Set your DVR for summer

Silicon Valley intrigue in the 1980s drives AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire," starring (from left) Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis and Lee Pace.
Silicon Valley intrigue in the 1980s drives AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire," starring (from left) Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis and Lee Pace.
Posted: May 29, 2014

SUMMER TV: It's not all about the singing and dancing anymore.

Or even about the sitting around watching other people sit around - waiting for someone to say or do something incredibly inappropriate.

All those remain on the menu, but it says something about how seriously some broadcasters are finally taking the cable-spurred trend toward year-round programming that when CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves met with advertisers at New York's Carnegie Hall two weeks ago, the first schedule he talked about wasn't the fall's, but the summer's, reminding ad buyers that "Under the Dome" drew more viewers last summer than NBC's freshman hit "The Blacklist" did in the regular season.

The 90 hours of original programming that Moonves was touting may include "Big Brother," but it's new dramas "Reckless" and "Extant" - that's the one starring Halle Berry - and the returning "Under the Dome" and "Unforgettable" that suggest that the network's no longer ceding drama junkies to cable.

Neither is its broadcast competition.

Fox brought back Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) for "24: Live Another Day," just as the official 2013-14 season was winding down, and last week it launched "Gang Related."

NBC's medical drama "The Night Shift" premiered last night. The network's newest sitcom, "Undateable," starts tomorrow, and "Crossbones," a pirate show starring John Malkovich as Blackbeard, debuts on Friday.

ABC is also extending its season in scripted shows with the return of dramas "Motive," "Mistresses" and "Rookie Blue."

Add in cable and we're talking at least two dozen new scripted shows premiering before fall, and even more returning.

Here are 10 that look promising:

* FX's "Tyrant"

From "Homeland" producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, this intriguing Mideast-set drama stars Adam Rayner as a doctor whose American life with his wife (Jennifer Finnigan) and children is upended when a family wedding draws him back to the country where his father has long ruled as dictator. Premieres: 10 p.m. June 24.

* AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire"

In a change of pace for "Mad Men" fans, Lee Pace ("Pushing Daisies") plays a computer sales executive with Don Draper-like powers of persuasion in this '80s period piece, set in Dallas, that's about the personal computer industry and the drive to clone the IBM PC. Based on the pilot, it's more exciting than that might sound. But then it would almost have to be. Premieres: 10 p.m. Sunday.

* CBS' "Extant"

An inexplicable pregnancy in space, a robot child on Earth and Halle Berry, astronaut? I've still seen no more than an extended clip of this Steven Spielberg sci-fi drama, but I'm in - for at least an episode or two. Premieres: 9 p.m. July 9.

* HBO's "The Leftovers"

Damon Lindelof's first TV series since "Lost" is based on a novel by Tom Perrotta, whose story is the flip side of all the zombie, back-from-the-dead shows we've been seeing. Two percent of the Earth's population has disappeared in a Rapture-like event that leaves the remaining 98 percent scrambling to find some meaning in it all. Starring Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston and Liv Tyler, it's almost guaranteed to play with your head. Premieres: 10 p.m. June 29.

* Starz's "Power"

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and creator Courtney Kemp Agboh ("The Good Wife," "Beauty and the Beast") are the executive producers of this drama starring Omari Hardwick ("Being Mary Jane") as a gangster and nightclub owner who thinks he'd like to go legit but doesn't want to give up the business (or personal) edge that being an outlaw gives him. Premieres: 9 p.m. June 7.

* ABC's "NY Med"

Manhattan's New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Newark's University Hospital get ABC News' 24/7 treatment in the latest installment of its occasional documentary series, which includes the return of some "characters" from the 2012 edition, including cardiac surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, who doesn't just play a doctor on daytime TV. Premieres: 10 p.m. June 24.

* WE tv's "The Divide"

WE's first scripted show stars Marin Ireland as Christine Rosa, a woman caseworker for a Philadelphia group seeking to exonerate the wrongfully imprisoned - including, she hopes, her own father. Damon Gupton is the district attorney. Parts of the pilot, originally intended for sister network AMC, were filmed locally, but there's more here than a familiar skyline as the show delves into the social and racial implications of what we call justice - and makes the D.A.'s backstory almost as interesting as Rosa's. Premieres: 9 p.m. July 16.

* NBC's "Undateable"

The title invites trouble and the premise is paper-thin, but this latest sitcom from Bill Lawrence ("Scrubs," "Cougar Town") is already what most of his shows seem to become: an excuse for funny people with chemistry to hang out together, being funny.

This one's largely set in a bar (so the drinking will require less explaining than usual) and stars Chris D'Elia as a player who becomes roommates with a hopeless romantic (Brent Morin) who happens to own the bar where characters played by comedians Ron Funches and Rick Glassman hang out. (All four were on a Lawrence-led comedy tour earlier this year to promote the show.) Also bellying up to the bar: Bianca Kajlich and David Fynn.

I may like this show more than NBC, which is burning it off with back-to-back episodes. Or maybe that's just the best lead-in it had for "Last Comic Standing." Premieres: 9 and 9:30 p.m. tomorrow.

* TNT's "The Last Ship"

This Michael Bay drama about a global pandemic and the crew of a naval destroyer that might be humanity's last hope stars Eric Dane ("Grey's Anatomy"), Rhona Mitra ("Boston Legal") and Adam Baldwin ("Chuck"). Not exactly subtle, but, hey, it's summer. So fire up the popcorn popper. Premieres: 9 p.m. June 22.

* FX's "You're the Worst"

Another comedy with an asking-for-trouble title, this one stars Aya Cash ("The Wolf of Wall Street") and Chris Geere as a couple who really are made for each other - because no one else would probably have them. I'm not sure how far that premise will take it, but the pilot made me laugh. Premieres: 10:30 p.m., July 17.


Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray

Blog: ph.ly/EllenGray

 

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