)

FX Network

‘The Bridge’ (FX)

Based on the stellar Danish/Swedish drama Broen, the American version of The Bridge shifts the action away from Scandinavia to the U.S. and Mexican border. When a woman’s corpse is discovered at the halfway point on a bridge connecting Juarez and El Paso, two detectives—American Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) and Mexican Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir)—are forced to put aside their differences in order to work together to catch a killer operating on both sides of the titular bridge. The original mined the hunt for a notorious killer to explore literal and figurative connections—linguistic, national, emotional, and personal—and the American adaptation delves into intriguing geopolitical themes, examining the complicity in the silence surrounding the murdered girls of Juarez and drug- and human-trafficking empires. This is one summer drama that should not be missed. (Launches July 10 at 10 p.m.)

HBO/Melissa Moseley

‘The Newsroom’ (HBO)

Aaron Sorkin’s newsroom drama The Newsroom returns in July for a second season, which will find the staff of the fictional nightly news program News Night chasing an enigmatic tip, one that leads the crew to a story that “ultimately spins out of control.” (Now what recent news story could that be?) Also of note: the second season may include the 2012 United States presidential election. Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterston, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill, Thomas Sadowski, Olivia Munn, and Dev Patel return to star in Season 2 of The Newsroom. (Returns July 14 at 10 p.m.)

Patrick Redmond/ITV

‘Broadchurch’ (BBC America)

Chris Chibnall’s fascinating and gripping murder-mystery drama Broadchurch—which aired to tremendous ratings in the U.K. when it was broadcast on ITV this year—revolves around the inexplicable murder of an 11-year-old boy in a sleepy Dorset beach community. Who would want to murder Danny Latimer (Oskar McNamara), and why was he standing at the edge of a cliff on the night of his killing? These are questions that plague chalk-and-cheese detective duo Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), the latter newly returned from maternity leave to discover that the former—a disgraced detective who failed to obtain a conviction for a child killer elsewhere—has taken her job. Everyone in the seaside town of Broadchurch is a suspect in Danny’s killing, though Alec has secrets of his own that he’s keeping. My full review of the eight-episode season can be read here. Mark your calendars now. (Launches August 7 at 10 p.m.)

Company Pictures

‘The White Queen’ (Starz)

Based on Phillipa Gregory’s historical-novel series The Cousins’ War, Starz’s lush period drama The White Queen revolves around the War of the Roses, which pitted the Houses of Lancashire and York, cousins to one another, against each other for control of the English throne during a bloody feud that divided their country. Told from the perspective of three women who would challenge each other to mount the throne—the White Queen, beautiful widow Lady Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson); the Red Queen, Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale); and the Kingmaker’s Daughter, Anne Neville (Faye Marsay)—The White Queen depicts the relationship between Edward IV (Max Irons)—who defeats the Lancastrian rebels—and the commoner, Elizabeth, whom he chooses to become his queen, against the wishes of his adviser, Lord Warwick (James Frain). But while daggers are turned against Elizabeth, she is not without her own gifts: she can glimpse the future, an ability she receives from the line of her mother (Janet McTeer), who hopes to arm her daughter for the “violent, high-stakes struggle for the crown” yet to come.

Frank Ockenfels/AMC

‘Breaking Bad’ (AMC)

All you need to know is that when Breaking Bad returns for the back half of its fifth and final season, there will be violence, bloodshed, and finality, given that these are the final eight episodes of the journey of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Creator Vince Gilligan, meanwhile, promised that the ending of Breaking Bad will be “victorious,” though how can it be when Hank (Dean Norris) appears to have finally realized that Walt is Heisenberg? (This is why you don’t leave your inscribed copies of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass lying around.) (Returns August 11 at 9 p.m.)

Alicia Gbur/AMC

‘Low Winter Sun’ (AMC)

Chris Mundy (Criminal Minds) is behind this contemporary 10-episode drama set amid the violent Detroit underworld, which is based on Simon Donald’s 2006 British miniseries of the same name. Mark Strong reprises his role as Detroit cop Frank Agnew, a role he played in the 2006 version of Low Winter Sun. When Strong’s Frank and Lennie James’s Geddus murder a fellow Detroit cop, they believe they have created the perfect murder—a brutal act of vengeance against a sadistic and corrupt detective, who they learn was under investigation by internal affairs—but their crime unleashes a wave of violence that draws Frank deeper into the underworld of the crumbling Motor City. Athena Karkanis, David Costabile, Erika Alexander, James Ransone, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and Sprague Grayden also star in this gritty, dark crime drama about corruption and revenge. (Launches August 11 at 10 p.m.)

BBC

‘Masterpiece Mystery: Silk’ (PBS)

For British barristers, the highest rank in their profession is that of Queen’s Counsel (QC), known as “taking silk.” In Silk, the latest British import brought over by Masterpiece, viewers are invited into the world of one particular chamber of barristers in London as they connive, backstab, and outdo one another in order to become silks. In particular, the rivalry between Maxine Peake’s Martha Costello and Rupert Penry-Jones’s Clive Reader comprises much of the focus of Silk, which pits the two rising stars against one another, as well as their respective new pupils, played by Natalie Dormer and Tom Hughes. The addictive drama series, which was created by Criminal Justice’s Peter Moffat (and based on his own experiences as a barrister), also stars Neil Stuke, Nina Sosanya, and John MacMillan. (Launches August 25 at 9 p.m.)