Summer TV 2014... What Was the Best?

Emmy winner Uzo Aduba and Lorraine Toussaint
in the best summer series "Orange is the New Black"
Gone is the idea of re-runs and mostly reality television during the summer. The networks, both broadcast and cable, have gotten into the habit of premiering scripted fare and potential new series. FOX kicked things off with Gang Related, an undercover cop drama that was like a Hispanic version of The Departed. It was really the only scripted series on FOX for this season before the fall.

ABC burned off episodes of The Assets, which it effectively cancelled back in January. It had Black Box, which was a female version of NBC's cancelled Do No Harm but Steven Pasquale was a better performer than Kelly Reilly. Mistresses proves that sex sells with no more than dangling beautiful women like Alyssa Milano and Yunjin Kim with hot guys like Jason George and Justin Hartley who returns to his soap stud roots. Motive is ABC's sophomore summer series and Rookie Blue is its other police procedural show, now in its fifth season.

NBC had yet another medical drama The Night Shift, which was only interesting thanks to a gay storyline for Brendan Fehr, a closeted doctor, and Luke MacFarlane, his army captain lover. NBC did a weird, cop series Taxi: Brooklyn, as well as various other comedies, including Undateable, Welcome to Sweden and Working the Engels.

CBS didn't seem to do well with its summer comedy Bad Teacher, but it's pushing forward with its summer sci-fi shows, Extant and Under the Dome. It also has its standard procedural shows. The network cancelled Unforgettable, which had Poppy Montgomery playing a detective with super memory powers. Yet, the network un-cancelled it in a surprising move. It's also trying to make Sundays a bit sexier with Reckless.

HBO is airing its final season of True Blood. It also has its new depressing drama The Leftovers as well as a new, Australian teen, foul-mouth comedy Jonah From Tonga, which is absolutely insufferable. TNT brought one of two Michael Bay shows to television with The Last Ship. It also gave life to Sean Bean after Games of Thrones took it away in the freshman series Legends. USA, like so many others, tried to capitalize on the idea of sexy summer fare with Rush and Satisfaction.

Other than BET and OWN, there are a few networks with African-Americans in the lead or at the center of the series. The cable network Starz has Omari Hardwick as the protagonist in Power. There was of course Taye Diggs in Murder in the First on TNT. Halle Berry is the lead of Extant and Athena Karkanis is one of the main actors in The Lottery. Gerald Johnson is Black Jesus, the new series by creator Aaron McGruder, the man behind the defunct The Boondocks. Martin Lawrence co-stars opposite Kelsey Grammar in FX's Partners. VH1 had the ridiculous Hit the Floor that again was redeemed with an interesting gay storyline involving Adam Senn and Brent Antonello with an appearance by Scott Evans.

Disney Channel brought nostalgia and saccharin-sweet in Girl Meets World. FX brought Guillermo del Toro's vision of vampires in The Strain, though I like how the series makes good use of Miguel Gómez whose best work was his guest appearance in Louie in the episode entitled "Miami," which aired in the summer of 2012. Finally, WGN waded into the scripted series fray with Manhattan, a period story about the Manhattan project.

I watched a lot, probably too much. Some critics might argue not enough, but here is my list of the best series of the hotter weather.

Best Summer TV Shows of 2014

Orange is the New Black (NETFLIX)
Rectify (SUND)
Tyrant (FX)
The Lottery (LIFE)
Extant (CBS)
Vicious (PBS/ITV)
The Awesomes (HULU)
Murder in the First (TNT)
Nurse Jackie (SHOW)
The Fosters (ABC Family)

Best Individual Performance

Aden Young - Rectify
Justin Theroux - The Leftovers
Tom Felton - Murder in the First
Ashraf Barhom - Tyrant
Brent Morin - Undateable


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