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Screen Scene: Dog days of summer TV

Here we are, well into summer 2013, and all I can do is bitch about the parched, dry desert that is cable and network television this time of year. After deep and uncomfortable soul-searching, the truth bubbled up like a hipbone in the La Brea tar pit in Los Angeles.

I miss “Revenge” and I miss “Dancing With The Stars.”

It took their absence for me realize how much I adore (and how often do you get to say adore?) Madeleine Stowe’s portrayal of Hampton’s ice queen, Victoria Grayson. Victoria is every mean girl/bitchy queen/awful rich person imaginable, all rolled into a frosty burrito and injected with steroids and diet pills. I miss watching Victoria make a meal of a strawberry, sideswiping an adversary at the opposite end of a ridiculously long dining room table. Be it friend or be it family, no one’s safe from a verbal ice pick to the jugular.

We un-televised mortals can only imagine possessing such a quick-witted acid-coated saber tongue. Of course many of us can reach the summit of Mount Comeback. We’re mostly capable. We just don’t think of the cracked whip comeback till the next day.

And then there’s beloved “DWTS.” I know that not everyone is a fan. It took me a while to warm up to ballroom dancing too. But my partner hog-tied me and propped my eyes open with toothpicks one fateful evening years ago, and I was an instant devotee.

I got the strength and athleticism that by comparison, puts most whiney NBA players in tiny pink sun dresses. I got the emotional investment these pampered celebrity types acquire in mastering a paso doble. I got how dancing was a huge, leveling factor that knocked most those celebs right off their lofty pedestals.

I came to hugely admire host Tom Bergeron’s consistent, upbeat humor and sarcasm, and I fell in love the judges.

Bruno Tonioli puts the camp back in dance, not like “DWTS” needed more camp, but less is never more in the world of ballroom dancing. Len Goodman is a fabulous cranky old man, really neither that old nor that cranky, but he plays it to the hilt. And Carrie Ann Inaba is cute and funny and has a great name that’s fun to practice pronouncing correctly.

I miss my dancing buddies!

"Cousins On Call" and a wedding

Oh, there has been some big unrelated news. Remember the sexually ambivalent ridiculously attractive guys on “Cousins On Call,” aka “Kitchen Cousins”? Well, John Carrino got married June 22 … to a woman!

That would be the sound of a collective sigh of relief from heterosexual womankind, and that keening wail of lament and bitter disappointment? Well, that would be me. But I digress.

So, no “DWTS,” no “Revenge” and now John Carrino breaks millions of hearts. This is indeed a summer of discontent.

Time to don the ear buds and resort to Netflix and rediscover another old flame: “Upstairs Downstairs.”

Decades before the phenomena that is “Downtown Abbey,” there was an award-winning British drama television series produced by the BBC. “Upstairs Downstairs” depicted the lives of the Bellamy family at 165 Eaton Place in London’s most fashionable Belgravia.

It’s the same era as “Downtown Abbey.” The set isn’t as fabulous and there’s no Maggie Smith, but the costumes and dialog and plot are every bit the equal of “Downtown Abbey.”

My cravings were sated. I watched all 68 episodes of “Upstairs Downstairs” in two weeks.

When at last I emerged from the binge, deeply mourning the final episode, I fumbled at the doorknob with my Howard Hughes fingernails and winced in the unbearably bright daylight. Only then did I truly grasp the depth of withdrawal.

It’d been a close call, but I survived.

There will be more stars tumbling around the dance floor. Bruno will continue to annoy Len, and Carrie Ann will again be touched to tears by at least one dancer’s once-in-lifetime performance.

“Revenge” will return with its dense and nearly unfathomable plot. The ice queen returneth, rested and ready to freeze the hearts of her enemies. Rich people on the East Coast will continue to show the nouveaue riche left coasters how it’s “really” done.

Now, I wonder about Steven King’s “Under The Dome.” Will the new CBS series be a sweet summer shower or further contribution to the desolation that’s summer television?

Only time will tell …

Kurt Niece writes about visual arts for SDGLN. He is a freelance journalist from Lakewood, Ohio. He is the author of "The Breath of Rapture" and an artist who sells his work on his website.