Ultimate Summer TV Viewing Guide

By Colin Bertram
|  Tuesday, Jun 18, 2013  |  Updated 3:48 PM CDT
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Ultimate Summer TV Viewing Guide

Brian Cranston stars in the final season of "Breaking Bad"

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It used to be that warm weather months delivered a television schedule more akin to a wasteland dotted only with repeat broadcasts of shows you had previously viewed.

Thankfully networks got wise and though summer may still be devoid of your favorite prime time series, there's a slew of new shows and returning cable faves to keep every DVR working overtime right through Labor Day. Add in the series finales of "Breaking Bad" and Dexter" and you may need to upgrade the amount of recording space on that overworked hard drive.

Shows already mid-season include "The Bachelorette" (ABC), "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" and "The Real Housewives of Orange County (Bravo), "The Killing" (AMC), "Arrested Development" (Netflix), "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" (E!), "Teen Wolf" (MTV) and "America's Got Talent" (NBC).

Here's what's slated through August:

 "Burn Notice" (June 6, USA)

The 7th and final season begins with Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) -- the ex-spy with a "burn notice," meaning his entire past and identity were wiped out after he was canned by the CIA -- having to face the fact that his estranged girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar), his friends (Coby Bell and Bruce Campbell) and even his mom (Sharon Gless) behind bars. Just how will he free his posse and wraps up the series?

"Falling Skies" (June 9, TNT)

Mild-mannered Boston history professor turned freedom fighter Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) is back for season 3 of this sci-fi series set on Earth in the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. Burning question from the season 2 finale? Are the creatures that descended in the shiny pods en masse friend or foe?

"The Winner Is" (June 10, NBC)

Hosted by Nick Lachey, each episode of this singing talent series features six acts that go head-to-head for a shot at a million-dollar grand prize. The aim of the game is simple: contestants must believe in their own performance, edge out their competition and avoid cash temptations to move forward. "The Winner Is" is not about fame or a recording contract. It's about everyday people out to win a million dollars and make their public singing dreams come true.

"True Blood" (June 16, HBO)

“This season, the writers and I have been making a concerted effort to help Sookie [Anna Paquin] grow up, become a little bit darker, more accepting of her fate, more self-knowing,” said showrunner Brian Buckner of the upcoming season 6 in an interview with Manhattan magazine. What's certain is that there'll be lots of blood, and if fans get their wish, lots of scenes featuring male stars Steven Moyer, Ryan Kwanten, Alexander Skarsgard and Joe manganiello in all their shirtless glory.

"Hot in Cleveland" (June 19, TVland)

Betty White, Jane Leeves, Wendie Mallick and Valerie Bertinelli proved that original programming with an old-school appeal keeps audiences coming back to TVland. This season, along with the ladies of "Cleveland," expect more big guest stars such as "Modern Family's" Jesse Tyler Ferguson, George Hamilton and the reunited cast of "The Mary Tyler Morre Show."  Also on deck is Craig Ferguson as the father of Owen, the son Joy (Leeves) gave up for adoption decades ago.

"Under The Dome" (June 24, CBS)

Based on the Stephen King novel, this new drama attempts to explore what would happen when an impenetrable dome traps the residents of a small town. Who will keep it together and who will give in to their baser instincts. Think of it as "Hunger Games" involving your whole town!

"Rizzoli & Isles" (June 25)

TV's funniest (and some would say sexiest) crime solvers are back. At the conclusion of season 3, Maura (Sasha Alexander) and Jane (Angie Harmon) made a daring rescue into an underground tunnel below a building that was collapsing, and Maura finally made up with her estranged mother Hope.

"Dexter" (June 30, Showtime)

Like "Breaking Bad," this other cult must-see will come full circle as everybodies favorite serial killer bows out after this eighth and final season. When we left off last year, Dexter's step-sister Deb had finally learned his dark secret, and decided to follow in his bloody footsteps. The biggest question hanging over the finale? Will Dexter make it through or finally be brought to justice for all the killings he has committed over the years? 

"Get Out Alive" (July 8, NBC)

NBC's new adventure-reality series follows "Man vs. Wild's" Bear Grylls as he leads a non-stop extreme survival journey that pushes 10 teams of two (made up of friends or family members) to their physical and emotional limits in the rugged terrain of New Zealand’s South Island. Over 25 days will be tested and eliminated until only one remains.

"The Bridge" (July 10, FX)

This gritty new drama from the network that brought us "American Horror Story" and "Justified" centers on two detectives (Diane Kruger and Demian Bicher), one from the United States and one from Mexico. They must work together to hunt down a serial killer who is claiming victims on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.  "The Bridge" is adapted from the hit Scandinavian series "Bron," which was set on the border of Denmark and Sweden.

"Camp" (July 10, NBC)

NBC’s 10-episode summer series follows the antics of teens at a lakeside summer camp run by director Mackenzie "Mack" Greenfield (Rachel Griffiths). Granger is the proud owner of Little Otter summer family camp, the perfect place for kids and their parents to kick back and soak up the fun. But when have summer vacations ever run smoothly?

"Hollywood Game Night" (July 11, NBC)

Every week, ordinary people and celebrities gather at a swanky house in the Hollywood Hills for a great party hosted by funny lady Jane Lynch. "Hollywood Game Night" features two teams made up of a civilian and celebrities who compete in a series of outrageous games. If the celebrities and games weren't enough to entice, there's also the chance of taking home up to $25,000 in prize money. So were's my invitation?

"The Newsroom" (July 14, HBO)

This show set in the newsroom of a fictitious cable television news program left audiences divided at the end of its debut season in 2012. Created by Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing") and featuring his trademark staccato back-and-forth dialogue balanced with verbose diatribes about the state of modern news programming, the series was both applauded for its point of difference and lambasted for its perceived smugness. Like the debut season, the sophomore effort embeds our intrepid news gathers in real life global events that have already happened. Season 2 will see anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) and producer MacKenzie McHale cover the 2012 election and Occupy Wall Street among other stpries, as well having to deal with all the intra-office drama and romance that makes real life offices look positively bland.

"Suits" (July 16, USA)

More twists, more power struggles and more bromance banter between "Suits'" handsome leads Gabriel Mack and Patrick J. Adams. Mike (adams) finally told Rachel his big secret … and then they did it. Meanwhile, Harvey (Macht) and Jessica (Gina Torres) are attempting to figure out their new dynamic as the firm’s merger plans continue.

"Whose Line Is It Anyway?" (July 16, CW)

All this extra daylight offers up plenty of chances to brush up those improv skills. This latest season of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" features the return of favorite funnymen Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie, and the introduction of new host Aisha Tyler.

"Breaking Bad" (August 11, AMC)

All Bad things must come to an end. (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun and neither could the show's producers who have used it in the current teaser campaign.) "Breaking Bad," the series about a cancer-stricken high-school teacher turned meth kingpin (Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston) has only eight episodes remaining. "Bad" creator Vince Gilligan told USA Today he plotted out the show's precise ending only a few months ago and that the evolution of Cranston's Walter White from Mr. Chips to Scarface "was our guiding principle, and we always abided by that." While Gilligan refuses to dish on exact plot points, what he has promised is that there will be no "Sopranos"-style final moment, saying "There's not much in the way of ambiguity with this ending."

MTV VMAs (August 25, MTV)

The granddaddy of over-the-top award shows will land in a new home this year when the Moonman statue plants his flag at the home of the Brooklyn Nets. The VMAs will air live from Brooklyn's Barclays Center and with any luck we'll get a memorable moment to equal those of the past. remember Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley's kiss in 1994? Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech in 2009? C'mon MTV - give us what we tune in for!

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