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Of food, technology, movies, music, and travel—or whatever else strikes my fancy

Whatever happened to the shows of summer?

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Actually, in the good/bad old days, there weren’t really “TV shows of summer”, were there? It was mostly rerun city. But more recently-ish (it is a trend over a decade long) networks have programs they play only in the summer season. And the specialty networks debut programs all year long.

These are three I’ve been particularly enjoying.

Amazing Race Canada

Modeled after the American one (which I also like), this is somewhat more “respectable” reality show—Emmy winning, and basically “just a race”, though with the producers definitely manipulating said race to produce drama, and obviously casting it with colourful people.

I appreciate the very multicultural nature of this year’s cast. And what a strong set of contenders! Except for the two sisters who were, indeed, eliminated the first show, everyone seems quite athletic and potentially capable of winning.

Rex Harrington

Rex Harrington also be kind of easy on the eyes…

But I did come in with a bias toward Rex Harrington and his fiance Bob, because…. He’s Rex Harrington! Amazing dancer and great judge on So You Can Think Dance Canada.

They did well the first episode (and were so funny!), but in the second became mired in controversy: They gave up and took penalties on not one but two of the episode’s challenges. They only made it through because another contestant got injured and had to withdraw.

But surviving that round made they got to experience the surprising development of this year’s season: It’s no longer restricted to Canada! The teams were off to Hong Kong, with China up next.

I do hope Rex and Bob stick around for a while longer, but they certainly aren’t the smart bet to take it all. That would have to be the team made up of two members of Canada’s women’s gold medal hockey team, who have so far won every leg!

Fortunately, I also like them, as I basically like all the teams, really. I found that about Season 1 as well. That doesn’t tend to happen on the American one. Is likeability a Canadian trait? Bit early to say: Some of teams may get awful once the “killer fatigue” really sets in. TBD.

So You Think You Can Dance

The international travel budget shows that Amazing Race: Canada is a summer show on the rise. Now in its eleventh season, though, Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance is definitely on the decline, struggling for ratings.

They have fewer shows than ever this year, so the audition footage was seriously compressed, and we didn’t get to “know” too many contestants ahead of time. They get only the single 2-hour performance show per week, during which they try to squish in everything, including guest stars. It’s meant no video recaps, no Dance for Your Life for the dancers in the bottom three. And their pre-emption for some baseball game meant that this coming week, they have to eliminate four instead of two dancers. Brutal!

What remains, though, is the what I’ve always loved about this program: Seeing wonderful dance pieces in a great variety of styles, performed by very talented young people who only get better each week.

For example, this hip-hop number from the last week. Can you tell that Tanisha is actually a ballroom dancer? Didn’t think so!

Or how about this amazing group piece ( again kind of highlighting Tanisha) in the jazz / modern style:

I’d really be sad if this show was cancelled.

Silicon Valley

This is a bit of a cheat to include here, as it is being rerun, currently. But it’s new to me, and its premiere was only in April, so…

This is a comedy about a group of five guys running a startup company in Silicon Valley, and it’s the funniest shows I’ve seen a long time. Jean, however, is not warming to it as much, so perhaps you need some understanding of / interest in tech culture to really appreciate the satire. (Wired explained how Mike Judge went about trying to make it as “based in reality” as possible, down to the math on the white board. )

Now, it is on HBO, but if you do have some understanding of / interest in tech culture, you’re going to have no trouble watching this show even if you don’t get that channel. But if you just want a preview, there a lot of clips on YouTube.

This scene, in which they implement the “scrum” method of organizing their development work, is an example of one in which I almost died laughing, while Jean was just confused. [Warning: Colorful language. It’s HBO!]

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