Mr. TV: Heat Seeking

Now that the fall lineups have been announced, it’s time once again for the broadcast networks to bombard us with repeats galore; burn-off episodes of canceled series like CBS’ Mimi Medical and Three Rivers; and nonscripted nonsense like (deep breath, please) America’s Got Talent, The Bachelorette, Dating in the Dark, Last Comic Standing, Shaq vs., True Beauty, Wipeout and, my personal guilty pleasure, Big Brother.

I know, I’m not in the most appealing demo. But there’s just something appealing about a group of often scantily clad twenty- or thirtysomethings, plus one or two old geezers hanging out in a house to see who can survive the longest.

The good news is there are some new scripted network dramas, including ABC’s The Gates, Rookie Blue and Scoundrels; and Fox’s Code 58 and recently introduced The Good Guys. Still, the pessimist in me is wary. Can a scripted summer series debut from one of the Big Four be all that good?   I mean, the last time a network introduced a new scripted series in the summer that was worth watching was CBS with Northern Exposure—20 years ago!

Cable, which is never aggressive during the traditional season, always steps up to the plate
in these hot summer months. And June through August will include a potpourri of returning original goodies like AMC’s Mad Men; FX’s Rescue Me; HBO’s True Blood, Entourage and Hung; TNT’s The Closer, Leverage and the final season of Saving Grace; and USA’s Burn Notice, Psych and Royal Pains. As we wait for the new fall entries, let me give you sneak peek of worthwhile new offerings.

TBS is dipping its toe in the animated sitcom department with Neighbors From Hell, the story of a so-called all-American family that is sent to Earth by Satan. It launches Monday, June 7 at 10 p.m. One night later, ABC Family, the growing home of successful youth-oriented dramas, has a new one: Pretty Little Liars, featuring four 16-year-old girls who begin receiving text messages from a mutual friend who has mysteriously disappeared.

If you love the ageless Betty White—and who doesn’t?—her new TV Land sitcom, Hot in Cleveland, opens on Wednesday, June 16 at 10 p.m.  The series features Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick as three uppity Californians who rediscover themselves after their plane unexpectedly lands in Cleveland. On Monday, June 14 at 10:30 p.m., MTV launches Warren the Ape, the tale a brash, cantankerous and out of work puppet who tries to clean up his act with the help of Dr. Drew Pinsky. Sometimes, stupid laughs are the most refreshing entertainment in the summer, and it’s nice to see Dr. Drew poke fun at his normally stoic self.

On Tuesday, June 22 at 10 p.m., TNT kicks off its next scripted series, Memphis Beat, which focuses on a quirky, set-in-his-ways Memphis police detective (Jason Lee) who rubs his demanding new boss (Alfre Woodard) the wrong way. Two nights later (Thursday, June 24 at 9 p.m.) comes ABC’s Rookie Blue, centered on five ambitious cops right out of the Police Academy. While I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of crime dramas, anything with Alfre Woodard is worth a look. I’ve already seen the pilot, and it’s good.

July will feature the debuts of Rizzoli & Isles from TNT (Monday, July 12, 10 p.m.), with Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander as a detective and medical examiner who work together to solve crimes in Boston (Lorraine Bracco and Chazz Palminteri play Rizzoli’s folks); and USA’s Covert Affairs (Wednesday, July 13, 10 p.m.), a spy thriller with Piper Perabo as a CIA trainee unexpectedly promoted to field operative.

If it’s a reality docudrama you seek and you have no interest in anyone named Kardashian, I have a good one for you: Oxygen’s Jersey Couture (pronounced “Joisy”), the reality tale of an outspoken and overdressed family who happen to run one of the state’s top formal dress shops. It opens on Tuesday, June 1 at 10 p.m., and, just as you might suspect, it’s loud.