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This Week In Black Television: Summertime Shows... And Of Course, 'The Game'

Television
by Curtis Caesar John
June 1, 2012 1:42 PM
10 Comments
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(l-to-r) Malik Yoba in ALPHAS, Rutina Wesley in True Blood, Sharif Atkins in White Collar
(l-to-r) Malik Yoba in ALPHAS, Rutina Wesley in True Blood, Sharif Atkins in White Collar

The bulk of this week’s column focuses on what television shows with Black talent that you should be watching this summer, when you’re not out at rooftop parties, BBQ’s, picnics, outdoor concerts and the like, as well as other shows that are just too good to miss.   Yet since it has its season finale this coming Tuesday I’d be remiss if I didn’t review this past week’s episode of The Game.

It’s the night before the championship game and Derwin (Pooch Hall) and Malik (Hosea Chanchez) are shining at media night.  Yet Derwin is jealous as another teammate has his wife ‘bigging him up’ but Melanie (Tia Mowry) is nowhere to be found.  Cue to Melanie running in late still trying to fix her makeup and such.  By time she makes it, the interviews are over and Derwin is pissed-off.  Back home, he makes it plain how sick he is of Melanie only thinking of her plans for her Johns Hopkins residency, which she leaves for an hour after the big game is over and not thinking about how as his wife he’ll need her support if the Sabres win, but especially if they lose the game.  Melanie winds up not even going to the game and waiting at the airport instead for her plane to arrive and working on a sorry apology letter to her husband.  Meanwhile,  Tasha (Wendy Raquel Robinson) is worried sick about Malik not showing up on-time for the championship, but is even more sick physically, throwing-up and feverish.  She’s obviously pregnant, though it seems she’s denying it.

So where is Malik?  He decided to go pick-up his some-what girlfriend Jenna (Tika Sumpter – soon to be seen in the Sparkle remake) from rehab, and while they’re waiting to get past a country road herd of sheep (where the heck is that rehab facility?) he gets a call from one of his women that he slept with while she was getting ‘help’ and she not only throws his phone out into the grassy off-road, but his car keys as well. As they argue, the cops see him grab her kinda strong (though he’s not really doing anything) and they arrest him.  Thanks Jenna!  Also, for some reason Jason (Coby Bell) breaks up with his girlfriend/wife Chardonnay (Brandy). The day after, she’s working her bartender job and gets fired for her bad attitude. There’s a lot of mistaken anger happening on this show.  At the end of the first part of the season finale, as Melanie tries to finish her letter to Derwin, she gets interrupted by Rick Fox, the ex-lover of Tasha who tells her that if she misses the game she’ll regret it.   Mad drama happening…I’m actually looking forward to the season finale! 

The Summer Season of Shows (Sundays, Mondays & Tuesdays)

ALPHAS - Season 2 Begins Monday, July 23 at 10pm on SyFy

Co-starring Malik Yoba, known best for his breakout role in New York Undercover, this show about a diverse group of people that possess uncanny neurological abnormalities (see; super powers) was a surprise hit last summer as most declared is, “Heroes done right.” As I only saw a few corny episodes and a few others that were pretty good, most say the pilot and a handful of others are what the show should really be judged by.  As its only 11 episodes last season and this as well, I can understand that.  It’s definitely worth a peek. 

America's Got Talent (NBC) season 7 - Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm

Nick Cannon brings fantastic as host of this talent competition show, and if somehow you’ve missed it, Howard Stern is now one of the judges, propelling this program to series ratings highs.  It’s a fun watch.

Breaking Bad - Season 5 begins Sunday, July 15 at 10pm on AMC

Unfortunately, big baddie Gus played frighteningly by Giancarlo Esposito is no longer on the show (I love this show too much to reveal those spoilers) but one of the Top 5 shows on television is still worth watching despite that. 

The Closer (TNT) Season 7 (second-half) returns 7/9 at 9pm

The final season of the show that made TNT a player in the television landscape will finally air its last six episodes. I’ve spoken about this show so often I won’t bore you about how good this partly procedural/mostly drama is.  Hopefully its spinoff Major Crimes, which premieres on August 13th and stars Mary McDonnell (LAPD police corruption investigator Capt. Raider on the original show) in charge of the squad will still have Closer co-stars Corey Reynolds andRobert Gossett among its cast.  

Eureka – Monday’s at 8pm - Final season continues until July 16th

I’ve promised a full Eureka write-up for a long time now and will get to it soon. But all I should really have to say now is that it’s fun and entertaining sci-fi dramedy about a secret town of advanced scientists AND has Joe Morton and Salli Richardson-Whitfield in it, so honestly that alone should sell it for you.  I’ll repeat…Final Season!

Falling Skies - Season 2 begins Sunday, June 17 at 9pm on TNT

Speaking of sci-fi, this Noah Wyle (Dr. Carter from ER) alien-invasion drama was akin to Alphas in that it had a great pilot and season ender but not too many fantastic episodes in between. But with Nurse.Fighter.Boy’s Daniel J. Gordon appearing in the recurring role of freed alien abductee Rick, as well as seldom used regular cast member Mpho Koaho co-starring as freedom fighter Anthony, it at least fills a somewhat ‘Black’ quotient for a sci-fi show (sad that we have to count the number of us in that – something that Eureka doesn’t make us think about – there’s a lot of black folks on that show that I didn’t even mention above).   This coming season Brandon Jay McClaren will appear as a recurring character so I’m really looking forward to that.  Wyle is good as the star of it though and really keeps the plots moving.

Franklin & Bash (TNT) Season 2 Begins 6/5 at 10pm

Like a lot of our regular readers, I wasn’t feeling the first season of this show and am not looking forward to season 2 either, which is a shame because I’m a fan of Breckin Meyer (yes, he has fans!) and despite the Zack Morris association, Mark-Paul Gosselaar is an entertaining actor as well. That said, at least we get to see the lovely Garcelle Beauvais as law firm heavy Hanna Linden and the always smart and appealing Dana Davis as Franklin & Bash’s researcher/assistant Carmen. 

The Glades (A & E) Season 3 Begins 6/3 at 9pm

I’ve never gotten a chance to watch this show, it never quite appealed to me, but check it out for yourself for Michelle Hurd, formerly of Law & Order: SVU and a guest & recurring actress in numerous shows. 

Hell's Kitchen (FOX) Season 10 begins 6/4 at 8pm
Love competition shows that include a snarky British man yelling at people? The jump into the boiling pot. I have a bet with my big brother that host and celebrity head chef Gordon Ramsey will loudly bemoan, “It’s raw!” by 35 minutes into the season premiere.  Anyone wanna take an over/under on that?    

Hell On Wheels (AMC) Season 2 Begins 8/12 at 9pm

Perhaps the grittiest show on the air, actor/rapper Common co-stars and is actually pretty good as an ex-slave working on the construction of the First Continental railroad employee but wanting more out of life and fighting for it.  Yet, the real star of the show is Colm Meaney (Chief O’Brien from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as the railroad baron Durant – a real shady businessman and opportunist who as the resident baddie makes greed look really fun.  Tom Noonan is really good in it too.  Watch it, though I takes a while to get used to it. 

Leverage (TNT) Season 5 Begins Sunday 7/15 at 8pm

TNT finally put this show on at a reasonable hour.  Hands down the most fun ‘drama’ on television, this heist show about a group of expert thieves of different disciplines co-stars Aldis Hodge, who as computer hacker Hardison often steals the show.  This is another show I’ve written about on S&A a number of times, so trust me when I say – watch it!!! 

Longmire (A & E)  NEW SERIES! Begins on Sunday 6/3 at 10pm
A  country/cop-drama, this drama starring  Lou Diamond Phillips and Robert Taylor in the title role is about a dedicated sheriff in small-town Wyoming who's recently widowed and  buries his pain behind his brave face, unassuming grin and dry wit.

The Newsroom (HBO)  NEW SERIES! Begins 6/24 at 10pm

Created by Aaron Sorkin, this series centers on a cable news team and their anchor (Jeff Daniels) as they struggle to achieve higher ratings and sharper daily broadcasts.  Starring Jeff Daniels as the lead anchor, as well as Emily Moritmer, Allison Pill, and Sam Waterston, a quick look at the imdB credits lists recognizable character actors such as True Blood’s Adina Porter and Chris Chalk, a who recently appeared in multiple episodes of Showtime’s Homeland, as well as popular NY/East coast filmed shows like the Law & Order franchise, The Good Wife, Rescue Me, and Person Of Interest. Watching this is a no-brainer.  Sorkin has been my favorite writer since following up the movie The American President with TV hit The West Wing. It’s hard to believe he’s never tackled a newsroom show. 

Perception NEW SERIES! Begins 7/9 at 10pm

Just a few short years after his prior TNT show ad agency drama Trust Me went off the air, Eric McCormick (Will & Grace) plays Dr. Daniel Pierce is an eccentric neuroscientist who uses his unique outlook to help the federal government solve complex criminal cases. Arjay Smith, formerly the title character in Disney Channel show The Journey of Allen Strange, co-stars on Perception but it’s not explained yet who is character is. 

Political Animals (USA) NEW SERIES! Begins on Sunday 7/15 at 10pm
Sigourney Weaver stars as divorced former First Lady Elaine Barrish who’s now the Secretary of State in this six-episode miniseries.  And c’mon, it’s Sigourney Weaver as a powerful woman in Washington, so how could you not love it?

Rizzoli & Isles (TNT) Season 3 Begins 6/5 at 9pm

This cop drama and ratings winner now anchors TNT’s Tuesday night lineup.  Co-starring Lee Thompson Young, who really is good Det. Barry Frost, R&I is worth a watch on a slow Tuesday night.  Or even on a busy one. 

Tia & Tamera (Style) Season 2 begins 6/11 at 8pm

Another reality show, ho hum, but at least Black America’s favorite twins two are likeable.

True Blood (HBO) Season 5 Begins 6/10 at 9pm
I know a lot of you like it, but I gave up on this show early last season. I figure though that its at least worth a mention.   Is Tara alive? Of course she is, so see how in this why-does-everyone-have-powers- now show co-starring Rutina Wesley as Tara and Nelsan Ellis as her cousin Lafayette, who’s now a witch. You read that correctly. 

Trust Us With Your Life (ABC) NEW SERIES! Begins 7/10 at 9pm
Veteran funnyman Fred Willard hosts this new improv comedy series with (of course) Wayne Brady , Colin Mochrie, and Jonathan Mangum. Basically, it’s a new Who's Line Is It Anyway sans Drew Carey.  This isn’t my thing, but people love them some improv. 

White Collar (USA) Season 4 begins 7/10 at 9pm

Sharif Atkins, who I’ve long deemed the most underrated actor in television, co-stars as a junior FBI agent under star Tim Dekay’s Agent Burke, in this program about a white collar criminal who agrees to help the FBI catch other white collar criminals using his expertise as an art and securities thief, counterfeiter and racketeer. Marsha Thomason also co-stars as FBI agent Barrigan, replacing the personally preferable Natalie Morlaes after season 1.

Next week I'll continue previews for the rest of the Black summer TV schedule as well as preview regular season finales that you might've missed.  Look out for my special season finale review of The Game next Wednesday!

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10 Comments

  • Curtis Caesar John | June 6, 2012 11:44 AMReply

    @ Gary - I'll be addressing that in exactly two weeks. I strongly feel the exact same way about 'Black' shows. Look out for that.

    @ Peggy - leave Sharif's big head alone!

    Look for the rest of the summer lineup this week folks...and yes I'll be mentioning Rookie Blue and Necessary Roughness - I just haven't gotten to the latter part of the week yet!

  • Gary Anderson | June 6, 2012 5:38 AMReply

    It's a damn shame that the majority of these shows listed as "black television" are really series with a white (usually male) leads and any African-American actor present has little or no major impact on the narrative. He or she is just there to add visual variety to the group scenes. I would expect more from television in the middle of 2012. Dramas such as FALLING SKIES, EUREKA or ALPHAS (I see a pattern developing!) are the rare exceptions but are not the shows with the largest viewing audiences. As for Reality TV, TIA & TAMERA is rare in that there is no stereotypical black gay male friend to add spice and two-dimensional comedy.

  • Peggy | June 5, 2012 6:44 AMReply

    Sharif Atkins is one weird looking dude. He's a good actor but really weird looking. I spend most of my time looking at his face. Can't we have good looking actors like the white people? I remember back in the 70's and 80's black actors in movies or TV were always less than desirable looking. That really pissed me off. I think it's a plot to keep white women from chasing our men. Like that would work.

  • Koko | June 4, 2012 1:56 PMReply

    Let's not forget USA's Necessary Roughness is coming back for season 2. Starring Callie Thorne from Rescue Me, and the delish Mehcad Brooks.

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  • Sumaya | June 2, 2012 10:44 PMReply

    What about Rookie Blue? Recently got into that show (it's like the greys anatomy of cop dramas) and has 3 black lead and supporting characters....Enuka Okuma, Melanie Nicholls-King, and Lyriq Bent, which is saying alot for cable shows nowadays. Third season just started and it's a pretty good show.

  • Curtis Caesar John | June 2, 2012 12:48 PMReply

    @ Ghost - Oh, thanks I forgot about LeVar Burton being on that show (that's what happens when you're devising these super-lists). And yes, you're right about Nickelodeon and Arjay Smith - I get those stations' programming confused at times. Thanks for the info on the young actor's role in 'Perception'.

    @ Muse - I have to agree. If the show wasn't so good I'd have more a problem with it. I feel its not as deliberate as it is on other shows, though I'm in no way making excuses for folks. But as for Gus, everyone loves a cool bad guy and Gus was the best in a long time on ANY show. Between last season's opener and then Gus' origin episode if he's not nominated for a Supporting Actor Emmy...well, I guess I won't do anything about it but that would be the most glaring oversight of the year (I still cringe at the season finale too...whoa!!!).

    @ Joe - No offense to Thomason, she's lovely and a good actress, think I just like how sexy-goofy Morales always is. Totally biased on my part! The Middleman is still my favorite comic book-tv show translation (yes, above The Walking Dead).

  • Ghost | June 2, 2012 2:20 AMReply

    Correction on Arjay Smith- The Journey of Allen Strange was a Nickelodeon show and he has a lead role in an upcoming film from the guys who created Ed on NBC. His character on Perception is McCormick's Teacher Assistant. Levar Burton plays a Dean on this show as well. Oh and Khary Payton was dumped from NBC's Go On.

  • Joe Doughrity | June 1, 2012 5:22 PMReply

    Nice overview. But as WHITE COLLAR fan I definitely prefer Marsha Thomason!

  • Muse | June 1, 2012 2:09 PMReply

    I LOOOOOVE Breaking Bad! Though I find the portrayals of virtually all the brown male characters problematic, they are still so compelling to watch. Gus, oh my gosh. It's fascinating to me how Gus was such a likeable character, and how Walt was so....not, even though both characters did terrible, terrible things.

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