Friday, July 8 (Starz)
Season Premiere: Since Wales is apparently too crowded now that the Being Human gang has moved in, the alien-chasing Torchwood team is relocating to the USA—well, California. Likewise, the British sci-fi series is moving from basic cable to premium—well, Starz. In Torchwood: Miracle Day, the series’ fourth season, Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) and Rhys Williams (Kai Owen) investigate one of the most earth-shattering/cluttering mysteries ever: One day, everyone on the planet stops dying. But, they still age and get sick, turning the world into an overpopulated (shudder) rest home. For Torchwood newbies, the 10-episode Miracle Day is easier to follow than 2009’s limited-run Children of Earth; for the faithful, the show has both a bigger budget and balls than ever before.
Sunday, July 10 (HBO)
Season Premiere: Larry David never learns a lesson, and his show never changes—this rule of comedy genius really only applies to cartoons and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Yes, wife Cheryl (Hines) is gone and most of Season 8 will be set in New York City instead of Los Angeles, but it could still be Season 1, 5 or whatever. In fact, the upcoming Sept. 7 “Mr. Softee” episode will easily rank as one of the funniest Curbs ever—what other 11-year-old comedy could pull that off? Don’t say Seinfeld; it only lasted nine.
The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles
Monday, July 11 (TNT)
Season Premieres: Kyra Sedgwick is closing out The Closer after seven high-rated seasons, and second-year rookies Rizzoli & Isles (Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander) are hoping to match their record-setting 2010 debut. Like the flagging Closer, R&I started strong and feisty but faded in the stretch last year, coming to resemble the next-gen Cagney & Lacy (more like Quincy & Lacy, really) it read like on paper. Fortunately for them, Lifetime’s new The Protector came along a few weeks ago to pre-emptively snag the Lame MILF-Cops tiara.
Monday, July 11 (Syfy)
Series Debut: After the season premieres of Eureka and Warehouse 13 tonight (both delivering more of the same featherweight sci-fi formula), Syfy launches its new original series Alphas. “Original,” that is, if you’ve never heard of X-Men: A rag-tag (but really, really, really ridiculously good-looking) group of five people with superhuman abilities (strength, telepathy, heightened senses, extreme brooding, etc.) are brought together by a neurologist to—wait for it—fight crime. Was nothing learned from that Marvel v. Mutant X lawsuit years ago?
Wednesday, July 13 (FX)
Season Premiere: Even hardcore Rescue Me fans (like The Only TV Column That Matters™) agree that the last couple of seasons have been harder to watch than any Denis Leary movie not titled The Ref. The once-perfect humor/blackness balance tipped far from the funny, making for a depressing penultimate 2010 season that didn’t leave much hope for redemption in this year’s final lap. While the first new episodes aren’t laugh-riots (Leary’s haunted NYC firefighter Tommy Gavin still lives in a craphole apartment with pregnant ex-wife, Janet, who’s now BFFs with his ex-girlfriend Sheila, whose son is still a wheelchair-bound fire casualty; his daughter is still a chip-off-the-block alcoholic; his fracturing 62 Truck crew no longer trusts him, etc.), the show is more in-tune with its initial swagger now than it has been in years—it doesn’t get more classic Rescue Me than shooting up a bar with a shotgun or blowing up a cheesy 9/11 tribute. My faith is restored … so now it’s going to be even tougher to see it all end.