Season Premiere: Critics spent the first two seasons of “Rectify” trying to explain a series that defies description; the dirt-simple outline being “Daniel (Aden Young) returns to his Georgia hometown after 19 years on death row for murdering his childhood sweetheart due to inconclusive evidence, and the God-fearing townsfolk are understandably — and in some cases, violently — wary of his innocence.” Like them, viewers don’t yet know if he did it, either, and Season 3 seems intent on introducing some hard Law & Order to this dream-state Southern Gothic, much to the distress of Daniel’s long-suffering, supporting sister Amantha (Abigail Spencer). Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix — they’re short, they’re fantastic, and you should experience them now.
“7 Days In Hell”
Saturday, July 11 (HBO)
Movie: So many questions: Was “Game of Thrones’ ” Kit Harington aware that this would be his first post-Jon Snow role? Has there ever been a tennis mockumentary before? Did Andy Samberg already own that throwback John McEnroe/Andre Agassi wig? As the title states, “7 Days In Hell” chronicles the longest match in tennis history, with “bad-boy” American Aaron Williams (Samberg) taking on British prodigy Charles Poole (Harington), recounted by talking heads like Will Forte, Lena Dunham, John McEnroe and Serena Williams. At 45 minutes, “7 Days” almost strains the limits of what’s essentially a beer-commercial sight gag, but Harington and Samberg commit. And really, what’s not funny about tennis?
Sunday, July 12 (FX)
Season Premiere: Season 2 of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire-invasion thriller opens with the most terrifying bedtime story in the history of ever, and escalates from there. “The Strain’s” first season established New York City as Ground Zero for an ancient, horrific, not-sparkly-nor-pretty vampire race’s takeover of the planet (because, as any New Yorker will tell you, it’s the center of everything); now that it’s in full swing, CDC docs Ephraim (Corey Stoll, still wearing the wig) and Nora (Mia Maestro) may have sussed out a cure, whereas Prof. Geezer Van Helsing (David Bradley) would just as soon kill ’em all. It’ll never reach “Walking Dead”-levels of hyper-fandom, but “The Strain” deserves credit for being faster-paced and more genuinely scary than that zombie soap opera.
Sunday, July 12 (Showtime)
Season Premiere: As imposing as he and his giant head are, “Ray Donovan” star Liev Schreiber is always this close to being overshadowed by secondary players (namely Jon Voight as Ray’s unrepentant bad-ass father, Mickey). To complicate matters in Season 3, “Deadwood” scene-stealer Ian McShane joins the show as a billionaire movie producer who hires Ray to retrieve his kidnapped son (discreetly, of course), and lesser threat Katie Holmes also comes onboard (cue the Inevitable Sex With Ray countdown clock). Fortunately, now that Ray is estranged from his family and acting as a lone-wolf Hollywood “fixer” free of boss/mentor Ezra (Elliott Gould), his swagger seems to finally match his billing. But don’t worry — Mickey’s still a bad-ass. CV
Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on the TV Tan Podcast (Tuesdays on iTunes and Stitcher), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.