“Queen of the South” heats up USA; “Roadies” is out of tune.
Queen of the South
Thursday, June 23 (USA)
Series Debut: USA continues to get somewhat browner; baby steps for the not-quite-whitest network on cable (that’d be Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, the EDM club of TV “news”). In the net’s new “Queen of the South,” Teresa Mendoza (Alice Braga) flees to America from Mexico when her drug-dealer boyfriend is murdered, then plots her bloody revenge upon the cartel that killed him.
“Queen of the South” is flashier and pricier than the Telemundo series it was lifted from, but the grit and pain remain, and Teresa’s transformation from grieving victim to vengeful badass would make Walter White tip his fedora. The initial episodes can occasionally feel rushed and jam-packed, but Braga carries it effortlessly (and sometimes terrifyingly). Now let’s see if USA’s audience is ready for a “Scarface”/“Blow”/“Narcos” mashup fronted by a Latina.
“Adventures in Babysitting”
Friday, June 24 (Disney)
Movie: The Disney Channel’s 100th “original” movie is a remake of a 1987 classic that cannot be improved upon, an iconic era film that launched the careers of Elizabeth Shue and Ron Canada (yes, “The Strain”’s Ron Canada!)? Wasn’t molesting the corpse of “Uncle Buck” over on ABC enough for you, Mickey? This version is “Adventures in Babysitting” in name only, altering the storyline beyond recognition and extracting any sense of danger in favor of cranking out a cheapo Disney flick indistinguishable from the previous 99. But, hey, if we’re doing this, let’s do it: How about “Blue Velvet” 2016, starring Selena Gomez as the “older” femme fatale? “Natural Born Killers” with Austin and Ally? That Dog With a Blog as “Cujo”!
Sunday, June 26 (Showtime)
Season Premiere: After a nasty brush with the Armenian mafia, a failed attempt at NFL ownership and getting caught between the overacting of Ian McShane and the underacting of Katie Holmes last season, Ray (Liev Schreiber) finds himself at a personal and professional crossroads in Season 4 — you know, just like in Seasons 2 and 3. “Ray Donovan” doesn’t stray from its troubled-Hollywood-fixer-to-the-rich-and-famous formula, but Schreiber (and the show’s uncredited true star, Schreiber’s immaculate facial stubble) is so damned good, it matters not. This season’s secondary subplot to the Donovan family drama involves a human-trafficking ring with ties to pro boxer (dog fighting and spousal abuse are so passé).
Sunday, June 26 (Showtime)
Series Debut: It’s “Almost Famous: Backstage”! Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, Luis Guzmán, Imogen Poots and cameo bands galore star in Cameron Crowe’s ode to the hard-knock life behind the rock & roll fantasy. Unlike HBO’s dark, retro “Vinyl,” “Roadies” is set in current times and more comedic (because, Cameron Crowe). Wilson and Gugino play well off one another as longtime road colleagues who are obviously in love, which is part of the problem: This is more rom-com than rock show, while the rock side is rife with music-biz-movie clichés by the semi-truckload. “Roadies” has nine more episodes to prove itself as more than an unfinished Crowe movie from the 1990s, but the pilot is an underwhelming opening act. CV
Bill Frost writes about television for Salt Lake City Weekly, talks about it on TV Tan Podcast (iTunes, Stitcher and BillFrost.tv), and tweets about it at @Bill_Frost.