An unscripted series about a family-owned private security company in Ringgold, Ga., might be an unlikely follower to AMC’s grippingly dark Breaking Bad. That lead-in, along with last week’s debut trailer for The Walking Dead, helped provide a built-in audience for the new program. But those who stuck around and actually watched the series premiere of Small Town Security (11 p.m. Sundays, AMC) got a glimpse at true TV gold.
Of course, like any show, it all comes down to characters — and JJK Security is full of ’em. Chief Joan Koplan is the ringleader: a foul-mouth with ever-present lipstick (often on her teeth), eyeliner and Chihuahua, Lambchop. Her husband, Captain Irwin Koplan, is a gentler personality with a serious hoarding problem. Lieutenant Dennis Croft, who has lived as a military man, an off-the-grid teepee dweller and a Y2K prepping parent, now strives to make JJK an “elite force” and reveals an incredible twist in the first episode.
My one reservation about STS was that the cameras might take advantage of these “real people.” I hate to see genuine folks being packaged for ridicule. After all, these aren’t fame-seeking bachelorettes — they’re good country people. As it turns out, they’re in on the fun.
When the sassy Captain Koplan reveals her backstory, it’s clear she does want a spotlight and has sought it her entire life. Episode one finds her in a battle with a local television station to reclaim her public access gig (which had been given the boot due to the hostess’ penchant for controversial topics and her saucy vocabulary).
STS might remind viewers of early quirky documentary series, before the term “reality show” was in everyone’s vocabulary and unscripted series were actually that: full of surprising, raw human moments.
WEDNESDAY JULY 18
Futurama (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – Leela and Amy use a nutritional supplement, nectar, to improve their butterfly derby skills.
Around the World in 80 Plates (Season Finale, 10 p.m., Bravo) – Wolfgang Puck provides his expertise as the final three chefs compete for the title back home in Los Angeles.
The Soup (10 p.m., E!) – Related: Joel McHale will guest star on the upcoming season of Sons of Anarchy.
THURSDAY JULY 19
Project Runway (Season Premiere, 9 p.m., Lifetime) --– Heidi, Tim and Co. return for Season 10 with 16 hopeful designers. Lauren Graham (forever Lorelai Gilmore) and stylist Patricia Field guest-judge the runway show in Times Square.
Wilfred (10 p.m., FX) – Wilfred goes smell-blind, sending him into a bout of depression.
The Real L Word (10 p.m., Showtime) – Whitney plans a spiritual, complicated, over-the-top proposal for Sara. Romi enjoys hanging out with other straight couples.
Louie (10:30 p.m., FX) – Louie dives into the dating pool. Parker Posey guest stars in the first half of this two-parter.
FRIDAY JULY 20
Portlandia: The Brunch Special (11 p.m., IFC) – Catch the hour-long director’s cut of the Season Two finale, featuring Bobby Flay, Lorne Michaels and the highly anticipated opening of Fisherman’s Porch.
SATURDAY JULY 21
Todd Barry: Super Crazy (Premiere, 11 p.m., Comedy Central) – Known for his dead-pan humor, small-yet-memorable roles and cameos in comedies like Louie and Delocated, Barry performs in his hometown of New York City.
SUNDAY JULY 22
True Blood (9 p.m., HBO) – Alcide prepares to fight to the death; Sookie learns more about her fairy side; the human-“supe” war builds up. Are we already saying goodbye to Roman?
The Newsroom (10 p.m., HBO) – The News Night crew tries to balance coverage of civil uprising in Wisconsin and Egypt. Correspondents in Cairo face danger.
Breaking Bad (10 p.m., AMC) – The DEA copes with having had Gus under their noses all along while Walt and Jesse consider starting up again.
Weeds (10 p.m., Showtime) – Shane invites a police academy pal to family dinner: part deux. Silas meets a local grower.
TUESDAY JULY 24
Workaholics (10:30 p.m., Comedy Central) – The trio helps Montez discover whether his wife is cheating.
CONTACT Jac Kern: firstname.lastname@example.org