Have you been avoiding The Bridge (Wednesdays at 10 PM ET on FX) because you heard it was a dark, creepy mystery with sociopolitical overtones and a fair amount of sudden, shocking violence? Well, okay, it is. But it's also a black-humored gem, with some of the wittiest laughs of the summer TV season, something you'd never guess from a promo like this.
The Office: Homicide Division
American detective Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) and her Mexican counterpart Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir) may be trying to solve a series of increasingly baroque homicides, but the overall vibe of the El Paso Police Department's homicide unit is closer in spirit to The Office than The Wire. Sonya has Asperger's Syndrome and does not pick up on emotional or social cues, which makes her maybe not the best choice to question a grieving husband shortly after he learns of his wife's death. Marco is the walking embodiment of Elvis Costello's old line "I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused," greeting each new twist with a philosophical shrug and a wry one-liner. Lt. Hank Wade (Ted Levine) oversees the squad with the kind of managerial spirit that knows exactly when to take the team out for greasy Tex-Mex diner food and when to profess ignorance. "I just Google-searched 'dialectics' and I still have no idea what it means," Hank grumps after the killer gives the detectives a hint about his motivations.
On The Other Side
Meanwhile, at the other end of an underground tunnel that connects Juarez and El Paso, there's diminutive drug cartel overlord Fausto (Ramón Franco) and his oversized henchman Obregon (Daniel E. Mora), or as I've come to think of them, Mutt and Jefe. Their conversation about the difference between serial killers and their own line of business, in which Obregon awkwardly explains that serial killers also tend to do...y'know...sex stuff...to their victims, as opposed to their own efficient gangland slayings, made my wife giggle so hard I had to stop the DVR until she composed herself. Mind you, they're very polite savage killing machines: if they pass you in the aforementioned underground tunnel carrying a dead body wrapped in a blood-stained carpet, they'll nod and say hello. Their mothers didn't raise them to be rude, after all.
Hey! It's Bobby Cobb!
Okay, this will only be funny if you also watch the sitcom Cougar Town, but really, you should be watching that anyway. The tunnel is on the property of new widow Charlotte (Annabeth Gish), whose first act after the death of her rich rancher husband -- other than sleeping with Marco, that is -- is to invite her sleazy, no-account ex-boyfriend Ray to visit from Florida. Ray is played by Brian Van Holt, who gives him the same mannerisms and line readings as his dim-bulb layabout Cougar Town character Bobby Cobb, only without Bobby's innate kindness. Don't get too attached to Ray, though: he immediately started running automatic weapons into Mexico in partnership with another Juarez crime figure, the imposing Graciela (Alma Martinez), and man, he is in way, way over his head. He's gonna die, violently. And possibly hilariously, knowing this show.
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As you prepare to enjoy the 4th of July weekend, SSN gives you a preview of good TV to look out for in the coming weeks.
We hope you tuned in to Showtime last night for the final season premiere of Dexter and the premiere of Ray Donovan. Dexter is back in fine form as his sister Debra has quit the police force and is mentally going off the rails. This is the show’s final season and you should be on the lookout for Charlotte Rampling in upcoming episodes as a neuro-psychiatrist who knows a lot about Dexter even though he doesn’t realize who she is at first.
Ray Donovan stars Liev Schreiber as a very effective Hollywood fixer with personal problems of his own, starting with his ex-con father Mickey (Jon Voight). Ray tries to protect and take care of his family and his two brothers, Bunchy (Dash Mihok) and Terry (Eddie Marsan), but as soon as Mickey shows up in L.A., it all starts to go south. Be sure you make time each Sunday night for Dexter and Ray Donovan.
Upcoming shows we’re looking forward to:
INTERIOR THERAPY WITH JEFF LEWIS SEASON PREMIERE Tuesday – July 9th, 2013 at 9:00pm on Bravo
Reasons To Watch: Say what you will about Jeff Lewis: his OCD makes him extra-particular about everything, his eye for detail sometimes borders on the insane but the man knows how to make a home livable and beautiful. Lewis and his right-hand gal Jenni Poulos are back to help troubled couples and families with home decorating issues that also affect their relationships.
THE BRIDGE SERIES PREMIERE Wednesday – July 10th, 2013 at 10:00pm on FX
Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life) and Diane Kruger star in this new drama from writers Meredith Stiehm (Homeland, Cold Case) and Elwood Reid (Hawaii Five-O, Cold Case). Based on the Danish/Swedish series Bron, which was set on the border of Denmark and Sweden, The Bridge is set on the border between El Paso and Juarez. It centers on two detectives, one from the U.S., Detective Sonya Cross (Kruger), and one from Mexico, Marco Ruiz (Bichir), who must work together to hunt down a serial killer operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. The Bridge co-stars Ted Levine, Annabeth Gish, and Thomas M. Wright. Gerardo Naranjo (Miss Bala) directed the pilot.
Reasons To Watch: Bichir never gives a bad performance. We loved him as a drug kingpin on Weeds a few seasons ago and we know he’ll be equally compelling as a lawman. We also loved Stiehm’s writing on Homeland, especially the pivotal season one episode “The Weekend.” If The Bridge adheres to the FX drama brand, it will be worth watching.
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK SERIES PREMIERE Thursday – July 11th, 2013 at 12:01am on Netflix
Reasons To Watch: Jenji Kohan (Weeds) adapted Piper Kerman’s memoir of an executive’s time in a minimum security women’s prison for drug charges. Kohan excels at writing women in unusual circumstances and combining humor and pathos. We’ve seen the first two episodes and we’re in for the run. Taylor Schilling is cast well as Piper Chapman, the yuppie gal who goes to prison for a crime she committed ten years ago. Jason Biggs plays her loving fiancée Larry, Laura Prepon is a woman from Piper’s past (no spoilers here) and look for Kate Mulgrew in a very different kind of role.
HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHT SERIES PREMIERE Thursday – July 11th, 2013 at 10:00pm on NBC
Reasons To Watch: Jane Lynch and games! Jane Lynch hosts this fun, light show that has celebrities like Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Jason Alexander, Josh Gad, Kristin Chenoweth, Martin Short, Allison Hannigan, Kristen Bell, and Daniel Dae Kim teaming up with civilians to compete in party games.
THE NEWSROOM SEASON PREMIERE Sunday – July 14th, 2013 at 10:00pm on HBO
Reasons To Watch: This Aaron-Sorkin-penned drama is far from perfect (don’t get us started on how Sorkin writes female characters) but the combination of fast wordplay and Jeff Daniels make the show worth watching. We also think Thomas Sadowski and John Gallagher Jr. are great and we hope they both get meatier storylines this season. We also hope to see more of Jane Fonda, though we haven’t heard how many episodes she’ll turn up in during this second season.
What will you be watching? Do you have any summer TV favorites? Let us know in the comments.
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