Binge-Worthy Summer TV Guide

Jul 2, 2017
Originally published on July 2, 2017 11:36 am
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

We traditionally think of summer as a time to get outside and move around. But in this particular part of the program, we're going to suggest some things to keep you on the couch watching TV because summer television has gotten pretty good. So we thought we'd reach out to a few critics to see what shows they're recommending and maybe a couple of under-the-radar series worth a binge. NPR's TV critic, Eric Deggans, kicks us off. And he joins us now from his office in St. Petersburg, Fla. Eric, thanks so much for being with us.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hey. Thanks for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. "Game Of Thrones."

DEGGANS: "Game Of Thrones."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: "Game Of Thrones."

DEGGANS: That's the way you have to say it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah.

DEGGANS: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm so ready for this. What have we got to look forward to?

DEGGANS: Yeah. Basically, for those who don't know, they're going to take the same number of episodes that they might have done in a typical season - 13 episodes - and split them between this year and next year. And they'll be the last original episodes we see on HBO of "Game Of Thrones." So this is the beginning of the end. And for those who have been watching the show, you know, the characters have been positioned for this grand battle for who is actually going to control this fictional kingdom of Westeros.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And we don't know exactly how it's going to end because, of course, the author who came up with the original books hasn't actually written the end of the books.

(LAUGHTER)

DEGGANS: I know. Well - and it reinforces this idea that the TV version of a world that's created in a book is the TV version of that. And, you know, I think, for example, a show like "Dexter" on Showtime got a little better when it got off-book. And I think some people are also saying that about "Game of Thrones."

You know, this past season, we saw a lot of storylines that were past the books that novelist George R.R. Martin has written. What we're going to see is going to be what the guys who've been writing "Game of Thrones" - what they think should happen with that world. And they've been pretty good stewards of the story so far. So I'm expecting great things from them.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. I think I'm going to write in and give some suggestions. I think they need my help.

DEGGANS: (Laughter) And you'll be the only person doing that.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'll be the only one. I know. But I still feel like I need to do that. All right. Let's move on to Netflix. What are you looking forward to there?

DEGGANS: Well, there's a show coming up called "Friends From College," and it stars Keegan-Michael Key, who folks will remember from "Key And Peele," the great sketch show. He plays this mediocre novelist who decides to move back to New York City and get back into this circle of friends, all these people who went to Harvard together.

And he's married, but he's also been having an affair with another woman who's in that social circle. And they lived in separate cities. But now they're going to be living in the same city, trying to figure out how to deal with each other. And it's filled with a lot of great performances. They don't always come together great. But I think this show is a great example of the kind of shows that Netflix has been doing.

Netflix has been debuting a major series every Friday throughout the entire summer. And some of the shows have been really great. They have a series called "GLOW," the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, that's really interesting and fun. Others of them have not been so good. I think "Friends From College" is kind of in the middle there. But it's definitely worth checking out, especially in summer.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. What is a series that you would recommend I go back to binge?

DEGGANS: Right. Well, "Better Call Saul" on AMC. It just finished its run. And this is the show that's sort of a spinoff of "Breaking Bad."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah.

DEGGANS: They took this character who was the lawyer for Walter White, and we get to see him morph from being kind of a guy who's down on his luck but generally a good guy to becoming this ethic-less lawyer (laughter) that we run into during the "Breaking Bad" time. And what we've seen happen in this season that just ended is there's other characters from Breaking Bad, and we sort of see them break bad, as well.

And we also see Michael McKean is one of the most overlooked actors on television, I think. He plays the brother of Saul's character, someone who's very smart but also very ill. He believes that electricity can physically harm him. And he struggled with this mental illness and struggled with it with Saul. The two brothers have come at loggerheads during this past season.

And, eventually, that character makes a choice that's very important. I'm not going to reveal it because it's a huge spoiler. But it's in the final episode of the season that just ended. So you want to binge to see that final decision that he makes because it's going to totally change the show for the next season.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. That's NPR's TV critic, Eric Deggans. Thank you so much. Valar morghulis.

DEGGANS: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All men must die (laughter).

DEGGANS: See, I know...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: "Game Of Thrones" speak.

DEGGANS: I know my Klingon, but I'm not up (laughter) with my Dothraki.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's Valyrian, thank you very much.

DEGGANS: It's Valyrian. Ah. See. See.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter).

DEGGANS: I told you I don't know. I have said Klingon on the air before.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter).

DEGGANS: I'm very proud of that fact.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go. All right. Thanks so much.

DEGGANS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.