gbbsFinally! This delicious baking competition is back for a third go-round. Twelve new bakers, judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, and hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, return to that tent in the lovely English countryside. On your mark … get set … Bake! 9 p.m. Friday, July 15, on KCTS.

Mr. Robot

Mr. RobotThis fascinating drama about a young cybersecurity engineer/hacker (played by Rami Malek) was a big success during its premiere season last summer. It also won a Golden Globe for best drama. It is honestly unlike anything else on TV, and if you’ve seen any of it, you know what I mean. To be safe, you might want to go and change your computer password, because here comes season 2.0. Season premiere, 10:01 p.m. Wednesday, July 13, on USA.

‘The Last One’

indexA woman wanders through a deserted Northeastern landscape. Where can she build a shelter? Does she have enough water to survive? And, most important, when will it all be over so she can go home?

In her debut novel, “The Last One” (Ballantine, 294 pp., $26), Alexandra Oliva takes this (possibly) post-apocalyptic setting, grafts on a knowledgeable skewering of the inner workings of reality television and gives us a gripping story of survival.

I say “possibly” because even though we’re told in the opening chapter that an editor on the production team of a reality-television show will be “the first to die,” we don’t know right away where the devastation comes from, or just how widespread it will be. Not yet.

The story unfolds in chapters alternating between the setup and execution of the reality show “In the Dark,” and the first-person narrative of one of the show’s contestants, known only as Zoo.

When we discover Zoo, she is foraging through an empty market, keenly aware of the overhead cameras that she assumes are recording her every move. She believes that she is on an extended “Solo Challenge,” where every empty building, or wild animal, or accident scene is an obstacle put in her way by the production staff of the show. But is it? Has something unthinkable happened in the outside world?

This is the genius of Oliva’s storytelling. As the story unfolds, we don’t know what is “real” and what is possibly a very well-executed television program.
Fans of reality TV will recognize many of the genre’s mainstays: the preening, B-list celebrity host, the challenges that more-than-likely come with a twist, the “confessionals” (where the contestants speak directly to the camera), and the handpicked-for-maximum-diversity contestants, all given names that reflect their professions (Air Force, Banker, Carpenter Chick, Waitress).

Oliva is so spot-on with her depiction of reality-television shows that I wonder if she’s ever worked on one. She also has fun with reality-TV show fans, excerpting comments from online-chat boards throughout the story.

As Zoo forges on, losing her glasses, worrying about her husband back home, she is confronted with increasingly stronger signs that the world around her has changed forever.  Her stubbornness turns to grit and determination and then heartbreak as she presses on to discover the truth, not only about her surroundings, but herself.

A Seattle resident, Oliva makes a stunning debut with this page turner, and becomes a writer to watch.

‘Angie Tribeca’

1tvangietribeca_tzrNow in its second season, this police comedy is very much in the vein of the “Airplane!” movies or the “Police Squad” TV show, and very, very, funny. Rashida Jones stars as Detective Tribeca, who investigates L.A. crime scenes with partner Jay Giles (Hayes MacArthur). Also along for a ride on the funny train are Dean Cole, Jere Burns and Andree Vermeulen. 9 p.m. Monday, June 27, on TBS.

‘Animal Kingdom’

d51f3cd8cbf6b4920e78df5f2b5a4750This adaptation of the 2010 film begins with a 17-year-old (Finn Cole) moving in with his extended family only to discover that they are more than a little involved in criminal activity. Ellen Barkin is the steely matriarch, while Scott Speedman, Shawn Hatosy, Ben Robson and Jake Weary play her sons. The premiere is a well-assembled glimpse into this dark underworld (and includes a pulse-pounding jewelry-store heist). Series premiere, 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 14, on TNT.

‘The Tony Awards’

1tvtonyawardshostTony-winner (“One Man, Two Guvnors”) and late-night talk-show host James Corden hosts for the first time the 70th annual edition of the awards show, at which juggernaut musical “Hamilton” is expected to be the big winner. Uzo Aduba, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sean Hayes, Angela Lansbury, Andrew Rannells, Blair Underwood and Barbra Streisand are also scheduled to appear. 8 p.m. Sunday, June 12, on CBS.

Just this.


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