Watch the skies. There's a sharknado warning this week.
A year after a Syfy's original movie about a cyclone full of deadly marine predators took Twitter by storm, Sharknado's back to take another bite with its sequel this week. Plus, Gravity Falls returns to delight Disney viewers, an autopsy on The Strain, and more shark craziness with Saturday's Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda.
Check out the week in TV below. What's on your watchlist?
Highlights of the Week
Sharknado 2: The Second One (Syfy) Wednesday, 9 p.m.
Original movie premiere! - Last year, Syfy took its low-budget monster movie releases to the next level with the prime-time, weeknight unveiling of Sharknado, and something really caught on. Those gloriously cheesy 90 minutes of airtime picked up solid ratings and, of course, an incredible response on social media. Even if everyone wasn't watching Sharknado, reading Twitter that night certainly made it seem like it. So it was no surprise that Syfy ordered a sequel. This Wednesday night, Twitter is expected to light up again as a sharknado hits New York City, but the big question for the moment is just how much. Fans who bought into the cornball fun of Sharknado last year will likely be coming back for more, but will they show up with the same enthusiasm? And perhaps more importantly, will they bring some friends? Sharknado seemed like a perfect storm (pun intended) for Syfy, and now we get to see if lightning will strike twice, and if it could spell a ratings boost. Check out a preview for the film below.
The Quest (ABC) Thursday, 8 p.m. - "The Quest Begins"
Series premiere! - If you're a fan of live-action role playing, or immersing yourself in a virtual fantasy world like that of Warcraft or Skyrim, then you might find something to like in this new ABC competition fantasy series, which will immerse 12 contestants in a fantasy world known as "Everealm." They'll go on a quest through a world where fantasy creatures and threats are lurking everywhere. That's the idea, anyway. It might seem a little counterintuitive to base a "reality" show on a genre that is so heavily focused on make-believe, and we might not be able to expect the same level of fantasy detail that hardcore fans are used to, but depending on how this series develops from week to week, it could become a new obsession for anyone who's ever taken a Lord of the Rings sword replica out into the backyard to play. Check out a preview below.
Gravity Falls (Disney) Friday, 9 p.m. - "Scary-oke"
Season premiere! - Gravity Falls returns for its second season this week, and because it's both a critically acclaimed and highly popular animated series that's attracted a crossover audience just like Adventure Time, we're including it here. This series, about a pair of siblings and the strange paranormal adventures they have while living with their uncle in the titular town, struck a serious chord with viewers of all ages when it premiered two years ago, and at its peak in the spring of 2013 it drew in 4.5 million viewers. The show's popularity and devoted fandom earned it a second season, but apart from a few shorts, fans haven't seen new Gravity Falls adventures since last August. This Friday that changes, and as season two dawns, the show has a chance to grow its audience even more thanks to a year of word-of-mouth and reruns. Will it? We'll find out. Check out a preview below.
Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda (Syfy) Saturday 9 p.m.
Conan O'Brien alert! - Because one of dose of shark-themed mayhem might not be enough for you this week, Syfy will follow its Sharknado 2 rollout with the Saturday night premiere of another original movie, pitting a Sharktopus against another horrible example of science gone wrong, the half-barracuda, half-pterodactyl Pteracuda. Produced by cult movie legend Roger Corman, the film promises to deliver even more corny fun to fans of things like Sharknado, and also features an appearance by Conan host Conan O'Brien, who was so pleased that he'd become a movie star that he both premiered a clip of the film on his show and had Corman on to promote it. Check out a preview below.
The Strain (FX) Sunday, 10 p.m. - "It's Not For Everyone"
It's time to check in and see how The Strain's doing after a couple of weeks on the air, and it turns out there's a fairly interesting ratings discussion to be had here.
The show was heavily hyped in the leadup to its premiere, thanks in part to its the heavy involvement of Guillermo del Toro. Also, it seemed to promise a different, more visceral kind of horror experience than other series offer us, as well as a very different take on TV vampires than the one we've seen for years over on True Blood. The show was expected to perform well, and its series premiere did not disappoint, pulling in nearly 3 million viewers, establishing itself as FX's top new show of the year and ranking as one of the two biggest cable premieres of the summer, alongside TNT's The Last Ship.
The show's live numbers for its premiere were impressive enough, but here's where thing get interesting: FX didn't actually tout the show's ratings until they could get "Live+3" numbers from Nielsen, and when those were factored in, the audience in the key 18-49 demographic jumped by more than 60 percent, and its total viewers jumped by more than 50 percent. The growth was so impressive that the network also projected that, when Live+7 numbers and digital purchases were factored in, the premiere could've been watched by as many as 10 million total viewers.
Episode two's numbers (we don't have the episode three numbers from last night yet) dropped off from the premiere, which is to be expected, but they didn't drop much, and we can probably expected a similar climb in numbers each week as viewers pick up the show several days after it airs via their DVRs. The bottom line here is that The Strain is doing well for FX, so well that it could end up being the network's most-watched show, depending on how the rest of the season goes.
But that's not the only interesting thing to discuss. By holding its ratings scores back until Live+3 data was gathered, FX made a statement about the popularity of The Strain: A lot of young viewers watch it, and a lot of young viewers also like to watch their shows at their own pace. We all know the TV environment is evolving, and that we're watching things differently thanks to plenty of new options, but FX is outright acknowledging that, and changing the way they talk about their hits, by waiting for DVR numbers to come in. Earlier this month, at a Television Critics Association presentation, it was reported that NBC's acclaimed sitcom Parks and Recreation actually had an audience boost of as much as 50 percent when DVR numbers were factored in, but the numbers that were widely reported were usually only the live ones. That gave the impression that Parks and Recreaction was an acclaimed show that didn't actually have many viewers, when in fact the audience was actually significantly larger. With The Strain, FX is pulling back the curtain to reveal that larger audience, and so far it's paying off.
This week, an autopsy reveals shocking new information about the disease, Jim makes a confession, and Ansel takes desperate measures to protect his family. Check out a preview below.
Monday, July 28
Under the Dome (CBS) 10 p.m. - "Reconciliation"
Joe and Norrie help Melanie search for clues to her identity. Julia takes over as leader of a divided town.
Teen Wolf (MTV) 10 p.m. - "Orphaned"
Derek and Malia track an old ally, while Scott must help an enemy.
Tuesday, July 29
Face Off (Syfy) 9 p.m. - "American Gangster"
The contestants enter the world of Dick Tracy for their next creations.
The Wil Wheaton Project (Syfy) 10 p.m. - "Wil Master: Axis of Wheaton"
On this week's episode, Wil's talking Comic-Con.
Wednesday, July 30
Extant (CBS) 9 p.m. - "Shelter"
With Sparks on their trail, Molly and her family have no choice but to seek shelter with her estranged father.
Wilfred (FXX) 10 p.m. - "Responsibility"
Wilfred confronts his an enemy while Ryan helps his mother adjust.
Thursday, July 31
Defiance (Syfy) 8 p.m. - "If You Could See Her Through My Eyes"
Datak turns to an unlikely ally after he's framed for murder, while Irisa learns more about her destiny.
Dominion (Syfy) 9 p.m. - "Ouroboros"
When innocent angels turn up dead, Michael seeks Alex's help to protect the rest.
Adventure Time (TOON) 7 p.m. - "Princess Day"
LSP and Marceline team up to prank Breakfast Princess on Princess Day.
Teen Titans Go! (TOON) 6 p.m. - "Brian"
The Brain captures the Titans for Project B.R.I.A.N., and their little buddies are their only hope.
Friday, August 1
The Almighty Johnsons (Syfy) 10 p.m. - "You Gotta Love Life, Babe"
War breaks out between two of the brothers. Olaf gets a blast from the past.
Saturday, August 2
Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda is on, and if you're not seeing that, you'll probably be out catching Guardians of the Galaxy.
Sunday, August 3
True Blood (HBO) 9 p.m. - "May be the Last Time"
Eric and Pam close in on Sarah, while Sookie seeks a miracle.
The Leftovers (HBO) 10 p.m. - "Guest"
While heading to an annual convention for Departure Related Occupations and Practices, Nora has several unexpected encounters.
The Lottery (Lifetime) 10 p.m. - "Greater Good"
Alison makes a discovery while Vanessa, Darius and President Westwood face a hostage crisis.
Falling Skies (TNT) 10 p.m. - "Saturday Night Massacre"
Tom and the 2nd Mass join forces with the Volm to face the Espheni invasion.
The Last Ship (TNT) 9 p.m. - "SOS"
Chandler stages a rescue attempt after receiving a distress call near Jamaica.
Manhattan (WGN) 10 p.m. - "The Prisoner's Dilemma"
The wives find creative ways to survive, while Frank faces the consequences of attempting to save his team.
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC) 10 p.m. - "1984"
Season finale! - A suspicious defect in the Giant threatens to cause a rift between Joe and Gordon.