Set down your test-taking pencils and pick up the remote; finals will soon be over and the summer TV season will begin. Here are two of the hottest new shows, and one returning series, that the pop culture world is buzzing about.
Steve Carell is breaking out of the office. The actor is producing this comedy competition series, based on an Australian show, which itself was based upon a French show. Premiering May 13 on Fox, each episode will pit two teams of celebrities and comedians against each other in improv-based challenges. Some of the challenges will take place on a set tilted at 22 degrees or in complete darkness, with the audience watching through infrared cameras — as if crafting unscripted scenes on the spot wasn’t difficult enough.
Celebrities up to the challenge will include David Arquette, Chris Kattan, Jason Alexnader, Mayim Bialik, Cherly Hines, Andy Dick and, of course, Carell himself. Rove McManus, an Aussie with an impressive comedy resume down under, will host.
“Orange is the New Black”
“Orange is the New Black” was the hit of summer 2013, premiering its entire first season of 13 episodes in one day on Netflix. Round two will premiere on June 6, again with 13 episodes, and again promising lots of drama and laughs with an ensemble cast of over 50 regular and frequently recurring characters. The exciting spectacle, created by “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan, is set inside a place far removed from typical Hollywood TV glamour: Litchfield Correctional Facility, a federal women’s prison.
It’s based on a memoir by Piper Kerman, a self-described WASP who spent 13 months in a minimum security prison for laundering money for a drug operation, which she did after falling in love with a woman who dealt heroin for a West African kingpin. The show, which is intially told from Piper’s naive perspective, eventually branches out to explore the lives of a diverse array of other prisoners, including a former Russian mobster, a transgender hairdresser, a religious drug addict, an overweight lesbian, a Latina mother-daughter duo, and Piper’s ex-girlfriend. Notable cast members include Kate Mulgrew of “Star Trek: Voyager,” Laura Prepon of
“That 70s show” and Jason Biggs, aka the guy who made love to an apple pie in “American Pie.”
“Welcome to Sweden”
While “Parks and Recreation” star Amy Poehler is busy charming viewers as Leslie Knope, a citizen of small-town Indiana, her younger brother Greg Poehler hopes to win over fans by portraying Bruce Evans, an accountant who moves to Sweden from New York for his Swedish girlfriend. The show already premiered in the cheese-and-chocolate-loving country in late March and will make it stateside to NBC starting July 10. Guests on the sitcom include Will Ferrell, Aubrey Plaza and even Amy Poehler, as a version of herself, one of Bruce’s celebrity clients. It’s already a minor hit in Sweden, having earned over 1.6 million viewers for its premiere, and a second season has been ordered.