By Stephanie Holland
By Stephanie Holland
Since “Transformers 2” and “G.I. Joe” don’t appear to be the blockbusters everyone thought they would be, why not stay in and enjoy good storytelling for free. These Summer TV shows offer original stories told by great actors without competing for attention against a slew of mediocre network programming.
June:”Burn Notice” USA Thursdays at 9 p.m.
“Burn Notice” is returning for its third season with former spy Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan) reclaiming his life from those who burned him and dealing the consequences of his years in the espionage business. Accompanied by his sometimes girlfriend, former gun runner and explosives expert Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and his best friend, ex-Navy SEAL Sam (Bruce Campbell), Michael uses his spy skills to help every day people in bad situations. This show never fails to entertain and has the rare ability to create interesting standalone stories while constantly advancing the overarching storyline. Watch For: Donovan’s chameleon like ability to become whatever cover he needs for his assignments and Campbell’s always hilarious take on the unusual situations the crew finds themselves in. Premieres: June 4 at 9 p.m.
“Royal Pains” USA Thursdays at 10 p.m.
“Royal Pains” is a new show about a New York doctor (Mark Feuerstein) who is fired after saving the life of a teenager instead of a hospital board member. With his life falling apart, he visits his brother in the Hamptons and finds his niche as a concierge doctor for the rich and famous. An interesting premise that will either be done well and make for fun TV or will be too over-the-top and full of itself to be successful. Watch For: This could be TV vet Feuerstein’s best chance at a successful series. If it’s done right, this could make for great escapist television. Premieres: June 4 at 10 p.m.
“The Closer” TNT Mondays at 9 p.m.
Returning for its fifth season, TNT’s “The Closer” left off with the marriage of Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson and FBI agent Fritz Howard. Season five will feature more of the same compelling investigations and interrogation room showdowns. Kyra Sedgwick is so fantastic as Johnson that she commands the viewer’s attention. Watch For: The amazing chemistry of the squadroom and the hilarious duo of Lts. Flynn and Provenza. Premieres: June 8 at 9 p.m.
“True Blood” HBO Sundays at 9 p.m.
Following a super-hyped and very successful first season, HBO’s vampire saga “True Blood” returns for seconds. The series, based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels, will continue to follow telepathic waitress Sookie and her vampire boyfriend Bill as they tackle the obvious and not so obvious hurdles that their romance encounters. With Evan Rachel Wood signed on as the vampire queen of Louisiana, look for this show to hit its stride in season two. Watch For: Future star Alexander Skarsgard, he plays former Viking turned vampire leader Eric Northman. Premieres:June 14 at 9 p.m.
“Hawthorne” TNT Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
Movie star Jada Pinkett Smith transitions to television as star and executive producer of “Hawthorne.” The medical drama centers around Christina Hawthorne, a strong yet compassionate Chief Nursing Officer who will do whatever it takes to fight for her patients. Smith is joined by Michael Vartan as Chief Surgeon Dr. Tom Wakefield and newcomer Hannah Hudson as Christina’s teenage daughter Camille. A widower, Hawthorne must walk the fine line between devoted nurse and single mother. This will fit perfectly into TNT’s strong female programming block, which includes “The Closer” and “Saving Grace.” Watch For: Smith, who is always spectacular as the strong female lead and Vartan who never lacks charm. Premieres: June 16 at 9 p.m.
July:”Warehouse 13″ Sci-Fi Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
“Warehouse 13” is Sci-Fi channel’s newest action-comedy about two secret service agents who are promoted and transferred to the warehouse where all of the country’s supernatural artifacts are stored. Saul Rubinek plays the warehouse caretaker Artie and Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly portray the agents. It’s being marketed as a funnier “X-Files,” though that show is considered untouchable in the sci-fi genre. While this show may have potential, it’s a little early for the Mulder and Scully comparisons. Watch For: Cool special effects and McClintock’s undeniable boy next door charm. Premieres: July 7 at 9 p.m.
Eureka” Sci-Fi Fridays at 9 p.m.
After a very long hiatus, Sci-Fi’s hit show about the smartest town in the world, “Eureka” is returning. The show follows Sheriff Jack Carter, played by the supernaturally handsome Colin Ferguson, as he polices the scientific geniuses of the town Eureka. At the end of season three, the Defense Department had fired Carter for not turning in an accused criminal and his secret crush Alison (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) had announced that she was pregnant by her deceased fiancée and that she wanted Carter to help with her pregnancy. “Eureka” is one of those truly fun shows that reels you in with its fantastic cast, unmistakable comedy and cool effects, and then knocks you out with how heart-breaking the emotional moments are. Watch For: The explosive chemistry between Ferguson and Richardson-Whitfield and the aforementioned awesome effects. Premieres: July 10 at 9 p.m.
August: “Leverage” TNT Wednesday at 10 p.m.
If the “Ocean’s 11” movies were made into a series it would be TNT’s “Leverage.” Now entering its second season, this show revolves around a group of thieves who use their considerable talents to right wrongs and fix injustices. With their headquarters blown up and their identities exposed, the crew must now start over in a new city. Led by Timothy Hutton, this outstanding cast, featuring television vets Christian Kane and Gina Bellman, is what makes the show work so well because it all depends on the team’s chemistry. Watch For: Aldis Hodge’s comedic turn as Alec Hardison and Kane’s tough guy with a heart, Eliot Spencer. Premieres: July 15 at 10 p.m.
“Project Runway” Lifetime Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
After months of legal wrangling, Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum are back with season six of “Project Runway.” One of the best of the reality competition shows will no doubt feature an all new crop of designers making couture out of matchsticks and Christmas decorations, all the while trying to stay out of the drama, make it work and avoid hearing “auf Wiedersehen.” The network will also be pairing “Runway” with a show that follows the “Project Runway” models through their portion of the competition titled “Models of the Runway.” Watch For: Gunn’s spot on advice and Michael Kors and Nina Garcia’s scathing critiques. Premieres:Aug. 20 at 10 p.m.
“Psych” USA Fridays at 10 p.m.
The best fake psychic detective duo on TV returns when “Psych” comes back for a fourth season. Shawn Spencer and Burton “Gus” Guster will continue their shenanigans while helping the Santa Barbara police department solve crimes. New episodes will center around Bollywood, the Wild West and a time-travelling clone. This always funny show is slated to premiere later in the summer and will probably be paired with the final season of “Monk.” Watch For: Awesome 1980s references and frequent cameos by a pineapple. Premieres: Aug. 7 at 10 p.m.
“Monk” USA Fridays at 9 p.m.
The cleanest detective in America is returning for an eighth and final season on the USA network hit “Monk.” Tony Shalhoub’s Adrian Monk will solve his final cases and use his last wipes later in the summer when one of cable’s most successful series comes to an end. During the final season fans can expect to see a guest appearance
by Bitty Schram as Monk’s original assistant Sharona. Watch For: Shalhoub’s impressive ability to show the grief and emotion beneath Monk’s cumpulsions. Premieres: Aug. 7 at 9 p.m.
Other favorites: “Torchwood” BBC America Air dates TBA
BBC America’s highest rated show, “Torchwood,” returns with a five night mini-series for its third season. The British sci-fi phenomenon follows one story over five nights with a mini-series titled “Children of Men.” After last season’s devastating finale where two team members sacrificed themselves, fans are wondering how the rest of the crew will carry on. John Barrowman stars as the immortal, omnisexual team leader Capt. Jack Harkness, he is joined by administrator/butler Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) and former police officer Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) in their weekly quest to save the world from supernatural and paranormal threats. Watch For: Barrowman’s pure leading man charm and the chemistry between he and David-Lloyd.