Tube Talk: Summer escape: Cable networks roll out well-made shows

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

If you’re looking for something different to watch this summer, you don’t have to look far. While broadcast networks are touting their big summer series, some cable networks are quietly rolling out well-made shows like Witches of East End, Finding Carter and The Bridge.

Witches of East End is a supernatural family drama with plenty of humor. It’s centered on the Beauchamp family — mom Joanna (Julia Ormond), daughters Ingrid (Rachel Boston) and Freya (Jenna Dewan-Tatum), and Joanna’s sister Wendy (Mädchen Amick) — who all happen to be witches exiled centuries ago from Asgard, a magical realm sealed off from this world until the end of season one.

Did I mention Joanna and Wendy are pretty much immortal (although as a feline shape-shifter, Wendy’s down to her ninth life)? Joanna’s curse is to never see her daughters live past the age 30. Hoping to break that curse, this go-round Joanna didn’t tell them they were witches. They found out anyway. She also didn’t tell them they had a brother, Frederick (Christian Cook), back in Asgard. Like it or not, they’ll meet him in season two.

Ingrid and Freya weren’t the only people in the tiny town of East End to grow up unaware of their magical abilities. When the wealthy, vindictive and powerful Penelope Gardiner died in the first season finale, the powers she’d absorbed from her sons (Eric Winter and Daniel DiTomasso, respectively) were returned to them. With no knowledge of or experience with their newfound powers, the semi-estranged brothers should really amp up the action in season two.

If supernatural stories aren’t your thing, maybe Finding Carter is. The new series adds to MTV’s line-up of smart, engaging, teen-focused series like Awkward. and Teen Wolf that appeal to people outside MTV’s typical demographic.

Finding Carter has an intriguing premise: What happens when a happy, well-adjusted teenager (British actress Kathryn Prescott) discovers the mom she loves and confides in kidnapped her when she was a toddler? She’s returned to a home and family she doesn’t know, and learns her biological mother (Cynthia Watros) is a cop bent on apprehending the woman who raised her.

The premise seems ripe for drama and intrigue — possibly even some comedic moments as Carter adjusts to her new life and seeks out her true identity and place in the world.

If you prefer darker dramas, FX’s critically acclaimed series The Bridge returns for a second season July 9. The first season revolved around a murder investigation centered on a body (actually, parts of two bodies) lying across the U.S.-Mexico border on a bridge between El Paso and Chihuahua.

The Mexican cartel that served more as a B-story last year is front and center this season as Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) and Marco Ruiz (Demain Bichir) partner up again to solve the murder of a Mexican cartel member whose body was found on U.S. soil. While Marco’s troubled personal life played out season one, culminating in the murder of his teen-age son, this year, Sonya’s life will demand a little more attention.

Even if you don’t have cable, you can view most cable shows through online streaming.

Programming notes

• Season 2 of Witches of East End debuts Sunday, July 6, at 8 p.m. Central on Lifetime.

• The series premiere of Finding Carter airs Tuesday, July 8, at 9 p.m. Central on MTV.

• Season 2 of The Bridge premieres Wednesday, July 9, at 9 p.m. Central on FX.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to

From the July 2-8, 2014, issue

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