Here’s what’s up in the world of TV for Sunday, June 26. All times are Eastern.
Shark Week: Tiger Beach (Discovery, 8 p.m.): There are a lot of shows that have their premieres and finales this week, and many of them are beloved enough that we could make them a top pick easily. But fuck all of that, it’s Shark Week! Discovery’s exploration of the ocean’s most iconic predators has grown to an event more beloved than the combination of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween, and once again the blood is in the water. Things kick off (or dive off, such as it is) when Dr. Neil Hammerschlag goes on a quest for “the trifecta of tiger shark science” by tracking 40 different sharks across the Bahamas. That trifecta is apparently connected to tiger shark reproduction, but we’re still hoping for the twist ending that Dr. Hammerschlag’s research is in pursuit of cross-breeding actual tigers with sharks to produce the ultimate land/sea killing machine. (This idea is copyright The A.V. Club, so don’t get any funny ideas, The Asylum.)
Shark Week: Return Of The Monster Mako (Discovery, 9 p.m.): Last year’s Monster Mako special revealed that the shortfin mako can breach up to 30 feet from the water, and tonight the team is hunting the biggest of the species, the half-ton “grander.” Your What’s On Tonight correspondent can only assume that this is in an attempt to weaponize their combination of speed and mass to create mako missiles, thereby changing the face of conventional warfare forever.
Shark Week: Isle Of Jaws (Discovery, 10 p.m.): An island populated only by sharks is an idea we thought only existed in our latest Dungeons and Dragons campaign, but shark cinematographer (best job title ever) Andy Casagrande found them. An uncharted island off the coast of Australia holds a concentration of great white sharks, and Casagrande is determined to solve the mating secrets of these beasts. Given that the special’s description says that all the great whites spotted are males, we’re wondering if there’s a chance the real discovery is that the island is home to the world’s first gay shark community.
Shark Week: Shark After Dark (Discovery, 11 p.m.): Eli Roth helps us digest the chum that we’ve consumed in the last three hours with his after show, making him the far more macabre Chris Hardwick. Why hasn’t Roth made a shark movie, we ask? Possibly because the studios keep getting in his way, and possibly because the greatest shark film of all time has already been made.
Premieres and finales
Cooper Barrett’s Guide To Surviving Life (Fox, 7:30 p.m.): We’ve been to cookouts that lasted longer than this summer burn-off, as Fox crammed two episodes into its return two weeks ago, didn’t even bother airing it last week, and now drops the final episode tonight. The twist ending? Cooper dies at the end of the series, revealing that his guide was a colossal failure the whole time. Cause of death? Shark attack.
Game Of Thrones (HBO, 9 p.m.): A few weeks ago we praised Game Of Thrones for going to Matthew Weiner levels of vagueness in its episode descriptions, and the show has now gone even further in its desire to keep us in the dark with a sixth-season finale described only as “Cersei faces her trial.” (A description that they would only disclose in their Emmy consideration submissions, concealing things even deeper in their layered onion of subterfuge.) In any case, given how excellent this season has been, Brandon Nowalk and Caitlin PenzeyMoog, taking over for a traveling Myles McNutt, are prepared to serve on whatever jury needed. And we’re still holding out hope that despite Tommen’s edict, said trial could still be resolved by way of CleganeBowl. Or with some sort of land shark.
Ray Donovan (Showtime, 9 p.m.): Speaking of land sharks, Los Angeles’ preeminent fixer returns for a fourth season to set a new record for simultaneous brutality and guilt. Liev Schriber’s Ray is trying to put his family back together after the events of the season-three finale, and keep some parts of it—his father Mickey—as far away as possible. Given that Mickey is played by Jon Voight, we’re going to hazard a guess that’s not going to work out.
Murder In The First (TNT, 9 p.m.): Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robinson are back on the case in season three “when an all-star quarterback is murdered in the middle of a crowded club in front of his pop star girlfriend.” Okay, that’s not exactly joke material. Let’s keep going. “D.A. Mario Siletti and his wife are involved in a tragic car accident that could end his career and his marriage.” Um, moving on… “And an untimely diagnosis threatens Hildy’s future.” Jeez, TNT. We get that you know drama, but you could stand to lighten up a bit. Maybe you should add some sharks.
Silicon Valley (HBO, 10 p.m.): As Gavin Belson would say, consider the shark. Its sleek, aerodynamic form is perfectly adapted for its environment, allowing it to strip out all concerns beyond being the deadliest predator on the planet. And in the third-season finale it looks like Richard will be taking some cues from that analogy, as a chance to save Pied Piper comes at the price of the remainder of his conscience. “Don’t do it, Richard,” Les Chappell pleads. Consider instead the dolphin, whose playful energy propels him ahead of the ruthless shark to occasionally sexually assault scuba divers! ... Okay, bad example.
Roadies (Showtime, 10 p.m.): The cancellation of HBO’s Vinyl took some of us by surprise, but much as Discovery won’t let us go without programs about sharks, cable television isn’t going to let us go without a show that’s about the inner workings of the music business. Cameron Crowe, who gave us one of the most iconic depictions of said business in Almost Famous, now enlists Carla Gugino and Luke Wilson as the behind-the-scenes movers and shakers for The Staton-House Band. Erik Adams has sampled the first few episodes, and while it’s got some things to recommend it—including an unexpected comparison to Carnivale—it’s still without the right connecting spark, either for real roadies or for him:
It’s playing a long game, dropping hints about the characters’ pasts and the nefarious deeds contained within, but this leaves the crew and the show feeling as anonymous as the concrete corridors they make their workplace. For all the show’s “family” talk, the characters really only seem to see one another that way when they’re holding hands in a preshow huddle.
Motive (USA, 10 p.m.): Motive closes out its third season tonight with a finale titled “A Problem Like Maria.” Could it be that these detectives have finally figured out how to hold a moonbeam in their hand? How to keep a wave upon the sand? How to catch a cloud and pin it down? Unlikely, but we do hope they burst into song at some point. (And if one of those songs was the Sharknado theme, we wouldn’t complain.) The musical procedural is a genre that’s sorely neglected.
Veep (HBO, 10:30 p.m.): Veep pulled off one of its best episodes last week as Catherine’s documentary saw the light of day, with “plenty of great, personal character moments” and John Slattery “walking into frame naked and darting back behind a door jamb.” That sounds like a formula for success, or at least it was back in the day of the Mad Men season-five finale that gave us the gift of Slattery’s buns. Selina’s hoping for a similar gift tonight in her own fifth-season finale, with an inauguration day finally breaking the tie that’s cast a shadow on her presidency. Will things be cleared up for the best? Kate Kulzick is skeptical. More likely Congress will put a hammerhead in the Oval Office instead.
Orange Is The New Black (Netflix, 1 p.m.)
Preacher (AMC, 9 p.m.)
3-Headed Shark Attack (Netflix): The amount of terrible shark movies that are out there made picking just one really hard for us, but we decided that the only thing better than one shark is three sharks. Or failing that, a shark with three heads! And a shark that fights Danny Trejo!