Summer TV preview: What the networks are offering, and what families can expect
Christopher Raphael, Fox
Until a few years ago, there were only two major television seasons: the fall season, when all the major shows appeared, and the midseason, where networks replaced their failing shows with the backup series they ordered but held on to in case of an emergency.
However, with the advent of a huge slate of cable offerings, entertainment on-demand and an audience that doesn’t like to sit through reruns, television producers have added a new season.
The summer season still primarily consists of reality and competition series, but more original offerings are making their premieres in the summer months. Here is a guide to some of the shows debuting this summer, with a note on what families can expect.
Note: TV content ratings can vary by episode, but generally fall into the range of TV-Y, TV-Y7, TV-PG, TV-14 and TV-MA. For detailed information on individual episode content and ratings, PluggedIn.com is a website from "Focus on the Family" that covers many current television series with detailed content breakdowns, and will likely cover many of these series.
“24: Live Another Day,” Monday, May 5, Fox
With more and more shows getting cancelled and uncanceled (“The Killing” has been canceled twice but will finish out a fourth and final season on Netflix, along with the recently uncanceled “Arrested Development”), it was only a matter of time before Jack Bauer returned to the screen. After an aborted attempt at a feature film, stars Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub (as computer-programmer sidekick Chloe) return to television in a 12-episode summer event. With many of the same writers and producers, and still using the real-time format that made the series unique, Fox is banking on Sutherland’s continued appeal to bring big ratings to its summer schedule. Family audiences can expect similar content to the previous series, which had very occasional language and a rather high amount of action and war-related violence.
“Coming Back with Wes Moore,” Tuesday, May 13, PBS
Author and U.S. veteran Wes Moore hosts this three-part documentary series on PBS in which he discusses and witnesses the struggles of soldiers returning home from war. Though the topic has been covered on news networks and outlets like “60 Minutes,” the depth and complexity have likely never been explored as thoroughly and passionately as with Moore, who has special insight after having served himself. Family audiences can expect appropriate but sometimes uncomfortable conversation about war trauma and violence.
“Gang Related,” Tuesday, May 20, Fox
Created by “Fast and Furious” series screenwriter Chris Morgan, “Gang Related” is a police action-drama series revolving around the compromised loyalties of members of the Los Angeles police’s Gang Task Force. With familiar faces such as “Lost” cast member Terry O’Quinn and musician RZA, the series is an L.A.-based take on Martin Scorsese’s cop drama “The Departed.” Family audiences can expect some criminal violence and dark subject matter on the adult-skewing network.
“Labyrinth,” Thursday, May 22, CW
A miniseries that already aired in the U.K. and is finally making its way to American shores, “Labyrinth” is a new fantasy story not to be confused with the Jim Henson film from the 1980s. Combining time travel with an epic journey to find the Holy Grail, the series (produced by director Ridley Scott) boasts some impressive casting, from “Harry Potter” cast members John Hurt and Tom Felton to former “Downton Abbey” actress Jessica Brown Findlay. Family audiences can expect content that has aired on British television, meaning that there may have been language or nudity but it will be censored from the American broadcast.
"Crossbones," Friday, May 30, NBC
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