TELEVISION: True Blood, Weeds and Other Summer Faves

photo credit: HBO

With the 2010-2011 season for broadcast television ending last week, where do we go from here? When I was a kid, it meant reruns for the next three months and very little TV watching. With 387,649 cable options these days and no real “seasons” on cable, we’re starting new shows, mid-season for some, etc. Here’s a run-down of the ones worth catching:

United States of Tara (Showtime): This award winning show from Oscar winner Diablo Cody (Juno), starring Oscar-nominated actress Toni Collette, was cancelled just this week. Why start watching now, you ask. Because this season is, hands down, their best. Unfortunately, ratings haven’t been kind to the show, but the writers have taken Collette’s Tara (who suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder) down a new and unexpected path this season, generating some of the best scenes of the entire series. Catch up on the whole season OnDemand before the series finale on June 20th.

The Closer (TNT): They know drama. It’s not just a tagline. They really do know drama. When Kyra Sedgwick decided to end her run as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson of the Los Angeles Police Department, shockwaves went through the TNT executive offices. The Closer is their signature show. It helped pave the way for every other cop show they air during the summer. They had to do something quickly. In no time, it was announced that the show would spin off into a series called Major Crimes, with Mary McDonnell’s character taking over where Sedgwick leaves off. It is still up in the air whether Lts. Gabriel, Flynn or Provenza will follow. Starts July 11.

Weeds (Showtime): Season 7 of the ever-evolving dark comedy comes with a time jump and lots of new characters. If you’ve been on the Nancy Botwin bus all this time, you certainly won’t be getting off now.

photo credit: TNT

Memphis Beat (TNT): Is it the best show out there? No. But, I do appreciate the earnestness Jason Lee brings to his role as a Detective Dwight Hendricks. Add in a healthy does of the phenomenal Alfre Woodard (adopting the most realistic Memphis accent I have ever heard on TV) and a cameraman who seems to love the city. You’re left with a show that is the equivalent of comfort food. And who doesn’t like comfort food?

Falling Skies (TNT): I haven’t seen it, but I am excited about it. Steven Spielberg. Aliens. That is all.

In Plain Sight (USA): US Marshals in Phoenix relocate people in the Witness Protection Program. Mary McCormack plays the lead role with as a kind of maternal smart-ass. An underrated show that should get more buzz.

True Blood (HBO): Yes, ladies and gentlemen, True Blood is becoming as synonymous with summer as ball park hot dogs and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. With a treasure trove of mysterious beings in the small town of Bon Temps, La., copious amounts of sex and more drama than even Meryl Streep would want to tackle, our favorite Sunday night obsession is ba-aack!!Weed

If you don’t have cable, this is also a perfect time to catch up on two of the best shows on TV: Fringe and Parenthood. Go get the DVDs, rent them from Netflix, see what you can on and be ready for their fourth and third seasons, respectively, come fall.