All sorts of new stuff this week, from PBS animal shows to a couple of spicy FX comedies to a reality spoof on Hulu.
Monday, July 14
Idris Elba: King of Speed (10-11 pm, BBC America)
Like many actors, Idris Elba has a passion for auto racing, and channels it into a three-episode documentary exploring underground and street racing scenes and cultures in various places around the globe.
Also tonight: the POV documentary Getting Back to Abnormal, about a 2010 city council race in New Orleans (10-11:30 pm, PBS).
Tuesday, July 15
The Hotwives of Orlando (Hulu)
Those of us who despise reality TV in general, and the attention-whore “wives” subgenre in particular, finally have the spoof we deserve and have been waiting for. (Too bad it’s not airing on a real network alongside the objects of its mockery.) The better-known members of the cast include Angela Kinsey, Kristen Schaal, and Casey Wilson, alongside Tymberlee Hill, Andrea Savage, and Danielle Schneider.
Also tonight: remember back in March when I told you about Robert Rodriguez’s new El Rey network? Not wasting any time, the channel’s second original series premieres tonight. Matador (9-10 pm) is an action drama about a DEA agent undercover as a professional soccer player. (FYI, El Rey is still only available in greater Boston if you have DirecTV.)
Wednesday, July 16
Sex in the Wild (10-11 pm, PBS)
PBS goes a little Animal Planet in this new series that looks at the reproductive activities of various animals. Earlier, My Wild Affair (8-9 pm, also PBS) is another new show exploring unusual bonds between humans and animals.
Thursday, July 17
Four New Shows
One of the most significant elements of the dramatic shift in the TV landscape over the past 10 to 15 years has been the year-round programming efforts on what I think of as the “first tier” of non-premium cable channels: FX, USA, TNT and TBS, AMC. Many of the most popular shows on these channels began as, and remain, summer shows. (It’s a big reason why the broadcast networks now feel compelled to make an effort at offering original summer fare.)
Tonight FX introduces two new comedies: Married (10-10:36 pm), starring Judy Greer and Nat Faxon as a couple with kids trying to reignite a spark while navigating parenting, followed by You’re the Worst (10:36-11:10 pm), about a one-night stand between two self-absorbed twentysomethings that turns into an actual, albeit spiky, relationship.
Meanwhile, USA is launching two new dramas: Rush (9-10 pm), about a private doctor to the rich and powerful (isn’t that what Royal Pains is about?); and Satisfaction (10-11:23 pm), about a married couple with a seemingly ideal relationship that is anything but.
Friday, July 18
Austenland (9-10:45 pm, Starz)
It’s a tough night, and this is kind of a desperation suggestion, as I know Starz is a premium channel on most systems. Keri Russell plays a woman obsessed with Jane Austen who travels to an English resort for women like her.
Saturday, July 19
Serial Mom (7-9 pm, Sundance)
After the early-‘90s success of Hairspray and Cry-Baby, John Waters was worried that he was being perceived as too mainstream, so he made this deliciously subversive suburban satire starring Kathleen Turner, Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake, Matthew Lillard, and Waters regulars Mink Stole and Traci Lords.
Sunday, July 20
The Lottery (10:01-11:02 pm, Lifetime)
Sci-fi on Lifetime? Sort of. Seeking a Sunday companion show to pair with Witches of East End, the network is launching this dystopian-future drama set in 2025, in a world where infertility has led to an extinction-panic population crisis. The lottery of the title will select 100 women to carry fertilized embryos to term. (Note: may turn out not to be worth watching.)
Most people associate Kelsey Grammer with comedy, but he also has the gravitas needed to sink his teeth into a dramatic role. Boss, which ran for two seasons on Starz, chronicles the Machiavellian maneuverings of Chicago mayor Tom Kane, who is struggling with a neurological disorder that threatens to end both his political career and his life. The cast includes Connie Nielsen as Kane’s wife, Martin Donovan, and Kathleen Robertson. (18 episodes total)
(Note: this information is accurate as of publication time, but programming is subject to change at the discretion of channels and networks. All times listed are Eastern time.)