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Best TV shows for summer 2017: Top new and returning picks

Time to mix it up.

TV channels don’t just replace summer reruns with new series/seasons anymore. They’ve upped their game, to trying fresher forms of plot and presentation.

Now summer shows run their action in real time. Or dramatize a single real-life crime. They schedule two or three episodes a night. (Syfy’s “12 Monkeys” just debuted an entire season over three straight days.) Or they tell a closed-end tale, not even hoping for future seasons. 

Because, really, who knows what works these days?

A show today becomes a hit only because the public somehow finds it, and wants more. That’s true whether it runs on the big broadcast networks, on morphing cable channels, or on streaming services delivered over the web. A much-hyped series can easily arrive DOA, while an unsung concept draws viewers by word of mouth (or social media).

That’s why this summer’s scripts are such a grab bag, built around everything from Shakespeare to stand-up comics, from nail salons to newsrooms, from hit men to Hollywood. Sure, there’s plenty of crime. (Some things never seem to change.) But otherwise, the ideas are all over the map.

Even in outer space.
Here are some shows to look for.

'Fear the Walking Dead'

Cliff Curtis as Travis Manawa in "Fear the
Photo Credit: AMC/Michael Desmond

Fear the Walking Dead (June 4 at 9 and 10 p.m., AMC) In season 3, family, country, money and other familiar concepts are up for grabs as society deteriorates on the U.S.-Mexico border. Pictured: Cliff Curtis as Travis Manawa.

'I’m Dying Up Here'

Melissa Leo as Goldie in I\\'M DYING UP
Photo Credit: Showtime/Justina Mintz

I’m Dying Up Here (June 4 at 10 p.m., Showtime) Melissa Leo, pictured, runs a ’70s Hollywood comedy club, where stand-ups jostle for time and “Tonight Show” spots, as personal lives suffer and ventriloquists take it on the chin. With Ari Graynor, Michael Angarano, Clark Duke, Andrew Santino, Al Madrigal.

'Daytime Divas'

Vanessa Williams, Tichina Arnold and Fiona Gubelmann in
Photo Credit: VH1

Daytime Divas (June 5 at 10 p.m., VH1) Vanessa Williams, left, and Tichina Arnold, center, lead the cast in Star Jones’ book-based peek behind the scenes of a noontime women’s chatfest.

'Orange Is the New Black'

JUNE 9 The fifth season of
Photo Credit: Netflix/Myles Aronowitz

Orange Is the New Black (June 9, Netflix) Season 5 in the women’s prison series will have its episodes unfold in real time, over the course of three days. Pictured: Amanda Stephen, left, Adrienne C. Moore, Danielle Brooks and Vicky Jeudy.

'Orphan Black'

Rachel (Tatiana Maslany) and Sarah (Tatiana Maslany)in Season
Photo Credit: BBC America/Ken Woroner

Orphan Black (June 10 at 10 p.m., BBC America) Season 5 brings Clone Club to a close, as Tatiana Maslany’s soulful Sarah, right, tries to take down Tatiana Maslany’s scheming Rachel, left.


Carrie Preston and Niecy Nash in TNT's "Claws",
Photo Credit: TNT/Wilson Webb

Claws (June 11 at 9 p.m., TNT) Carrie Preston, left, Niecy Nash, right, and Judy Reyes work at a Florida nail salon where the staff’s daily issues include child care, mental illness, drug dealing and money laundering. Rashida Jones produces this hour dramedy.

'Blood Drive'

BLOOD DRIVE -- "The Fucking Cop" Episode 101
Photo Credit: Syfy

Blood Drive (June 14 at 10 p.m., Syfy) Been waiting for some death-race grindhouse? To the rescue comes this hour from staffers of “Bates Motel” and “Weeds,” with Alan Ritchson, pictured, and Christina Ochoa.

'TURN: Washington’s Spies'

Owain Yeoman as Benedict Arnold, Ksenia Solo as
Photo Credit: AMC/Antony Platt

TURN: Washington’s Spies (June 17 at 9 p.m., AMC) Benedict Arnold (Owain Yeoman, right) takes revenge on George Washington in this fourth and final season, as rebels regroup to win the war. 


Pictured from L-R are: Ally Maki, Will Greenberg,
Photo Credit: TBS/Vince Valitutti

Wrecked (June 20 at 10 and 10:30 p.m., TBS) In season 2 of this quirky survival comedy, crashed airplane passengers create their own society. Pictured: Ally Maki, left, Will Greenberg, Jessica Lowe, Brian Sacca and Zach Cregger.

'Queen Sugar'

Queen Sugar Season 2 premieres Tuesday, June 20
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./Alfonso Bresciani

Queen Sugar (June 20 at 10 p.m., OWN) Season 2 of filmmaker Ava DuVernay’s Louisiana saga tracks siblings trying to save their family mill, while rebuilding their relationships. Pictured: Kofi Siriboe, left, Ethan Hutchison and Bianca Lawson.



'The Mist'

Frances Conroy stars as 'Nathalie Raven' a modern
Photo Credit: Spike/Matthias Clamer

The Mist (June 22 at 10 p.m., Spike) If it’s spooky stuff in a town in Maine, it must be Stephen King: This serialized drama tracks family, friends and enemies bedeviled by a mysterious mist that breaks down societal norms and cuts them off from the rest of the world. Pictured: Frances Conroy.

'The Gong Show'

Photo Credit: ABC/Bob D'Amico

The Gong Show (June 22 at 10 p.m., ABC/7) Revival of Chuck Barris’ kooky ’70s show is hosted by “Tommy Maitland,” a fictional British stand-up comedian who may or may not be played by Mike Myers (ABC is being very coy about his true identity).


Chris Lowell, Alison Brie, Britney Young in Season
Photo Credit: Netflix/Erica Parise

GLOW (June 23, Netflix) “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan now tackles the ’80s women’s wrestling fad, with Alison Brie, left, Betty Gilpin, right, and Marc Maron.


Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer in " Preacher"
Photo Credit: AMC / Sony Pictures Television/Skip Bolen

Preacher (June 25 at 10 p.m. and June 26 at 9 p.m., AMC) Season 2 of the time-tripping comic book saga sends title actor Dominic Cooper, pictured, in search of a seemingly missing “God.”


Omari Hardwick (as James 'Ghost' St. Patrick) in
Photo Credit: Starz /Myles Aronowitz

Power (June 25 at 9 p.m. Starz) Season 4 of the uptown tale picks up with Omari Hardwick’s nightclub mogul Ghost behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit.

'I Am Jazz'

In the documentary special "I am Jazz: A
Photo Credit: TLC

I Am Jazz (June 28 at 9 p.m., TLC) In season 3 of this docuseries about a transgender teen, she’s considering gender confirmation surgery with her family. Pictured: Jazz Jenning.

'Battle of the Network Stars'

BINGE ON THIS! Names from '70s-'80s shows were
Photo Credit: AP

Battle of the Network Stars (June 29 at 9 p.m., ABC) Revival of the 1970s celebrity athletic competition. Pictured: Wilie Aames, of ABC's "Eight is Enough," struggles to hold his ground in a tug-of-war competition against a CBS team in 1980.


SNOWFALL -- "Pilot" -- Pictured: (l-r) Malcolm Mays
Photo Credit: FX/Mark Davis

Snowfall (July 5, FX) Filmmaker John Singleton’s drama flashes back to ’80s Los Angeles and the start of the crack epidemic, following young street entrepreneurs, crime lords and law officials. Pictured: Malcolm Mays, left, Damson Idris and Isaiah John.


Will - Laurie Davidson Newcomer Laurie Davidson stars
Photo Credit: TNT/Ellen Von Unwerth

Will (July 10, TNT) Newcomer Laurie Davidson, pictured, stars as a rowdy young Shakespeare in what’s touted as a wild and modern-toned drama. With Olivia DeJonge, Colm Meaney.

'The Bold Type'

Meghann Fahy, Katie Stevens and Aisha Dee in
Photo Credit: Freeform/John Medland

The Bold Type (July 11, Freeform) Behind the scenes at a women’s magazine, with Katie Stevens, center, Aisha Dee, right, and Melora Hardin, from former Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles.


SALVATION, a suspense thriller that centers on Liam
Photo Credit: CBS/Ben Mark Holzberg

Salvation (July 12, CBS) Suspenser stars Santiago Cabrera, pictured, as a tech superstar who discovers as asteroid will collide with Earth in six months. With Jennifer Finnigan.

'I’m Sorry'

Tom Everett Scott and Andrea Savage in TruTV's
Photo Credit: TruTV/Erica Parise

I’m Sorry (July 12, truTV) Andrea Savage (“Veep”), right, created this self-starring comedy about a wife-and-mom comedy writer. With Tom Everett Scott, left, Judy Greer, Kathy Baker, Martin Mull.

'Game of Thrones'

Season 7 of "Game of Thrones" (LEFT TO
Photo Credit: HBO/Macall B. Polay

Game of Thrones (July 16, HBO) Season 7’s seven episodes include original content alongside themes from novelist George R.R. Martin’s unpublished “The Winds of Winter” and “A Dream of Spring.” (Ditto 2018’s final season, said to span six episodes.) Pictured: Nathalie Emmanuel, left,  Peter Dinklage, Conleth Hill, Emilia Clarke and Jacob Anderson.

'Raven’s Home'

UNTITLED RAVEN-SYMONE´ - Disney Channel and Raven-Symoné are
Photo Credit: Disney Enterprises/Heidi Gutman

Raven’s Home (July 21, Disney) Raven-Symoné continues her adventures from “That’s So Raven” alongside co-star Anneliese van der Pol, both now divorced adults with kids.

'Somewhere Between'

Paula Patton and Aria Birch in ABC's "Somewhere
Photo Credit: ABC/Eike Schroter

Somewhere Between (July 24, ABC) Paula Patton, left, plays a San Francisco news producer who knows when, where and how her daughter (Aria Birch, right) will be murdered. Can she stop the killer? Or will she be the next victim? Limited series, also with JR Bourne, Devon Sawa.

'Midnight, Texas'

MIDNIGHT, TEXAS -- Pictured: "Midnight, Texas" Key Art
Photo Credit: NBCUniversal

Midnight, Texas (July 24, NBC) “True Blood” author Charlaine Harris’ book series sets its supernatural action in the title small town. With François Arnaud (“Blindspot”), Dylan Bruce (“Orphan Black”).

'Manhunt: UNABOMBER'

Paul Bettany as Ted Kaczynski in Discovery Channel's
Photo Credit: Discovery Channel/Tina Rowden

Manhunt: UNABOMBER (Aug. 1, Discovery) Scripted series with Sam Worthington dramatizes the FBI techniques developed to catch the manifesto-writing killer (Paul Bettany, pictured). From producer Greg Yaitanes (“Banshee”).

'The Sinner'

THE SINNER -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured:
Photo Credit: USA Network/Brownie Harris

The Sinner (Aug. 2, USA) Eight-episode limited series has Bill Pullman, pictured, investigating why young mother Jessica Biel has suddenly erupted into shocking violence.


MARLON -- Pilot -- Pictured: (l-r) Amir O'Neil
Photo Credit: NBC/Tyler Golden

Marlon (Aug. 16, NBC) In a sitcom based on his own experience, Marlon Wayans co-parents his kids with ex-wife Essence Atkins. Pictured: Amir O'Neil, left, Wayans and Atkins.

'The Defenders'

Mike Colter, Scott Glenn, Finn Jones, Krysten Ritter,
Photo Credit: Netflix/Sarah Shatz

The Defenders (Aug. 18, Netflix) Who can save New York City? Only those Marvel heroes Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones). Pictured: Colter, left, Scott Glenn, Jones, Ritter and Charlie Cox.


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