The Lazy Days of Summer:  Why Summer TV Shows Are Like a Fine Wine

Summer used to be a wasteland – it was when primetime shows aired repeats over the summer and failed TV shows were burnt-off.  However, ever since Fox successfully launched AMERICA IDOL during the so-called “dead” season nearly a decade ago, Summer has become a richer and more sought-after landscape of television.  It is the perfect time to launch shows that need more time to secure a stable audience and it allows networks to try out shows that may not typically appeal to viewers during the convoluted and congested Fall and Mid-Season.
For television connoisseurs and TV addicts, summer has become a long-awaited mecca as it began offering a rich palate of delectable treats.  Ranging from USA Network’s BURN NOTICE to Syfy’s EUREKA to TNT’s THE CLOSER to ABC Family’s PRETTY LITTLE LIARS to A&E’s THE GLADES to Lifetime’s DROP DEAD DIVA and finally to HBO’s TRUE BLOOD, there is something for everyone.  So much so that an unprecedented number of new scripted shows and reality TV shows are scheduled to launch this summer. 
Debuting in June are new shows, such as TNT’s FALLING SKIES, MTV’s TEEN WOLF, Lifetime’s THE PROTECTOR, ABC Family’s SWITCHED AT BIRTH and THE NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING, ABC’s COMBAT HOSPITAL, and USA Network’s SUITS and NECESSARY ROUGHNESS. Whether you are looking for a supernatural drama, a family drama, a comedy, or something just to pass the time for a few summer months, just about every network has something that they hope will capture your attention.
However, as a reminder, television shows sometimes take time to find their footing.  Summer shows are trying something new or unusual and they are hoping that you will take a leap of faith and follow them for a while to see where they are going.  One may invite you to see how a young teenage boy adjusts to being a werewolf, another may show you the everyday existence of what life would be like if Earth were no longer our planet and we were being hunted down every day of our lives.  Yet another may ask you to believe that two free-spirited attorneys would be welcomed into a glass-tower law firm simply because their unorthodox practices are yielding great results.  These are just a few of the multitude of new shows that will ask you to take an extraordinary journey with them.
Whether it is a serialized show focused on developing a complex mythology, or a teasing comedy, a heart-felt family show, or a gritty procedural, television shows require patience and indulgence.  I fear that in the era where reality television is “king” that scripted shows are falling beneath the ADD-stricken attention span of viewers who are too impatient and who are unwilling to sit back and enjoy such shows offering an in-depth story, a deliberate adventure, or a slice-of-life portrayal.  But, just like a good book cannot tell a story in the first chapter, many TV shows cannot tell a whole story within one hour.  A pilot episode merely sets the stage of a fantastic story that will play out over an entire season – and if lucky, over several seasons.
Having had the opportunity to preview a number of the new summer shows, I fear that viewers will be looking for a quick-fix and not finding either a show as octane-fueled as they hoped or offering the heady rush of love-at-first-sight feeling that they expected — and they will quickly tune out.  But it will be their loss.  Just like wine tastes better with every sip, so does television.  Very few TV shows come out of the gate and hit us over the head with their charm and magnificence – it is the slow build of anticipation as layer upon layer is unpeeled and a new mystery revealed, or as new characters are introduced to help build the suspense, that a show becomes as rich as a fine wine that has fermented for a while.
If only viewers would think of shows as wine and take their time to savor them and allow them to become intoxicated with their stories and characters, then they would discover the gems of summer.
Two fine examples of this are TNT’s FALLING SKIES and Starz’s TORCHWOOD.  As serialized sci-fi shows, they have a long arcing story to tell and they hold back their cards to tease and entice their viewers.  It gives the illusion that they are slow to action, but instead, they are a slow-burn; they build and build, moving towards their explosive moments.  Good stories take their time and they know the value of not utilizing such “shock-and-awe” type strategies.  Instead, they burn slowly and steadily until you are so hooked that the very thought of waiting one week to see what happens next is agonizing.
Trust me when I say, take a look at each of the new shows and give them a chance – if you see a spark of something there, then give it a chance to burn.  It may surprise you and delight you when that spark turns into a flame and then becomes a raging fire.  Good TV shows take time to tell their stories and great TV shows are like fine wine – they taste better with every sip.  Keep sampling and tuning in.  You may just be swept away with an unexpected love-affair with a new TV show.
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).

  • John

    Basic and pay cable (which I don’t have) offer many great, or at least good, summer offerings.

    There are not as many new scripted shows on in the summer, but I think the average quality is higher than the regular season.