1) “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” (available July 31)
Why Should I Watch It? Because you have to, you want to, and it’s good for America.
Best Episode: I don’t want to jinx anything by making promises that all the episodes will be equally life-changing, stellar and incomparable pieces of art — though considering the likes of Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Ken Marino, Bradley Cooper, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon and Elizabeth Banks are involved, it seems pretty foolproof. So here’s another .gif.
2) “BoJack Horseman” Season 2 (available July 17)
Why Should I Watch It? In case you’re one of those rare folks who stops watching Netflix original series when they’re just “good” through three or four episodes, it’s time to finish “BoJack Horseman.” I’ve long-regretted filing my “C+” review on the animated comedy after seeing just the first six episodes (it actually lead to an informal policy at Indiewire of only filing Netflix reviews after seeing the entire season). Raphael Bob-Waksberg’s pointed satire featuring the delightful personification of animals took a dark and unexpected turn midway through Season 1; a change of direction that not only saved the series from mediocrity, but made it one of the best new shows of 2014. In short, you better believe I’ll be watching all
Best Episode: Season 2 screeners haven’t been made available for press yet, but you better believe I won’t be choosing a top entry until I’ve seen every one anyway. So for now, let’s just hope none of the daring infused late into Season 1 disappears in BoJack’s sophomore season. I doubt it will. We have a few reasons for faith, after all.
3) “Hell on Wheels” Season 4 (available July 4)
Why Should I Watch It? “Hell on Wheels” is one of those shows that, whenever you watch it, you don’t fully understand why you’re not tuning in every week. The lead actor, Anson Mount, has that magic screen presence needed to carry a Western built around his gripping image. His supporting players are absolutely top notch, with Colm Meaney, Common and Jake Webber all nailing their roles. And, frankly, the title is one of the most badass titles on television. So why aren’t we all talking about Joe and Tony Gayton’s epic take on the construction of the transcontinental railroad and one man’s quest to avenge his wife’s death?
Best Episode: Well, it’s because despite all these factors, “Hell on Wheels” never really takes off. Episode to episode, the series is solid, but it lacks consistent standout entries along the way. Much like “Better Call Saul” (before we got to know Jonathan Banks’ character, Mike, a little bit better), “Hell on Wheels” is coasting a bit too much, until it tries to amp things up and stumbles instead. “Return to Hell” is likely the best episode of Season 4, and it’s got all the markings of what should be a season turning point. The three one-time adversaries, part-time partners are forced to get together and protect the town of Cheyenne after some seriously messed up stuff goes down. Yet despite its awesome title — if that’s all it took to be great, “Hell on Wheels” would be the greatest — “Return to Hell” doesn’t pay off, nor does it lead to particularly stirring season finale. Oh well. I guess we’ll just keep bingeing.
4) “White Collar” Season 6 (available July 4)
Why Should I Watch It? “White Collar” has been available on the USA Network for what feels like an endless amount of time — the network’s weekend marathons only add to its lasting presence — and via Netflix for almost as long. So, by now, viewers should have had the chance to get to know the show’s star, Matt Bomer, who’s an undeniably pleasant person to watch on TV, carrying enough charm to carry a show with more weight than this. If for some reason you haven’t, then go ahead and check out Season 6. Bomer has actually transitioned past his peak as a TV star, which should prepare you well for…
Best Episode: “Magic Mike XXL” is the best episode of “White Collar” anyone will ever see. What’s that? “Magic Mike XXL” isn’t part of “White Collar”? It’s not a TV show at all? It’s the sequel to one of the most profitable indie films of all time, and its only connection to the USA Network series is Bomer? Wrong! Bomer’s “White Collar” character, Neil Caffrey, is a con artist to the nth degree. He gets his kicks from various forms of trickery, all while helping capture white collar criminals for the FBI. Now, if you remember more than just the sick dance moves from the original “Magic Mike,” you know Mike was facing some money problems. All the man wanted to do was stop dancing and start his own home furnishings business using reclaimed wood and Rolling Rock bottles, but the bank turned him down. What’s a hustler like Mike to do? Lie, cheat and steal his way through the backdoors of the very businesses that kept him from achieving his dreams, all while dancing even harder to make it look like he’s earning his money legitimately. Meanwhile, Bomer’s character isn’t actually Mike’s wife-sharing, drug-doing, stripper buddy Ken — he’s Neil Caffrey, on his most dangerous (and sexy) mission yet.
5) “Glee” Season 6 (available July 18)
Why Should I Watch It? Well, you’re a completist, aren’t you? The modern era of binge-watching television via popular services like Amazon, Hulu and…other stuff has taught us two things: 1) People are more forgiving of bad or subpar seasons when they’re speeding through them without second thought, and 2) People will watch anything if they’ve already seen most of it. I’m not arguing the sixth and final season of “Glee” is a significant step down from Season 5, but you’ll probably check it out no matter what if you’ve seen the rest of the FOX musical.
Best Episode: Amber Riley’s return in “What the World Needs Now” marked the high point for an up-and-down final season of “Glee.” Love, and if not love then friendship, conquered all — a belief near and dear to my heart — as Rachel made a somewhat forced return to Broadway while Santana and Brittany moved forward with their wedding by informing Brittany’s parents as well as Santana’s homophobic grandmother. Things got a little real for an episode where high schoolers donned tuxedos and sang Burt Bacharach tunes, but that honesty only ended up supporting the prominent theme of many musicals: all you need is love.
6) “Tig” (available July 17)
Why Should I Watch It? Um, because Tig Notaro is a badass for more reasons than are in this documentary, but what’s laid out here is also pretty undeniable evidence to that point. “Tig” chronicles a four-month portion of its titular star’s life no one would envy, but everyone can admire. Leaping off from her landmark moment in stand-up comedy when she announced to the world she had cancer, through the loss of her mother and Notaro’s own recovery from a double mastectomy, the documentary is a deep, gripping and, yes, funny film. Indiewire gave it an “A-” grade at Sundance, and we see no reason for anyone to think less of the “brave and fascinating” story.
Best Episode: We here at Indiewire are big supporters of a vast of array of film festivals — and certainly Sundance entries like this one — so please forgive us for including this on a slow month for TV movies. We don’t have as good of an excuse for the next entry, but I think you should let is slide anyway. Loosen up. Have some fun. Watch some comedy.
7) “Chris Tucker: Live” (available July 10)
Why Should I Watch It? If you’re not intrigued by the mere fact Tucker is releasing new entertainment, than do it as a thank you for refusing to star in the upcoming CBS series adaptation of “Rush Hour.” Tucker doesn’t pop his head up too often, unless there’s a paycheck (“Rush Hour 2,” “Rush Hour 3” and the upcoming No. 4) or an offer from David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”), so a) it’s just nice to see him back at it, considering he’s got no shortage of talent, and b) at least he’s not just doing it for the money this time. Stand-up is notoriously difficult, and Tucker could easily have nabbed a higher-paying acting gig given his box office appeal.
Best Episode: I mean, there’s only the one. But if it goes well, perhaps we could be in store for a Chris Tucker resurgence. You know, other than “Rush Hour 4.”
The Rest of Incoming TV
“Death in Paradise” Season 3 (July 1)
“Octonauts” Season 3 (July 1)
“El Senor de los Cielos” Seasons 1-2 (July 1)
“Knights of Sidonia” Season 2 (July 3)
“Witches of East End” Season 2 (July 7)
“Violetta” Seasons 1-2 (July 10)
“Marvel’s Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.” Season 2 (July 28)
“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” Season 5 (July 30)
“Turbo Fast” Season 2 (July 31)