USA's 'Mr. Robot,' HBO's 'Ballers' Among Picks For Best Summer TV Series A flood of some 120 series, both new and returning, are coming to TV sets this summer. So, how to choose which ones to binge-watch by the pool? Our TV critic picks his four favorite new shows.
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USA's 'Mr. Robot,' HBO's 'Ballers' Among Picks For Best Summer TV Series

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USA's 'Mr. Robot,' HBO's 'Ballers' Among Picks For Best Summer TV Series

USA's 'Mr. Robot,' HBO's 'Ballers' Among Picks For Best Summer TV Series

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Come summertime, broadcast TV networks used to pretty much hang up a gone fishing sign - re-runs ruled. But today's media world has no down time. This summer brings on an explosion of new TV shows. Here to talk about what shows go best with sun tan lotion and 90-degree weather is NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans.

Hi.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hi.

WERTHEIMER: So how much choice do you think there really is on offer this summer?

DEGGANS: Well, I actually did the count, and I found that there's at least 120 new and returning shows. And no matter what your tastes are, there's something out there for you. So if you love thrillers, for example, AMC's got this great drama about androids called "Humans" that just debuted, while CBS has got a drama coming from James Patterson called "Zoo" about the world's animals turning on humans. And if you're into comedy, two of my favorite stand-up comics are getting great new shows. On Comedy Central, Hannibal Buress - the guy whose jokes about Bill Cosby made everybody take another look at the allegations against Bill Cosby - he's got a new show coming called, "Why?" And TV Land has a show with Jim Gaffigan, this great stand-up comic, it's called "The Jim Gaffigan Show," and it's about his real-life huge family that's also kind of religious and church-going, and how odd that is to be a stand-up comic and also have this very sort of busy family life.

WERTHEIMER: So why is there such a huge quantity of television this summer?

DEGGANS: Well, you know, cable always used to bring more TV in the summer because that was when the broadcast networks would traditionally kind of ramp down. But nobody watches re-runs on broadcast television, or what we call linear television anymore, so the networks have had to step-up their game too. Every network has new scripted and unscripted series coming this summer, even though most of them are not as good as the stuff that they're going to put on during the fall or the spring. And online platforms like Netflix and Amazon and Hulu, they got into the act too, so the result is this TV cycle that just never slows down very much.

WERTHEIMER: HBO would seem to be a good example of that. They debuted three new shows in late June, including a second season of the hit show, "True Detective." How's that going?

DEGGANS: Well, I hate to say it, but "True Detective" is kind of a bust. I mean, everyone was kind of looking forward to seeing what they would do with the show because they're totally reinventing it. It's not that compelling. I really like, instead, another show that debuted on the same day, called "Ballers," with Dwayne The Rock Johnson as a former NFL player-turned financial advisor who's trying to keep his buddies from going broke. We have a clip where The Rock has promised that he'd signed one of his friends from the NFL to a contract with this financial services company, and he's trying to explain to his boss why he hasn't signed the contract. So let's check it out.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BALLERS")

ROB CORDDRY: (As Joe) Let me see the paperwork.

DWAYNE JOHNSON: (As Spencer) We're working on it.

CORDDRY: (As Joe) You don't have it?

JOHNSON: (As Spencer) It's not a problem. He's checking in with his guy.

CORDDRY: (As Joe) His - you just said you're his guy.

JOHNSON: (As Spencer) I am almost his guy. Look, Vernon and I have an understanding. It's all good.

CORDDRY: (As Joe) You have an understanding with a 24-year-old defensive lineman, Spence. That's not something we can bank on.

DEGGANS: So what I love about this is, I think The Rock is a TV star in the making. I love watching him here.

WERTHEIMER: What else should we have our eye on?

DEGGANS: Well, the Sundance Channel has a series called "Rectify" about a guy who confessed to a murder but was exonerated by DNA evidence and has to come back to the small southern town where everything happened. I think it's a great drama and it's really strong. And USA just debuted this great cyberpunk drama called "Mr. Robot." It's about a computer whiz who works for a security firm who's recruited by this group of hackers to take down his employer. Now, the star, Rami Malek, is amazing as this zoned-out prodigy who sees everything but really doesn't communicate it to the people around him. We as viewers get to hear about it through voiceover, and it might be the most unexpected creative hit of the summer.

WERTHEIMER: OK, a lot to watch. NPR TV Critic Eric Deggans, thank you very much.

DEGGANS: Always a pleasure.

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