There's no shortage of exciting options for cord-cutters in July (we’ve already rounded up the cream of the streaming crop), but those viewers holding fast to the programming beamed into their living-room sets have plenty to get excited about too. While the major networks catch their breath before launching back into their fall hits and misses, fascinating things are happening in the world of cable.
HBO has historically held fast and run uniformly excellent programming during the hotter months, and this year will be no different, with a well-pedigreed new miniseries and sitcom both debuting in the weeks to come. Elsewhere, TV's Next Big Show attempts to keep its footing during its sophomore season, a cult classic returns from the great beyond, and another Sharknado brews on the horizon. Fix yourself a cool beverage, replace the batteries in that remote control, and read on:
The Night Of (HBO, 7/10)
This Americanized rework of hit BBC series Criminal Justice spares no detail in its microscopic inspection of one perp's journey through the legal system. Writers Steven Zaillian and Richard Price (the latter an alumnus of The Wire, the gold standard for socially conscious crime TV) pay close attention to the cops, lawyers, judges, bailiffs, crooks, and bystanders that fill up the story of a Pakistani-American student (Riz Ahmed of Nightcrawler) accused of murdering a young woman. With a hero in beleaguered lawyer Jack Stone (John Turturro) and a clutch supporting turn from Peyman Moaadi, a.k.a. the Laurence Olivier of Iran, this eight-episode run could be the watercooler-dominating saga of the season.
Mr. Robot, Season 2 (USA, 7/13)
When this breakout cyberthriller (and Rob Sheffield-proclaimed Best TV Show of 2015) wrapped up its debut season, hacker collective fsociety had successfully brought the nefarious organization E-Corp to their knees with some computerized mischief. The newest batch of episodes now find online security specialist/totally unreliable narrator Elliot (Rami Malek) caught in the middle of a digital war. Grace Gummer joins the cast as a hotshot young CIA operative tasked with bringing the hacktivists to justice — those looking to get lost in endless conspiracy theorizing while Game of Thrones takes a hiatus, look no further.
MADtv (The CW, 7/26)
The primordial comedy soup out of which Key and Peele first slithered, this sketch program suffered from unfavorable comparisons to Saturday Night Live all throughout its original run from 1995 to 2009. But there was much more to it then — and hopefully there'll be more to the upcoming eight-episode revival gracing the CW this summer as well. Featuring eight new faces fresh on the scene, the show is expected to retake the original's mantle as a louder and stranger alternative to the abundance of sketch comedy on networks, basic cable, etc. Who knows: In a decade or so, one of the new cast members could be our new reigning comedy overlord.
Sharknado: The 4th Awakens (Syfy, 7/31)
Are the Sharknado movies good? No. Are they fun to watch anyway? Yes, but less so with each passing installment. Will that stop SyFy from airing new sequels in this gloriously ramshackle Z-list franchise until time itself ends or Earth gets destroyed by an actual tornado full of sharks, whichever comes first? Here to answer that final question is the fourth installment, relocating the weather cataclysm and all predators contained within to Las Vegas, where a resurrected April (Tara Reid, presumed dead at the close of the last film) must join forces with male strippers to fend off the menace. It's not likely to end up at the Emmys, but there's truly nothing better to rag on while you and your buddies get blackout drunk on a bored Saturday night.
Vice Principals (HBO, 7/17)
His days as Kenny Powers behind him, Danny McBride returns to HBO for another collaboration with Eastbound and Down producer David Gordon Green. This time around, he faces off with Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight, Justified) as rival vice principals jockeying for the soon-to-be-vacant principal position at a suburban high school. This being a McBride character, we're sure he’ll conduct himself with the utmost decorum and propriety and ... — just kidding, the boorish knucklehead's going to smash everything in sight and scream obscenities in people's faces. Goggins, too, should be a blast; he's always had a comedic tang to his work, but this will be the first time many viewers see him playing a straight-up funnyman. Catch them play good hallway-cop/bad hallway-cop before everyone ends up in detention.