Here are 40 new and returning comedies and dramas
BY DIANE WERTS
What do you need to see this summer? What don’t you need to see this summer? Our top 40 picks could easily have topped 100.
Among scripted series alone, summer TV delivers nearly 40 new dramas/comedies, not to mention another 50-plus returning shows. If we added unscripted entries (both fresh and familiar), our hot-weather tube tally would edge toward 200.
And that doesn’t even count awards shows (June 7’s CBS Tonys, June 10’s CMTs, June 28’s BETs). Or must-see season finales (HBO’s June 14 “Game of Thrones”). Or the debut of TV Land’s NYC-filmed “Jim Gaffigan Show” on July 15.
“Halt and Catch Fire” (Sundays at 10, AMC) Lee Pace and Scoot McNairy return in the 1980s “silicon prairie” tale of Texas techheads pushing PC innovation.
“So You Think You Can Dance” (Mondays at 8, Fox) Paula Abdul joins returning Nigel Lythgoe and second newcomer Jason Derulo to judge Season 12.
“UnREAL” (Mondays at 10, Lifetime) “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” insider Marti Noxon delivers this scripted peek backstage at a TV dating show. With Shiri Appleby, Constance Zimmer.
“Stitchers” (Tuesdays at 9, ABC Family) Procedural drama on the youth-aimed cabler has Emma Ishta’s secret agent “stitched” into deceased minds to decipher death mysteries.
“Royal Pains” (Tuesdays at 10, USA) Back in the Hamptons for Season 7 with Mark Feuerstein, Paulo Costanzo, Reshma Shetty.
“Sense8” (streaming Fridays from Netflix) Cult combo: “Cloud Atlas” big-screeners Andy and Lana Wachowski join “Babylon 5” chief J. Michael Straczynski behind this 12-episode leap into “Heroes” territory. Eight strangers from around the world find themselves mentally connected and being hunted. With Naveen Andrews, Freema Agyeman, Daryl Hannah, Joe Pantoliano.
“Life Story” (Saturdays at 9, Discovery) Because there’s never enough David Attenborough, the eminent naturalist narrates the BBC’s latest epic, tracing the survival treks of diverse creatures. Shot (but not broadcast) in 4K.
“Power” (Saturdays at 9, Starz) In Season 2, this strong drama of NYC underworld ambition boosts the role of producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, as his character departs prison to confront Omari Hardwick’s going-straight nightclub entrepreneur.
“Becoming Us” (June 8 at 9, ABC Family) Beating Bruce Jenner’s July series to air is this unscripted study of a dad who’s becoming a woman, as seen by his teen son. It’s the first of ABC Family’s five summer reality shows.
“Odd Mom Out” (June 8 at 10, Bravo) After scoring with its scripted hour “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” the reality- reliant cabler tries comedy: Author Jill Kargman navigates the uppity Upper East Side. With Andy Buckley, Joanna Cassidy.
“The Seventies” (June 11 at 9, CNN) First of eight docuseries films: “Television Gets Real,” with “All in the Family,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Roots.” (“The Sixties” encored May 31 starting at 8. “The Eighties” has been ordered.)
“Orange Is the New Black” (streaming June 12 from Netflix) Back in fashion comes a third season of 14 episodes powered by a women’s prison. (Season 4 has already been ordered.)
“Tyrant” (June 16 at 10, FX) Considering current crises in the Middle East, this drama’s Season 2 steps into a minefield: Adam Rayner’s long-Americanized member of a ruling family finds himself dragged deeper into moral and political crosscurrents.
“Proof” (June 16 at 10, TNT) Jennifer Beals’ medical eminence investigates the afterlife for Matthew Modine’s terminally ill billionaire.
“Clipped” (June 16 at 10, TBS) Barbershop humor from the “Will & Grace” team, with Ashley Tisdale, Mike Castle, Matt Cook.
“The Astronaut Wives Club” (June 18 at 8, ABC) The distaff side of “The Right Stuff” tracks NASA’s 1960s women-who-wait. With JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Yvonne Strahovski, Odette Annable, Azure Parsons.
“Complications” (June 18 at 9, USA) In Jason O’Mara’s latest go, he’s a suburban doctor whose life turns upside down when he intervenes in a drive-by shooting.
“The Last Ship” (June 21 at 9, TNT) Still on the seas post-pandemic: Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra, Adam Baldwin, now trying to circulate the cure. Alfre Woodard will hop aboard.
“True Detective” (June 21 at 9, HBO) Last year’s closed-end spellbinder starts over with new stars — Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch — now sleuthing on “the scorched landscapes of California.”
“Ballers” (June 21 at 10, HBO) Could this be that long-sought great take on the great American sport of pro football? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s retired superstar mentors the current crowd in this fresh half-hour.
“The Brink” (June 21 at 10:30, HBO) The premium cabler rounds out its powerhouse summer Sunday lineup with a geopolitical crisis. Together in this dark comedy: Jack Black, Tim Robbins, Pablo Schreiber, Aasif Mandvi.
“Big Brother” (June 24-25 at 8, CBS) Summer’s annual housemates peepfest returns. (Late-night viewing on emerging cabler Pop starts June 25 at midnight.)
“Under the Dome” (June 25 at 9, CBS) Marg Helgenberger joins the cast for Season 3.
“Humans” (June 28 at 9, AMC) This “parallel-present” drama gives William Hurt more than he expected from a robotic family servant.
“Falling Skies” (June 28 at 10, TNT) Alien invasion’s fifth and final season.
“Teen Wolf” (June 29 at 10, MTV) Two-part return for Season 5 (concludes June 30 at 9).
“Zoo” (June 30 at 9, CBS) The star name here is source novelist James Patterson. Merely enacting Patterson’s bestselling yarn: James Wolk, Kristen Connolly, Billy Burke.
“Scream” (June 30 at 10, MTV) Seen the movies? Here’s the show. In this particular past-fueled killing spree: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Jason Wiles.
“Shark Week” (July 5-12, Discovery) The annual event goes to Cuba and the Arctic. (And later takes over an added August weekend.) Back, too, is NatGeo Wild’s feisty same-week competitor SharkFest.
“Why? With Hannibal Buress” (July 8, Comedy Central) Getting his own show is the comic who called out Bill Cosby. (And is also part of “Broad City” and “The Eric Andre Show.”)
“Masters of Sex” (July 12, Showtime) The big 1960s sex study is unveiled in Season 3, as Josh Charles joins stars Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen.
“Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll” (July 16, FX) Series creator Denis Leary is on-screen, too, as a hard-partying ‘90s rocker whose self-destructed group now tries to reunite. With John Corbett, Elizabeth Gillies (“Victorious”).
“Cedar Cove” (July 18, Hallmark) Andie MacDowell’s small-town saga adds Colin Ferguson for Season 3.
“Tut” (July 19-21, Spike) Historic miniseries: Ben Kingsley’s military mind exploits young ruler Tutankhamun (Avan Jogia).
“Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” (July 22, Syfy) It isn’t just a sequel (of a sequel). It’s now a whole week, July 18-25, flooded with more cheese flicks and other thrills. Among the participants: David Hasselhoff, Michelle Bachmann, L.I.’s Chris Jericho and, playing the POTUS, Mark Cuban.
Bruce Jenner series (July 26, E!) Its title yet to be finalized, this weekly hour chronicles the male Olympic decathlete’s recently announced journey toward long-wished womanhood.
“The Carbonaro Effect” (July 29 at 10, truTV) Second season for “Magic Clerk” trickster Michael Carbonaro.
“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” (Aug. 6, Comedy Central) We suspect the departing host’s true moment of Zen comes after this final-night broadcast.
“Blunt Talk” (Aug. 22, Starz) Patrick Stewart’s British cable newshound takes on American TV, aided by his alcoholic manservant and Richard Lewis’ mandated therapist. From Seth MacFarlane.
“Public Morals” (Aug. 25, TNT) L.I.’s Edward Burns writes, directs and stars in a hard-nosed look at 1960s New York police vs. the Irish mob. With Michael Rapaport, Elizabeth Masucci, Ruben Santiago-Hudson.