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Culture » True TV

Wet Hot American Summer, Strike Back

More reviews: Bachelor in Paradise, Significant Mother, Playing House


Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix)
  • Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix)

Wet Hot American Summer
Friday, July 31 (Netflix)

Series Debut: You either loved 2001 cult flick Wet Hot American Summer or hated it—or liked the first half and meh-ed the second; opinions vary wildly. The new eight-episode Netflix "prequel," subtitled First Day of Camp, reassembles the original cast (Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Christopher Meloni, Michael Ian Black, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper), adds some up-for-silliness extras (Jon Hamm, John Slattery, Lake Bell, Chris Pine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristen Wiig and Josh Charles), and rips into '80s summer-camp movies anew (so there was Meatballs and ... what?). Sure, everyone's now even more too-old for these roles—that's part of the joke. Or the entire joke. Either way: Ant-Man in short-shorts!


Strike Back
Friday, July 31 (Cinemax)

Season Premiere: Before Banshee put Cinemax on the map as a viable home for non-soft-porn original programming, international military actioner Strike Back was blowing up everything in sight like a Team America: World Police sequel without all the puppets and plot. Now, after two years off, the series returns for its fifth and final season with a singular mission: Kill Hitler! (Actually, that's Danger 5—which you should absolutely be watching on Netflix.) As for black-ops badasses Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) and Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), it's apparently time to Strike Back against North Korea, the last place on earth where they haven't yet wiped out 60 percent of the population, Call of Grand Theft Duty-style. So long, Strike Back; from now on, we'll have to get our ultra-violence from, well, Banshee.


Bachelor in Paradise
Sunday, Aug. 2 (ABC)

Season Premiere: I get the purpose of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette—but Bachelor in Paradise? Losers from previous seasons of both shows go to Mexico and exchange STDs? While avoiding elimination and "looking for love"? ABC canceled the similar-but-less-exotic Bachelor Pad after three seasons, and it's likely they'll do the same to Bachelor in Paradise eventually, so I've prepared pitches for the following concepts should any Bachelor/Bachelorette producers be in a buying mood: Bachelor Jail, Bachelor in Space, Bachelor in Escrow, Bachelor S&M Dungeon, Bachelorette Raft, Bachelor Preppers, Bachelor in a Doomsday Cult, Bachelorette Ghost Hunters, Bachelor in a Tiny House, Bachelorettes Locked Up Abroad, Bachelors Finding Bigfoot and Let's Hunt Chris Harrison Like Human Prey. Have your people call my people.


Significant Mother
Monday, Aug. 3 (The CW)

Series Debut: Shows originally developed for The CW's "digital studio" seed tend to, in tech terms, suck. Significant Mother sucks less than previous output, but it's not quite worth a 10-episode series: Portland dude Nate (Josh Zuckerman) is shocked to learn that his love-'em-leave-'em BFF/roommate Jimmy's (Nathaniel Buzolic) latest conquest is Nate's own recently separated mother (Krista Allen—where ya been?). How do you get 10 weeks out of that? Add Jonathan Silverman (kids, Wiki Weekend at Bernie's) as Nate's dad who's determined to win Mom back. Still, nice to see Krista Allen again, though she'd be much better off as a guest on ...


Playing House
Tuesday, Aug. 4 (USA)

Season Premiere: Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham's cozy comedy about almost-uncomfortably close girlfriends and a soon-to-arrive baby barely survived to see a second season on USA, a cable net that's yet to figure out what to do with smart half-hour sitcoms (R.I.P. Sirens, Benched). Which means this summer could be your last chance to see Playing House, a genuinely funny and sweet comedy that deserves another shot somewhere else ... I never thought I'd be saying this, but ... go to TV Land. They get it—just ask Jim Gaffigan.


Mr. Robinson, The Carmichael Show
Wednesday, Aug. 5 (NBC)

Series Debuts: With only two half-hour sitcoms on its upcoming fall schedule, it's all-too-apparent that NBC has given up on comedy—but first, they have some factory seconds to blow out. Mr. Robinson (starring Craig Robinson) and The Carmichael Show (starring Jerrod Carmichael—no time was wasted titling the shows, obviously) are both summer fillers designed to disappear after their six-week runs and make way for NBC's all-drama-almost-all-the-time slate; after that, you'll never see 'em again. Which is too bad, because, despite their annoying laugh-tracked formats (still a thing in 2015—why?!), both are headed up by funny dudes who could easily make these comedies fly elsewhere (dammit, I'm going to invoke TV Land again. What have I become?!). Best of luck in future endeavors, Craig and Jerrod.

Listen to Bill on Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96 Radio From Hell; weekly on the TV Tan podcast via iTunes and Stitcher.