Summer used to be a time of reruns, but no more. Now summer TV is its own event, with cable and broadcast networks pulling up a whole new crop of shows. And here's the bad news for those of you who planned to get off the couch this summer: A lot of the summer series look great. Here are 10 great reasons to keep the remote control close at hand:
No. 10: "Saving Grace" (starts July 18, TNT)
I could watch Holly Hunter in practically anything, so it's really just a bonus that her new TNT series looks good. Hunter plays a hard-charging detective who drinks too much, sleeps with too many guys and generally plays by her own rules. But then a tragedy drives her to break down and ask for help — which comes in the form of an unconventional angel named Earl.
No. 9: "State of Mind" (starts July 15, Lifetime)
I know what you're thinking: "Lifetime? As in the Original Pictures about victimized women?" But now that I've been pleasantly surprised by the compelling "Army Wives," Lifetime has earned a little more credibility in my eyes. And now this series about a psychotherapist with personal problems of her own has at least three good things going for it: 1) Lili Taylor (right), who always delivers the right combo of charm and angst; 2) the producing team that brought us "Nip/Tuck" and "The Closer"; and 3) Devon Gummersall, aka Brian Krackow from "My So-Called Life." Yeah, I'm so there.
To see the other 8, read more
No. 8: "Hex" (on Saturdays, BBC America)
I don't know how I missed out on the first season of this show, which sounds essentially like a British "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": Ella, a sassy young witch, must use her powers to save humanity, aided by a passel of ghost-friends and fallen angels. The show gets bonus points for describing its characters as "hexy beasts" (side note: from looking at the cast page, apparently blunt-cut bangs help your witching powers).
No. 7: "Damages" (starts July 24, FX)
FX apparently liked Glenn Close's guest-starring role in "The Shield" so much, the network gave her a show of her own. In "Damages," she plays a big-time, high-stakes lawyer who starts questioning whether she's ruthless enough to maintain her place at the top. Along for the ride is a young associate who's just now learning what it takes to win. Legal shows often make me yawn, but I'm hopeful this one will have just enough FX edginess to hold my interest.
No. 6: "Californication" (starts Aug. 13, Showtime)
David Duchovny (the mere mention of whom always makes me get this song stuck in my head) returns to TV in this dark comedy, focusing on a blunt, self-destructive novelist trying to raise his 13-year-old daughter and still maintain his sex-obsessed, alcohol-fueled lifestyle.
No. 5: "So You Think You Can Dance" (on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Fox)
I've already admitted that I like this show more than "Idol," and that goes double for when the competition rounds start June 13. The show never fails to keep me entertained, and I'm not ashamed to say I sometimes end up dancing around my living room practicing my own terrible versions of the moves.
No. 4: "The Company" (starts Aug. 5, TNT)
Here's a nerdy thing about me: I'm weirdly fascinated with the CIA and spy culture in general. So this three-part, six-hour miniseries sounds like it will be right up my alley. Based on a novel by Robert Littell, the show depicts Cold War-era CIA agents trapped in double lives. Alfred Molina and Chris O'Donnell star in the miniseries, which is produced by Ridley Scott.
No. 3: "Creature Comforts" (on Mondays, CBS)
Yes, I'm going to talk about this show again, just because I don't want to be the only one watching it! I love the Claymation critters, the "Studs Terkel meets Shaun the Sheep" premise, and the fact that CBS took a risk by airing such an unconventional show. I'm afraid it's too smart to be on network TV, but I'm hoping viewers will prove me wrong.
No. 2: HBO Sundays
Anyone wondering how HBO is going to fill the void of "The Sopranos" leaving should look no further than the new Sunday lineup. There's "John from Cincinnati", a spacey surf-noir from the creator of "Deadwood." There's the fourth season of Hollywood humor from the "Entourage" boys. There's the hilarious pseudo-reality "Flight of the Conchords" featuring folk-song parodies and my man Jemaine Clement. Throw in a "Big Love" repeat (new episodes of that one will air Monday nights), and I can't see why I'd ever change the channel.
No. 1: "Weeds" (Showtime, starts August 13)
I literally cannot say enough about this show. It's hilarious, it's heartwarming, it has Mary Louise Parker, and it's quirky enough that it never, ever becomes predictable. The cast is outstanding, and I must admit I'm pretty curious to see what Mary-Kate Olsen adds to the show. Hopefully crazy Kat (played amazingly by Zooey Deschanel) will be around, too. Season two ended with an incredible set of cliffhangers (spoiler alert). Peter the DEA Agent is dead! The guns are pointed at Nancy and Conrad! Silas is about to be discovered with the entire crop of weed in his trunk! Sigh, August 13 cannot come fast enough.
"Weeds" and "Californication" photos courtesy of Showtime
"Creature Comforts" photo courtesy of CBS
"Flight of the Conchords" picture courtesy of HBO
"Saving Grace" and "The Company" photos courtesy of TNT
"Damages" photo courtesy of FX
"So You Think You Can Dance" photo courtesy of Fox
"Hex" photo Source
Lili Taylor photo Source