June 15--Gather 'round, kids, and let me tell you about the olden days of summer television. Shortly after dinosaurs stopped roaming the Earth, there were only three commercial networks, ABC, CBS and NBC.
During the regular TV season, September to the end of May, the networks aired new episodes of shows. The summer months were considered goof-off time; reruns dominated, on the assumption that everybody was too busy picnicking, vacationing, swimming or mowing the lawn to have any time left over to sit indoors and stare at the tube.
The best part of this prehistoric era was it helped give a boost to some series that were overlooked during the competitive regular season. Viewers could catch up via reruns with shows that might not have otherwise survived.
But that old summer season thinking has gone the way of "My Mother the Car" and "Cop Rock." With cable channels scheduling new programming all year long, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox followed suit.
Deciphering TV schedules these days practically requires a spreadsheet to keep track of when favorite shows are returning and new entries are premiering. But you can't say there's nothing new on, because there always is -- even if it's a brand-spanking fresh episode of "Dance Moms."
This summer season once again features a mix of old favorites and new. Some are good, familiar warm-weather company, and others look about as inviting as a poison oak outbreak. Here are some of the notable shows to watch for this month as the schedule heats up.
"Falling Skies": The Steven Spielberg-produced science fiction adventure is back for Season 2. (10 p.m. Sundays, TNT)
"Major Crimes": The hit spinoff of "The Closer" scored impressive ratings for its Season 2 premiere. (9 p.m. Mondays, TNT)
"King & Maxwell": New series starring Rebecca Romjin and Jon Tenney as private investigators based in Washington, D.C. (10 p.m. Mondays, TNT)
"Mistresses": The soapy drama about women and their complicated love lives stars Alyssa Milano and has earned unimpressive ratings so far. (10 p.m. Mondays, ABC/2)
"America's Got Talent": The new season brings the usual array of oddball acts and earnest performers, trying to impress Howard Stern, Howie Mandel and newbie judges Heidi Klum and Mel B. (This week airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday; normally airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays, NBC/8)
"Royal Pains": Another season of offbeat medical care in the Hamptons. (9 p.m. Wednesdays, USA)
"Necessary Roughness": The new season brings a fresh face -- yogurt pitchman and TV veteran John Stamos. (10 p.m. Wednesdays, USA)
"Burn Notice": Back for its final season. (9 p.m. Thursdays, USA)
"Graceland": New series about federal agents looking for bad guys along the Southern California beaches. (10 p.m. Thursdays, USA)
"Sullivan & Son": Season 2 of the comedy about a New York lawyer (Steve Byrne) who moved back home to Pittsburgh to join the family business -- running a bar. (10 p.m. Thursdays, TBS)
"Magic City": Season 2 of the series Starz keeps hoping will turn into its "Mad Men," "Boardwalk Empire" or "Homeland" -- in other words, something more talked-about than it actually is. The period drama set in Miami follows hotelier Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) trying to muscle mob influence out of his hotel, the Miramar Playa. (9 p.m. Fridays, Starz)
"True Blood": The fang-powered, over-the-top vampire melodrama begins Season 6. What a heartwarming way to celebrate Father's Day. (Returns 9 p.m. tonight, HBO)
"Franklin & Bash": Heather Locklear joins the cast for Season 3, featuring more legal high jinks. (Returns 9 p.m. Wednesday, TNT)
"Wilfred": An overgrown boy and his dog (his imaginary dog, anyway, which is actually a man in a dog suit) return for another season of quirky humor. (Returns 10 p.m. Thursday, FX)
"Crossing Lines": What NBC is calling a "new action-packed global crime drama," about a team that investigates cross-border crimes. The cast includes Donald Sutherland. (Premieres 9 p.m. June 23, NBC/8)
"Devious Maids": A new series from "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry mixes a murder mystery and juicy melodrama in this saga about Latina housemaids who toil away for real annoying housewives (and husbands) of Beverly Hills. The cast includes Roselyn Sanchez and Judy Reyes. (Premieres 10 p.m. June 23, Lifetime)
"Under the Dome": An intriguing-looking miniseries built around a concept from author Stephen King, all about what happens when a small town is suddenly encased in a mysterious bubble, cutting it off from the rest of the world. The cast includes Mike Vogel ("Bates Motel") and Dean Norris (Hank on "Breaking Bad"). (Premieres 10 p.m. June 24, CBS/6)
"Rizzoli & Isles": The popular crime-solving duo played by Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander begins Season 4. (Returns 9 p.m. June 25, TNT)
"Perception": The brilliant-but-odd professor played by Eric McCormack returns for Season 2. (Returns 10 p.m. June 25, TNT)
"Dexter": At last, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) must be running out of people to kill. This is the final season. (Returns 9 p.m. June 30, Showtime)
"Ray Donovan": The presence of the talented Liev Schreiber in this new series is the best news yet this summer season. The Los Angeles-set show features Schreiber as the go-to guy for celebrities with high-profile problems they'd prefer somebody else take care of. (Premieres 10 p.m. June 30, Showtime)
-- Kristi Turnquist
(c)2013 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)
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