Wednesday, July 10 (FX)
Series Debut: Aside from the network’s inexplicable attachment to Russell Brand, FX usually deals in high-quality stuff, even if not all of it connects (R.I.P. The Riches, Terriers and Lights Out). The Bridge, starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir as detectives investigating a murder (literally) on the Texas/Mexico border, seems like iffy FX territory at first glance—but I also thought that about The Americans, and look how that turned out. The victim was an anti-immigration judge, and the killer has a die-gringos agenda that clearly isn’t satisfied yet, forcing Bichir’s cool, loose-with-the-rules Mexico cop and Kruger’s by-the-book (with Asperger’s, no less) El Paso cop to work together to catch him. There’s also a secondary storyline about a wealthy widow’s (Annabeth Gish) newfound connection to the Mexican underworld, because one plot is never enough. The Bridge may eventually prove itself as a real FX player, but right now it’s just The Killing with a side of guacamole.
Friday, July 5 (HBO)
Series Finale: Over a year ago, HBO debuted a British faux-reality show about the “comeback” of dwarf actor Warwick Davis (Willow, Harry Potter, Star Wars), who was going to have a dazzling second act and “raise up little people everywhere.” He failed miserably, thanks to his own self-absorbed delusions and relentless antagonizing from “pals” (and series producers) Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, all of which added to some high … low? … comedy. In the conclusion to the Life’s Too Short saga, Willow costar Val Kilmer (or what appears to be an organism that ate Val Kilmer) approaches Davis about making the long-unawaited Willow 2 (“The magic is back!”)—if Davis can raise the cash, that is. Catch up on this series; it’s just long/short enough.
Monday, July 8 (NBC)
Series Debut: Up until now, The Only TV Column That Matters™ thought Man vs. Wylde was a competition series pitting challengers in lick-shredding matches against metal guitarist Zakk Wylde; losers (always the challengers) are forced to eat Hot Pockets remains out of Wylde’s beard. Wrong! That’s Zakk Attakk, Saturdays on VH1 Classic after That Metal Show. Anyway: Man vs. Wild adventurer Bear Grylls hosts Get Out Alive, wherein 10 teams of two compete to survive in the treacherous terrain of New Zealand—so, it’s The Amazing Race without the travel budget? Also, if no eliminated team actually gets out dead, I call bullshit on the whole premise.
Tuesday, July 9 (Comedy Central)
Series Debut: The online show featuring inebriated narrators, famous (or famous-ish) actors and more accurate information than Wikipedia and Fox News combined, now on your TV—though you’ll still probably just watch it on your computer, anyway. Tonight’s hammered “Washington D.C.” tackles Watergate, the Lincoln assassination and, most importantly of all, the meeting of Nixon (Bob Odenkirk) and Elvis (Jack Black). Drink up, shut up and learn something.
Wednesday, July 10 (NBC)
Series Debut: Not to be confused with USA’s upcoming Summer Camp, an even-more-brainless Big Brother reality knock-off, NBC’s Camp is a dramedy series about summer camp—way to exacerbate the branding confusion, NBC Universal. Apart from the presence of Six Feet Under angst queen Rachel Griffiths as Little Otter Family Camp’s divorcee director, the 10-episode Camp follows the summer-camp-flick tradition established by Meatballs through Wet Hot American Summer: A disparate group of kids and adults experience misadventures and sexytimes in the great outdoors, learn the occasional Valuable Life Lesson and, of course, Fall in Love. Camp also attempts to fuse Glee sass with Parenthood touchy-feelies, and damned near succeeds—it’s worth checking out, but don’t get attached.