It's August now, which means that days are getting shorter, movie theaters are trading explosions for emotional drama, and fall television premieres are fast approaching. Sure, you could spend these last few weeks enjoying the sunshine or going to the beach, but wouldn't it be more fun (and productive) to use the longer days to finally have that Scandal marathon you've been meaning to get to? Once September comes, you'll have a hard time finding the time in your schedule and space in your DVR to keep track of all of the biggest, buzziest, and most addicting shows on television. In order to help you use the end of summer wisely, we've run down all of the shows you should make time to catch up on before they return in the fall. After all, do you really want to be the only one who can't quote Luther the Anger Translator? We thought not.
Scandal: Returns September 25 at 9 pm The fun of watching Scandal consists of one part shouting at the television (“No, Olivia! You’re better than him!”), one part attempting to keep up with the crazy twists and turns, and one part live-tweeting the show with a glass of wine. Don’t be the only person on you timeline not keeping up with Olivia, Fitz, and Mellie just because the last season started giving you a headache. Besides, this is your shot to try and catch all of the ridiculous ways that the show tried to conceal Kerry Washington’s pregnancy with drapey cardigans and well-placed props. Where to Catch Up: Netflix Instant
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Returns September 28 at 8:30 pm We know, we know: you’re not a fan of Andy Samberg. That’s okay, you’re still going to love Brooklyn Nine-Nine anyway. Though the first few episodes were focused more on his character, Jake Peralta, the show quickly settled into an ensemble comedy that balanced out his over-the-top traits to find a remarkably self-assured sitcom, despite only producing one season. Come on, you know you want to watch Andre Braugher deadpan his way through a conversation about hula hopping, Terry Crews attempt to put together a princess castle and Joe Lo Truglio talk about “mouth feel.” (It’s less gross than it sounds.) Where to Catch Up: Hulu Plus
Parks and Recreation: Return date TBA We’ll be the first to admit that the sixth season of Parks and Rec wasn’t the show’s strongest. Still the back half had plenty of strong episodes and hilarious moments – including Ben drunkenly attempting to climb a fence and Donna threatening to embarrass her cousin, Ginuwine, at the Unity Concert - and the season finale shook everything up before the seventh and final season. And let’s be real, you probably still haven’t hit Chris Pratt overload yet, and there’s no greater joy than watching him run around a store in giddy excitement because Leslie let him get two candies. Where to Catch Up: Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus
Key and Peele: Returns September 24 at 10:30 pm If you don’t fall into spasms of laughter every time you hear a football player’s ridiculous name or don’t understand why people keep pluralizing “Liam Neeson,” you definitely need to watch Key and Peele. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are masters of sketch comedy, and every episode has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in political satire, poorly-financed music videos, or substitute teachers prone to rage blackouts. Even President Obama watches Key and Peele, so you really should too. Where to Catch Up: Comedy Central.com, YouTube, Amazon
Sleepy Hollow: Returns September 22 at 9 pm The surprise hit of last year, Sleepy Hollow is the perfect mix of ridiculous, over-the-top camp and intense, twist-heavy drama. Maybe you never took it seriously in the first place, or maybe you couldn’t get into the first few episodes, but now’s the time to embrace the cheesy, supernatural excitement in order to add a little fun to your fall TV schedule. Trust us: it’s worth following for Nicole Beharie and Tom Misom’s chemistry alone. Where to Catch Up: Hulu Plus
Arrow: Returns October 8 at 8 pm Just in case you haven’t had enough superheroes, the CW has a few small-screen options as well. Arrow has everything you love about superhero movies, like handsome men, well-choreographed action sequences, wisecracking supporting characters, and the campy ridiculousness that comes with a show that features long sequences of Stephen Amell working out, on an addicting, weekly basis. All it’s really missing is a talking tree. Where to Catch Up: Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus
Parenthood: Returns September 25 at 10 pm Sometimes you want a television show that will keep you on the edge of your seat, sometimes you want a show that will make you laugh, but sometimes you want a show that will make you cry your eyes out and maybe call your mom. Parenthood is that show; it’s charming, relatable, heartwarming and tear-jerking and will help you recover from a bad day at work with a nice, cathartic cry. And for Friday Night Lights fans, there’s the additional benefit of trying to find the connections to Dillon. Where to Catch Up: Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus
The Mindy Project: Returns September 16 at 9:30 pm The Mindy Project isn’t a perfect show, but between seasons one and two, it’s improved drastically thanks to the addition of Xosha Roquemore and Adam Pally and the charming, goofy chemistry between Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina, which helped transform Danny Castellano from a handsome curmudgeon to a genuine romantic lead. Sure, the episodes are still a bit hit and miss and Ed Weeks deserves more than a B-plot, but there’s plenty to love about The Mindy Project, even if it is a bit difficult to get past the idea of Dennis Reynolds wooing a girl without the D.E.N.N.I.S. system. Where to Catch Up: Hulu Plus
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.