When the broadcast networks slammed the brakes on the 2010-11 TV season last week, cable networks were already revving their engines for a fast start to summer. Expect a traffic jam as more than 80 shows debut or return between now and August.
Some of these shows are on broadcast TV. The competition "America's Got Talent" has resumed on NBC, paired with the ongoing "The Voice," and "So You Think You Can Dance" is under way on Fox. ABC offers "The Bachelorette."
But finding first-run comedy or drama will mostly require turning to cable, where 11 networks will debut 15 scripted shows this summer. In all, 39 scripted shows will air new episodes on cable before the networks get going again in September.
Obviously, it's a problem for broadcast networks to lose viewers to cable in the three-plus months between the end of one TV season and the start of another. Not that long ago, viewers expected repeats in summertime, when they could catch up on shows they'd missed or just take a break and do something outdoors.
Then cable networks jumped into the void left by broadcasters to offer something new to watch in summer. Cable now competes successfully year-round, but summer is still the hot season for cable premieres and returns.
Here are 10 of the new dramas and comedies that arrive this summer and are worth a look.
—"Teen Wolf," 10 p.m. Mondays on MTV.
Less like the Michael J. Fox comedy with which it shares a title and more in the "Twilight" or "Vampire Diaries" vein, this dark new "Teen Wolf" stars Tyler Posey as Scott McCall, a high school student who is bitten and becomes a werewolf. Teen angst ensues as Scott tries to figure out what's happening to him, while also connecting with new girl Allison (Crystal Reed), who has a secret of her own. Tyler Hoechlin plays Scott's mysterious mentor in the sometimes scary drama from Jeff Davis, creator of "Criminal Minds."
—"The Protector," 10 p.m. June 12 on Lifetime.
Ally Walker ("Profiler") returns to TV in another "P'' series, this time as LA homicide detective and single mother Gloria Sheppard, who's raising two boys and sharing a house with her brother (Chris Payne Gilbert). Tisha Campbell-Martin plays her partner, with Miguel Ferrer ("Crossing Jordan") as their lieutenant. "The Protector" feels familiar, like a show we used to like but had almost forgotten. But its easygoing mix of procedural and family drama will appeal to fans of the Lifetime brand and, especially, to fans of Walker.
—"Happily Divorced," 10:30 p.m. June 15 on TV Land.
Fran Drescher and her ex-husband, Peter Marc Jacobson, created "The Nanny" together while still married, and they're together again on this surprisingly charming new sitcom. Drescher stars as Fran, a long-married florist whose husband (John Michael Higgins) surprises her with the news that he's gay. (Apparently, something similar happened between Drescher and Jacobson.) He can't afford to move out, though, so they share the house while Fran tries to get on with her new life. Rita Moreno and Robert Walden play her parents.
—"Outcasts," 9 p.m. June 18 on BBC America.
Pioneers from a disintegrating Earth build a new society, with visions of making it the utopia Earth never was, in an absorbing British science-fiction drama set on a habitable planet called Carpathia. Watch the premiere and you may think you've missed an earlier season, but no; the opener is meant more to intrigue than to inform. Don't worry, though, because all becomes clearer in the second episode, which introduces Eric Mabius ("Ugly Betty") as a newly arrived refugee with ulterior motives.
—"Falling Skies," 9 p.m. June 19 on TNT.
Steven Spielberg is an executive producer of this drama about survivors of an alien invasion trying to stay alive while fighting back. Noah Wyle stars as Tom Mason, a history professor turned soldier whose wife was killed in the attack six months earlier, leaving him with two young sons and a third who is missing. Moon Bloodgood and Will Patton also star in the thriller, which might remind you of Stephen King's "The Stand" or even "The Walking Dead" minus the zombies.
—"Combat Hospital," 10 p.m. June 21 on ABC.
The only one of the 10 spotlight shows that wasn't available for preview, "Combat Hospital" (formerly "The Hot Zone") is also the only new scripted show premiering this summer on one of the broadcast networks. A British-Canadian co-production airing simultaneously in those countries and in the United States, "Combat Hospital" is set in Afghanistan in 2006 and tells the stories of doctors and nurses working with NATO's security force. Stars include Elias Koteas, Deborah Kara Unger and Michelle Borth.
—"Suits," 10 p.m. June 23 on USA.
A buddy dramedy about lawyers, "Suits" doesn't have any right to feel as fresh as it does. Credit, possibly, the casting of Patrick J. Adams, billed as a "heartthrob" for his appearances on ABC Family's "Pretty Little Liars" but largely unknown to viewers out of their teens. Adams plays Mike Ross, a brilliant college dropout who's just about to go seriously wrong in life, with Gabriel Macht as the corporate lawyer who sees something in Mike and cuts corners to bring him into the firm.
—"Wilfred," 10 p.m. June 23 on FX.
Elijah Wood stars as Ryan in a strange but also strangely sweet comedy. Ryan is paralyzed by anxiety until he finds unlikely support from a dog. Well, not exactly a dog. His pretty neighbor sees Wilfred (Jason Gann, who also created the Australian original and adapted it for FX), as her dog, while Ryan sees a guy in a dog suit who speaks and offers advice and frequently leads Ryan astray.
—"State of Georgia," 8:30 p.m. June 29 on ABC Family.
Silly and a bit too noisy but hard to dislike, this new sitcom stars Raven-Symone as Georgia, a confident and exuberant aspiring actress, and Majandra Delfino as her best friend, a science geek. Together, with the help of Georgia's Aunt Honey (Loretta Devine), they take on New York City. The most interesting thing about "State of Georgia" is that it comes from novelist Jennifer Weiner, whose prolific work includes "In Her Shoes" and "Good in Bed."
In this extension of the BBC's "Torchwood," people all over the world somehow stop dying. They are injured, they become ill, but no one dies, threatening to stretch the Earth's resources to the breaking point. Starz casts Mekhi Phifer as CIA agent Rex Matheson, who tries to figure out what's happening with the assistance of "Torchwood" originals John Barrowman (as Capt. Jack Harkness) and Eve Myles (as Gwen Cooper). Alexa Havins and Lauren Ambrose also star, with Bill Pullman as a murderer whose execution failed and Michael Knight ("Seinfeld") as the head of the CIA.