With the end of the regular season of television, we're about to be inundated with a summer full of bargain-bin network programming like So You Think You Can Yodel? and America's Top Bass Fisherman.
While some people will try to fill the void of decent programming by enduring the waking coma known as Major League Baseball or the morphine drip of golf -- sorry, I had to pause and yawn just typing that -- there are other shows out there on the non-network stations. So, unless you're Amish and don't have cable, let me recommend some shows to check out.
Breaking Bad: After the success they had with "Mad Men," AMC has put out another impressive-as-hell show with this one.
For the uninitiated, it stars the dad from "Malcolm in the Middle" as a chemistry teacher who becomes a meth kingpin. (No, I'm not high.) The rest of the cast is terrific -- Bob Odenkirk has a recurring role as a strip mall Tom Hagen consigliere/lawyer, for instance -- but Cranston is just fucking amazing. There's a reason he won the Emmy for his first season work, and this season is even better.
If you liked "The Shield" or "The Sopranos," check this out. It's nearing the end of the run, but AMC should be showing it again in repeats.
Party Down: This season just wrapped up, but I'd be surprised if Starz -- yes, that's a real cable network -- doesn't re-run this on an infinite loop. It's a dark comedy about a catering company. There's an amazing regular ensemble which includes a lot of hey-I-know-that-guy! supporting actors like Adam Scott and Martin Starr (everything Judd Apatow), Ken Marino ("The State"), and Jane Lynch ("Best in Show"). The weekly guest stars are pretty great too -- Stephen Webber from "Wings" did a bit as a Russian mobster that was hysterical, and Ed Begley played a weed-and-Viagra hustler on the make at a seniors' singles seminar. (No, I'm still not high.)
Burn Notice: This one is on the USA Network, which has also come a hell of a long way in original programming lately. Again, for the uninitiated, it's about a spy who's blackballed from the profession and left to his own devices in Miami. I came to this one really late, after hearing how great it was from too many people. What won me over was their casting Bruce Campbell as the sidekick. The new season starts up soon, and this seems to be an easy one to join in late.
Anything else good on? It's a long hot summer until we get football and fall programming. Let's talk.