Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Summer Season on TV

You may've already noticed the beginning of the summer television season, with new seasons of "Game of Thrones" and "So You Think You Can Dance" and the new "Duets" show beginning even before May was over.

But there's more coming as we head into June, with some very intriguing prospects out there for TV watchers. There's no way I can talk about everything even if I wanted to, so I will be picking and choosing what appeals to me to discuss. If you want the whole list of premieres and returns, click here to see what Futon Critic has compiled.

"The Glee Project" comes back for a second season on Oxygen starting with a two-hour casting show tonight at 6 Central Time. If you missed this little reality show the first time, it gathers together wannabe performers for the TV series "Glee," putting them through challenges involving acting, dancing and singing (as well as "vulnerability" and "sexuality") with the winner taking a role on the next season of "Glee." Last year, two winners were named, with Samuel Larsen and Damian McGinty earning 7-episode arcs, and two runners-up (Lindsay Pearce and Alex Newell) getting 2 episodes each. "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy promises there will only be one winner this time, but who knows whether he will stick to that? After the casting special tonight, the first real episode ('Individuality") airs on Oxygen on Tuesday, June 5, at 9 Central.

Tomorrow,  "Drop Dead Diva" (Lifetime, 8 pm Central) launches its new seasons, and something called "Longmire" starts on A&E at 9 Central. The name doesn't tell me anything by itself, but it appears to be set in the contemporary West, with a cowboy-flavored sleuth who happens to be the sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming. The sheriff will be played by an actor named Robert Taylor, with Katee Sackhoff ('Battlestar Galatica"), Cassidy Freeman ("Smallville") and Lou Diamond Phillips ("La Bamba") in support. "Longmire" is based on a series of mystery novels written by Craig Johnson.

"Pretty Little Liars" and "Rizzoli and Isles" both begin their third seasons on Tuesday, June 5, with "Liars" at 7 Central on ABC Family and "R & I" on TNT at 8 Central. "Royal Pains" has them beat by a season, since "Pains" opens its 4th season on Wednesday the 6th at 8 Central on the USA Network.

You've probably noticed that these summer shows are all popping up on cable channels rather than the Big 4. But NBC does have "Saving Hope" in its bag of summer tricks. They're describing this hospital drama as "an out-of-body experience" since it involves a surgeon (played by Michael Shanks) who is in a coma, stuck in limbo between life and death, wandering the halls of Toronto's Hope-Zion Hospital in spirit form. Maybe. He isn't sure whether he's really floating around or just imagining it as some sort of coma dream. And while he's comatose, his fiancee (Erica Durance) and the other doctors at Hope-Zion are trying desperately to save him and the lives of their other patients. "Saving Hope" premieres Thursday, June 7, at 8 Central on NBC.

HBO's very popular vampire series "True Blood" awakens from is off-season slumber at 8 pm Central on June 10, with an episode called "Turn! Turn! Turn!" Christopher Meloni, who spent years on "Law & Order SVU," will be joining "True Blood" in this, its fifth season, as a vampire named Roman, and Scott Foley, probably best known from "Felicity," will also come on board, although he will be an actual human.

The Broadway fans who tuned in for stars like Megan Hilty and Christian Borle on "Smash" are eagerly anticipating "Bunheads," which stars two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster as a Vegas dancer who takes a chance for something better in a small town called Paradise in California. She marries a persistent suitor, played by Alan Ruck, Ferris Bueller's best friend, on an impulse, and drives off to Paradise, only to find out that her new mother-in-law, who doesn't like her at all, lives in his house and has a dance studio out back. Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of "Gilmore Girls," is behind "Bunheads," bringing along some of her "Gilmore"  trademarks, like rapid-fire dialogue, a smart and snappy lead female, a charming, odd-ball small town, and conflict in the form of actress Kelly Bishop, who was Lorelai Gilmore's mother and is now Foster's character's mother-in-law. The "Bunheads" pilot is floating around the internet if you want a sneak peek; it will officially launch on June 11, and then show up Mondays at 8 Central on the ABC Family Channel. (And in case you're wondering, "Bunheads" refers to ballerinas, who are usually seen with their hair pulled back into buns.)

June 13 is the day the second generation of "Dallas," the 80s blockbuster soap, comes back, this time on TNT. J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) and his brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy) are still in sight, along with J.R.'s long-suffering wife Sue Ellen (Linda Gray). Bobby's 80s wife Pam is gone, however, replaced by Brenda Strong as Bobby's new spouse Ann. And the real focus seems to be on the kids, like cousins John Ross (Josh Henderson) and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) Ewing, cook's daughter Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) who has romantic ties to both brothers, and Christopher's new fiancee Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo). The soap suds will be flowing with a two-hour premiere on the 13th at 8 Central, followed by regular episodes on Wednesdays at 8 through the summer.

BBC America is starting a new (to the US) series called "Inside Men," beginning June 20, following three security company guys who use their inside info to try to pull off a huge heist. Steven Mackintosh ("Luther"), Ashley Walters ("Hustle") and Warren Brown ("Luther") are the three conspirators trying to change their dull lives into something a lot more exciting and a lot less legal. Their mission begins Wednesday, June 20, at 9 Central on BBC America.

The show with the biggest buzz going is probably HBO's "The Newsroom," an Aaron Sorkin creation starring Jeff Daniels as an anchorman who has a meltdown and tries to put on a different kind of newscast. His co-workers include Sam Waterston and Jane Fonda (!) plus Broadway stars Alison Pill ("Mauritius") and John Gallagher, Jr. ("Spring Awakening") and film vets Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire") and Emily Mortimer ("Hugo," "Lars and the Real Girl"). "Newsroom" premieres Sunday, June 24, at 9 pm Central, safely after "Mad Men" has finished up its Sunday run.

We can all watch these shows and report in on what we think as June wears on. Cause I am definitely thinking this schedule is going to be wearing...

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