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Summer crime dramas to watch

Billy Bob Thornton (pictured) plays character Lorne Malvo, a ruthless predator who talks little but displays malevolent behavior in the FX series 'Fargo.'
Billy Bob Thornton (pictured) plays character Lorne Malvo, a ruthless predator who talks little but displays malevolent behavior in the FX series 'Fargo.'

Summer crime dramas are back! These dramas are usually shorter in duration than the fall season, however many networks now are showing their programs in short slot episodes – usually ten or less – as a major storyline now as a season (which at one time was at least 22 episodes). This is either to keep audience attention, competition from other networks, or not having the capacity or creativity to come up with longer storylines. CBS during its fall seasons still has crime dramas that last usually for a real full season – and still creating storylines in programs that remain popular such as "NCIS," "Blue Bloods," "Hawaii Five-O" and "Criminal Minds."

Many Hollywood actors have jumped on the bandwagon to stay employed by getting roles in television that relate to crime in general; whether it’s Billy Bob Thornton in FX’s “Fargo,” Taye Diggs in the new series “Murder in the First,” or Woody Harrelson and Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey (who won this year at the Oscars for best actor for the movie Dallas Buyers Club) in “True Detective” which finished its series on March 9.

Here are 14 programs seen this summer that have been designated as crime dramas or show heavy crime elements in their stories. The programs contain those cancelled, new and returning. Another segment of what’s to come will be in a later article.

Crisis (Cancelled), NBC, Sundays 10 p.m./9c – Viewers may not believe this short-lived series is an actual crisis being taken off the air. The story’s plot involved a group of elite children and chaperones going on a field trip and ending up being ambushed by kidnappers. NBC will give a two-hour season finale on Saturday June 21 at 8 p.m./7c. Stars in the program are Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), Dermot Mulroney (movies) About Schmidt and August: Osage County) and Michael Beach (TV) Sons of Anarchy, (movies) Soul Food, Sparkle).

According to –

The final two episodes of Crisis are getting the dreaded Saturday burn-off treatment on Saturday, June 21. The third-to-last episode of Crisis will air tomorrow in its regular Sunday 10PM timeslot.

Covert Affairs (Returning) – The series begins its fifth season beginning Tuesdays June 24 at 10 p.m./9c on the USA network.

Gang Related (New) – The Fox series began on May 22. Wikipedia states this at the beginning of each episode –

Opening Introduction: (narrated by (actor) Ramon Rodriguez)
“ My name is Ryan Lopez. After my parents died, the Acostas and Los Angelicos took me in and raised me as one of their own. To protect them, I was asked to go undercover as a member of the LAPD. Now I must walk the line between cop and criminal without being exposed.

Rodriguez previous credits include TV programs Battle Los Angeles and The Wire. Watch Thursdays at 9 p.m./8c.

Hell on Wheels (Returning) AMC, Saturday Aug. 2, 9 p.m./8c – Rearing up its fourth season, the lawless town continues to unfold after the Civil War. Actor Anson Mount continues his role as Cullen Bohannon, hip-hop artist/actor Common plays Elam Ferguson.

Murder in the First (New) – The new crime drama premiered Monday June 9 at 10 p.m. and will continue with ten episodes of one case. The plot involves a murder in San Francisco of a drug addict with a connection to Silicon Valley. Actor Taye Diggs ((movies) How Stella got Her Groove Back, Brown Sugar, The Best Man (and sequel) plays homicide detective Terry English and actress Kathleen Robertson as Inspector Hildy Mulligan ((TV) Beverly Hills 90210, Boss, Bates Motel).

Power (New) – The new crime drama series by executive producer/hip hop artist Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson on STARZ is worth watching. James “Ghost” St. Patrick (played by actor Omari Hardwick ((TV) Dark Blue, Being Mary Jane), ((movies) For Colored Girls, Sparkle) tries to maintain a double life by owning an elite nightclub called Truth while running a criminal drug underworld. Power premiered on June 7 and will continue a ten episode season. Other stars include Naturi Naughton and Angela Valdes.

Psych (Cancelled) “PSYCH has made an indelible imprint on the television landscape, with a unique brand of comedy,” said Chris McCumber, President of USA Network. “The final season celebrates the iconic characters that have made this show so beloved, and will be an exclamation point on the series’ incredible run. And while the series will wrap in March somehow I don’t believe we’ve heard the last of Shawn and Gus.”

Shawn and Gus were Shawn Spencer, played by actor James Roday and Burton “Gus” Guster played by actor Dule Hill were police partners and best friends in the Santa Barbara Police Department. Spencer believed he could solve cases with psychic abilities. The popular series lasted for eight seasons and ended in March. It can still be seen in syndication on other networks.

Rake (Cancelled) – The series is labeled as a “comedy legal drama” but the main character is a criminal defense lawyer on Fox (Fridays at 10 p.m./9c) who can’t cut the mustard in his personal life. The series began in January and will end on June 27. Greg Kinnear plays the lawyer Keegan Deane (Kinnear is also a producer of the show). Television critic Maureen Ryan of the Huffington Post had this to say in her article on Jan. 23 –

Part of the problem is "Rake's" diffidence about how bad a guy Keane is supposed to be. He's clearly a raging narcissist, yet the show deflects that aspect of his personality and tries to make him seem a little bit adorable. If we're supposed to fear that the worst aspects of his personality will land him in serious trouble, the tidy resolutions of various story points in the pilot seem to preclude that possibility. As I said, "Rake" isn't a bad show, it just doesn't appear to have the courage of its convictions.

Reckless (New), premieres Sunday June 29, CBS, 9 p.m./8c. Since CBS is noted for good crime dramas, this may be worth watching. Six episodes contain the summer series. Here’s a snippet of the plot from its website –

RECKLESS is a sultry legal drama set in Charleston, S.C., where a gorgeous Yankee litigator and a charming southern attorney must hide their intense mutual attraction as a police sex scandal threatens to tear the city apart. Jamie Sawyer is enviously cool, confident and armed with south side of Chicago street-smarts as she takes on the good ol' boys in the South. Her handsome courtroom rival is Roy Rayder, a divorced father of two, embodies the Old South and is the newly minted City Attorney, thanks to his influential former father-in-law, Dec Fortnum. When disgraced cop Lee Anne Marcus hires Jamie to represent her in a lawsuit against the police department, Jamie and Roy discover that Lee Anne is at the epicenter of a sinister case with dire implications for the members of the Charleston PD.

Actors Cam Gigandet, Georgina Haig, Kim Wayans and Gregory Harrison star.

Rectify (Returning), Sundance TV, Thursdays beginning June 19, 9 p.m./8c. The second season of what the Daily Beast called “The Best New Show of 2013” continues the saga of Daniel Holden readjusting to life in the real world outside of prison and trying to escape his demons. Actor Aden Young plays the character.

Rookie Blue (Returning) – Now in its fifth season, the police drama begins on Thursday, June 19 at 9 p.m./8c. The popular series stars actors Missy Peregrym, Gregory Smith and Charlotte Sullivan.

Rogue (Returning), Audience channel, Wednesdays 8 p.m. ET/PT – The second season of Rogue premiered on May 28. The main star, actress Thandie Newton ((movies) Beloved, Mission Impossible II, Crash and recently Half of the Yellow Sun) plays Grace, an undercover cop whose son mysteriously dies. presents Grace as “giving up the undercover life to focus on family — until the young undercover rookie she's overseeing goes missing, forcing her to go back into action.” The website also indicates Grace becomes romantically involved with a crime boss.

Taxi Brooklyn (New), premieres June 25 on NBC, 10 p.m./9c . “She’s got the Badge, He’s got the ride” is what NBC wants you to know in this action comedy police drama. A white female cop looking for her father’s killer meets a French African cabbie who is in the U.S. illegally. Does she turn him in? No, rather a partnership is formed in covering each other’s back. Actress Chyler Leigh stars as Detective Caitlyn "Cat" Sullivan and actor Jacky Ido is taxi driver Leo Romba.

The Divide (New), premieres July 19, WE channel, 9p.m./8c. According to the WE website, this is the channel’s first scripted series. The plot below gives an insight of what to expect –

The Divide is an exploration of personal morality and how all people – especially ambitious people – struggle with the shades of gray found in the absence of a simple, ordered moral universe. The show probes how truth coexists in the modern justice system alongside ambition, ethics, politics and race.

Actors in the new series are Clarke Peters ((TV)The Wire, Damages, Treme) as Isiah Page; Paul Schneider ((movie) Bright Star, (TV) Parks and Recreation) as Clark Rylance; Nia Long (movies Love Jones, Big Mama’s House (and sequel), The Best Man (and sequel) as Billie Page; Marin Ireland ((movie) Hope Springs, (TV) Law and Order, Homeland) as Christine Rosa; and Damon Gupton ((Broadway) Clybourne Park, (TV) Rake, Law and Order, Prime Suspect) as Adam Page.

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