As viewers embrace the idea that TV has firmly become a year-round event, the prospects of television dramas in the summer are better than they’ve ever been. No longer just a time for blockbusters in giant multiplexes, the small screen’s gotten into the summer game.
With that extra attention to the summer schedule, there’s a chance for new shows on new networks to make a play for your TV watching attention.
IndieWire has put together a list of 20 TV dramas that should be on your must-see calendar for the rest of the summer. Some of these are the familiar conversation-starters, but others are brand-new titles that could make a dent in the warmest months of the year.
As we did for our summer comedy preview earlier this week, we’ve included the networks and premiere dates, and put shos in alphabetical order. Set your DVR!
“The Bold Type” (Freeform, July 11)
Given the short shrift that “Good Girls Revolt” and “Girlboss” got from their various TV adaptations, it looks like Freeform unwittingly fused together the most intriguing parts of both of those series for something all its own. Following the behind-the-scenes exploits at a fashion/lifestyle magazine, “The Bold Type” is the network’s first dramatic stab at programming in a post-“Big Little Lies” world. Plus, a chance to see Melora Hardin get a chance to go full “Devil Wears Prada” is one we’re always willing to take.
“Blood Drive” (Syfy, June 14)
“Blood Drive” is grotesque. “Blood Drive” is shameless. “Blood Drive” is, for the right kind of person, a helluva lot of fun. While the premise technically doesn’t push much beyond a “Death Race 2000” riff with some over-the-top bloodthirsty twists, the upcoming Syfy series does push the boundaries of what’s possible on ad-supported cable like no other show this summer. And based on the first episode, there’s some wild creativity at play here. Signing up for the ride might be scary, but it might be worth the surprises.
“Broadchurch” (BBC America, June 28)
Colin Hutton/BBC America
Creator and writer Chris Chibnall had conceived of “Broadchurch” as a three-parter, and so as the murder mystery enters into its third season, expect to get some closure. In the first season, detective Alec Hardy (David Tennant) joined local detective Ellie Miller (Olivia Coleman) as they tracked down the murderer of an 11-year-old boy in the small, close-knit town of Dorset. The second season was spent on the trial for the killer and an old case that had followed Hardy. This season takes place three years on, and it looks like Hardy and Miller have become permanent partners in fighting crime. A sexual assault case involving a local is front and center this time, and once again, the case exposes the festering wound of pain and violence that is underneath the surface of Dorset.
“Game of Thrones” (HBO, July 16)
Can anyone be a match for Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her dragons? That’s the big question when HBO’s fantasy drama returns for its penultimate season. War is imminent now, and with the Mother of Dragons hitting Westerosi shores, the Iron Throne seems almost assured. Naturally Cersei (Lena Headey) will have something to say about that. This season also marks the first time that Jon Snow’s (Kit Harington) parentage might be somewhat confirmed, so how Jon’s personal revelation will play out and what he decides to do about it could be pivotal to the outcome of the series. And even if Dany and Jon have the blood of dragons in them, the Stark sisters Sansa and Arya (Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams) may have a reunion soon and aren’t out of the game yet.
“Gypsy” (Netflix, June 30)
Alison Cohen Rosa/Netflix
Perhaps you’ve noticed that Naomi Watts made her way to television recently. Fresh off a whirlwind appearance on “Twin Peaks,” this Netflix series will give Watts the chance to anchor a show of her own, this time as a psychologist whose personal interest in her patients’ lives may extend beyond her professional obligations. The “therapist, heal thyself” premise of the show isn’t 100 percent revolutionary, but for the opportunity to watch Watts alongside fellow ensemble members Billy Crudup, Poorna Jagannathan, Lucy Boynton and Brenda Vacarro (!), we’d follow this show for a while.
“The Last Tycoon” (Amazon, July 28)
Kelsey Grammer and Matt Bomer in a battle of wits and drive? Sounds like a keeper. The actors star in Amazon’s “The Last Tycoon,” an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last work, which was inspired by the life of legendary film mogul Irving Thalberg. Bomer is up-and-coming Hollywood exec Monroe Stahr, who winds up battling his own boss and father figure (Grammer, as Pat Brady) for control of their studio. It’s a not-so-glamorous and gritty look at the highs and lows of 1930s Hollywood. Also on tap: Rosemarie DeWitt (“La La Land”), Dominique McElligott (“House of Cards”), Enzo Cilenti (“The Martian”) and guest stars including Jennifer Beals. Academy Award nominee Billy Ray (“Captain Phillips”) wrote and directed multiple episodes and executive produces with Christopher Keyser (“Party of Five”), among others. Keep an eye out for the top-notch period production design and costumes.
“Loaded” (AMC, July 17)
Just call it “Silicon Blighty.” When four British tech engineers — Josh (Jim Howick), Leon (Samuel Anderson), Ewan (Jonny Sweet) and Watto (Nick Helm) sell their startup video game company Idyl Hands to Casey (Mary McCormack), they become millionaires overnight. Now they can live the high life with fast cars, arcade games, samurai swords, Viking helmets and whatever else a code monkey could want and more. And by “more,” we mean a real boss they need to answer to for the first time in their lives. “Loaded” will premiere right after a new episode of AMC’s “Preacher,” which should make for for a fun and irreverent two hours of television.
Manhunt: Unabomber (Discovery, August 1)
It’s the cast that has us paying attention to this one: Sam Worthington, Chris Noth, Mark Duplass? Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski? Jane Lynch as Janet Reno? It’s an exciting line-up of players tackling a series of events that haven’t been explored in a docu-drama setting on this level — clearly a big play by Discovery Channel, especially given the subtle choice to lead with the “Manhunt” branding, in case this might become a limited series franchise a la “American Horror Story.” For true crime fans, this could be an easy sell, and it’ll be interesting to see if it has potential beyond that scope.
“Marvel’s The Defenders” (Netflix, August 18)
As the culmination of a years-long TV project, this vigilante team-up series will be a test of how far the Marvel brand can cut through the Peak TV noise. Between Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, everyone has their favorite single series. But the true test of this season will be whether or not Marvel will embrace a shorter season approach for their individual shows going forward. With all the buildup, eight episodes seems like a tease, but we’re hoping that this team can pull off the four-person balancing act.
“Midnight, Texas” (NBC, July 24)
From the author behind “True Blood” comes another supernatural adventure, set this time in the tiny town of Midnight, where everyone is some sort of outcast or runaway. A psychic named Manfred (Francois Arnaud, “The Borgias”) hits town and finds that his new neighbors are incredibly diverse, and not just ethnically. An ancient vampire, a dangerous assassin, a witch and an angel are just some of the the colorful and powerful people who are all hiding secrets. Although NBC is not exactly HBO, the broadcaster appears to be doing its best to add some heat to the summer with a slew of romances all involving incredibly fit and attractive people.
Up next: Young Shakespeare, the world’s craziest hotel room and one last trip with the Clone Club