Okay, so the Emmy nominations have been announced, and all the nominees are busy celebrating the good news. There’s just one small problem. Even though the nominations are announced during the summer, they are always a look back at the good things that have already been on TV. But where are the honors for the here-and-now, the shows that are keeping us entertained this summer?
It’s not just reruns and “real” people trapped in houses together anymore. From serious vampire nookie to dancing gnomes to the end of the world, this has been a great summer for both fun and fascinating television. To make sure this programming gets its due, here are some special XfinityTV.com honors for the most notable shows from the summer of 2011. (With categories that the Emmys might want to consider next year, just to liven things up.)
BEST USES OF A GUY POLE DANCING IN HEELS
“America’s Got Talent” has been one of television’s most popular summer shows for several years now, but this year it’s on its best roll ever. Whether it’s unusual acts like the male pole dancer or the dancing gnomes, or very serious performers like the Silhouettes or the Miami All-Stars, “Talent” is TV’s deli platter of entertainment – it may not all be good for you, but there’s still something for everyone.
OUTSTANDING EXISTENTIALIST PHILOSOPHY SERIES THAT TORCHES HELICOPTERS
“Torchwood: Miracle Day” is a TV miracle. There’s probably never been a series like the British import, which manages to work in a deep and thoughtful meditation on the meaning of death (the premise: one day, nobody on earth dies anymore) with enough action/adventure/explosions to make the Transformers feel like kids with cap guns.
“True Blood” may seem like a horror show – that’ll happen when your main characters are vampires, werewolves, witches and the occasional fairy with fangs. And sure, there’s plenty of intriguing character drama going on. But what makes this show so addicting is how surreal and mind-bending the thing is. You truly never know what’s coming next and if you’re not saying, “What the ….?” at least three times an episode, you’re not paying attention.
“Rizzoli & Isles” is, in theory, a cop show about the crime-solving partnership of detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and medical examiner Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander). What makes this one of cable’s most popular shows, though, is the bonding between the rough-edged Rizzoli (the new Oscar Madison) and everything-in-its-place Isles (Felix Unger incarnated).
“Falling Skies” has one basic message for any ETs thinking of landing here and enslaving us: earthlings are like the Chicago Cubs of the solar system. We may be pretty beaten down but don’t count us out because one of these days….There are some pretty dark moments to this show, but there’s a sense of fun that takes it far beyond its sci-fi roots.
TNT’s critical darling “Men Of A Certain Age” has officially been canceled but its six-episode run this summer was so touching and so funny, it was perfect viewing for people of any age. Series stars Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and Emmy nominee Andre Braugher will definitely be missed.
SCARIEST SHOW THAT DOESN’T INVOLVE VAMPIRES OR WEREWOLVES
“Breaking Bad” isn’t a horror show, at least not in the sense of, say, “True Blood.” However, it’s truly the most frightening series of the summer. Watching Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) endless descent into the world of drug dealing and manufacturing can leave your heart breaking, your hands covering your eyes and your mind wondering how you’d handle the same life choices he faces every week.
FONDEST FAREWELL TOUR
“Entourage” was never a show you’d call warm and cuddly, unless by warm you mean naked sunbathing by the pool and by cuddly you mean having prostitutes over to the mansion. Still, as this HBO series heads through its final season, it’s actually grown up quite a bit and is treating its rich and (occasionally) selfish main characters with a surprisingly touching approach.
BEST REASON TO SPEND TIME WITH LAWYERS
“Suits” is maybe the best surprise of the summer. Sure it’s a lawyer show (and we need another one of those like we need another movie about a lone wolf cop partnered with a guy who is just weeks from retirement), but it’s different. There is something very genuine about how the characters relate to each other, and something more real about the cases they handle. Watching “Suits” is one of those rare times it’s worth paying the hourly rate to spend time with attorneys.
MOST AMUSING USE OF EXPLOSIVE DEVICES
“Burn Notice” has had some up and down seasons, and at times seemed to be straying from its latter day “Rockford Files” premise – a good guy with a sketchy past helping people in trouble by using equal doses of humor and gunplay/fistfights. So far this season, however, it’s right back on target with episodes that make breaking into secure government facilities and detonating major explosive devices seem like fun. (Actually, those things already seemed like fun… “Burn Notice” just does it with style.)