I understand if you're one of those people who think their summer is a bust without new episodes of "Mad Men." The absence of Don Draper & Co. is a disappointment. But get a grip. Put down that martini and find your remote. Life is still worth living...er...watching. Seriously. There is more than enough quality TV to keep you entertained until the Emmy Award-winning series, now back in production, returns in 2012.
My personal summer "Hot List" includes "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (last Sunday's premiere, with Larry yelling at a Girl Scout, drew the series' highest ratings in seven years), "Man vs. Wild" (the new season premiered on July 11 with host Bear Grylls taking actor Jake Gyllenhaal into the remote wilds of Iceland — great stuff that struck me as more fun to watch than actually do), and "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition" (yes, I'm a sap — and will remain so through the season finale on July 25). I asked Xfinity TV's editors and writers — the folks whose job it is to see and know everything about TV — what they are watching right now. Below are their picks. Let it be your guide for what to watch this summer.
Tracy Phillips, Senior Editor, XfinityTV.com:
"True Blood" (HBO): "The guiltiest of summer pleasures, sexy and relentlessly entertaining, featuring gorgeous people in ridiculous circumstances...what's not to love?"
"America's Got Talent" (NBC): "Easy to watch, mindless fun, backed by the best talent pool this season that the show's ever had."
Gordon Holmes, Assistant Managing Producer, Xfinity.com:
"The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants" (Showtime — premieres July 13): "I watched a brief preview of this new Showtime series and was hooked. I can't wait to see more of Brian Wilson's hilarious antics and Barry Zito's quest for redemption as the Giants defend their World Series crown."
"Cake Boss" (TLC): "There are a lot of occupation-based reality shows on TV nowadays. This is the only one that makes me want to step away from the computer and pick up some modeling chocolate. Think Buddy Valastro has any openings?"
Brian Gianelli, Senior Editor, XfinityTV.com:
"So You Think you Can Dance" (FOX): "This show puts all other reality competition shows to shame. The dancers are talented, energetic, and do mind-blowing tricks!"
"Switched at Birth" (ABC Family): "Don't let the title fool you, this is no cheesy drama. It's just the latest in ABC Family's excellent and addictive new series geared at teens, as well as those still young at heart."
Julie Zied, Senior Editor, XfinityTV.com:
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO): "With Cheryl out of the picture and a big move to New York, Larry's finally got his mojo back. It's really funny."
"Breaking Bad" (AMC — the new season premieres July 17): "As far as I'm concerned, it's television's most compelling drama, and this new season Walter is about to become television's most compelling villain."
"The Bachelorette" (ABC): "Despite bachelorette Ashley being kind of a drip, I'm a sucker for romance in exotic locales."
"Wilfred" (FX): "Elijah Wood has finally shed Frodo for one of the weirdest, freshest and funniest comedies of the year."
Craig Tomashoff, West Coast Contributor, XfinityTV.com:
"Men Of A Certain Age" (TNT): "It's easy to find funny comedies. The same could be said for moving dramas. Or reality shows about people whose real lives mirror yours. However, it's nearly impossible to find something that combines all three. In fact, there's just one show on the air that manages to do it all — 'Men Of A Certain Age.'"
"Suits" (USA): "TV needs another show about lawyers the way, well, America needs more lawyers. We're pretty full up already. But this new USA series is unlike any other legal show to come along in a while. It doesn't try to be too jokey or too dramatic. Instead, it has created a group of characters who seem very real and very engaging."