Orange Is the New Black
Thursday, July 11 (Netflix)
Series Debut: Made it through all of those new Arrested Development episodes yet? No? You’ve had over a month! Here’s another one to add to the queue: Orange Is the New Black is the latest from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, about happily engaged Brooklynite Piper (Taylor Schilling), who’s forced to turn herself in and do 15 months in a women’s prison for being a drug-money mule for her lesbian lover (Laura Prepon) a decade ago. Naturally, this takes her fiance (Jason Biggs) by surprise; the grim reality of prison life hits Piper even harder after a breezy lead-up about finally getting some extra reading and workout time. Likes Weeds, Orange shifts from Funny to Serious to Holy Shit! on a dime, but—also like Weeds’ Mary-Louise Parker—Schilling sells every emotion that Kohan deals her terrifically. Netflix has already picked up Orange Is the New Black for another 13 episodes, so get on it now.
Thursday, July 11 (Syfy)
Movie: A super storm has sucked all of the CGI sharks out of the ocean and rained them down onto Los Angeles—before you can say “good riddance,” Tara Reid and Ian Ziering are (re)acting their asses off! This film is unrelated to the recent Avalanche Sharks—which really should have been titled Sharkalanche, duh—but still brings up another point: Isn’t this ’nado more of a Sharkicane or a Sharknami?
Comedy Bang! Bang!
Friday, July 12 (IFC)
Season Premiere: The first season of Scott Aukerman’s podcast-turned-broadcast was … what’s the word? Uneven? Spasmodic? Irregular-sized? Whatever—he and musical sidekick Reggie Watts are changing nothing for Season 2, keeping the bizarro talk-show-meets-Pee-Wee’s Playhouse format and juicing it with an insane amount of guests over 20 new episodes (tonight, they’re Andy Samberg, Jordan Peele, Lance Reddick and the newly unemployed Selma Blair). Comedy Bang! Bang! isn’t for everyone—or, it could be argued, anyone—but what has mass appeal ever brought us? Hitler and Jay Leno, that’s what.
Sunday, July 14 (HBO)
Season Premiere: What’s the time frame, Kenneth? The Newsroom’s second season covers August 2011 to November 2012, so you’re in for Aaron Sorkin’s loudly liberal spin on the Romney presidential campaign, the Obama administration’s anti-terrorism policies, SOPA, Occupy Wall Street—and that’s just the first episode. Loose-cannon anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) still has his job at the ACN cable-news net but, as told in present/flashback style (and it’s still two years ago, mind you), he and News Night have royally screwed up a story, and now (then?) it’s talk-to-the-lawyers time. The Newsroom still swings its not-entirely-leftie agenda like a sledgehammer, and the female characters remain mostly cartoons (when Olivia Munn is the center of gravitas, something’s up), but there’s no denying Sorkin’s bracing velocity of dialogue and passion. P.S.: The Newspaper wouldn’t be like The Newsroom—more like Dilbert.
Covert Affairs, Suits
Tuesday, July 16 (USA)
Season Premieres: Besides Piper Perabo’s lush lips and Peter Gallagher’s lush-er eyebrows, the best thing about CIA soap Covert Affairs is the episode titles: They’re all named after rock songs. Season 1 was all Led Zeppelin tunes; Season 2, R.E.M.; Season 3, David Bowie. This year, it’s all Pixies, kicking off tonight with “Vamos,” wherein the long-simmering romance between Perabo’s Agent Annie and co-spy Auggie (Christopher Gorham) finally jumps that Moonlighting shark and, surprisingly, doesn’t ruin everything. This looks to be one of those rare seasons when a series promises “more danger” and “higher stakes” and actually delivers. Unlike lawyer drama Suits, which has somehow become even less compelling than … Franklin & Bash.