Public Service Announcement 23 of 2016: Nashville, Beauty and the Baker, One of Us

Top of this list is, of course, returning Unpopcult favourite Nashville, back for season 4. I was delighted when Sky Living bought the rights to the show, because it has a good track record of broadcasting its American imports relatively swiftly after original transmission. This time, though, it’s messed up quite spectacularly; it’s nearly a year since we saw the last episode of season 3, and in the interim Nashville has started and completed its fourth season in America, been cancelled by ABC, and then revived by cable channel CMT, of which I know nothing. (But if Connie’s leaving, I can’t imagine the show has too much of a shelf-life, even with the geniuses behind thirtysomething as showrunners.)

All of which means that it’s been way too long since I had to worry about #Gunnlett, Deacon’s liver, W******’ D*****’ Records, Older Girl, Cadence, dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks Mayor Teddy, and the rest of them. It has to be said that the advance word on this season suggests that, perhaps, Nashville has shot its big rhinestoned bolt, but I don’t care, because I love this show. Weekly reviews as ever (Thursday 25 August, 10pm, Sky Living).

Next up, a couple of shows which started yesterday, both available on catch-up. All 4 has, um, all 10 episodes of Israeli romcom Beauty and the Baker – your guess is, in all likelihood, better than mine. And the latest BBC crime-drama-with-classy-cast One of Us kicks off with the murder of a young couple in Edinburgh, then – as far as I can discern – starts unpacking everyone’s secrets. My hunch – nothing new, probably OK (Tuesdays, 9pm, BBC One).

Also starting: season 3 of highly-rated 80s-set computer drama Halt and Catch Fire (Amazon Prime, from today); season 7 of Rizzoli and Isles (today, 9pm, Alibi); and something about cakes (today, BBC One and everywhere else for weeks and effing weeks, 8pm).

Public Service Announcement 22 of 2016: Shades of Blue, Containment, Mr. Robot

A few of July’s coming attractions. First up is Shades of Blue, or #DetectiveJLo as we’re calling it, in which Jennifer Lopez plays an NYPD detective who, having been caught up in a FBI anti-corruption initiative, is obliged to become an informant. And she’s a single mother, which I’m guessing will require her to juggle family and career; also, I’m assuming there’ll be a love interest somewhere in the cast. The reviews in America were generally unenthusiastic, but it hooked enough viewers to merit renewal for a second season. And, frankly, at this time of year Unpopcult is in the mood for some inconsequential cop nonsense. We’ll review the first episode, at least, in due course (Wednesday 13 July, Sky Living, 9pm).

Another new show from America, Containment, starts on the same night. It’s a remake of Belgian drama Cordon, in which part of a city is sealed off due to a disease outbreak. The CW has moved the action to Atlanta, home of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which intrigues me just a little: I’ve become used to CDC operatives turning up in the occasional episode of other shows, and I’d sometimes wondered why it didn’t get a vehicle of its own. However, Containment is another one which the critics haven’t embraced, and this time the viewers aren’t turning up in sufficient numbers to save it. So it’s going to be a one-and-done (Wednesday 13 July, E4, 9pm).

And the second season of Mr. Robot is making its way to British viewers via Amazon Prime, starting 14 July. I reviewed most of the first season, but didn’t quite finish watching it. This may be because I was never quite convinced that it’s as good as people were telling me, or it may be because I’m still not a huge boxset fan. However, the good news is that season 1 is finally going to be on “actual” TV as well, starting on Universal at 9pm on Thursday 21 July. So I might give it another go, even if that will involve a certain amount of rewatching.

A few others: two Unpopcult favourites are going from one season straight into the next. Parks and Recreation’s seventh and final season starts on Sunday 24 July at 11pm on Dave, and although the fifth season of White Collar is available on Netflix and iTunes, it gets its first TV showing on Universal, starting at 8pm on Monday 11 July. Having just watched the fourth season I’d forgotten how much I like this show, although I don’t think CJ is in any danger of forgetting how much she likes Matt Bomer.

And a final roundup: season 2 of Zoo, a show which looks completely bonkers, starts 17 July at 9pm on Sky Living; BBC 1’s starry adaptation (Toby Jones, Vicky McClure, Joseph Gilgun, Ian Hart, Stephen Graham) of Joseph Conrad’s novel The Secret Agent starts at the same time; and Netflix’s 80s-set Winona Ryder-starring Stranger Things, in which a boy vanishes into thin air, drops on 15 July.

Public Service Announcement 21 of 2016: Justified

Unpopcult favourite Justified hasn’t exactly been appreciated by tv networks over here (or indeed the Emmys in the US), which, on the one hand, is ridiculous because it’s an absolutely tremendous drama with some of the best characters and sharpest writing on tv, but, on the other, understandable because it’s resolutely unglamorous, dark and, despite a lot of black, wickedly funny humour, often very downbeat.

For what it’s worth, though, we think it’s terrific and, albeit we’re over a year behind the US and the whole series has been out on both DVD and Sky Box Sets for ages, I’m pleased that somebody in the UK is at last getting round to showing the sixth and final season on broadcast television. Even if it is the little-watched Spike channel on Thursdays (beginning 7th July) at 11pm.

Luddite and devoted Raylan fan that I am, I’ll be watching, but I don’t think I’ll be doing weekly reviews this year; thanks to the combo of scheduling shenanigans and all the other available ways of watching, it seems like the majority of people who might have been interested have (unlike me) already procured it by other means, are a season or two behind or are heading off on their summer holidays, so I think I’d be pretty much talking to myself. If I’m wrong and you’re one of the other five folk who’ll be watching it weekly on Spike though, hit me up!

Public Service Announcement 20 of 2016: Orange is the New Black, The Living and the Dead

Orange is the New Black, one of the regular contenders for the best-thing-on-TV prize, is back for its fourth season, which hits Netflix today. Netflix continues to be coy about its viewing data. But given that the show has already been renewed for another three years after this one, the figures must be adding up somehow. And, whatever else can be said about OITNB, its success proves – in case there was any doubt about it – that defiantly and joyously female-centric shows have as much of a place as anything else does in the Golden Age. I intended to review the last season but it  didn’t quite work out. Maybe this time.

I’m still not in favour of binge-watching and boxset culture, though, Netflix and Amazon Prime notwithstanding – why not just watch things when they’re on and, y’know, wait a week for the next episode? But I have to recognise that I’m becoming more and more of an anachronism. The BBC, too, is bowing to the inevitable, and today releases all six episodes of new drama The Living and the Dead onto the iPlayer as a boxset, prior to conventional broadcast later in June.

And this in itself is an illustration of how times are changing: even three years ago, a show co-created by Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham, the men behind the Life on Mars-Ashes to Ashes phenomenon, would have got the full front-cover-of-Radio-Times/what’s-going-to-happen-next-week? treatment. Now, though, anyone who’s interested will be able to breeze through it in a couple of evenings, well before it’s shown on TV, to the extent that “shown on TV” means anything nowadays. This might, of course, be because it isn’t very good, and the BBC wants to burn it off; I have no idea, although an 1890’s-set supernatural drama doesn’t, on the face of it, push my buttons. Either way it still strikes me as a symbolic surrendering of the metaphorical watercooler.

Public Service Announcement 19 of 2016: The Catch

The latest show off the Shondaland conveyor belt arrives in the UK tonight. The Catch, in fairness, has a slightly unusual and intriguing genesis, as it comes from an original idea by novelist Kate Atkinson, whose work I like a lot. It revolves around hot-shot fraud investigator Alice (Mireille Enos), who is engaged to hot-shot financier Ben (Peter Krause). Unfortunately Ben is also a hot-shot grifter, who disappears before the wedding, leaving Alice to track him and his fellow con artists down with the help of her team of, uh, gladiators?

As you can probably tell, I’m kind of hoping for White Collar crossed with early Scandal here. But will I get it? On the one hand, the critical response has been ambivalent. Against that, Enos and Krause are attractive leads, and Sonya (Penny from Lost/Olivia from FlashForward) Walger is in the mix as well. Its first season runs to only ten episodes, which is always welcome. And – unlike our beloved Limitless – it’s been renewed. If this had come along maybe six weeks ago, there’s no chance I would have had the time to watch it. But with quite a few of my regular shows finishing up their runs for the summer, I might just have the capacity. We’ll see (tonight, Sky Living, 10pm).

Also starting: season 2 of Coach Taylor in Bloodline (tomorrow, Netflix).

Public Service Announcement 18 of 2016: Locked Up, The Americans, Billions

Spanish prison drama Locked Up (Vis a Vis) is the latest show from Channel 4’s Walter Presents strand, and as it’s made it to the main terrestrial channel it’s one in which Walter and 4 have a fair amount of confidence. It’s set in a women’s prison; they all wear citrus-coloured uniforms (yellow this time); and we’re promised violence, sex, and dark humour. That having been said, we apparently need to be clear that it isn’t, if you will, Naranja is the New Negro. Might be worth a look, though (tonight, 10pm, Channel 4).

One of the current best-show-on-TV contenders, 1980s-set spy drama The Americans, starts its fourth season on UK television this week. Unfortunately, after a couple of seasons on the main ITV channel, it was shifted to Sky-only platform ITV Encore, and it’s still there (Thursday 19 May, 9pm).

And we should, albeit  belatedly, mention Billions, Showtime’s generally well-received financial drama, starring Damian Lewis. It’s showing on Thursdays, and I believe that the whole of the first season is now available through Sky. CJ reckons it’s TV for boys, and I don’t quite have the time, so Unpopcult’s sitting this one out (Sky Atlantic, 9pm).

Public Service Announcement 16 of 2016: Heartbeat

New NBC drama Heartbeat, starting tonight in the UK, stars Melissa George as brilliant – but idiosyncratic!!1! – surgeon Alex Panttiere. And from here, we really could pitch it ourselves: she’s a maverick with a boss who plays by the rules; she’s working with her boyfriend, but her romantic life isn’t straightforward; she juggles her family and professional lives; Cases of the Week. If it sounds tired, that’s because, in the view of the American critics, it is. I don’t mind Ms George, but I’m unsure whether that’s a majority view. Either way, I don’t expect to watch (9pm, TLC).