These are now the Dog Days of summer: languid, hot, unhurried. TV, too, slows to a trickle in the heat of the day, perking up only on cool Sunday nights like some desert animal. These are the days Best of Seven is more important than ever. Though Mad Men is back and True Blood is finally hitting its stride, this is the high season for repeats and Say Yes to the Dress marathons. There’s watchable TV out there to be sure, but you’ll need our help if you want to navigate summer TV’s arid landscape without getting burned.
7PM: Entourage, Spike TV. Spike’s replaying two of Entourage’s better episodes from the show’s excellent first season – “The Script and the Sherpa” and “Busey and the Beach” – both of which will remind you why the show got so much hype in the first place (it’s easy to forget now that Vince et al. have become so tired and unfunny in their seventh season).
8PM: Armageddon, FX. There’s no better summer movie, except maybe Independence Day, than this explosion-filled, big ensemble blockbuster from the infamous Michael Bay. Bruce Willis leads a team of roughneck oil drillers (including Ben Affleck, Steve Buscemi, and Owen Wilson) charged with assisting a top-secret NASA mission to destroy an asteroid hurtling towards Earth.
9PM: Master Chef, Fox. I haven’t seen this show yet, but if you like Hell’s Kitchen, I imagine it’s somewhat similar. Chef Gordon Ramsay takes a bunch of amateur chefs and tries to mold them into “professionals,” presumably not without a fair amount of yelling, cursing, and cathartic breakthroughs. Tasty!
11PM: The Daily Show, Comedy Central. Fareed Zakaria joins our affable host to talk about arcane concepts like “America” and “Globalization.” Then take the edge off with the decidedly sillier Colbert Report at 11:30, with guest Kevin Kline.
7PM: Mythbusters, Discovery. Mythbusters is at its best when Jamie and Adam are attempting their most audacious “experiments” i.e. blowing things up – which is why I’m totally sold on this episode, wherein “Jamie and Adam detonate their largest explosion to test a World War II myth.”
9:45PM: Halloween, IFC. John Carpenter‘s 1978 horror classic is the perfect remedy for the summer’s heat. The original Mike Myers slasher flick made Carpenter’s career, and will chill you to the bone.
7PM: Seinfeld, TBS. In this Emmy-nominated episode, “The Yada Yada,” George’s new girlfriend is fond of the expression “yada yada yada,” and Jerry becomes uncomfortable when his newly converted dentist starts cracking Jewish jokes.
10PM: Jersey Shore, MTV. Tonight’s the second season premiere of the pop culture phenomenon, promising a whole lot of more of the same, which is just fine by me. What’s really got me intrigued, though, is the prospect of watching these delusional, reality-whoring excuses for three-dimensional human beings now that they’ve become self-aware. The fourth wall has been destroyed so many times I don’t even know where we’re at. Theorists will have to invent new jargon for what this second season promises. A television (and cultural) event not to be missed!
8PM: JFK, AMC. This movie is going to take you until midnight if you watch it with commercial breaks, but it’s really worth your time, I promise! Kevin Costner stars in this 1991 flick from director Oliver Stone, about a New Orleans District Attorney who believes there is more to the Kennedy assassination than meets the eye. This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller, even at 3 hours long, based on the true story of attorney Jim Garrison, who led a widely publicized investigation into the Kennedy assassination “plot” from 1966-1969. As with any good conspiracy theory, a perfect mix of fact and speculation.
11PM: How I Met Your Mother, Lifetime. I’ve watched How I Met Your Mother so many times that at this point I just call it ‘HIMYM,’ which rolls off the tongue quite nicely when you get used to it. “The Naked Man” and “The Fight” are two of the best episodes from the fourth season, being delightfully light on Ted Mosby drama, which is such a drag on an otherwise hilarious show. Great to watch again if you’re already a fan, or a good sampling of the show at its best for the curious first-time viewer.
8PM: Flightplan, ABC. Jodie Foster and Peter Sarsgaard star in this perfectly adequate time-waster, about a recently-widowed aircraft designer forced to prove her own sanity when her daughter goes missing aboard one of her own planes. All things being equal, this 2005 thriller is pretty good fun, with a nice atmosphere of ominousness throughout.
8PM: Rubicon, AMC. It’s not too late to get started with this promising mystery/thriller, the latest from the network that brought you Mad Men and Breaking Bad. First up is the pilot “Gone in the Teeth,” followed by the second episode, “The First Day of School” at 9PM. James Badge Dale stars as an intelligence analyst who begins to discover the agency he works for may be more than it seems.
11PM: Predator, G4. If you enjoyed the new Predators movie with Adrien Brody or are just looking for a classic action pic to take your mind off the coming week, look no further than the 1987 original. Arnold Schwarzenegger leads a team of commandos on a mission in the Central American jungle, who find themselves being hunted by an alien warrior.