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Summer TV Preview: 16 Reality and Limited-Run Shows That Deserve Attention (Even the Weird Ones)

IndieWire's guide to the rest of Summer TV includes the best from the unscripted, late-night, stand-up and documentary world. (Oh, and "The Great British Baking Show," of course.)

“If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast” (HBO, streaming now)

Carl Reiner and Betty White, "If You're Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast"

Carl Reiner and Betty White, “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast”


Comedy legend Carl Reiner says, “Every morning before having breakfast, I pick up my newspaper, get the obituary section, and see if I’m listed. If I’m not, I’ll have my breakfast.”

Reiner, 95, is among a vital group of nonagenarians and centenarians who are not only surviving through a century, but thriving. Other busy showbiz old-timers in the documentary include Dick Van Dyke, 91, Kirk Douglas, 100, Norman Lear, 94, Betty White, 95, and Mel Brooks, at the lower end of the scale at 90. The film examines how these giants are still able to be such busy entertainers and if there’s a link to their genes, activity or outlook.

The film also interviews non-entertainment people who are redefining what it means to be elderly, whether it’s the 93-year-old marathoner, the 98-year-old yoga teacher who marched with Gandhi and recently took up the tango, or a 95-year-old man who fought in D-Day and still parachutes.

“Long Strange Trip” (Amazon, streaming now)

Long Strange Trip Amazon Jerry Garcia

“Long Strange Trip”

Courtesy of Sundance

Amir Bar-Lev’s four-hour Grateful Dead documentary “Long Strange Trip” isn’t just for the Deadhead in your life. By examining the band’s enduring legacy and how they built their Wall of Sound with their own hands, Bar-Lev weaves together an intimate look at the social and sonic revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. The film features interviews with some of the band members, including Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir, as well archival footage of the late Jerry Garcia. It’s the most inside access many of us we’ll ever get to the Dead, and you can stream it right now on Amazon Prime Video.

“Oh, Hello on Broadway” (Netflix, June 13)

Oh Hello NIck Kroll John Mulaney Directed By: Alex Timbers

The meteoric rise of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland from New York comedy club characters to world-beating theater icons has been nothing short of magical. To see Nick Kroll and John Mulaney bring out Gil and George on “Kroll Show,” “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and the late night circuit has been a treat — seeing them in front of a primed-and-ready Broadway crowd is sure to be special. No word on who the special guest might be, but when you’ve got two septuagenarian rock stars up on stage already, who needs one?

READ MORE: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney Tackle Donald Trump, Mel Gibson and ‘Moonlight’ With Independent Spirit Awards Monologue

“The Putin Interviews” (Showtime, June 12)

“The Putin Interviews”


It could be one of the most revelatory series of interviews or a big bust – but with Oliver Stone interviewing Russian leader Vladimir Putin, you can probably assume it will be provocative. Stone and his longtime documentary producer Fernando Sulichin interviewed Putin more than a dozen times over the course of two years, most recently in February following the U.S. presidential elections. Showtime is comparing it to the landmark David Frost and Richard Nixon interviews from 1977.

“Rory Scovel Tries Stand-Up For the First Time” (Netflix, June 20)

If even you don’t recognize the name, Rory Scovel’s been slowly making his way into your comedy subsconscious. Piano player in a Chipotle commercial? Check. Supporting role in an upcoming Poehler/Ferrell summer comedy? Check. Now, he’s making his Netflix debut with a stand-up special. Having seen him live in LA, we can attest that Scovel’s worth carving out an hour of your TV-watching life.

“Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update” (NBC, August 10)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Octavia Spencer" Episode 1719 -- Pictured: (l-r) Colin Jost and Michael Che during Weekend Update on March 4, 2017 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)

Colin Jost and Michael Che

Will Heath/NBC

Critics weren’t kind to Colin Jost and Michael Che when they launched the current iteration of “Saturday Night Live’s” hallmark segment in 2014. But over the last three years the duo have strengthened their chemistry and individual personalities, and they helped make Season 42 a ratings bonanza this season. The duo will be bringing “Weekend Update” to Thursday for four consecutive weeks beginning August 10, with additional “SNL” cast members slated to appear. Given how insane our political climate continues to be, we’ll be very ready to see how Jost and Che spin things.

READ MORE: ‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: One Dwayne Johnson To Rule Us All

Tour de Pharmacy” (HBO, July 8)

“7 Days in Hell” continues to be one of the overlooked gems of HBO’s comedy catalogue. Andy Samberg, writer Murray Miller and the team behind that tennis spoof is back for another fake sports doc, this time in the world of 80s cycling. This steroid-fueled Tour de Fauxnce —that was obviously their working title — has another stacked guest-star lineup, including Orlando Bloom, Daveed Diggs, J.J. Abrams, James Marsden, Nathan Fielder and Phylicia Rashad. (Fingers crossed they found a way to sneak Michael Sheen back in the mix, too.)

READ MORE: 5 More ‘30 for 30’ Docs That Andy Samberg Could (And Should) Spoof Next

“What Would Diplo Do?” (Viceland, August 3)

If you watched “Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23,” then you know that not only is James van der Beek a legitimately hilarious actor, but he especially shines when his material veers towards the more meta side of things. So while we may not even be totally sure what a Diplo is (just kidding — we know he’s a very popular DJ), watching the Beek from the Creek portray the co-creator of Major Lazer on Vice should be mad entertaining, fam. How do we know? Well, we have the video below, a promo made for a Diplo tour which originated the concept of van der Beek as the DJ. If the series (which is also written by van der Beek) matches this level of wackiness, we’re on board.

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