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5 of Summer's Most Overlooked TV Shows

Tim Goodman's picks for what to watch before fall

"The Honourable Woman" Sales: BBC Worldwide
'The Honorable Woman'

This story first appeared in the Aug. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

The Honorable Woman, SundanceTV

This eight-episode limited series (episode four aired Aug. 21) arguably is the best show on television at the moment — a riveting, complicated, timely espionage thriller about Israel, Palestine and the conflict's ties to the U.S. and Britain. Star Maggie Gyllenhaal is exceptional, and the writing and directing are top tier. It's kind of stunning that more people aren't talking about it. Now's your chance to change that.

Available at sundance.tv

Manhattan, WGN America

Once WGN stepped into the scripted game with Salem, it didn't look back, and its second effort is surprisingly accomplished. Viewers might wonder if they even get the channel, which would explain why Manhattan's first season (episode five airs Aug. 24) is under the radar. But the story of America's rush to build the first atomic bomb, and the scientists who moved to the New Mexico desert to do so, is sharply written, acted and directed.

Available on Hulu

Penny Dreadful, Showtime

Here's one on which you'll have to play catch-up as this unique horror series starring Eva Green and Josh Hartnett wrapped its first eight-episode season June 29. A blend of influences from mainstays of the genre (Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, various vampires, etc.), the show, created by John Logan, was far more intriguing and sophisticated than expected — and has more gravitas than bigger-buzz horror series like The Strain.

Available on Showtime Anytime

RectifySundanceTV

Here's a perfect example of how massive critical acclaim can't always get the world to watch. The first season of Rectify, which emerged as a poster series for Slow TV, was a revelation — the incredible tale of a man on death row for murdering his teenage girlfriend, his subsequent release and his slow return to civilization. The second season (the final episode aired Aug. 21) has generated dramatically less watercooler chatter, though the quality hasn't diminished in the slightest.

Available at sundance.tv

The DivideWE tv

This, perhaps, has been summer's biggest surprise. WE tv's first original scripted series (the eight-episode season's finale airs Aug. 27), from screenwriter Richard LaGravenese and Tony Goldwyn, is a Philadelphia-set drama about a high-profile murder case that saw an innocent man executed 11 years after the fact. But it goes deeper than that and features shockingly good performances by Marin Ireland, Damon Gupton and Paul Schneider.

Available at wetv.com