Friday, Aug. 12 (Cinemax)
Series Debut: If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Is there anything on Cinemax I can watch with my pants on?” and/or “Can’t I just play Call of Duty without exerting myself pushing buttons?” good news: Strike Back is here. Cinemax jumps into the original programming game (not counting their soft-porn After Dark offerings) with an action-y anti-terrorism drama that more or less plays like a straight-to-cable potboiler you’d run across there, anyway—except it has opening credits, a theme song by The Heavy and 10 episodes. In Strike Back, a former Special Forces op (Sullivan Stapleton) who, of course, Doesn’t Play By the Rules, is dragged back into action by the British military to help stop an international terrorist group—because this kind of sensitive operation calls for a loose-cannon rogue with a penchant for sarcasm and banging anything female that happens into his field of vision, damn it! Despite the dogpile of clichés, Strike Back has just enough violence, sex and genuine tension to keep it from becoming a “straight” sequel to Adult Swim’s NTSF: SD: SVU. Just don’t think about it too hard.
Saturday, Aug. 13 (Syfy)
Movie: Poor ol’ Jewel Staite; the Firefly/Serenity alum can’t seem to land a gig outside of the Syfy basement. In Doomsday Prophecy, she plays a ridiculously good-looking archeologist who teams with a ridiculously good-looking book editor (Supernatural’s A.J. Buckley—Ghostfacers!) who’s seen the future—and it’s a series of ridiculously terrible-looking geological CGI disasters that will rip apart the planet and possibly ruin Buckley’s meticulously disheveled hair. Can’t fellow Firefly-ers Nathan Fillion (Castle) or Adam Baldwin (Chuck) hook a gal up with a guest spot? Where’s the Browncoat love?
In the Flow With Affion Crockett
Sunday, Aug. 14 (Fox)
Series Debut: Fox hasn’t attempted an “urban” sketch-comedy show (or an “urban” anything, for that matter) since the ’90s, with the better-in-memory-than-reruns In Living Color. The new and utterly unpromoted In the Flow, headlined by “rising star” Affion Crocket (no, I’ve never heard of him, either), doesn’t make the case that we’ve been missing anything—in fact, it almost makes you appreciate Tyler Perry’s Big Block O’ Crap programming strips on TBS. Almost. Urban or not, a sketch-comedy show should at least be, oh, funny.
The Lying Game
Monday, Aug. 15 (ABC Family)
Series Debut: How did ABC “Family” end up with so many tween dramas about “secrets” and “lies”? In the tradition of hits like Secret Life of the American Teenager and Pretty Little Liars, and the near-identical plot of Separated at Birth, comes The Lying Game: “Separated at birth(!), identical twins Emma Becker and Sutton Mercer (Alexandra Chando as both) have led very different lives, until circumstances bring them back together. Yearning for the family she never had, Emma agrees to help Sutton with her plan to find their birth parents, setting in motion a web of secrecy and lies.” Apparently, Google was down.
Tuesday, Aug. 16 (TLC)
Season Premiere: Despite faint reservations that she might actually be a dude, The Only TV Column That Matters™ considers What Not to Wear co-host Stacy London to be kinda hot. So when news of “changes” to the show for its ninth season (which makes it the longest-running series on the devolving hot mess that is the former Learning Channel) made the rounds, I feared the worst. Fortunately, the network isn’t replacing her and Clinton Kelly with castoffs from Trailer Parks & Tiaras or some other TLC tentpole; there’s just a new studio and 360 mirror. Keep on tucking, Stacy!