Growing up, summer TV seemed like an endless stretch of reruns and four-hour baseball games. Twenty-odd years later, I’ve grown to appreciate those long baseball games, and thanks to Netflix and TIVO, I’ll never have to watch a rerun again.

I’m also happy to report that summer TV is far richer than it was even five years ago. Cable networks across the dial are trying their hand at original programming, and they’ve wisely opted out of the rigid September-May network schedule. This summer two excellent shows are worth a look:

First, on July 13 PBS Mystery began airing the final season of Foyle’s War, a masterful series that takes place in Hastings on the coast of England during World War II. Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Foyle would rather be fighting in the war, but his superiors have instead assigned him to this dreary post. Of course the town is not so dreary, and in every episode Foyle’s murder investigation brushes up against the mechanics of the war machine in some way. This season’s first episode features an intriguing plotline involving a group of priests organizing against what they see as the indiscriminate bombing of German cities. (One of them--A German refugee--wears the garb of a Jesuit, but his parish church looks distinctly Anglican.)

Mad Men begins its second season this Sunday on AMC. If you want to catch up on the show, about a Madison Avenue advertising firm circa 1960, this profile of creator Matthew Weiner is a good place to start. What I find most intriguing about the show is its portrayal of the creative shift from a gauzy, sentimental form of advertising to something more jokey and ironic--a shift that presaged the tumultuous social changes of the 1960’s.

Watch clips from Mad Men here.

Tim Reidy

Comments

Anonymous | 7/29/2008 - 12:08pm
Of course the Catholic church in Foyle's War looks distincly Anglican. With an east-facing altar, an altar rail, Roman vestments, and the like. I'm sure the producers were looking for an authentic Catholic church for the time period. All of these ''distinctly Anglican'' items were thrown out with the trash after V2.