While movie and music fans thrill to a summer filled with heady goodies, from Indiana Jones to Usher, the dog days of June, July and August bring little but dread for small-screen addicts. • The big problem: Summertime is usually when network TV goes to sleep, powered mostly by cheapo reality shows (Celebrity Circus? Really?) and scripted series too dodgy to make the grade during the regular season. • And with some of its best shows delayed until fall by the writers strike — see ya later Rescue Me and The Shield — cable TV isn't much better. • So, until The Closer and Mad Men return next month, we'll endure weeks of questionable material only slightly more entertaining than 30 minutes spent cranking on Guitar Hero. Here are the pros and cons of the first week:
In Plain Sight, debuts at 10 tonight, USA Network.
Why it works: Mary McCormack, who turned heads as a wry National Security adviser on the West Wing, is always watchable — even as a cliched, tomboyish Witness Protection agent with a chaotic home life.
Why it doesn't: The show works way too hard building a family of quirky characters (including dysfunctional mom Lesley Ann Warren) around a strong, commitment-phobic female lead, just like the TNT series it's ripping off, Holly Hunter's awful Saving Grace.
30 Days, debuts at 10 p.m. Tuesday on FX.
Why it works: Super Size Me director Morgan Spurlock, a few selected surrogates and Spurlock's documentary crew spend 30 days experiencing a range of compelling situations, from mining in West Virginia to same-sex parenting.
Why it doesn't: Spurlock only appears in two of six episodes — his stint as a miner comes off like a lame-o Dirty Jobs episode — while former football star Ray Crockett steals the show living in a wheelchair for a month.
Swingtown, debuts at 10 p.m. Thursday on WTSP-Ch. 10.
Why it works: Umm, co-star Grant Show's porn star-ready mustache?
Why it doesn't: This awkward drama about a '70s-era curious couple who move next to Show's wife-swapping airline pilot is too obvious and too plodding, packed with just enough bad fashion and old rock hits to keep reminding you — painfully — when this is happening. Too bad Deadwood's Molly Parker got trapped in this limp tribute to a time that
Eric Deggans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8521. See his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/media.