Tube Talk: Summer debuts light up small screen

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributor

Ever since Memorial Day, broadcast and cable networks have steadily begun premiering their summer fare. Here are just a few very different options you might want to check out.

O.J.: Made in America is ESPN’s five-part, in-depth documentary chronicling the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, from beloved sports star to accused killer, to prisoner. I stumbled upon the last half of the first episode and was riveted, and I loathe sports. How someone can have it all – and then some – and fall so far? Simpson makes an easy target, but the documentary seems even-handed and not nearly as sensationalistic as you might expect.

Guilt debuted Monday on Freeform TV (formerly known as ABC Family). For me, the most notable thing about this London-set murder mystery is the return of Anthony Steward Head (best known as Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to American television. There’s a curiosity factor at play here as well: Head’s real-life daughter, Daisy Head, plays his character’s stepdaughter.

Brain Dead also debuted on Monday, only on CBS. This political satire/sci-fi mash-up comes from the creators of The Good Wife, Michelle and Robert King. Set in Washington D.C., at times this fun take on our near-dysfunctional political leaders may seem a more plausible excuse for D.C.’s extremely divisive partisan politics than reality could ever provide.

Animal Kingdom may have the most misleading title of the year. The series, which premiered Tuesday on TNT, is not about a veterinarian, a zoo, or a jungle. It’s a drama about a crime family, but not your typical male-dominated mob show. Ellen Barkin (Sea of Love) is the head of this criminal enterprise. Scott Speedman (Last Resort) and Shawn Hatosy (Fear the Walking Dead, Bosch) co-star.

Aquarius returns for a second summer of love on Thursday on NBC. David Duchovny stars as Sam Hodiak, an LAPD detective tracking cult leader Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony) as Manson continues to spiral out of any semblance of control he had in the first season.

Endeavor returns this Sunday to PBS’ Masterpiece. This third short season opens with the young Morse (Shaun Evans) – who appeared to be framed for murder at the end of the previous season – four months into an involuntary suspension from the police force. Not as if that will keep his inquisitive mind from investigating another murder.

Greenleaf premieres June 21 on OWN, and the cast – including Lynn Whitfield (Eve’s Bayou, The Josephine Baker Story), Keith David (Platoon, Crash), Merle Dandridge (Sons of Anarchy, The Night Shift) and Oprah Winfrey (playing against type in a recurring role) – doesn’t hold back. Set amid a family-run mega church in Memphis, the soapy drama is ripe for conflict, hypocrisy, and greed.

Programming Notes

Guilt airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Freeform.

Brain Dead airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBS.

Animal Kingdom airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on TNT.

Aquarius airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Endeavor airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on WTTW.

Greenleaf airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on OWN.

O.J.: Made in America parts 3, 4, and 5 air tonight, Friday, and Saturday respectively at 8 p.m. on ESPN. (Part 2 repeats tonight immediately before Part 3; All parts will be available on WatchESPN.com.)

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