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Your Guide to Summer's Scripted Shows, From 'Louie' to 'Breaking Bad' to 'Teen Wolf'

by Maureen Ryan, posted Jun 2nd 2011 10:15AM
Your DVR won't get much time off this summer.

Dozens of scripted shows will be debuting and returning in the next couple of months, and some of our favorite shows have cooked up major twists and/or intriguing guest-star rosters.

Below you'll find return dates and some intel on the scripted shows that will be arriving in June and July. And if you're dying to know the top 5 shows I'm looking forward to this summer, they are ...

In no particular order, the shows that I'm most keen to see during what we in Chicago call Heat-'n'-Humidity Season: 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' (I've seen one episode and have tons of on-set interviews I'll be posting in coming weeks); 'Louie;' 'Alphas' (a Syfy drama I haven't seen yet); 'Breaking Bad;' and 'Burn Notice.'

I didn't count 'Men of a Certain Age' because it's already back (and you should be watching) and I didn't count 'Battlestar Galactica' because I've already seen it but I hope that newcomers will check out the show when it begins airing on BBC America June 11.

By the way, before we get to the summer scripted roster, I just want you to know that we've also got a rundown of premiere dates for summer reality-competition shows here, and a list of premieres, specials and finales for June only is here.

Wednesday June 1

'Men of a Certain Age,' returns 10PM ET, TNT: I'm a fan of 'Men,' to put it mildly. Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula star as three guys trying to navigate middle age gracefully. My recent interview with Romano is here.

'Franklin & Bash,' debuts 9PM ET, TNT: Dude! The law is so rad! Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar star as two buddies who practice law at an uptight firm run by a mildly eccentric rich guy (Malcolm McDowell). My review of this unimpressive show is here.

Thursday, June 2

'Love Bites,' debuts 10PM ET, NBC: Summer Burn-Off Theatre arrives with this NBC comedy, the premiere of which kept getting pushed back until it got pushed off the regular-season schedule entirely. We're sure that's because the show just too good for us to handle, and NBC's just looking out for our welfare.

'Childrens Hospital,' returns midnight ET, Adult Swim: It started as a Web series, but it's good, satiric fun no matter where you catch it. For the third season of this hospital-drama parody, creator Rob Corddry once again works with a very talented cast, which includes Lake Bell, Erinn Hayes, Rob Huebel, Ken Marino, Megan Mullally and Henry Winkler.

Sunday, June 5

'The Glades,' returns 10PM ET, A&E: In its first season, I found the cocky lead character of this Florida-set drama, transplanted Chicago cop Jim Longworth (Matt Passmore), hard to take, but apparently others didn't: 'The Glades' was the most-watched drama series in A&E's history, averaging 3.1 million total viewers every week, according to the network. Many 'Glades' fans yelled at me on Twitter when I voiced my amazement at the show's second season renewal last fall, so in the interest of fairness, I'll check out season 2 and report back on whether Jim has grown on me.

'Teen Wolf,' debuts 11PM ET, MTV: As we learned from 'Bionic Woman,' 'Knight Rider' and David E. Kelley's aborted 'Wonder Woman' project, remaking iconic pop-culture properties from the past always works out really well. This version of the show apparently won't be quite as light as the 1985 Michael J. Fox movie; the MTV version will emphasize the more serious, angst-y side of werewolf life. Yes, I just typed the words "serious" and "werewolf" in the same sentence. Moving on...

(Sidebar: Speaking of NBC's 'Wonder Woman' remake, you simpy must read Topless Robot's take on David E. Kelley's 'W.W.' pilot, which didn't get picked up, which won't surprise you once you read this hilarious review of the appalling pilot.)

Tuesday, June 7

'White Collar,' returns 9PM ET, USA: Hilarie Burton ('One Tree Hill'), who played Neal Caffrey's love interest Sarah last season, joins this USA drama as a series regular when it returns. I will continue to occasionally watch mainly for Matt Bomer's blue eyes and for appearances by Mozzie (Willie Garson). Also, sure, Bomer and co-star Tim DeKay have an amusing and entertaining rapport. There's that.

'Covert Affairs,' returns 10PM ET, USA: Has 'Covert' upped its game in season 2? I'll soon be watching the season 2 DVDs that USA sent and reporting back on that. Despite this spy show's 'Alias' flavor, I must admit that, for me, Piper Perabo is no Jennifer Garner, but I do like the supporting cast, which includes Christopher Gorham, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Kari Matchett, Anne Dudek and Peter Gallagher.

Saturday, June 11

'Battlestar Galactica,' reruns begin 10PM ET, BBC America: Never seen the show? Catch up with every (uncut) episode, which the U.S. version of the Beeb will air in its entirety. It's only one of my favorite shows ever (here's the evidence), so check it out if you haven't yet had the chance.

Sunday, June 12

'The Protector,' debuts 10PM ET, Lifetime: Ally Walker ('Sons of Anarchy,' 'Profiler') stars as a woman juggling a career as an LAPD homicide detective and the busy life of a single mother.

Tuesday, June 14

'Pretty Little Liars,' returns 8PM ET, ABC Family: Fans of this teen mystery-drama should know that the season 2 premiere will be preceded by 'PLL' marathon that will begin at 11AM ET.

'Memphis Beat,' returns 9PM ET, TNT: I found this show to be a waste of Jason Lee's ample charms when it debuted, but if your opinion differs, consider yourself alerted to its return.

'The Nine Lives of Chloe King,' debuts 9PM, ABC Family: A teenager discovers she has special abilities, and that brings her to the attention of dangerous people. I haven't seen this show, but it doesn't appear to feature werewolves, so ... win!

'Hawthorne,' returns 10PM ET, TNT: The return of the Jada Pinkett Smith medical drama that keeps Michael Vartan from appearing in something I'd actually watch.

Wednesday, June 15

'Hot in Cleveland,' returns 10PM ET, TV Land: Betty White entertainingly mugs for the camera, the strong cast delivers shopworn but occasionally effective sitcom dialogue. Rinse and repeat.

'Happily Divorced,' debuts 10:30PM ET, TV Land: Fran Drescher stars as a woman whose husband (who's played by John Michael Higgins) announces he's gay, and though they split, they don't have the money for two households, so they keep living together. Hijinks no doubt ensue.

Saturday, June 18

'Outcasts,' debuts 9PM ET, BBC America: BBC America wants you to have a lot of Jamie Bamber in your life. Bamber, one of the stars of 'Battlestar Galactica,' appears in this British sci-fi drama, which also has Eric Mabius ('Ugly Betty') in its cast. I've heard mixed things about this show, but I'm intrigued enough to at least give it a try. Expect a review later this month.

'The Inbetweeners,' returns 11PM ET, BBC America: In the final season of this import, there's more comedic shenanigans and social awkwardness from British high schoolers Will, Simon and Neil.

'Come Fly With Me,' debuts 11:30PM ET, BBC America: 'Little Britain's' Matt Lucas and David Walliams play more than 50 characters in this mock-documentary about an English airport.

Sunday, June 19

'Drop Dead Diva,' returns 9PM ET, Lifetime: Have you been missing Paula Abdul? If so, she'll be guesting once again on this Lifetime comedy-drama, which remains a satisfying showcase for the multi-talented Brooke Elliott.

'Falling Skies,' debuts 9PM ET, TNT: Noah Wyle and Moon Bloodgood are among the ragtag survivors of an alien invasion. Mmmmm... aliens.

Tuesday, June 21

'Combat Hospital,' 10PM ET, ABC: This drama, a Canadian co-production, follows the lives of medical personnel at a surgical hospital in Afghanistan.

Thursday, June 23

'Burn Notice,' returns 9PM ET, USA: At the end of this show's fourth season, Michael Westen appeared to have achieved his longtime goal -- he'd vindicated himself and gotten off the spy-world blacklist. But when the show returns, will he truly be back in the good graces of the CIA? Will he stay in Miami? One thing fans may want to know: Coby Bell is sticking around as Jesse.

'Rookie Blue,' returns 10PM ET, ABC: This show about young cops learning the ropes in L.A. returns for another summer season.

'Suits,' debuts 10PM ET, USA: Two hot-shot employees of a law firm try to keep a secret from their firm -- one of them doesn't have what you might call actual legal training.

'Wilfred,' debuts 10PM ET, FX: I saw the pilot for this a couple of months ago, but I'm still not sure what to make of it. It's definitely different, I can say that. You haven't seen this premise before: Elijah Wood stars as a man who keeps having visions of the dog next door -- who keeps appearing to him as a foul-mouthed, take-charge man in a dog suit.

'Louie,' returns 10:30PM ET, FX: Whatever comedian Louis C.K. does with the second season of this show (and it may well be anything, based on the wide-ranging and hilarious first season), I'll be there. He's got one of the most original minds in the comedy world.

Sunday, June 26

'Leverage,' returns 9PM ET, TNT: Timothy Hutton and his merry band of grifters return.

'True Blood,' returns 10PM ET, HBO: Wackadoo stuff will no doubt happen in the woods around Bon Temps, Louisiana, and elsewhere. Fortunately the show does not appear to be adding the entire roster of the Screen Actors Guilde to its cast for the upcoming season. Fingers crossed that this means the show will have a skoche of actual focus in season 4.

Monday, June 27

'Weeds,' returns 10PM ET, Showtime: The seventh season of the drug-dealer chronicle will jump three years into the future, with Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) just released from a stint in jail. Nancy's kids and associates will join her in her New York as she tries to rebuild her illegal business and Aidan Quinn, Martin Short and Jennifer Jason-Leigh will guest star in the new season.

'The Big C,' returns 10:30PM ET, Showtime: Alan Alda, Parker Posey and Hugh Dancy will guest star in the second season of Showtime's Laura Linney vehicle. Many readers said this often forced comedy-drama got better in the second half of its debut season (I didn't make it past episode 5 or so, despite the fact that I'm a huge Linney fan. There were just too many issues with the tone and the supporting cast). I'll review the second season later this month.

Wednesday, June 29

'Royal Pains,' returns 9PM ET, USA: Dr. Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) and his team continue to treat the pampered residents of the Hamptons.

'Necessary Roughness,' debuts 10PM ET, USA: Callie Thorne ('Rescue Me') stars as a therapist who works with pro athletes and celebrities. TV Line just reported that Andrea Anders, late of the much-loved 'Better Off Ted' (she was also in 'Mr. Sunshine), will have a guest arc on this show.

Friday, July 8

'Torchwood: Miracle Day,' returns 10PM ET, Starz: 'Torchwood,' you've been away from my TV for too long. This smart British sci-fi drama (which shot most of its fourth season in the U.S.) takes on the idea of immortality and examines whether it's a dream or a nightmare amid scenes of well-crafted mayhem. Returning cast members John Barrowman, Eve Myles and Kai Owen are joined by Bill Pullman, Mekhi Phifer, Lauren Ambrose and Arlene Tur, among others. The first episode back is a treat. Stay tuned for more coverage, coming soon.

Sunday, July 10

'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' returns 10PM ET, HBO: I'm sure this season of the Larry David comedy will be radically different from the ones that preceded it. I'm kidding. It'll be Larry doing his Larry thing, which is fine by me.

Monday, July 11

'Eureka,' returns 8PM ET, Syfy: When this quirky drama returns with the second half of its fourth season, the town will still be dealing with the changes that were wrought by the trip to 1947 that various characters took. I'm looking forward to not just revisiting this wacky town but to seeing guest turns from Dave Foley, Wil Wheaton and especially 'The Guild' creator Felicia Day.

'The Closer,' returns 9PM ET, TNT: Kyra Sedgwick's crime drama returns with 10 episodes this summer, and it'll be interesting to see how the show sets up its forthcoming spinoff, 'Major Crimes,' which will star frequent 'Closer' guest star Mary McDonnell and arrive in 2012.

'Warehouse 13,' returns 9PM ET, Syfy: The third season of this light Syfy drama has lots of questions hanging over it: Is Myka Bering (Joanne Kelly) gone forever? How will Pete's new partner, former ATF agent Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore), fit in? Can Jinks really always tell when someone is lying? What's up with H.G. Wells (Jaime Murray)? I've no clue how any of that will be resolved, but at least the show doesn't appear to be stuck in neutral when it comes to the overall arc of this frisky, fun series.

'Alphas,' debuts 10PM ET, Syfy: A team made up of people with extraordinary abilities solves cases that the CIA and the FBI can't crack. Oscar nominee David Strathairn plays the team's leader, Dr. Leigh Rosen, which makes me extra-interested in this show.

'Rizzoli & Isles,' returns 10PM ET, TNT: Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander star as a detective and medical examiner who are best friends and determined crime-solvers.

Tuesday, July 12

UPDATE: After this list was posted, FX changed the premiere date for 'Rescue Me.' The new premiere date is ...

Wednesday, July 13

'Rescue Me,' returns 10PM ET, FX: The FX firehouse drama returns for its final season.

Wednesday, July 13

'Damages,' returns 10PM ET, DirecTV: Let me make this clear, in case there's any confusion: FX will not air the fourth season of this show, ever. 'Damages' will now air only on DirecTV going forward (if you don't have DirecTV, you will have to wait for DVDs. I'm not aware of any plans to make the show available online). The fourth season finds Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) investigating military contractors, and this year, the show's cast includes John Goodman, Dylan Baker and Judd Hirsch.

Friday, July 15

'Haven,' returns 10PM ET, Syfy: Maine cop (Emily Rose) continues to investigate her past and the town of Haven's strange doings when this drama returns. We've got a quick peek at season 2 here.

Sunday, July 17

'Zen,' debuts on PBS' Masterpiece (check local listings): Rufus Sewell stars as Aurelio Zen, a police detective in Rome, which is where the moody, three-part series was shot.

'Breaking Bad,' returns 10PM ET, AMC: Given how widely acclaimed the third season of this drama was, interest is already sky-high for season 4 of 'Breaking Bad,' one of television's most uncompromising dramas. If you've never seen the chronicle of formerly mild-mannered chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston), AMC is going to make it easy to catch up: AMC will air the first three seasons late at night starting July 5, prior seasons will be available On Demand starting June 20 and the season 3 DVD and Blu-Ray will come out June 7. Check out the recently released 'Breaking Bad' trailer below:







Tuesday, July 19

'Web Therapy,' debuts 11PM ET, Showtime: 'Friends' star Lisa Kudrow is behind this part-improvised comedy series, which began as an online endeavor. In 'Web Therapy,' Kudrow plays a cold, self-absorbed therapist whose clients (who are played by Jane Lynch, Courteney Cox, Rashida Jones and Bob Balaban, among others) are treated via webcam. Lily Tomlin plays the shrink's mother and Victor Garber takes on the role of her spouse.

Sunday, July 24

'Entourage,' returns 10:30PM ET, HBO: The eight episodes that air this summer are the Hollywood chronicle's swan song. Will you miss it? Or are you in the camp of "Didn't this go off the air three years ago?" (Personally, I think it should have, but maybe that's just me.)

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CindyinTO

Thanks for the list, it's great to know when everything starts but Rookie Blue (June 23) is a Canadian show set in Toronto, not L.A.

June 05 2011 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
teeandgi

I'm only getting 10 episodes of The Closer??? Seriously??? I'm not happy with that. I am surprised there is going to be a spin-off. Didn't know about that. Yeah, about all my sci-fi shows coming back on (this is why BBC America is on my definite watch list although I must say the pickings have been really slim since Being Human had it's season finale...not that crappy remake they put on SyFy channel...this is the original). Looks like SyFy decided to get back into what they should be showing (love Haven, gonna watch Alphas)...FINALLY. Also, excited about the return of Burn Notice (love, love, loved the Sam Axe movie) and Covert Affairs (which is no Burn Notice but is certainly entertaining).

June 03 2011 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KNMuniz

What about Psych?

June 03 2011 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fosterco52135

Hey Mo, any chance you will be spending your summer breaking down Breaking Bad on your podcast? Since you saw the light last year and finally gave in to the show's awesomeness, I definitely think you and Ryan should do some weekly commentating on the best show of the summer. By far. Love your work!

June 03 2011 at 12:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fosterco52135's comment
moryan

thanks! I think we'll talk about BB at least a few times. Not sure if we'll do weekly podcasts, but we'll definitely take it on this year. Looking forward to it.

June 03 2011 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TheTalkingBox

you missed Switched at Birth, premiering Monday at 9pm on ABCFamily. looks to be good!

June 02 2011 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KathyB

I grew to like, not love, Memphis Beat. Maybe because I spent a weekend there a year ago attending niece's very low keyed wedding just off Beale Street. DVR'd it and enjoyed with morning coffee when I got around to it. There is a warmth to it. I'll give it another try this summer. Royal Pains is a guilty pleasure. Maybe will give that one up now that I won't be the only one around the house. Early retirement makes for adjustments.

Don't get FX. Hard thing about my cable system.

June 02 2011 at 9:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

> 'Web Therapy,' .... Lily Tomlin plays the shrink's husband and Victor Garber takes on the role of her spouse.

So Lisa Kudrow is married to both Lily Tomlin and Victor Garber?

June 02 2011 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John's comment
moryan

Sorry, Lily's the mom. Will fix that!

June 03 2011 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cfaddct

Also, I may have been one of those tweeps who gave you a hard time(good-naturedly, of course) about The Glades; and for that, I apologize. However, as a previous poster said, it's not exactly Emmy material, but it is enjoyable.

June 02 2011 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
cfaddct

"The return of the Jada Pinkett Smith medical drama that keeps Michael Vartan from appearing in something I'd actually watch."
Priceless, Mo, just priceless. The level of Pinkett-Smith's over-acting is astonishing to me. I was never a big fan of hers, but still...

June 02 2011 at 12:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George Otwori

The Glades came off to me in it first episodes as show that would turn into compelling noir in its first couple of episodes. Then the writing got weaker as the episodes progress. The Romance storyline seemed interesing but started to drag and didn't resolve in a original way. I started a dicussion about this in the AE dicussion board for the glades. A person responded that this show was trying to fun and irrelevent. That if i didn't not like what show is selling i should stop watching. The problem is The Glades barely does Fun and Irrelevent well. I loved watching The Good Guys which had those qualities and was average to exceptional at it. There all a ton of shows like with those qualities on the USA network. The problem is what works for USA is not working on AE. AE is filled with some of the best True Crime shows on television. So for me the Glades is going to have to really seriously improve.

June 02 2011 at 12:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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