Forget evening walks and long nights by the campfire, TV networks now want you glued to the tube even in the summer. Thanks to good ratings for preseason starters like Canadian Idol and The OC, you can expect a growing number of shows to premiere long before the fall. This week, Fox rolls out two new series. Andy Richter (Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Andy Richter Controls the Universe) takes a second kick at the sitcom can in Quintuplets (June 16), playing the father of four 15-year-olds. A cast of hotties (below) star in North Shore (CTV, June 18), an OCmeets-Blue Crush Flawaiian soap opera about workers at a posh hotel. There are bound to be culture clashes, class conflict, labour strife-and string bikinis.
Prefer colder-climate scenarios? Showcase premieres Naked Josh (June 15), about a sexual anthropology professor in Montreal who takes his work home with him. David Julian Hirsh is incredibly charming as the handsome yet slightly awkward and neurotic Josh Gould. And there’s a fun, easy chemistry among the very unglossy, Canadian-looking cast. Not sure how the bit characters with the Québécois accents and Josh’s penchant for big wool sweaters will play in the U.S. (the show is also running on Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen network), but here Naked Josh makes sense.
Summer also offers some more serious programming. The History channel’s four-part documentary series, They Built the Railway (June 28 to July 1), may be reminiscent of those Grade 8 educational films, with actors dressed up as historical figures, but its detailed account of the surveying and construction of the CPR line across Canada is undeniably fascinating. There are plenty of harrowing tales drawn from letters and family records of the men who laid the tracks-and faced avalanches, starvation and other extreme conditions to link this country together. SHANDA DEZIEL
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