Scoundrels, The Gates
Sunday, June 20 (ABC)
Series Debuts: Two new shows in one night? Ambitious, ABC. Too bad Scoundrels, starring Virginia Madsen and former JAG-ger David James Elliott, is such a weak lead-in for potential hit The Gates. The former is sort of a low-rent take on The Riches, about a criminally inclined family that skates by the law until dad (Elliott) is sent to jail for several years instead of the expected couple of months. This prompts Mom (Madsen) to declare, "We're going straight, kids!" Mild wackiness/drama ensues—and that's the problem: The comedy isn't all that funny, and the drama is none too heavy. Scoundrels is just too—here's the hack quote—criminally bland.
The Gates, however, gets off on the right foot: A sexy suburban housewife (Rhona Mitra, late of Boston Legal) invites a contractor into her home and proposes an extracurricular nooner ... then sprouts vamp fangs and drains the horny bastard. A mash-up of Desperate Housewives and True Blood is an odd fit for ABC (especially Sundays, when True Blood proper is already on), but The Gates hits the right mix of chills and humor, with a dash of teen high-school angst to boot. The, natch, gated Gates community is populated with vampires, werewolves, witches and who-knows-what-supernatural-else, all living by a lay-low "code" when a new police chief (Frank Grillo) begins sniffing around. This will become the buzz hit of the summer, or flop miserably—as long as Mitra's back on TV for even just a few weeks, I'm cool with either.
Sunday, June 20 (Fox)
Series Finale: Over so late? Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher are the only original stars left from 'Til Death's 2006 (!) debut; everyone else has been replaced or mysteriously written out—hell, the couple's daughter has been played by four different actresses over as many seasons. One of them, Krysten Ritter, now headlines Gravity on Starz, which is seen by literally dozens of people every Friday night. So, at least now she has some viewers.
Sunday, June 20 (SyFy)
Four-Hour Miniseries Event: Answering the question, "Could anything be worse than the 1996 movie with Billy Zane and Kristy Swanson?" Yes—and two hours longer!
The Real L Word
Sunday, June 20 (Showtime)
Series Debut: Answering the question, "Can Showtime find real Los Angeles lipstick lesbians for the reality-show sequel to The L Word?" Yes—and even hotter!
Sunday, June 20 (TNT)
Season Premiere: Timothy Hutton's A-Team is back! When last we left the Leverage crew, leader Nathan Ford (Hutton) had been caught and jailed, Sophie (then-preggers Gina Bellman) was back and being shot from the neck up only, and the team's future was in doubt. Will Nate break out of prison? Will Sophie be skinny again? Will the gang return to their high-tech Robin Hood gig? This needs no Spoiler Alert: Yes, yes and yes—and, despite being somewhat predictable, Leverage is still one of the most entertaining hours on TV. As opposed to ...
Tuesday, June 22 (TNT)
Series Debut: Jason Lee (My Name is Earl) stars as a Memphis police detective who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator. Sounds like quirky fun, right? So why does the first outing of Memphis Beat play like the most uneventful episode of CSI: Nondescript Southern Town ever? Even more perplexing, George Clooney is the executive producer—you'd expect more fun from him, at least. If the series continues to play it this painfully straight, might as well put a blond wig on Lee and call it The Closer.