Summer TV Round Up: Better Late

The summer TV season is well underway, but our favorites don’t start until later.

Tony

 

The conventional wisdom is that summer TV is like beach reading: light, undemanding and a little trashy.

The season started weeks ago for the major networks, and with it came a slew of singing competitions, breezy procedurals and assorted dating and house-sharing-based reality shows.

But in the wilds of basic cable some of the best shows are just starting up. Many of these shows are just as fun as their network counterparts, but a little gutsier. They’re definitely worth a peek if you’re worn out on that one show where celebrities compete for plastic surgery by dancing on top of giant rubber balls, or whatever.

 

Comedy Bang! Bang!

Fridays at 9 p.m. on IFC

For Fans of: “Between Two Ferns,” “Mr. Show,” podcasts

 

In the last decade, inspiration-starved studios have rewritten the rules of what source material can be adapted into a media franchise. Board game? Theme park attraction? Twitter account? Throw in some fart jokes, a few explosions or Rihanna and call it a day.

We’re mostly annoyed by this trend, but we’re intrigued by the adaptation of comedy podcasts like “WTF with Marc Maron” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!,” both of which have been picked up by IFC.

These podcasts and the personalities behind them lend themselves to TV well, and so far its been a delight watching Scott Aukerman’s gleefully weird fake talk show make its transition from iPods to the small screen.

 

Louie

Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on FX

For Fans of: “Girls,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Woody Allen

 

Louis CK’s self-produced series is technically considered a sitcom, but the best episodes of “Louie” elicit almost no laughter, save for a few dark chuckles.

“Louie” is a series of thematically connected vignettes, broken up by C.K.’s stand-up routine. Like C.K,’s comedy, the tone shifts from casually surreal to raunchy to uncomfortably stark with no notice. It’s hard to swallow at first, but the result is unlike anything else on TV.

 

Awkward.

Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on MTV

For Fans of: “Juno,” “Easy A,” high school

 

MTV doesn’t have a great track record with its recent scripted programming (see last year’s dusting-off of “Beavis and Butthead”), but the network found a surprise hit last summer with “Awkward.”

“Awkward” follows Jenna Hamilton, a high school outcast whose bathroom fall is mistaken for a suicide attempt. The show doesn’t break a lot of new ground, but it’s written and acted well enough to stand out. The finale’s big reveal also bodes well for an exciting second season. Stick around after “Snooki and JWoww” for this one.

 

Anger Management

Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on FX

For Fans of: “Two and a Half Men,” celebrity breakdowns, #Winning, etc.

 

We’ll be honest: we’re mostly recommending “Anger Management” out of morbid curiosity. Charlie Sheen has seemingly pulled himself out of the drug-and-meme-laden tailspin that got him fired from “Two and a Half Men,” and is starring in a sitcom based a 2003 Adam Sandler movie? Okay, we’ll bite.

Sheen plays yet another cranky womanizer named Charlie who finds a job as an unconventional therapist after a breakdown ruined his baseball career.

The actor is already calling the show his “swan song,” so fans of the Sheen brand might want to tune in before he implodes like a dying star fueled by pharmaceuticals and hashtags.