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Endless Bummer

True TV: All the good summer TV was on cable. So, where were you?


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Dexter: Season 1
A charming serial killer (Michael C. Hall) kills less-charming killers—heroic or inhuman? That’s what makes him so damned interesting. (Paramount.com)

A New Wave
John Krasinski (pre-The Office) and Lacey Chabert (post-Mean Girls) rob a bank and wear slutty micro-skirts, respectively. (ThinkFilmCompany.com)

Perfect Stranger
Halle Berry and Bruce Willis star in a dark thriller about what happened to Cousin Balki after he killed and chopped up Larry. (SonyPictures.com)

R. Kelly: Trapped In the Closet
Chapters 13-22 of the hysterical “urban opera” that’s captivated at least a few other people besides R. Kelly—everybody, sing along! (R-Kelly.com)

’Til Death: Season 1
Sure, it’s terrible—but it’s terrible in such a classic Fox sitcom way that it’s retro-chic. Or something. Anyway, who ate Joely Fisher? (SonyPictures.com)

Ugly Betty: Season 1
Smart, funny, touching, scathing … no one’s sure how Ugly Betty got on network TV. Relive the first year before they screw up the second. (ABC.com)

More New DVD Releases (Aug. 21)
Broken English, The Ex, House: Season 3, JAG: Season 4, Redline

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Yeah, yeah, yeah—Danny DeVito has nearly wrecked the show. Get over it. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is still the sickest, wrong-est and funniest comedy on TV; a Seinfeld for Satanists (come on, FX—that’s pure press-quote gold). Seasons 1 and 2 are finally arriving on DVD Sept. 4; Season 3 begins Sept. 13 on FX; Fox-owned MySpace is running an exclusive new episode online right now that’s mostly DeVito-free. Yay, corporate synergy! (MySpace.com/SunnyFX)

Listen to Bill Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96’s Radio From Hell. Urban opera blogging at BillFrost.tv.

You know those pretentious fucks who’ll post a laundry list of favorite “indie” films on their MySpace profiles but simply put something like “I don’t watch that vile, evil box of drivel and lies” under Television? They obviously don’t have cable. And they’re pretentious fucks.

The PFs obviously know nothing of the excellent work filling up an insane amount of cable space this summer, most of it better than any pretentious fucking movie they’d theoretically soil themselves over on the Independent Film Channel, while The Only TV Column That Matters™ is just waiting for IFC originals The Business, Minor Accomplishments and The Henry Rollins Show. Or that flick with all the Anne Hathaway topless scenes—hey, it was in the name of Independent Art.

The PFs could never deny the high artiness of HBO’s (now canceled) John From Cincinnati, a testament at least to the network’s willingness to take a chance and blow a truckload of money on something that makes less sense than The Sopranos’ finale—was John actually Jesus? An alien? A mystical meld of Coreys Haim and Feldman? Whatever. My prediction that the increasingly intense Big Love (season finale Sunday, Aug. 26) would become HBO’s new flagship drama is looking better all the time; not so much with Entourage, which is losing it as fast as Flight of the Conchords (renewed for 2008, BTW) is gaining a cult rep as the ultimate premium-cable musical comedy. Maybe even better than Tenacious D … yeah, I said it.

The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, a True TV reality favorite no matter what the season, dropped a 12-ton musical bombshell of its own during its current summer run: Receptionist Mary Alice’s brother is the lead singer of … Clutch! Most PFs can agree that Clutch is the greatest band in the known universe, and now they’ve gotten more airplay in 30 minutes on the Food Network than in 10 years of MTV. Suck on that.

Even Lifetime has broken its cycle of Women in Peril Who Still Manage to Be Stylish Professionals Whilst in Bitter Custody Battles With Their Abusive Trailer-Park Husbands crapola this summer with Army Wives (season finale Sunday, Aug. 26), a surprisingly good military soap opera that walks a fine line between patriotism and pathos. Just overlook the fact that its record ratings inspired Lifetime to launch State of Mind and Side Order of Life, two half-assed dramas not even up to Oxygen snuff. Ouch.

Or blame TNT’s runaway hit The Closer for the basic-cable wave of ancient actresses (you know, over 40!) in tough-chick roles. Just because The Closer—a standard-issue cop drama—lucked out with Kyra Sedgwick and an equally interesting supporting cast, TNT took another shot with Holly Hunter in Saving Grace (interestingly weird show, but Hunter has to carry it), and FX handed over Damages to Glenn Close (who can’t wrangle the 85 subplots). Still, either is better than any given CSI or Law & Order, and especially TNT’s flat-line House clone Heartland.

Poor ol’ Treat Williams got stuck with that dog, while Jeffrey Donovan has nailed pure cool in USA’s killer Burn Notice (picked up for another season) and Denis Leary still delivered the goods in FX’s Rescue Me (even though the series is going utterly batshit crazy around him) throughout the summer. It ain’t fair, but at least you’re not a guest perp on Criminal Minds, Treat.

None of these guys had as much fun with a role as James Nesbitt has in BBC America’s Jekyll (series finale Saturday, Aug. 25), which has come and now almost gone with far too little notice. As smart science-fiction goes, this Jekyll & Hyde upgrade gets it as dead-on right as Sci-Fi’s lame-o Flash Gordon remake gets it painfully wrong. More on that in next week’s True TV: The summer’s most sucktastic slop. You’ll love it, PFs.