It’s the summer of ‘19, and TV isn’t what it used to be: It’s better.
The hottest months, once a dead period for shows, have become an optimal time to roll out limited series and those that don’t need 22 episodes to tell their stories.
Here are a few shows to rush home for, a few to catch up on later and a few not worth remembering.
“The Society” (Netflix) What if “Lord of the Flies” took place in New England? That’s the premise of “The Society,” a new Netflix series about a group of unnaturally attractive teens who find themselves in an alternative reality, apocalyptic version of their own town. Left to rebuild civilization, they instead quickly devolve into anarchy and bloodlust.
“Catch-22” (Hulu) George Clooney’s triumphant return to TV, alongside a who’s who of Christopher Abbott, Kyle Chandler and Hugh Laurie comes in a miniseries based on Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” about a World War II bomber pilot who wants to be released from duty by any means possible. Balancing the dark comedy and the cultural weight isn’t easy work, but Clooney’s crew certainly seems up to the job.
“What/If” (Netflix) You’re excused if you missed Renee Zellweger’s return to Hollywood; six years away from the camera and a few barely memorable movies later, the Academy Award-winner is back in a neo-noir thriller anthology series about “the ripple effects of what happens when acceptable people start doing unacceptable things.” It’s a little bit “The Purge” and a little bit “Butterfly Effect” with the added bonus of Jane Levy and Blake Jenner. Plus, as Ryan Murphy has proven so well with his various American horrors, the beauty of the anthology series is that it’s almost impossible to drag a story out for too long.
“The Hot Zone” (National Geographic, 9 p.m.) National Geographic probably had good intentions with this terrifying miniseries about the first appearance of Ebola in the United States, and a cast including Julianna Margulies, Noah Emmerich, Topher Grace and Robert Sean Leonard can rival most, but now it just looks like a scarier version of the current measles epidemic, and there’s just no way that’s going to be fun to watch.
“Good Omens”(Amazon Prime) Against all odds, the adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 novel “Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” works, mostly to the credit of stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen. The two, playing the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale, respectively, are clearly having the time of their lives in this wild, hilarious six-part series about the battle between Heaven and Hell.
“When They See Us” (Netflix) Ava DuVernay’s haunting, intense miniseries about the Central Park 5 is almost too intense to watch, but you must. It should be required viewing in every school, by every journalist and every police officer and every citizen. No matter how long it takes, watch it. Watch it all.
“NOS4A2” (AMC, 10 p.m.) This supernatural horror series, about a woman (Ashleigh Cummings) who can track an immortal being (Zachary Quinto) that feeds off the souls of children and leaves what’s left in an eternal Christmasland where unhappiness is illegal, is bizarre by design. The line is going to be whether it’s watchably bizarre or just too weird for words.
“Grand Hotel” (ABC, 10 p.m.) With “Jane the Virgin” wrapping up this year, Eva Longoria steps into the telenovela-sized hole with “Grand Hotel,” about the last family-owned hotel in Miami Beach and the extravagant family that owns it. It’s gorgeous and luxurious and exactly as ridiculous as you want your escapism to be.
“Pearson” (USA, 10 p.m.) Before we begin, please note that this isn’t praise of “Suits” or hope for its spinoff; you probably forgot the USA Network drama even existed until Meghan Markle quit to become royalty. This is simply to say that Gina Torres deserves so much more than Hollywood has given her and maybe, just maybe, this is her chance. Torres returns as powerhouse lawyer Jessica Pearson as she leaves the law office and becomes the mayor’s fixer. Simon Kassianides (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Bethany Joy Lenz (“One Tree Hill”), Chantel Riley (“Wynnona Earp”), Isabel Arraiza (“The Oath”) and Eli Goree (“Ballers”) costar.
“Veronica Mars” (Hulu) Not quite a new show, our favorite Marshmallow returns to the small screen after rabid Veronica Mars fans turned out in droves for the Kickstarter-backed movie in 2014. The eight-episode revival puts Veronica (Kristen Bell) back in Neptune, where a serial killer is murdering Spring Breakers, and puts “Veronica Mars” back into its noir roots, where the original series was best.
“Four Weddings and a Funeral” (Hulu) Your mileage may vary on Mindy Kaling projects, but this one just feels unnecessary. The 1994 romcom was a thing of beauty; this 10-episode series, starring Zoe Boyle (“Frontier”), Nathalie Emmanuel (“Game of Thrones”), Guz Khan (“Turn Up Charlie”), Sophia La Porta (the U.K.’s “The Five”), Rebecca Rittenhouse (“The Mindy Project”) and Brandon Mychal Smith (“You’re the Worst”), makes too many people American and relies on them providing enough charm to carry a character-driven plot.