Summer lovin’

Unlike last summer when there were a whole bunch of replacement shows to watch, this summer, there’s not much on. Unfortunately, we don’t get Showtime, so we’re not catching The Tudors or Weeds or shows like that that do seem pretty good. Instead we’re limited to My Boys and CBS’ new show Swingtown.

My Boys continues to be one of the best sitcoms on TV. I will reiterate that it stacks up more than favorably against regular season fare, because the cast and the writing are outstanding. So, not much to say about that, except that you ought to be watching it. I can understand how you might be put off, given that TBS’ other fare is The Bill Engvall Show and House of Payne, which just look blah and predictable, but My Boys truly is worth watching.

I can’t rave as much about Swingtown, although it’s enjoyable enough, especially as far as summer shows go. We decided to pick it up because we’ve always been fans of 70s music and That 70s Show, and we’ve liked Jack Davenport since his Coupling days. It’s not as racy as its premise; in fact, at times it’s downright slow.

In particular, I couldn’t be less interested in the lives of the children in the show, who seem just to serve as springboards for “coming of age” stories. The characterization is also a little uneven across the board. For example, are we supposed to think that the summer school teacher is a predator for hitting on the teenage daughter, or is she pursuing him, or both? After all, she’s the one who rather defiantly told her mother, “Women can decide when and with whom to have sex these days,” and then later grabbed and kissed the teacher. Frustratingly, the scene didn’t continue, so we have no reaction shot from the teacher, and the next thing we saw was just the girl back home alone in her bedroom, smiling smugly. What are we supposed to infer from that?

The uptight character of Janet is perhaps the most irritating, because she treads the same ground every episode: “I’m upset that my friend has moved to a new neighborhood. Oh, I’m shocked and disappointed that she would even associate with these lascivious new neighbors of hers! I’ll just storm out and vow not to be her friend anymore. But wait, I’m sad because we’re not friends anymore…” and repeat.

All that being said, there’s good character development among the four principal actors, as the innocent Bruce and Susan struggle to decide whether to join in the swinging or not, and the predatory Tom and Trina keep trying to reel them in, even as Trina, in particular, wavers about whether it’s nice that Bruce and Susan had an undamaged relationship before joining their circle. That part of the show is what makes it worth watching. Well, that and the fact that it’s summer, and there’s really not much else on.

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