By Rohin Guha
As we inch toward the finish line for the summer season, it’s time to survey the TV landscape. Which soaps fizzled? Which sit-coms crackled? Most importantly, as HBO’s Detroit-set “Hung” troops on, will we ever get to see just how endowed Thomas Jane’s surly Ray is? So many questions, but such little space for palaver. So let’s just get to the nuts, bolts and loose ends.
“True Blood.” Quite possibly the most surprise hit of the summer. It started off with a snap and a pop, but then started bringing out the surprise punches. With no shortage of divas (everyone from wicked maenad Maryann Forrester to Eric Northman’s henchgirl Pam to Sookie Stackhouse herself) or hunks (Sookie’s brother Jason, Northman, Bill, Lafayette and the skittish Sam Merlotte), or gratuitous nudity and gore, “True Blood” is the surprise victor this summer, with a little something for everyone. This is one soap we’re following to the end of the season – and easily into its third run next year. Grade: A+
“Weeds.” We loved “Weeds” even as it kind of hit a creative slide last summer, but as this season fumbles to conclusion, the show’s become a pathetic echo of its former self. Unlikely divas Nancy Botwin and Celia Hodes have been dumbed down into one-dimensional caricatures, while Sanjay – Nancy’s delightfully fey disciple – has disappeared after basically being reduced to a punchline. Even with the inclusion of a lesbian foil/lover for Celia in the form of her new employer, all signs are pointing to sputter. We say get out of the grow-house and look for less smoky prospects. Grade: D
“Mad Men.” Yes, everyone’s been abuzz about this slow-paced serial about ad execs. Don Draper is dreamy and the ladies have aplomb, but something doesn’t quite click. But season three has just started off, and this is a drama with a good reputation. So let’s let it simmer before we judge its boil. Grade: B
“Beautiful People.” This sweet little comedy on Logo, based on Simon Doonan’s experiences growing up in a working-class British neighborhood, was by far one of the season’s most welcome surprises. Equal parts camp and tragedy, it was distinctly British. More than that, in a TV landscape awash with so much sex, violence, and disillusionment, the sitcom provided a fresh breath of air. Luckily for us, a second season has wrapped production. Look for it – fingers crossed – next year. Grade: B+