Season Of The Niche
Reruns be damned: TV has something for everyone this summer, from sword-weilding superheroes to chocolate-covered Olsen twins
Sci Fi Channel, premieres July 14, 9 p.m.
In this darkly comic series, all of those Weekly World News-esque tales of alien visitations and Elvis sightings are the stuff that Pulitzers are made of — at least they would be if the Man weren’t keeping a lid on them. Explains creator Silvio Horta (”Urban Legends”), ”We’d seen the ‘X-Files’ routine done many times, and I thought, ‘We’ve established that the truth is out there, so let’s have some fun with it.”’ In keeping with that sci-fi standby, ”The Chronicle”’s reporters include a skeptic named Tucker Burns (Chad Willett) and dyed-in-the-wool believer Grace Hall (”Ed”’s Rena Sofer), while the huffy editor in chief (Jon Polito) and the snout-nosed archivist ”Pig Boy” (”Revenge of the Nerds” vet Curtis Armstrong) provide the comic relief. Among ”The Chronicle”’s future stories: ”I See Dead Fat People,” about a house built on the ashes of a weight-loss clinic, and ”What Gobbles Beneath,” featuring a ”tumor monster” that kills cell-phone users. The show’s very un-tabloidy choice thus far has been to avoid celebrity-based plotlines, but, says Horta, ”you never know. Britney Spears is not human, so…” — Mike Flaherty
Comedy Central, premieres Aug. 5, midnight
For those of you early-to-bed, early-to-rise types who have always wondered how the other, sun-phobic half lives, let comedian Dave Attell (the ”Ugly American” commentator on ”The Daily Show”) be your tour guide. Each week Attell explores the bizarre overnight life (12 a.m. to 6 a.m.) of America’s big cities, in a show inspired by his own experiences as a road comic where ”I do the show, I go drinking, and usually don’t hook up — because I’m Dave Attell, not Dave Matthews. And then I’m basically killing time until I have to do early-morning radio.” He’ll talk to night- shifters at work (like riding with a mortuary pickup service) and at play (cruising with a gay biker gang in San Francisco and seeing a cockfight training camp in Tijuana). But Attell swears that whatever he does see, he won’t judge. ”Nothing creeps me out,” he says. ”It doesn’t matter what you do — as long as you don’t do it behind an animal.” — Josh Wolk
Food Network, premieres July 17, 10:30 p.m.
Behind the music goes to the supermarket in this new series that documents the origin, manufacturing, and marketing of classic American munchies. Some episodes are devoted to a specific foodstuff (bubble gum, beer, peanut butter), while others center on a gastronomic theme (lunch-box treats, movie candy, ”crazy drinks”). ”The idea is [to feature] really fun, memory-evoking food,” says Food Network VP of programming Kathleen Finch. ”Pop-culture icons as opposed to staples.” About as healthful as things get is an installment on breakfast cereal, in which we learn that it takes 20 million pounds of marshmallows each year to keep Lucky Charms magically delicious, as well as which athlete has made the most appearances on the Wheaties box (18-timer Michael Jordan). More typical of ”Unwrapped”’s junk food fare is an episode on ”I dare you” candies, those confections ”that turn your mouth blue or make your eyes water,” explains Finch, adding ”I think you have to be under a certain age to not find that kind of stuff disgusting.” Mmmmm…count us in. — Mike Flaherty