On Sundays you've got True Blood (HBO Canada, 9 p.m.). During the week, you're poking around in the forgotten pockets of television - the obscure cable channels, the reruns of documentaries on Newsworld, the cute critter shows on Animal Planet and soccer from Russia. Okay, that last choice is just me, but you get the picture. These are the darkest days in the TV year.
True Blood is the best thing on TV right now. And in second place is the opening credit sequence for True Blood. All right, all right, Durham County is excellent too. I'm just caching up with the second season.
Lots of new material will begin arriving soon. (There are even several major new dramas airing this weekend, check out the Saturday paper.) Some new network shows are being promoted like mad and some old reliables will be back before you know it. There are reasons to be upbeat. I'm not just telling myself this. I'm telling you. Here are 10 reasons to look forward to the next few months of TV.
1. Mad Men returns for a third season Aug. 16 on AMC. When we last met the staff and bosses at Sterling Cooper, the Cuban missile crisis had made everyone antsy and some even angsty. There had been a takeover of the advertising agency; Don Draper's angry, long-suffering wife was knocked-up. Peggy admitted that she'd given her baby up for adoption because her career mattered more. Now as we move toward the mid-1960's these utterly compelling characters will continue to evolve. Expect the female characters to dominate the story lines.
2. Dexter returns, for Season 4, on Sept. 27 on TMN and Movie Central. Boy that Dexter (Michael C. Hall) leads a busy, murderous life. Last time out he managed to get rid of that creepy Miguel, avoid the clutches of the Skinner and marry the lovely Rita. All the while, he keeps on rocking as the serial-killer-with-a-heart-of-gold. In this new season he has to deal with a new character, played by John Lithgow.
3. Evan Solomon is the new Don Newman. Yep, Solomon will host a new weekday afternoon show from Ottawa running from 5 to 7 p.m. on CBC Newsworld. Now, perhaps more than 200 people in Ottawa will be watching. And maybe the featured Ottawa pundits will be new. Please, let there be new pundits. Otherwise I'll stop being the only person not in Ottawa who's watching.
4. Keith Boag moves from CBC's Ottawa bureau to become a correspondent in Los Angeles. Oh Lordy, what exactly will the very, very serious Boag be covering? The mind boggles. "Well, Peter, Lindsay Lohan has done it again. Another DUI case. And here, Peter, I'm standing right at the spot on Hollywood Boulevard where her car was stopped by the LAPD. Oh look, Peter, that's Mischa Barton walking by, and in her new line of headbands too."
5. If you've had a hard day at work, you can fall asleep early to the soothing sounds of Jay Leno trying to be funny. Five. Nights. A. Week.
6. The summer movie season will be over. Actors such as Grey's Anatomy's Katherine Heigl will be back in their rightful place - formulaic TV dramas on the small screen.
7. Flash Forward. The most anticipated (no, the remake of Melrose Place is not that hot) new network drama is based on a novel by Canadian Robert J. Sawyer. It's the next Lost. It'll be huge, or so it seems.
8. More vampire shows. Say a fanged hello to The Vampire Diaries, coming in September. This new and dopey-cute drama is about, you know, a vampire fella falling in love with a nice, non-vampire young woman. Vampires are the best. Okay, maybe that's just me.
9. You get to bet on the first new fall show to be cancelled. The money's on Cougar Town, staring Courteney Cox as, like, a cougar. Place your bets.
10. People will stop watching Jon & Kate Plus 8 and quit talking about that appalling couple. This is inevitable because there will be other things to talk about.
Scar Tissue (Vision, 9 p.m.) is a two-hour TV movie made for CBC in 2002 and adapted from Michael Ignatieff's novel of the same name. It deals with Alzheimer's disease. At the heart of the story is Mora (Roberta Maxwell, who is excellent), the mother of grown children and wife to the caring Alex (Paul Hecht). As the drama opens, a family reunion becomes strained when it emerges that Mora's memory is failing. She begins to tell stories that she told just moments before. Soon she is diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease and her family reacts. Son Nick (Aidan Devine) is a doctor and he looks at his mother's case in a clinical manner. Daniel (Shawn Doyle) reacts very differently. A filmmaker and teacher, he is very afraid of Alzheimer's and fears the disease will eventually strike him. The film is really about Daniel and his battle to deal with the reality of his mother's disease. It's about fear. Scar Tissue is not great drama but it is well-meaning. It looks like it was made on the cheap and the pacing and tone are wobbly. While it's admirable that everybody involved avoided the hysterical format of the disease-of-the-week TV movie, it feels peculiarly cold. J.D.
Check local listings.