Summer TV Club Classic points to the sky, shouts, "There's Firefly!"
The TV season ended officially last night (though we’ll still have a few stragglers hanging on for a week or two), and we’re in for a few weeks of bumpiness before everybody’s summer favorites—and True Blood—come back to delight—and enervate, in the case of True Blood—all of us. Whatever are we to do about this? Well, if you’re us, you’re going to spend your latest summer going through classic TV series, three per day, and discussing them with all interested parties. We have a nice mix of stuff this year, though, sadly, we were unable to persuade any of our writers to tackle Growing Pains. Ah, well! Another year. We launch next Tuesday, so set your TiVos.
Here’s this summer’s schedule:
Our Mondays start with Steve Heisler’s return to the Bartlet White House for his fourth straight year of The West Wing coverage. He’s up to the fourth season—i.e., the last one with Aaron Sorkin as showrunner—so we’re excited to see what he has to say about that. This feature will run Mondays at 11 a.m. Eastern, beginning on June 4.
At 1 p.m. Eastern on Mondays, Oliver Sava will continue his coverage of Batman: The Animated Series, which is currently ongoing. Once he’s done with that, he’ll probably switch back to Justice League, unless we can somehow convince him to cover our flipbooks of Detective Chimp.
We close out Mondays with a new feature, as Meredith Blake looks at Strangers With Candy, the classic Amy Sedaris vehicle that made fun of high school dramas, after-school specials, and all other manner of TV product. The Comedy Central series boasted an amazing cast, and we’ve been looking forward to Meredith’s take on it since she pitched it to us last year. This feature will run Mondays at 3 p.m. Eastern, beginning on June 4.
With the announcement that the show would soon be arriving on Netflix Instant, the smoke signals went up from TV Club central that someone would be needed to cover Dawson’s Creek, that amazing/cheesy bit of instant ‘90s nostalgia this summer. The competition was heated, and it all came down to a weird three-legged race/gladiatorial swordfight, but Brandon Nowalk triumphed, and is eager to take you through the many moods of the Beek. This feature will run Mondays at 11 a.m. Eastern, beginning on June 5.
We loved John Teti’s write-ups of Six Feet Under so much last summer that we’re bringing them back in the same “timeslot.” John’s up to season two of the show—i.e., the one where everybody’s worried about what might be happening to Nate (though isn’t that every season?)—and this feature will run Tuesdays at 1 p.m. Eastern, beginning on May 29.
Erik Adams brings his coverage of The Muppet Show to a pause with the end of season two, but he’s excited with what follows: namely, write-ups of the classic satirical comedy Police Squad, all six of ‘em. The Leslie Nielsen vehicle brutally tore down the conventions of the cop show genre, and the folks who made Airplane were behind it, so you know it will be good. That feature will run Tuesdays at 3 p.m. Eastern, beginning on May 29. Once he’s done with those six, he’ll be segueing into coverage of Home Movies, the classic coming-of-age cartoon. Keep an eye on Newswire for an official launch date for that.
Noel Murray’s coverage of the first season of Arrested Development was such a hit last summer that we just had to bring it back, as Noel covers what was arguably the show’s greatest season, its second. (The best season was actually the first, but reasonable people can disagree on this.) Once again, this feature will be running Wednesdays at 11 a.m. Eastern, beginning on June 6.
Todd VanDerWerff’s coverage of The Sopranos has reached the show’s final season, though he’s still got 15 episodes (and a final season of Carnivàle) to go before he’s done with the series. Coverage of the show is ongoing and appears every Wednesday at 1 p.m. Eastern. It’s also probably time to start trying to convince him of what he should follow it with when he ends his coverage in December-ish. (Coverage of the second season of Carnivàle will begin sometime in July. Watch this space.)
Our Wednesday line-up ends with another new feature. Donna Bowman’s NewsRadio write-ups were among our favorites ever published on this site, so it only seemed natural to us to have her turn her eye to another underappreciated workplace sitcom of the ‘90s. She’ll be taking on Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night every week, thereby following where the careers of TV Club favorites like Josh Charles, Peter Krause, and Felicity Huffman got their starts. She’ll be covering the first season of the series, and her write-ups will appear Wednesdays at 3 p.m. Eastern, beginning on May 30.
No surprise here. Zack Handlen’s Star Trek series reviews have been a mainstay of this site for years now, and we’re going to keep letting him do his Star Trek: Deep Space Nine thing. This coverage is currently ongoing, and appears Thursdays at 11 a.m. Eastern. But Zack also wanted to take a little break from Trek, and we were only too happy to oblige, since he wrote a book on the show he’ll be tackling next. At some point this summer—again, watch this space—he’ll segue into coverage of the classic British sketch comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Please unleash your favorite bits in comments in anticipation.
After working his way through all nine seasons of Seinfeld, David Sims was looking for another acerbic sitcom to review. Since he’s got a British background and knows the political world (of both our nation and that one) well, we thought it was only natural that he check in on Armando Ianucci’s classic satire The Thick Of It. David will be covering all of the show’s episodes (and maybe even In The Loop) this summer, and if you’ve never seen it, now’s a great time to hop on board. This feature will run Thursdays at 1 p.m. Eastern, beginning on May 31.
We’re trying something a bit different in our Thursday afternoon slot. The writers who discussed every episode in the first two seasons of Cheers are turning their eyes to a new series. Well, a new host of series. Every week, one of the writers will choose a new episode based on a central theme, then discuss that episode with each other in what we’re calling our Summertime Roundtable (or something else, if you have a better name for it). Our first theme will be adolescence, and the first episode chosen (by Todd VanDerWerff) will be “The Boys Of Summer,” the fourth season premiere of The Wire. This feature will run Thursdays at 3 p.m. Eastern, beginning on May 31. (And our future installments will include everything from The Cosby Show to a classic Western.)
Rowan Kaiser’s been begging us and begging us to let him cover Babylon 5 for approximately half his life now, and we’ve finally decided we’re not covering enough space-based shows, so it’s high time he started taking a look at the classic, space-station-set series that’s famous for having the same man script every episode, in adherence to a series-long plan that he was remarkably successful in carrying out. He’ll begin coverage of the series on June 1, and this feature will appear Fridays at 11 a.m. Eastern. (He’ll have further news on how he’ll be scheduling write-ups—and where newbies should begin with the series—in his first review.)
He’ll have made his way through the first two series in Joss Whedon’s TV work when he finishes up Angel tomorrow, and now Noel Murray is going on to Whedon’s third series—and his shortest lived. But Noel’s bringing along Donna Bowman to discuss the space Western Firefly. Noel’s seen the show before, but Donna never has, and we’re thinking a dialogue between the two of them on the show’s strengths and flaws will be fun. They’ll be tackling one episode per week until the series is ended. This feature will run Fridays at 1 p.m. Eastern and will begin June 1.
We honestly thought about having three different space shows on this day, but we decided you could use a break with a little sketch comedy of recent vintage. That’s why Ryan McGee will be taking us back into the recent past, when a Comedy Central sketch show became one of the most influential comedies in the country. We’re talking, of course, of Chappelle’s Show, and we’re hoping you’ll all enjoy revisiting the series beyond those irritating guys you know who still quote the Rick James sketch to each other. This feature will run Fridays at 3 p.m. Eastern and will begin June 1.
How about some Saturday morning cartoons? Genevieve Koski thinks that sounds like a fine idea, which is why she’ll be taking us through the anarchic sensibilities of the classic ‘90s cartoon Animaniacs. Grab a bowl of cereal and check out the antics of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot, especially if you’ve never seen them ever before. The show’s almost an animated sketch show, and it’s got some of the wackiest bits you’ll ever see. This feature will appear Saturdays at 11 a.m. Eastern and will begin June 2.
After spending much of the year in The Twilight Zone, Todd VanDerWerff and Zack Handlen need a bit of a break, which is why they’re heading back into the world of The X-Files and Millennium. The two will be looking at the sixth season of the former and the third season of the latter, and while both shows have reached a point of diminishing returns at this point, there’s still plenty to recommend in both. This feature will run Saturdays at 1 p.m. Eastern and will return June 2.
We’d only heard a few small things about the British sitcom Pulling until Margaret Eby pitched us on coverage of it, but we’re glad she did, because it’s a fine and funny show, with lots of great, hilarious roles for women, which isn’t always the case (as you probably well know). This relationship sitcom ran 13 episodes across the pond, and Margaret will be covering all 13 episodes this summer. This feature will run Saturdays at 3 p.m. Eastern and will begin June 2.
We know how much you’ve enjoyed Christopher Bahn’s coverage of classic Doctor Who, which has been ongoing for a year now. Well, those articles will continue to appear every other week, running Sundays at 11 a.m. Eastern. To get the list of upcoming episodes, check out any of his recent reviews. We’ll hopefully be announcing a feature to alternate with this one soon.
From there, we head into a couple of classic ‘90s animated primetime shows. Phil Dyess-Nugent has been a fan of South Park for a while now, but he hasn’t revisited the early years in quite a while (and preferred the show once it had aged a bit). Will he find stuff to enjoy in those early shows? Or will he be praying that he gets to the movie—and everything that came after—as quickly as possible? You can find out Sundays at 1 p.m. Eastern, beginning June 3.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a TV Club Classic schedule without Nathan Rabin’s reviews of classic episodes of The Simpsons. He’s currently in the middle of season four, and his ongoing reviews appear every Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern. Why don’t you check them out?
Of course, we’ll be covering plenty of primetime programming (including much of what we covered last year), but we like to keep things a little looser in the summer, so we won’t be announcing a formal schedule for that. Keep an eye on What’s On Tonight if you’re curious about what’s coming back when.