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TV Talk: Broadcast networks mostly stick with game, competition shows in summer

Trib Total Media TV writer Rob Owen offers a viewing tip for the coming week.

The summer broadcast TV season kicked off earlier this month with the return of “Holey Moley” and “The Chase” on Tuesday nights on ABC and continues this week with Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” — but there’s still more to come.

However, if viewers want to see original scripted drama series, they’ll have to look to cable and streaming. Aside from a drama-heavy crop on The CW (and “Fantasy Island” on Fox and Sunday night dramas on PBS), the broadcast networks are generally plugging in lower-cost reality competitions and game shows.


“Generation Gap” (9 p.m. July 7, WTAE-TV): Trivia game featuring teams of grandparents and grandchildren answering pop culture questions from each other’s generations.

“The Final Straw” (9 p.m. July 10): Basically a larger-than-life Jenga game show.

“Claim to Fame” (10 p.m. July 11): Kevin and Frankie Jonas host this competition series starring 12 celebrity relatives who live together while concealing their identities.

Returning: “Press Your Luck” (8 p.m. July 7), “Celebrity Family Feud” (8 p.m. July 10), “The $100,000 Pyramid” (10 p.m. July 10), “The Bachelorette” (8 p.m. July 11)


“Love Island” departed for Peacock, but “Big Brother” will be back on KDKA-TV along with a broadcast iteration of “The Challenge,” but no premiere dates have been announced. And no word if “Blood Treasure” will air its completed second season.

The CW

“Tom Swift” (9 p.m. May 31, WPCW-TV): A “Nancy Drew” spin-off, this sci-fi-tinged drama follows the title character (Tian Richards), a charming gay tech inventor who likes to weld shirtless (seems dangerous no matter how cut his abs are!). At least his father calls Tom on such foolishness before tragedy follows, leading Tom into intrigue involving a shadowy cabal while a potential love triangle simmers. LeVar Burton voices Barclay, Tom’s Alexa-like digital assistant. The title character is a welcome departure, but the plotting is patented CW fare.

Returning: “Coroner” (9 p.m. June 2), “Roswell, New Mexico” (8 p.m. June 6), “In the Dark” (9 p.m. June 6), “Wellington Paranormal” (9 and 9:30 p.m. June 22), “Devils” (8 p.m. June 30), “Mysteries Decoded” (8 p.m. July 6)


Returning: “So You Think You Can Dance” (9 p.m. Wednesday, WPGH-TV), “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” (8 p.m. May 23), “Beat Shazam” (9 p.m. May 23), “Masterchef” (8 p.m. May 25), “Lego Masters” (8 p.m. May 31), “Fantasy Island” (9 p.m. May 31)


“Dancing With Myself” (10 p.m. May 31, WPXI-TV): Inspired by Tik Tok dances, everyday people compete in dance challenges created for the show by Shakira, Nick Jonas, Liza Koshy and host Camille Kostek.

Returning: “America’s Got Talent” (8 p.m. May 31), “America Ninja Warrior” (8 p.m. June 6), “Who Do You Think You Are?” (7 p.m. July 10)


“NOVA: Why Ships Crash” (9 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, WQED-TV): Following up on the container ship crash in the Suez Canal and exploring how it happened.

“American Experience: Plague at the Golden Gate” (9 p.m. May 24): A look at parallels between covid-19 and the 1900 outbreak of bubonic plague in San Francisco.

“Great Performances: Keeping Company with Sondheim” (9 p.m. May 27): Documentary exploring the legacy of “Company,” the musical by George Furth and Stephen Sondheim.

“Hotel Portofino” (8 p.m. June 19): New drama about a British family that opens an upscale hotel on the Italian coast after World War I starring Natascha McElhone and Mark Umbers.

“The Great American Recipe” (9 p.m. June 24): A new cooking competition featuring home cooks showcasing their signature dishes.

“The Great Muslim American Road Trip” (10 p.m. July 5): Three-part docuseries as a millennial Muslim American couple explores the faith’s roots in America.

“Ken Burns Presents Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness” (9 p.m. June 27 and 28): A window into the daily challenges facing youth ages 11-27 with mental health challenges.

Returning: “Masterpiece: Endeavour” (9 p.m. June 19), “Expedition With Steve Backshall” (10 p.m. July 6), “Masterpiece: Grantchester” (9 p.m. July 10), “COBRA: Cyberwar” (10 p.m. July 10), “Virgin River” (July 20, Netflix), “grown-ish” (10 p.m., Freeform).“Masterpiece: Guilt” (9 p.m. Aug. 28)

You can reach TV writer Rob Owen at or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or Facebook. Ask TV questions by email or phone. Please include your first name and location.

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