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Summer TV Preview: Much More Than Repeats!

As the traditional season comes to an end and we say goodbye to fan favorites like "Lost" and "24" this week, it's time to look ahead to that television wasteland we call Summer.

Thankfully, with a big assist from cable, the landscape isn't nearly as bleak as it used to be.  In addition to the usual reality fare, many original dramas and even a few scripted sitcoms populate the lineup.

In this article we'll take a peek to see what the next few months have in store for our DVRs.

This is not meant to be a complete run down of every new show this Summer, but we do try to hit on most of the highlights.

Let's go night-by-night...

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MONDAY NIGHTS
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ABC offers up a new season of "The Bachelorette" from 8pm-10pm.  That will be followed in August by a show called "The Bachelor Pad" that features twenty of the "most unforgettable contestants/suitors from the hit franchise" - all living under one roof.

At 10pm, the alphabet network brings us second seasons of their reality shows "True Beauty" (May 31 - July 19) and "Dating in the Dark" (Aug. 9 - Sept. 13).

FOX has new episodes of "Lie to Me" and a new hour-long comedy-drama series called "The Good Guys" starring Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks.

NBC offers up a new season of the reliable "Last Comic Standing" and a new hour-long drama called "Persons Unknown" starring Alan Ruck ("Spin City") and Jason Wiles ("Third Watch"). The show premiers June 7th and the network has ordered 13 episodes.

On cable, ABC Family is offering a three hour block of scripted programs.  Season 3 of "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" followed by the new show "Huge" and season two of "Make It or Break It."

TBS is offering up 10 episodes of a new animated half-hour called "Neighbors from Hell" that comes from a talented collection of writers/creators.

Scripted comedy makes its debut this summer on MTV with the premiere of "The Hard Times of RJ Berger" on June 6th.  The show will air Mondays at 10pm and will be followed by another half-hour comedy called "Warren the Ape" which seems to involve Dr. Drew Pinsky in some way.

TNT brings their viewers "Rizzoli & Isles" starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.  It's based on Tess Gerritsen's popular mystery novels.  And season 6 of "The Closer" starting in July.

"The Good Guys" on FOX

BEST BETS: "The Good Guys" on Fox looks promising and "Neighbors from Hell" on TBS is probably worth sampling.  The fact that MTV is dipping their toe into scripted sitcoms for the Summer is interesting. "Last Comic Standing" looks somewhat promising.


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TUESDAY NIGHTS
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ABC's Summer hit "Wipeout" returns.  Plus a weird new gameshow called "Downfall" that will run for six episodes starting in late June.

From the press release: "Played atop a tall building in the middle of a metropolitan landscape, the game has contestants quickly answer a series of trivia questions against the clock. If they play the perfect game, they could leave with a million dollars in cash and prizes. But if not, they could just as easily see their hopes and dreams slip through their fingers and off the side of the building -- literally."

"Hell's Kitchen" is back on Fox in June.  Gordon Ramsay will also launch a new show on Tuesday nights in July called "Masterchef" that takes amateur chefs - many of whom simply cook as a hobby - and attempt to turn one of them into a culinary master.

On cable, highlights include a sixth season of "Rescue Me" on FX and a new season of "White Collar" on USA.

Jason Lee and Alfre Woodard star in a new "offbeat drama" called "Memphis Heat" on TNT.

In August, Comedy Central introduces a new scripted half-hour comedy called "Big Lake" with heavy SNL involvement.

From the press release: "Produced by Gary Sanchez Productions, the production company led by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, this multi-camera sitcom for COMEDY CENTRAL tells the story of a young man (played by Chris Gethard) who won't let anything get in the way of his big dreams, even if it means losing his job and having to move back in with his parents and sleep on their couch. With the help of his friends, an ex-convict, played by Horatio Sanz ("Saturday Night Live") and a burned-out high-school teacher played by Chris Parnell ("30 Rock"), the trio plan a myriad of well-intentioned schemes to save their hometown, Big Lake."

BEST BETS: Nothing beats "Wipeout" for light Summer fun.  I'm kind of getting burned out by all the Gordon Ramsay on Fox.  "Memphis Heat" sounds sort of interesting.


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WEDNESDAY NIGHTS
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ABC burns off the rest of their bomb "Happy Town" at 10pm during June.

"Psych" on USA

FOX's "So You Think You Can Dance" will take on NBC's "America's Got Talent" in a match-up of reality heavyweights.

NBC's also got some new episodes of "Minute to Win It" airing at 8pm.

Comedy Central has more "Tosh.0" starting June 2.

On Bravo, "Top Chef" comes back on June 16.

USA brings back "Psych" on July 21.

TV Land launches their first original sitcom on June 16.  It's called "Hot in Cleveland" and stars Betty White, Jane Leeves, Valerie Bertinelli and Wendie Malick.

BEST BETS: "Psych" and "Top Chef" are reliable fun.  "Hot in Cleveland" might be worth sampling.


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THURSDAY NIGHTS
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"100 Questions" on NBC

ABC has a new scripted drama called "Rookie Blue" coming in late June.  From the press release: "The series explores the trials, triumphs, competition and camaraderie of Andy and her rookie family -- boyfriends, best friends, mentors and competitors -- who are about to learn that no amount of training can prepare them for life."

FOX has more "So You Think You Can Dance" and the CW has picked up reruns of "Moonlight" - a vampire show that aired on CBS in 2008.

NBC is rolling out a new scripted sitcom at 8:30pm on May 27.  It's called "100 Questions" and will be surrounded by a night of other sitcom repeats.

"The Jersey Shore" returns to MTV for a second season starting on July 29.

USA brings us new seasons of their hits "Burn Notice" and "Royal Pains" starting on June 3.

Comedy Central has ordered 12 new episodes of "Futurama" -- a show that Fox canceled in 2003.  And yes, the original gang is all there.

On CBS, "Big Brother" returns on July 8.

BEST BETS: "Big Brother" is a good way to fill a few hours a week.  "Burn Notice" is the big name of the night. "Futurama" and "Royal Pains" are worth your DVR attention.


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FRIDAY NIGHTS
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NBC's excellent "Friday Night Lights" continues to air through August 6.

FOX burns off episodes of their Spring bomb "Past Life" in the 8pm slot.

On August 20, IFC rolls out "The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town" for an 8 episode run.

From the press release: "For the first time on U.S. television since the end of their cult series, all five original The Kids in the Hall (Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson) reunite in this original, eight-episode "gothic comic murder mystery." The Kids play nearly all of the 20 new characters in their trademark gender-bending style, including The Grim Reaper himself."

SyFy has a new show called "Haven" that's set in Maine and based on a novella by Stephen King.  It debuts on July 9.

BEST BETS: "Friday Night Lights" is head and shoulders above everything else on the night.  The Kids in the Hall are sometimes funny.  "Haven" looks mildly interesting, and my wife loves Stephen King so I know we'll at least sample it.


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SATURDAY NIGHTS
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It's a ghost town.

BEST BET: Go out to the movies or catch up on your DVR.


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SUNDAY NIGHTS
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"Mad Men" on AMC

On ABC, "Scoundrels" is a one-hour comedy/drama series that focuses on a family of small-time criminals who try to go straight after the father is sent to prison.  It's followed by a series called "The Gates" which is some sort of mystery-drama.

FOX burns off the remaining episodes of "Til Death" and "Sons of Tucson" at 7pm.

HBO has new episodes of "True Blood" and "Entourage" starting in June.

TBS has season 4 of "My Boys" which starts on July 25 and runs 9 episodes.

Food Network starts the search for "The Next Food Network Star" on June 6.

AMC has season 4 of "Mad Men" and a new show called "Rubicon" - "Mad Men" returns July 25 and "Rubicon" joins it on August 1.

BEST BETS:  Lots of good stuff.  "Mad Men" will dominate the critical talk.  "True Blood" and "Entourage" will likely dominate the water cooler.  While "Sons of Tucson" is cancelled, it's still an amusing sitcom and could be a nice diversion while you wait for the real stuff to return in September.

1 Responses »

  1. The show "Lie to Me" is amazing. Be sure to watch it. I think you can catch reruns on Hulu.com.

    I will predict that television as we know it (cable and public television) has less than two years before they are not viable. When Google enters the market all bets are off. They have touted it as the station with a million channels.

    We have watched the Internet the past year. With Hulu, you can catch most shows and the commercial breaks are seconds not minutes. One night we spent the evening watching five minute clips on YouTube. When Google packages this into sensible channels - tv watch out.

    You will be just as likely to watch material shot by a first grader than by NBC.

    In the mean time, Fringe, Lie to me, 24, Royal Pains and several others are fine with me. Otherwise, I can watch missed 24 season four and check out a real movie at REDBOX for one dollar.

    On our last vacation, we would pick up a REDBOX movie in one city, watch it and then return it in another city. ONE BUCK!

    One last note: Forty years ago one of the greatest comedy albums was cut by the name of "TV DINNERS." It contained about ten or fifteen short Saturday Night Live skits - sound only. One of the skits was "Catch it and you keep it." It was a game show where people dressed up like on Let's Make a Deal to catch items thrown from the top of a building. One guy kept yelling, "Throw it to me, I'm dressed as a turnip." The new show you mentioned sounds like they got hold of that album.

    Another funny skit on that album was "Land a Million." One contestant would be flown to 40,000 ft in a 747. The pilot would parachute out and if the contestant could answer the questions correctly, they'd be taught to fly the plane. Look for that show in 2015.