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Showtime's Ray Donovan, The Fall on Netflix among six most important summer TV shows this month



Dozens of new and returning series are offering fresh episodes throughout the summer. It’s a tidal wave of brand-new television that could overwhelm even the most devoted small screen junkies — if you don’t have the right guide.

They’re not always the best shows — most of those still air in fall, winter and spring. (The TV industry still assumes many people go on vacation or spend time outside in summer, cutting into viewership.)

But they are worthy of consideration at a time when most folks’ TV viewing habits have a few open spots. Here are six of the most interesting below:

The Fall; available now on Netflix: Star and X-Files alum Gillian Anderson is who draws you in, playing a beautiful, detached British policewoman brought to Belfast in Northern lreland to help investigate a murder that has local police stymied. But this British TV series is really built around the slowly unfolding case of a serial killer who stalks and fetishizes young brunet women, executing his crimes so carefully it takes the expert eye of Anderson’s character to realize what’s really going on. The material here is too explicit and kinky for any U.S. TV outlet other than premium cable, complete with lots of f-words, nudity and painfully explicit murder scenes. The Good Wife's Archie Panjabi is also a treat, as an empathetic coroner. But what really captivates here, beyond Anderson’s spot-on accent -- yes, she was raised in Britian for a time; still love seeing an American playing a Brit for a change! -- is the intricate portrait of a family man and serial killer, along with the dysfunctional police department struggling to catch him.

Wilfred; returns at 10 p.m. Thursday on FX: As one of the weirdest comedies on TV, this story, featuring Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood as a guy who sees his dog as a talking 6-foot-tall dude in a costume, may be the most bizarre second act for a major movie star in Hollywood history. The show’s third season finds Wood’s character finally considering seriously that seeing a talking dog might be a sign of mental illness — duh! — only to learn that his canine pal (played by cheeky Aussie Jason Gann) has a clone living in luxury with The Office alum Angela Kinsey. Told you it was weird.

Copper; returns at 10 p.m. Sunday on BBC America: Created by Tom Fontana (HBO’s OZ, Homicide: Life on the Street), this series excels in showing the rough, hardscrabble reality of life in New York’s Five Points area just after the Civil War — a time when police officers were so corrupt, inept or callous, they could be virtually useless. But one “copper,” a detective who taps a young black doctor to help use science in solving crimes, stands a cut above. In this season, character actor Donal Logue takes a break from roles on Sons of Anarchy and Vikings to play Gen. Brendan Donovan, a former Union soldier and public official whose ties to the corrupt Tammany Hall city government are sure to become a problem.

Under the Dome; debuts at 10 p.m. June 24 on CBS (WTSP-Ch. 10): The first hour of this 13-episode miniseries, based on Stephen King’s sprawling novel of the same name, spends so much time setting up its story, it’s tough to know if the narrative is really going anywhere. As in the book, the small Maine town of Chester’s Mill is cut off from the rest of the world by a strange barrier; sound, water and objects can’t pass through it, but light can — allowing folks on both sides to see what happens when a small town is cut off from the outside world. Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris, above left, plays what initially seems a tamer version of the book’s villain, town selectman “Big Jim” Rennie. The biggest problem in adapting King’s work to TV and film is that so much of the suspense comes from how the author renders what characters are thinking. And this miniseries’ first hour shows signs of stumbling over that same pitfall.

Dexter; returns at 9 p.m. June 30 on Showtime: In the final season of Showtime’s signature serial killer drama, an obvious question looms. How do you wrap up the story of a serial killer who has cheated death and capture so many times? A clue may lie in the manner of his latest escape: Michael C. Hall’s forensic technician Dexter Morgan avoided capture last season when his sister killed her boss, Capt. Maria LaGuerta, a police official who had deduced his secret. How she breaks down after that act — and how it impacts Dexter’s secrets — may be the key to the final season’s story line.

Ray Donovan; debuts at 10 p.m. June 30 on Showtime: Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), left, is magnetic as towering, pragmatic Hollywood fixer Ray Donovan, a guy who makes dead groupies disappear from sports stars’ hotel bedrooms and ensures film moguls’ mistresses aren’t cheating on them. But his biggest fix may have involved his murderous father Mickey, played by a note-perfect Jon Voight, who emerges from jail after Ray set him up for a 20-year sentence. Capable of cold-blooded murder in an instant, with a taste for voluptuous black women, drugs and criminal action, Mick threatens to upset his son’s precarious life, already filled with a wife, two brothers and kids all capable of staggeringly bad personal choices.

[Last modified: Monday, June 17, 2013 4:51pm]


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