In June I started a list of summer shows I wanted to keep an eye on because I thought they might be good choices for Banner readers. My usual summer television is pretty much limited to the short seasons of “The Closer” (TNT), a police drama centered around Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson and her Major Crimes Division, as well as the odd showing of “America’s Got Talent” (NBC). Often my husband and I use summer as an opportunity to watch an old series we never got to watch from start to finish. But this summer a few new shows looked promising, so I checked out one or two episodes. It’s been a mixed bag.
The first one I dipped into was “Bunheads” (ABC Family) about a Vegas showgirl, tired of the lifestyle, who abruptly marries a nice but doofy guy who adores her. She moves into his small California town and tries to make a place for herself in his life. This includes his mother, who happens to live with him and teaches ballet to teens in an attached studio. The show has some heart and some wit, and after the setup of the pilot might be able to focus more on the dance school itself. However, it was promoted as a family show, and within about 60 seconds viewers were treated to crass comments, foul language, and a backside shot of topless showgirls. The residents of this town are treated as if they barely see the outside world. Meh.
Next up: “Push Girls” (Sundance Channel), a reality show about four women in wheelchairs. These women are friends in real life; they haven’t been put in close quarters just for the sake of the show. There are some real moments here. They struggle for independence even as they are sometimes necessarily dependent. They fight hard to remain beautiful, active, vital women with full lives. The catch here (meant to be the draw, I’m sure) is that they live in Hollywood, and they’re trying to live up to the sort of celebrity-inspired beauty that much of the world seeks. A vital life is confused, at least by one woman, with a party lifestyle. With the language and sexual emphasis, you’d think you were watching “Push Girls Gone Wild.” Coming to the show I was hoping for honesty and possibly some hard-earned life experience and understanding. Watching it, I got some honesty and understanding, but very little wisdom.
One last try. “Trust Us with Your Life” (ABC) is an improv comedy show with some of the same players who were on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” Host Fred Willard brings on celebrity guests, such as David Hasselhoff, Serena Williams, or Florence Henderson, and asks them a few questions about their lives. The comedy team then acts out life scenes through some inventive improv techniques. The pilot, which aired Tuesday night, brought in Jack and Kelly Osbourne. As the children of Ozzy and Sharon, they have plenty of dubious fodder for comedy, and the episode leaned heavily on knowledge of the old reality show “The Osbournes.” Most of the celebrity chat was lame. The comedians were sometimes hilarious, but the jokes revolved around things like Kelly’s drunkenness and the “skanks” Jack used to bring home as a teenager, picking rather low-hanging fruit. I’ll be checking this one out again, mostly because Wayne Brady cracks me up, but I won’t call the kids in to watch it with me.
I can’t say I have come away from this with any great recommendations. Likely we’ll just settle in for the final six episodes of “The Closer,” which we still watch out of habit and respect for the first few well-written seasons, and we’ll do a lot more reading. If I’ve missed something great, or if you disagree with my thoughts on any of these shows, please tell me so!