The 15 Geeky Coolest-Looking TV Shows Airing this Summer (and Whether They're Worth Watching)

By Greggory Basore in Daily Lists, TV
Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 6:00 am

#5 Extant

"You were on The Seraphim Station for 13 months" says Sam Barton (played by Camryn Manheim) to her patient... because that's something Halle Berry's character needs to be told? Did she lose track of time? Oh wait, her character was all alone and somehow got knocked up during the solo mission? Okay, maybe she does need to be told very basic things to help her figure out what the hell's going on.

The Premise (in case you can't watch videos right now):

Molly Woods is an astronaut that was on a 13 month solo mission. Which at least one Topless Robot reader has pointed out the unlikelihood of in one of the weekend threads that Luke leaves around for everyone. A space station is not a place where you want one person all alone doing a mission; it just isn't. It doesn't matter if you have Halle Berry in your space program and she really, really wants to do a solo mission. You need to have another person on hand in case something happens and she's asleep, or pooping or slips in zero gravity and knocks herself out.

When she gets back to earth, Molly gets the news that she's pregnant. Which is of course weird because no one else ever came onboard the Seraphim Station during her mission... or did they? She seems to have had a weird dream and "accidentally" deleted footage from the recording logs when that whole thing happened.

Then there's her husband's robot/android son played by Pierce Gagnon, a young actor who has become a go-to "creepy and totally evil kid" who was most memorable as a future brutal crime lord in Looper. So the chances are he'll be evil as hell. And it also seems likely that Molly's husband will continue the grand tradition of a "creepy and totally evil kid" having at least one adult around who refuses to believe that the kid is evil and creepy until it's too late.

Is it recommended as watch-worthy?:

This is either gonna be one of the top shows of the summer season or a train-wreck beautiful disaster. I don't see it being mediocre. I'll be watching and I hope some of you guys do too. By the way, I'm calling out a prediction here, but with Halle Berry's character having been impregnated on the Seraphim Station it seems rather obvious that the show will go for the whole aliens = angels type of angle at some point. There's a drinking game to be made out of spotting the heavy handed metaphors and clues that all of the characters miss for no good reason... perhaps it shouldn't be a drinking game involving alcohol though so as to prevent blackouts and deaths.

Luke has his own thoughts about the show which are worth taking a glance at.

What should you have on hand to enhance the enjoyment of this show?:

A copy of Chariot of the Gods? so you can count how many "religion was created by space people" reference pop up, a Teddy Ruxpin Doll that can feel better by realizing that he's less creepy than the characters Pierce Gagnon plays and a bottle of Mountain Dew Pitch Black so that you can simulate the awful sensation of drinking the void of outer space.

#4. Dominion

Religious horror in a modern setting? I'm diggin it. Branched off of that Paul Bettany flick with the gun toting angels gettin' all kookoo crazy? Hells yeah!

Premiering: June 19th
The Premise (in case you can't watch videos right now):

You may or may not recall the 2010 movie Legion since it fell under the radar for a lot of people, but it's a damn good ride. It's about a bunch of angels attacking a small diner in the midwest, and this show picks up 25 years later. The world is stuck in the apocalypse and things are heating up. Angels have over run the earth, but a rogue element of of the winged folk are siding with humanity who are losing in their efforts to continue surviving. Tom Wisdom is Michael (taking over the role from Paul Bettany) who leads the rogue angels and Carl Buekes is Gabriel (replacing Kevin Durant) who is in charge of the guys that want to wipe us out.

Is it recommended as watch-worthy?:

Dude, I am down like a clown in the ground for this. Religious sci-fi/horror stuff has always been a big draw when it's done in an interesting way. I loved the way that Legion approached the subject matter and the show looks good enough to give it a try for a couple of episodes.

What should you have on hand to enhance the enjoyment of this show?:

A copy of Legion on DVD if you haven't seen it, a slice of angel's food cake and a glass of wine.

#3. Crossbones


Trailer embeddable? Nope, that's why you get this fly pic of Big Ol' Johnny Malka-P (p is for pirate). Go watch the trailer if you're so inclined... that is unless you're watching the show already. It premiered on May 30th and has 8 more episodes left to air.

Premiering: Already Airing
The Premise (in case you can't watch videos right now):

During the Golden Age of Piracy, a ship that's carrying some mechanical Wonder-McGuffin is boarded by sea dogs and Physician/Mystery-Man Thomas Lowe is gonna do everything he can to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. After blowing it to bits with a rifle and burning some crucial notes, he gets captured and taken to an older, non-traditional looking Blackbeard (i.e. no beard of long black hair, but rather a white goatee) played by John "He could've been the Vulture in Spider-Man 4 if Sony had played ball with Raimi" Malkovich. Edward "Black Beard" Teach wants the device and it's secrets, and Thomas Lowe is willing to withstand torture and launch an attempt to murder histories greatest pirate to keep it's secrets safe.

Is it recommended as watch-worthy?:

Oh yeah. The buzz I've been hearing about this show from just the first episode has it on my get around to list. Golden Age Piracy is a great setting for a good adventure or mystery story when things go right and again, John Freaking Malkovich is in it!

What should you have on hand to enhance the enjoyment of this show?:
A toy on a string, , some sugary snacks, and a bottle of liquor.

#2. Doctor Who Season 8

I don't really have to convince you on this, right? You're either into the show, not into or maybe on the fence. I'll admit that it felt like a chore to watch a lot of Doctor Who when first getting into it these past few years, because I had friends getting insistent that I watch the show. The sense of obligation to watch it sometimes out weighed the joy of watching... until I caught up to and surpassed some of those friends.

Premiering: Sometime in August
The Premise (in case you can't watch videos right now... and also have inexplicably not been told the premise by one of your nerdy friends):

An alien who can regenerate a new body if he's mortally wounded travels around the universe through space and time in a ship that changes shape to match it's surrounding unless it's broken (which it is) and gets stuck on a single setting like say..... a police call box. He sometimes takes on companions that hang with him and form romantic and/or platonic bonds. He's known throughout all existence as "The Doctor."

This season will start with Peter Capaldi stepping into the role as the 12th, 13th or 14th incarnation of The Doctor (there are at least two iterations [The Valeyard and The War Doctor] whose validity and/or place in the counting and/or continuity is hard to pin down) replacing Matt Smith who was the 11th Doctor.

Madcap time-travel fun with a penchant for dark drama that should definitely be watched.

Is it recommended as watch-worthy?:

Yes. Yes it is. There's no use belaboring the point here. If you haven't already watched it, I think you should give it a try. If you're daunted by the 7 seasons worth of episodes of the revived series, I say jump into the season 8 premiere and see what you think of it. The introduction of a new version of The Doctor is generally a good jumping on point for new viewers.

What should you have on hand to enhance the enjoyment of this show?:

A quirky fashion accessory like a really long scarf or a funny hat, a Vodka Screwdriver with a little bit of soda from the fast food chain Sonic, and a big plate of fish sticks (which are apparently called fish fingers in the UK) with custard for the dipping sauce.

#1. The Strain

Obligatory jabs about "This is a vampire thing that isn't like Twilight!" are oozing all over the net whenever I read an article about Guillermo del Toro's awesome project that started as a TV pitch, got turned into a novel and then a series of graphic novels and is now getting turned into a TV series. It is an unjust comparison, because it's not just a "vampires are gritty and bad ass again" affair. This goes way beyond the kind of vamp movies people have been lamenting the lack of since Stephenie Meyer came onto the scene.

Premiers: July 13th
The Premise (in case you can't watch videos right now):

The tag line of the graphic novels is "In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country. In two months - the world." and I tend to wonder if that's a hint at the final outcome of the story.

A CDC team investigates the mystery of a Boeing 777 landing at JFK international and going dark. Everyone on board is found to be dead and that's only the beginning of problems for Dr. Ephraim Goodweather and his team of investigating scientists from the CDC. Del Toro treats vampirism like a mutating and evolving virus that has just hit a natural selection boost of amazing proportions. The vampires on this show are genetic freak shows that have serpentine tongues of death and it gives a fresh jolt of visual newness to fans of contemporary dakr gritty vampire stuff like 30 Days of Night or Daybreakers. The story rules walk a fine line between supernatural and scientific and manage to blend the best of both styles.

Also one of the lead characters is played by David Bradley, who you likely know best as Argus Filch or Walder Frey. He's not the first or even the second guy I would have picked if asked who should play the character of Holocaust Survivor turned pawn shop broker/vampire hunter Abraham Setrakian when I was reading the comics, but he fits so well I'm feel like a goofball for not having thought of him.

Is it recommended as watch-worthy?:

Seriously though, I can think of no good reason for a person who visits a site like TR to not at least check out the first episode. The comics are some great stuff and the trailer indicates that the show is on track to being just as good.

What should you have on hand to enhance the enjoyment of this show?:

A bit of garlic bread, a rare bloody steak, a wooden stake and a cup of tea.

Final thoughts.

So there you have it, folks. 15 shows on the airwaves and cable lines this summer one of which has already started airing. Many of them involving mysteries and puzzles and codes. Some of these shows are actiony, some of them are sciencey, some of them are magicy, some are reality shows. Many on the list combine multiple elements into a blended stew of TV nifticity. I'm sure I've missed some that are worth noting so let me know in the comments which ones should've been on the list.

Previously by Greggory Basore on Topless Robot:

8 Unanswered Questions Left by X-Men: Days of Future Past (and the Odds They'll Be Addressed)

5 Lessons Hollywood Should Learn from The LEGO Movie (and 5 Ways They'll Probably Miss the Point)

TR's 10 Best Comics Read in 2013

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