The Best of Summer Television, 2012

There was a time when summer television was a wasteland where no good shows were allowed to grow but that time has definitely come to an end. While many of my favorite shows still blossom in the fall, there is definitely a strong crop of summer shows this season. Here are ten of the shows I’m most excited for this summer!

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10: Weeds

Weeds has had a few rough seasons. In fact, until about two weeks ago, I hadn’t even seen the end of season seven. I loved the first three or four seasons of Weeds. I loved the characters, I loved the plot and I loved where the story seemed to be going. The problem with the later seasons is that all of the promise shown early on didn’t lead anywhere. Nancy Botwin (played brilliantly by Mary Louise Parker) had been an almost sympathetic character early on and one could almost believe she was making the choices she was making to try to give her sons a better life. As the series progressed though she became less about her children and more about herself. Are we really to believe Nancy would fight tooth and nail to get baby Stevie back when she seems to care very little about her two older sons. Even more to the point, should she get her son back considering the dangerous and volatile lifestyle she’s chosen? When I heard this would be Weeds’ last season, I decided to tune in to see how everything would wrap up. I checked out the episodes I’d missed of season seven and found myself hoping that it was Nancy that caught the bullet in the season finale. I’m guessing it was Andy considering Justin Kirk has been cast in Animal Hospital (which I’m super excited for, by the way) which would be a shame. Andy has been one of the only reasons to watch the show in quite some time. All the same, it will be interesting to see where Weeds’final season goes.

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09: So You Think You Can Dance

I just started watching So You Think You Can Dance last season and by the end of the season, I had fallen in love. The talent on this show is absolutely incredible although I have to wonder if any of this season’s talent will be able to top last season’s Melanie and Marko. Their contemporary dance to Ingrid Michaelson’s Turn to Stone was absolutely breathtaking and their performances only got better from there. Because I’m fairly new to the series, I have an advantage over So You Think You Can Dance veterans when it comes to this season. I’m not married to the old format of the show so the massive changes that have been put in place for this season might not have as much of an impact on me as they will on fans who have been watching since the beginning. I’m really excited to see how the show grows and develops over the course of this season and whether or not the changes will stick around for next season.

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08: True Blood

I know a whole lot of people are going to argue with True Blood’s position on this list but it nearly wasn’t on this list at all. I’m just not a True Blood fan. I love the cast and I love the basic idea behind the show but I just can’t seem to get through the first season. It’s not that the first season was bad. It just didn’t grab my attention. I may change my mind one of these days (especially since my usual TV watching buddy has been asking me to give it another chance) but for now, I’m just not a fan. Even so, I can’t deny that True Bloodis one of the hottest shows on television this summer.

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07: Bunheads *review contains spoilers*

Okay, I admit it. The Bunheads pilot was pretty hard to sit through. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the storyline until the serious curveball the show through at me at the very end. Then I was hooked. With the death of who I expected to be a main character and an integral part of the show , the plot completely changed direction and became far more than just the typical “fish out of water” series that I’d been expecting it to be. With whip smart writing, complex characters, comedy and drama Bunheadscould easily become one of my favorite new shows this season. I only hope the public gets behind it and there is a second season.

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06: Dallas

I wanted to hate Dallas. I really, honestly wanted to hate it. I went in with low expectations and only really watched because I’m a fan of several members of the cast. About halfway through the pilot, I was complaining to my husband about how overly dramatic and cheesy the show was. By the end of the first episode, I was eagerly awaiting the next installment. I absolutely love this show. It has “summer guilty pleasure” written all over it. It’s cheesy, dramatic and sometimes poorly acted – everything that made the original so much fun to watch. There are more than enough winks and nods to the original show to please old fans and enough fresh drama to draw in the new crowd. It isn’t hard to imagine why this one is doing so well in the ratings. It’s mindless but it isentertaining and that’s a big part of its appeal.

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05: Hell’s Kitchen

Hell’s Kitchenhas long been one of my favorite reality competition shows and one of my favorite summer shows. I love Gordon Ramsay almost as much as I love kittens so seeing him in command of his kitchen is always exciting. I often feel bad for some of the hopeful head chefs as they struggle to meet Ramsay’s high standards but always remind myself they signed up for the challenge. You don’t walk into this competition expecting it to be a cakewalk and if you do, you probably haven’t seen the show. I have to admit though, some of the fighting amongst contestants on this season’s show is a bit irritating and more than a few of the contestants rub me the wrong way but in a weird way, that just makes the show even more appealing. I can’t wait to see who wins!

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04: America’s Got Talent

Like many of the other summer reality competition shows, last season was the first season I watched America’s Got Talentand while I enjoyed it, I started to lose interest in it a bit toward the end. There was one reason for that and his name is Piers Morgan. When I heard Piers was leaving, I was far more excited for this season. When I heard Howard Stern was taking Piers’ place at the judge’s table, I wasn’t sure about the season again. I like Howard Stern in theory but his sense of humor can be a little much for me at times. I decided to check out the season anyway, mostly because I love Sharon and Howie. By the end of the first episode with Howard at the judge’s table, I was confident the producers made the right choice with Howard. He takes his role as judge seriously, is honest and is witty. I think he was the perfect addition to the show and I hope he remains on the show.

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03: Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is television at its best. The only reason this show isn’t at the top of the list is because I am a little uncertain about how the show is going to do in its final season. I think they chose to pull the plug at the right time, letting the show go out on top instead of dragging it out for several less than stellar seasons Weeds style but I’m a little apprehensive about the end all the same. With a show like Breaking Bad, I fear the writers may feel forced to rush the storyline to bring it to a satisfying conclusion. Even so, the last season of Breaking Badis necessary summer viewing.

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02: MasterChef

As I mentioned earlier, I love Gordon Ramsay so I had to check MasterChef out when it premiered two seasons ago. While I love impatient, angry and demanding Gordon, I prefer to see at least some of his more nurturing side. That’s something on display in MasterChef more than Hell’s Kitchen. Add Graham and Joe, exciting team challenges and suspenseful elimination challenges and you have a great show. What really puts this one over the top for me are the mystery box challenges – definitely my favorite part of the show. This is, hands down, my favorite reality competition. Sorry American Idol.

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01: Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars. I don’t even know how to describe how great this show is. I didn’t bother with it while the first two seasons were airing because it just didn’t seem to be something I’d enjoy. I’m not exactly part of their target demographic but I really like Ashley Benson so I decided to give it a shot. I was hooked from the end of the very first episode. As the series has progressed the mysteries have only gotten more engrossing and the lies have only gotten more tangled. I can’t wait to see where season three goes. This is one summer guilty pleasure I can’t do without!

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