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Networks Pour Cash Into Summer Programming

Our top picks for off-season TV

The broadcast season is over. Permanently. That’s not to say that a bunch of new series won’t be back in the fall, but you no longer have to watch reruns and reality shows during the summer—and you may not have to ever again.

Ratings for postseason unscripted shows have been dismal in recent weeks, and major players from Fox to Syfy have been dumping cash into summertime viewing after witnessing the successes of series like CBS’ Under the Dome (returning for a second season June 30 at 10 p.m.).

Of course, it’s not all going to be great, so we watched as many pilots as we could get our hands on, making our picks for original series into the summer (and beyond) across genres, networks and media platforms. Enjoy.

Garfunkel & Oates / IFC / Aug. 7 at 10
Garfunkel and Oates are two very, very funny comediennes whose musical stylings include such crowd-pleasers as “Gay Boyfriend” and “Pregnant Women Are Smug.” Hopefully, their IFC show will be as offensive as their other offerings.

The Leftovers HBO / June 29 at 10
Based on Tom Perrotta’s novel about the aftermath of the Rapture (maybe?), Perrotta himself is writing and showrunning the series for HBO, with sci-fi guy Damon Lindelof. The pilot plays like a cross between Walking Dead and The Ice Storm, a creepy study in the junction of cosmic horror and personal sadness.

Tyrant / FX / June 24 at 10
An upside-down version of Homeland, this FX series stars Adam Rayner as a family man pulled back to the land of his birth, a war-torn dictatorship ruled by his father. The pilot is so tense it’s hard to watch—you know what’s going to happen, you just want to believe that it won’t. It does.

Extant / CBS / July 9 at 9
CBS went sci-fi with Under the Dome last year and it paid off huge; now it’s doubling down with an even more expensive, stranger story starring Halle Berry, with writers who mostly worked on NBC’s late, lamented Las Vegas. It looks scary and cool, and the psycho robot kid is definitely up our alley.

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