In addition to the return of "Damages" next week -- see the review in the Post-Gazette's Sunday TV Week this weekend -- DirecTV's Audience Network debuts an original series, "Hit & Miss" (10 p.m. Wednesday), which lives up to its title.
With a premise that mixes "Dexter," "Shameless," "Party of Five" and "Boys Don't Cry," "Hit & Miss" does not lack ambition. But with awkward, often slow pacing, the series sometimes lacks a pulse. But don't blame star Chloe Sevigny, who comes to "Hit & Miss" after a five-season stint as ball-of-rage sister wife Nicolette Grant on HBO's "Big Love."
Ms. Sevigny, a fantastic actress who's clearly up for any challenge, stars in "Hit & Miss" as Mia, a pre-operative transgender assassin. The show reveals Mia's birth gender in a full-frontal nude scene just a few minutes into the premiere episode.
Mia's sexual identity ultimately plays a small role in driving the story on "Hit & Miss." She learns her ex-girlfriend has died from cancer and unbeknownst to Mia until now, when she was with Wendy, Mia fathered a son, Ryan (Jorden Bennie). Now 11, Ryan is a sensitive boy desperately in need of parental guidance.
The same goes for Wendy's other children. Riley (Karla Crome), 16, is sleeping with a local farmer; Levi (Reece Noi), tries to become the man of the house but is in over his head; Leone (Roma Christensen), 5, is the baby of the bunch. Turns out, Wendy left her brood in Mia's care, and now Mia must balance caring for children with her job as a contract killer.
The pilot also introduces Ben (Jonas Armstrong, "Robin Hood") as a potential love interest for Mia and Eddie (Peter Wight) as Mia's genuinely concerned-for-her-well-being crime underworld boss.
Laconic in its pacing and relentlessly downbeat, this British-American co-production ups its weird quotient with a scene in the show's second episode when Mia has what can only be described as a Pinocchio moment. It's meant to be honest but it comes off as bizarre, off-putting and unintentionally funny. It also calls into question whether the producers have enough story planned for "Hit & Miss" to go the distance or if they will, by necessity, rely on weird distractions to maintain viewer interest.
Created by Paul Abbott (the original British "Shameless") and written by Sean Conway, "Hit & Miss" offers some strong building blocks as its foundation. But it remains to be seen whether the series will be capable of using the unquestionable talent of Ms. Sevigny and the rest of the cast to build a show that's compelling enough to convince viewers its worth tuning in on a weekly basis.
Fans of ABC's past summer docuseries "Hopkins" and "Boston Med," take note: The same producers are back with a new, eight-part medical docuseries, "NY Med" (10 p.m. Tuesday, WTAE).
For a year cameras followed doctors, nurses and patients at Columbia and Weill Cornell Medical Centers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City and at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn.
Heart surgeon Mehmet Oz (star of TV's "Dr. Oz") appears in the series, although a nurse tells him, "I haven't seen you in a long time."
Next week's series premiere includes serious surgeries and more lighthearted maladies.
"He apparently took a Cialis and his erection didn't go down. And before he got here he was erect for 12 hours," explains ER nurse Marina Dedivanovic about one patient's condition.
"It's alive, it's alive," she says later. Ms. Dedivanovic appears in multiple episodes of the series, as do several other doctors and nurses.
WTAE's 26th annual Project Bundle-Up Auction began Tuesday with more than 400 items auctioned online through July 31 at WTAE.com (click on "Community"). Each week more than 100 items will be auctioned, including autographed sports collectibles from the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates.
This week HBO renewed "The Newsroom" for a second season and "True Blood" for a sixth go-around.
Turner-owned networks sent out a slew of renewal notices late last week. TBS sitcom "Men at Work" will be back with new episodes in 2013 as will TNT's "Dallas" and "Rizzoli & Isles."
In addition, A&E renewed "Longmire" for a second season. And in an unusual move, after canceling the drama "Unforgettable" in May, CBS uncanceled the show last week, ordering 13 new episodes to air next summer.
FX's debut of Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management" last week was the most-watched prime-time comedy premiere in cable history, drawing 5.4 million viewers, with the second episode doing even better (5.7 million viewers).
MTV's "Awkward" returned for its second season last week with 2.2 million viewers, a 29 percent increase over the show's July 2011 series premiere.
WQED's "Pittsburgh From the Air II" has a premiere date: 8 p.m. Oct. 4. The program also will be available for purchase on DVD. The first edition covered winter and spring; this sequel will cover summer through fall. ... At 4 p.m. Sunday WQED will air "Small Farm Rising," a 60-minute film by 1990 Kiski School grad Ben Stechschulte, about a new generation of American farmers. The former Edgewood resident now makes his home in Madison, N.J., but his mother, Gwin Reinhold, lives in Mt. Lebanon. ... A one-hour "Portlandia" special about the making of the second-season brunch episode will air at 11 p.m. July 20. ... G4 will replay "Lost" in order from its first episode Mondays at 9 beginning July 16. Four episodes will air each Monday. ... CMT will air reruns of "Reba" and "Yes, Dear" beginning Aug. 1. ... Longtime CBS News correspondent Bill Geist announced on "CBS Sunday Morning" that he's been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. ... OWN airs a two-part special, "Oprah Builds a Network" (9 p.m. July 8 and 15) about Oprah Winfrey's first year as CEO of OWN, as part of the effort to get Ms. Winfrey on her own network more often. ... NBC will air Saturday morning kids shows from Sprout beginning this weekend, including "Noodle & Doodle," "Pajanimals," "Lazy Town" and "The Wiggles." The block will air on Pittsburgh's WPXI 12-2:30 p.m. Saturday. ... TCM will remember the late Andy Griffith with four of his films airing July 18: "A Face in the Crowd" (8 p.m.), "No Time for Sergeants" (10:15 p.m.), "Hearts of the West" (12:30 a.m.) and "Onionhead" (2:15 a.m.). ... TV Land will celebrate the life and work of the late Andy Griffith with an "Andy Griffith Show" marathon 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Today's TV Q&A column responds to questions about "Suits," football overruns and weather cut-ins. This week's Tuned In Journal includes posts on Katee Sackhoff of "Longmire" and Warren Littlefield's "Top of the Rock" book about the rise and fall of NBC. Read online-only TV content at post-gazette.com/tv.
This week's podcast includes conversation about "Episodes," "Awkward" and "Anger Management." Subscribe or listen at post-gazette.com/podcast.
TV writer Rob Owen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2582. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook for breaking TV news. First Published July 6, 2012 4:00 AM