Entry for August 20, 2008: Late summer viewing

This summer's run of bad luck has continued, as I've had to bring my car into the repair shop yet again because of an exhaust problem. With shorter days and cooler weather already arrived in New England, let's hope autumn brings fewer unpleasant surprises.

My DVR has been filling up with episodes of The Middleman and Olympic events not broadcast at prime time. However, now is as good a time as any to appreciate recent genre television. Although the regular season this past year was disrupted by the Hollywood writers' strike, and next autumn may be affected by a Screen Actors Guild strike, there have been a number of decent shows this summer. Here, in no particular order, are my top 10:

1. Doctor Who (BBC/SciFi Channel time-travel drama, Fridays) ****

2. Psych (USA comedic sleuths, Fridays) ***

3. The Middleman (ABC Family speculative fiction comedy, Mondays) ****

4. Robin Hood (BBC America semi-historical action, Saturdays) **

5. Sarah Jane Adventures (BBC/SciFi SF adventure, Fridays) ***

6. Samurai 7 (IFC anime, Thursdays; see above) ***

7. Masterpiece: Mystery (BBC/PBS sleuths "Inspector Lewis," "Foyle's War"; Sundays) ****

8. Masterpiece Theater: Cranford (BBC/PBS period ensemble drama; Sundays) ****

9. The Spectacular Spider-Man (WB animated superhero, Saturdays) ***

10. Avatar: the Last Airbender (Nickelodeon anime fantasy, ended) ****

Next time: Fall schedule!