It’s September 2011. Occupy Wall Street is in its early stages, the country mourns the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, the 2012 election race is in full swing — a tumultuous and exciting time to re-enter The Newsroom (10 p.m. Sundays, HBO).
In last season’s debut, Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom took us right there: behind the scenes of a fictional nightly news program (that covers real, recent news events) hosted by Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). After the diplomatic “Jay Leno of news anchors” goes off on a very opinionated (and very public) tirade, McAvoy comes back with a new show, News Night, and a new mission: to civilize America. During a time when we’re constantly plugged in, celebrity gossip makes headlines, court cases become sensationalized 24-hour news stories and politicians tell bold-faced lies on national television, McAvoy and the News Night crew try to get the facts and tell it straight — in a very modern way.
The Newsroom gives us not just a look at how news is made today but how people consume it. We get a glimpse at what measures these news-gatherers and -sharers have to take to give us what we need, though not necessarily what we want. They do an excellent job addressing current technologies — from Twitter to blogging and text message news tips — and how they can be used for better or worse.
Understandably, the audience needs to connect with the characters outside the office, but Sorkin’s confusing web of interpersonal relationships can bog down the plot at times. And following the crew’s yappy, tit-for-tat banter is often akin to watching a mini tennis match, but it’s small tax for an important and informative show.
WEDNESDAY JULY 10
The Bridge (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., FX) – When an anti-immigration U.S. judge is discovered dead on a bridge that connects El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, a American detective (Diane Kruger) must work with her Mexican counterpart (Demián Bichir) to track down a serial killer working both sides of the border.
THURSDAY JULY 11
Orange is the New Black (Available July 11 on Netflix) – From co-creator Jenji Kohan (creator of Weeds), Orange is a dark comedy based on the memoir of Piper Kerman, a woman who spent 15 months in a minimum security women’s prison for money laundering and drug trafficking.
Hollywood Game Night (Series Premiere, 10 p.m., NBC) – My baby mama Jane Lynch hosts as different celebs team up with “normal people” (their words!) to play fun twists on your average party games.
Wilfred (10 p.m., FX) – With overdue mortgage payments looming, Wilfred helps Ryan find a roommate to help with expenses.
FRIDAY JULY 12
Comedy Bang! Bang! (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., IFC) – Scott and Reggie are back for more weird, late-night shenanigans. This week, Andy Samberg talks picking up chicks and avoiding doctors, plus psychics, computers and prunes!
SUNDAY JULY 14
Dexter (9 p.m., Showtime) -– Dex continues to work with Dr. Vogel and hunt down the Brain Surgeon Killer. Deb again finds herself in a situation where she could have been killed or arrested — and she wants to confess to end the cycle.
True Blood (9 p.m., HBO) – Sookie contacts her parents via Lafayette; Sarah Newlin reconnects with Jason; Tara and Eric track down Pam; more Warlow-Lilith backstory.
MONDAY JULY 15
The Crash Reel (9 p.m., HBO) – American snowboarding champion and rival to Shaun White, Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury while training for the 2010 Winter Olympics. After rehabilitating everything from simple motor skills to his snowboarding tricks, Kevin wants to hit the slopes again. His doctors and family beg him to reconsider, as a minor hit on the head could kill him. This documentary traces the Peace family’s journey and questions the stakes of extreme sports.
TUESDAY JULY 16
Drunk History (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – This week we stumble through Chicago and learn about Al Capone, Abe Lincoln and the Haymarket Riot of 1886.
Ink Master (Season Premiere, 10 p.m., Spike) – New artists (plus Tatu Baby, voted by Season Two viewers to return for another round) kick off the competition by inking prison inmates.