Summer No Longer A Time Of Drought For Television

It used to be that there wasn't much new on TV in the summer, the assumption being that people were outside and not glued to their televisions. But this summer, there are more than 100 shows starting up or starting new seasons. Audie Cornish talks to Eric Deggans of The Tampa Bay Times about what to watch.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Summer's almost here. And that must mean it's time for - Audie.

CORNISH: More TV. New summer programming, right, Eric Deggans?

ERIC DEGGANS: That's right.

CORNISH: Now, you're the TV critic for the Tampa Bay Times. So, of course, it's your job to - and I say "job" in quotes - to keep track of all this TV. And it used to be that the summer was for reruns, right? People are outside, not watching television. How did that change?

DEGGANS: Yeah. That might have been true many years ago. But what we're finding now is that cable TV puts a lot of programming in summer because they know that the networks are less competitive, but the networks have also decided, hey, wait a minute, we can't give up summer either. So they're putting more interesting shows in. And you also have online competitors like Netflix coming in, and they have interesting shows coming. So right now this summer, we've got something like over 100 new and returning shows coming to different forms of television that you can peruse.

CORNISH: All right, then. So let's hear some of your TV suggestions for summer. And I want you to think about, like, substitutes for shows that are on hiatus over the summer. So let's say I like the sci-fi adventure show "Revolution." But, of course, it's not on this summer. What should I watch?

DEGGANS: Well, if you like "Revolution," which is sort of a post-apocalyptic drama that has elements of sci-fi, then you're probably going to like TNT's "Falling Skies."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "FALLING SKIES")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Secure this stranger.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: With their knowledge of the enemy, we can win this war.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (Unintelligible) have for us after the war.

CORNISH: Definitely sounds like a good match.

(LAUGHTER)

DEGGANS: "Falling Skies" has always been one of those interesting shows, kind of conventional, but every year they seem to be more successful so they get more money for special effects. And this time, they're really pulling out all the stops. There's a lot of really interesting visuals, and the show's storytelling has gotten more complex. So I'm really interested in it.

CORNISH: All right. Let's look for a substitute for a cable show a lot of people might be missing now, "The Walking Dead." The zombie apocalypse got huge, huge ratings for AMC. And if you're a fan of "The Walking Dead" back in the winter, what's good this summer?

DEGGANS: Well, BBC America has this really interesting zombie drama called "In the Flesh."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "IN THE FLESH")

LUKE NEWBERRY: (as Kieren Walker) I am a partially deceased syndrome sufferer, and what I did in my untreated state is not my fault.

DEGGANS: It's basically about what happens if zombies could be domesticated. So they figured out a way to sort of remove the bloodlust for brains and flesh for zombies, and all of a sudden they get returned back to the families that they were a part of before they died. And then the question becomes, how do humans handle this?

CORNISH: Now, it always seems like there's a reality talent competition on somewhere. But "American Idol" is over and "The Voice" is almost through. What have you got for me?

DEGGANS: Well, what I got for you is NBC's "America's Got Talent."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "AMERICA'S GOT TALENT")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You never know who's going to come up next. It's one surprise after the other.

DEGGANS: Now, what's interesting here is that they're getting two new judges. They're bringing in Mel B from the Spice Girls, and they're bringing in Heidi Klum, who you might know as the host of "Project Runway."

CORNISH: Yeah, it's like musical chairs with these shows.

DEGGANS: Exactly. No pun intended.

CORNISH: No pun intended. Wild card, anything else you think that's just worth checking out.

DEGGANS: Well, there's a lot of interesting stuff. First, John Oliver is going to be taking over "The Daily Show." The regular host, Jon Stewart, is going to go off and direct a movie for a while. And so we'll have a new person hosting "The Daily Show," a show that seems really suited to Jon Stewart's humor. So that'll be interesting. We've got "Mistresses" on ABC. Now, if you're into "Desperate Housewives" and you like seeing female-centered drama about female friends, this is perfect. And I love this so-called "Magic City."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MAGIC CITY")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I come from a world that believes you protect the people you love. Ben Diamond is going to pay.

DEGGANS: It's set in Miami in the 1950s. It's about a guy who's trying to run the glitziest hotel in Miami Beach. But he's also wrapped up with mobsters, and he's trying to get out from under. And he's just an amazing character, and it's an amazing setting. And it's in Florida, so you got to love it, right?

CORNISH: Well, Eric, thanks for feeding my TV addiction.

DEGGANS: Anytime.

CORNISH: That's Eric Deggans, TV and media critic for the Tampa Bay Times.

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