Summer TV Preview: Your Guide to 70 New & Returning Shows

  • Publish Date: May 7, 2014
  • Comments: ↓ 7 user comments

Below, we take a look at some of the notable new and returning shows premiering from May through August. Be sure to visit our frequently updated TV Premiere Calendar for a quick list of all TV premiere dates for 2014, including shows coming this fall.

20 notable summer premieres

BoJack Horseman: A Tale of Fear, Loathing and Animals NEW
Netflix | tbd August

Netflix's first foray into edgy, Adult Swim-style animation for adults is also TV's only series (as far as we know) to be illustrated by a James Beard Award winner, cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt. Expected to debut this summer, the 12-episode BoJack Horseman follows the life of a self-loathing, washed-up sitcom star with a drinking problem—who happens to be a horse. Voices come from Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, and Amy Sedaris, plus guests Paul F. Tompkins, Alison Brie, Olivia Wilde, Anjelica Huston, and more.

Extant NEW Watch trailer
CBS | Wednesdays at 9p starting July 9

CBS had success last summer with the Steven Spielberg-produced sci-fi series Under the Dome, so this year it is doubling down, bringing back a second season of that series as well as 13 episodes of newcomer Extant. The new sci-fi thriller centers on an astronaut (Oscar-winner Halle Berry in her first regular primetime TV gig since the short-lived Who's the Boss? spin-off Living Dolls) who returns to Earth after spending a year in space. Her experiences both on the job and at home reconnecting with her family (including her husband, played by ER's Goran Visnjic) will, naturally, lead to events that change the course of human history. (There's also a Caprica-esque storyline involving the development of humanoid robots, while the trailer suggests another plot thread that hopefully turns out better than this.) The solid cast also includes Camryn Manheim (The Practice), Grace Gummer (The Newsroom), Tessa Ferrer (Grey's Anatomy), Tyler Hilton (One Tree Hill), and Annie Wersching (24).

Gang Related NEW Watch trailer
Fox | Thursdays at 9p starting May 22

Like The Shield, this Brian Grazer-produced crime procedural also centers on an elite L.A.P.D. task force charged with suppressing gang activity, only to fall on the wrong side of the law themselves. Here, though, the morally-challenged cop (Ramon Rodriguez, Charlie's Angels) is operating alone. He's a double agent: a longtime gang member who has been working in law enforcement for a decade and who now finds his loyalties torn between both sides. Lost's Terry O'Quinn and Wu-Tang Clan's RZA also star for creator Chris Morgan (screenwriter of three Fast & Furious movies). Critics seemed to like the pilot when they saw it a year ago, but Fox held the show back until summer, which isn't necessarily a bad sign, but probably isn't a good one, either.

Halt and Catch Fire NEW Watch trailer
AMC | Sundays at 10p starting June 1

Turn, AMC's first attempt at replacing the departed Breaking Bad and soon-to-follow Mad Men, proved unable to replicate the critical success of those landmark series. Next up for the network is the period drama Halt and Catch Fire. Like FX's The Americans, Catch Fire turns to the early 1980s for its setting, but raises the stakes from the Cold War to the less deadly (but more cutthroat?) PC Wars. The new series takes place in Dallas, where a former IBM executive (Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies) attempts to build a rival to his former employer's flagship home computer with the help of an engineer (Scoot McNairy, Argo) and a young prodigy (Mackenzie Davis, Smashed). Breaking Bad's Mark Johnson and Melissa Bernstein and Southland's Jonathan Lisco are among the producers.

The Knick NEW Watch trailer
Cinemax | date tbd

As we previously learned, Steven Soderbergh's "retirement" does not seem to apply to television. So with one TV movie under his belt, the director now moves on to a full-fledged series, and one that features Clive Owen in his first regular U.S. television role. Directed in its entirety by Soderbergh, The Knick is a 10-episode medical drama set in a New York hospital during the early 1900s, with Owen playing one of the surgeons on staff. (Oh, and surgery in the early 1900s? A bit on the bloody side, as early teasers reveal.) Frequent Soderbergh collaborator Cliff Martinez provides the score.

The Last Ship NEW Watch trailer
TNT | Sundays at 9p starting June 22

Based on William Brinkley's novel, this 10-episode, Michael Bay-produced thriller centers on the crew of a Navy destroyer who find themselves among the last living people on the planet after a global catastrophe. (A Phase 6 global catastrophe, as a matter of fact.) Eric Dane (Grey's Anatomy) heads a cast that also includes Adam Baldwin (Firefly), Travis Van Winkle (Heart of Dixie), Christina Elmore (Fruitvale Station), and—in the final two episodes—Titus Welliver. The adaptation comes from Hank Steinberg (The Nine, Without a Trace), with Terminator 3's Jonathan Mostow directing the pilot.

The Leftovers NEW Watch trailer
HBO | Sundays at 10p starting June 29

It's sort of a reverse of the trendy Resurrection/The Returned formula: instead of the dead coming back to life in mysterious fashion, the living vanish without a trace—or at least, some of them do. As the title implies, The Leftovers examines the lives of the people left behind on Earth after this inexplicable, Rapture-like event in which 140 million people vanish without a trace. Adapted from Tom Perrotta's best-seller (with Perrotta on board as writer and producer), the 10-episode series comes from Lost's Damon Lindelof and features a pilot directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights). Lindelof already has an ending for the series in mind, by the way (and it's not the one you'll see this year; this isn't intended to be a limited event series). Justin Theroux (Mulholland Drive), Liv Tyler (in her TV debut), Ann Dowd, Amy Brenneman (Private Practice), and Christopher Eccleston (Thor: The Dark World) head the ensemble cast.

Legends NEW Watch trailer
TNT | Wednesdays at 9p starting August 13

Sean Bean (Game of Thrones) stars as one of the brightest field agents in the FBI's Deep Cover Operations division—someone who has a good head on his shoulders, you might say—who suddenly is confronted by the possibility that he isn't the man he thought he was. Based on Robert Littell's novel, Legends comes from Homeland producer Howard Gordon and Sleeper Cell vets Ethan Reiff and Cy Voris, and was developed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Hostages) and Mark Bomback (The Wolverine). Starring alongside Bean are Ali Larter (Heroes), Morris Chestnut (Nurse Jackie), Tina Majorino (Veronica Mars), David Meunier (Justified), and Steve Harris (The Practice).

Maron Watch clip  
Comedy Bang! Bang! Watch clip
IFC | Thursdays at 10p and 10:30p starting May 8

It's the podcast power hour. Loosely based on Marc Maron's WTF podcast, Maron will find the comedian welcoming the likes of David Cross, Ray Romano, Michael Ian Black, Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter, Sarah Silverman, Johnny Knoxville, Chris Hardwick, Tom Kenny, and Paul Feig into his home in season 2. Meanwhile, while host and post-office-avoider Scott Aukerman's Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast just celebrated its fifth anniversary, his TV spin-off returns following an all-new Maron for the start of its 20-episode third season, which will be followed by a massive 40-episode fourth season in 2015. Joining Scott and sidekick/bandleader Reggie Watts in the studio this year are Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswalt, Bob Odenkirk, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Fred Armisen, Lizzy Caplan, Josh Groban, Craig Robinson, Paul Scheer, Ben Schwartz, Jason Alexander, Paul F. Tompkins, and more.

Masters of Sex Watch trailer
Showtime | Sundays at 10p starting July 13

Fans of Showtime's critically acclaimed period drama got an unexpected treat when the network announced that season 2 would arrive sooner than originally planned, with new episodes starting in July rather than the fall. Sarah Silverman, Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), and Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee) will recur throughout the 12-episode second season, while Annaleigh Ashford (who plays prostitute Betty Dimello) will become a series regular.

The Normal Heart MOVIEWatch trailer
HBO | Sunday, May 25 at 9p

Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story) directs Larry Kramer's adaptation of his own Tony-winning play about the onset of the HIV crisis in New York City from 1981-84. Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer, Taylor Kitsch, and Jim Parsons head a strong ensemble cast that also features Corey Stoll, Alfred Molina, Joe Mantello, Jonathan Groff, Denis O'Hare, and BD Wong. HBO is already eyeing a sequel (to be set about five years later), with Murphy and much of the cast potentially returning.

Orange Is the New Black
Netflix | streams at 12:01a on Friday, June 6

One of the most pleasant TV surprises of 2013 (when it landed on more critic top-10 lists than all but one other show), Netflix's prison dramedy returns for its sophomore season in just under a month, when all 13 episodes will stream at once. (Want more good news? The show has just been renewed for a third season.) While Taylor Schilling's Piper continues to center the series, Orange's ensemble nature is expected to gain a greater emphasis this year, and to that end part-timers Taryn Manning ("Pennsatucky"), Uzo Aduba ("Crazy Eyes"), and Selenis Leyva (who plays Gloria Mendoza) are among the cast members bumped up to series regular status this year, joined by newcomers such as Lori Petty and Lorraine Toussaint. And, while early reports suggested that co-star Laura Prepon would have an extremely limited presence in season 2, she will actually appear in at least four episodes this season (and will be a full-timer again in season 3).

Outlander NEW Watch trailer Watch trailer #2
Starz | Saturdays at 9p starting August 9

It is shaping up to be a busy year for Battlestar Galactica's Ron Moore. First came the launch of his new sci-fi thriller Helix, while this summer will bring his second new series of the year, an adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander book series, which blends sci-fi, fantasy, romance, adventure, and historical fiction. Starz has already committed to 16 episodes of Outlander, which follows a married World War II combat nurse (Caitriona Balfe) who is mysteriously transported back in time to 1743 Scotland, where her life is in danger and she is forced to marry a second man (a young warrior, played by Sam Heughan). It might be a tad less bloody than Game of Thrones, but there's just as much sex. Moore plans to adapt one book per season should Outlander score a renewal.

Penny Dreadful NEW Watch trailer Watch full 1st episode
Showtime | Sundays at 10p starting May 11

Set in Victorian London, this pulpy new psychological thriller series depicts the origin stories of literature's most classic horror characters, including Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein. Eva Green (already earning raves for her performance), Josh Hartnett, and Timothy Dalton head the cast for Penny Dreadful, which was created by Hugo and Skyfall screenwriter John Logan and produced by Sam Mendes. The first two episodes (of eight total for this debut season) were directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage), and don't expect mere monster-of-the-week storytelling; this is one, long, serialized tale.

Rectify Watch trailer
Sundance | Thursdays at 9p starting June 19

This tale of a wrongly convicted prisoner who must readjust to civilian life when he is set free after two decades on death row—Sundance Channel's first-ever original drama series—made quite an impression on critics in its short first season last year, ranking among the year's best new programs. This summer brings an expanded second season (10 episodes) that will find Daniel Holden (Aden Young) in an even darker place, unsure whether he wants to live or die, or whether he is guilty or innocent. Ain't Them Bodies Saints director David Lowery will be behind the camera for at least one episode this season.

Rosemary's Baby MINISERIES Watch trailer Watch clip #1 Watch clip #2 Watch feature
NBC | Sunday, May 11 at 9p and Thursday, May 15 at 9p

Yes, it would seem that Roman Polanski's 1968 film—one of the all-time horror classics—was not exactly crying out for a remake. But Ira Levin's best-selling novel has gone before cameras once again, resulting this time in a four-hour TV miniseries, and one of the oddest ways to celebrate Mother's Day that TV has yet come up with. The story's setting has been changed to Paris rather than New York, but there look to be scares aplenty, and there is some talent involved on both sides of the camera. Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa, The Wire, Treme) directs a cast led by Zoe Saldana, Jason Isaacs (Awake), and Patrick J. Adams (Suits).

Sharknado 2: The Second One MOVIE
Syfy | Wednesday, July 30 at 9p

Can lightning strike twice? How about shark lightning? Last year's intentionally (?) terrible made-for-Syfy movie about a shark-filled mega-storm wreaking havoc across Los Angeles became an instant viral hit, and turned about to be as fun as its premise and cast (Ian Ziering! Tara Reid!) promised. Now, the forecast calls for a sequel this summer, followed by a third Sharknado film next year. But has the shark-storm genre jumped the shark? The title alone suggest that this year's New York-set Sharknado 2: The Second One is off to a good start, and the cast is loaded this time around, with a returning Ziering and Reid joined by Andy Dick, Kelly Osbourne, Vivica A. Fox, Judah Friedlander, Mark McGrath, Kari Wuhrer, Judd Hirsch (as a New York cabbie!), Billy Ray Cyrus, and more. However, if you want another chainsaw vs. shark scene, you're going to have to pay for it yourself.

The Strain NEW
FX | date tbd

One of this summer's most-anticipated newcomers is this vampire series from Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, which they adapted from their own book trilogy. Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) also directs the first episode, while the series is produced by Lost's Carlton Cuse. Playing the head of a CDC team investigating a frightening new viral outbreak in New York that threatens the city's population, Corey Stoll (House of Cards) tops a huge ensemble cast that also features David Bradley, Kevin Durand, Mia Maestro, Sean Astin, Francis Capra, and Regina King. This first season runs for 13 episodes, covering the first book in the trilogy, while producers suggest there is enough material for 2-4 additional seasons to follow.

Tyrant NEW
FX | date tbd

FX has another intriguing newcomer on tap for summer in the form of this latest drama series from Homeland creators Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff (as well as Six Feet Under veteran Craig Wright). Though excitement dimmed a bit when original director Ang Lee pulled out of the project (he was subsequently replaced by frequent Harry Potter director David Yates), there is still plenty of potential for a political thriller that takes a fictionalized look at the Arab Spring as it focuses on the exiled son of the dictator of a war-torn Middle East nation who returns to his homeland (along with his American family) for the first time in 20 years and becomes caught up in his nation's turbulent politics when his father dies.

Welcome to Sweden NEW Watch trailer
NBC | Thursdays at 9p starting July 10

Why get excited (or at least mildly curious) about yet another fish-out-of-water culture-clash comedy ... and one that airs during the summer and centers on an accountant, no less? Two words: Amy Poehler. Poehler serves as executive producer for Welcome to Sweden, though it is her brother Greg who stars as a New York accountant-to-the-stars who quits his job, drops everything, and moves to Stockholm to be with the woman he loves. (The semi-autobiographical tale is based on Greg's own life.) Patrick Duffy and Illeana Douglas are the other regulars you'll recognize, though Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Gene Simmons, and Aubrey Plaza are among the stars who show up as themselves (as clients of Greg) along the way.

In brief: Dramas

The Bridge
FX, tbd July

Though it started off fairly strong (thanks in no small part to the lead performances by Diane Kruger and Demián Bichir), atmospheric, cross-border crime drama The Bridge became one of the few FX shows to underwhelm critics when it got bogged down in an increasingly disappointing serial killer story as the season progressed, eventually culminating in an uneventful two episodes that served almost as a series reboot, setting up new storylines for season 2. This upcoming second season will see Demián's brother Bruno Bichir join the cast, and will find Elwood Reid as the sole showrunner following the departure of his partner/co-creator Meredith Stiehm (who has returned to Showtime's Homeland).

The Divide NEW Watch trailer
WE, July 16

WE's first original scripted drama series comes from writer Richard LaGravenese (Behind the Candelabra, The Fisher King) and director/producer Tony Goldwyn (Scandal, The Last Kiss). The legal drama follows a caseworker with the "Innocence Initiative" who works to free wrongly convicted inmates; Marin Ireland, Damon Gupton, Clarke Peters, and Paul Schneider star.

Hell on Wheels
AMC, date tbd

AMC's somewhat forgotten drama series is still chugging along; this summer's new batch of episodes will mark the railroad western's fourth season, and it has been super-sized to 13 episodes. Jake Weber (Medium) and MacKenzie Porter are among the newcomers this year.

The Killing
Netflix, August 1

The now ironically titled (it's the series that just won't die!) crime drama, canceled several times by AMC, moves to Netflix for a fourth and final (?) season of just six episodes, all streaming on August 1st. Stars Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman return—joined by newcomers including Frances Fisher, Joan Allen, Sterling Beaumon (Red Widow), and Levi Meaden (The 100)—for a new story that revolves around a murder at a Seattle-area military academy.

Last Tango in Halifax
PBS, June 29

This British drama series about one-time childhood sweethearts (Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid) who finally reunite after six decades apart managed to captivate many critics when it debuted in the U.S. last fall. A six-episode second season airs this summer.

Manhattan NEW Watch trailer
WGN, tbd July

The cable network's second original drama series (following Salem, which was just picked up for a second season despite middling reviews) is set not in New York but in Los Alamos, New Mexico—in the 1940s, when a group of scientists race to build the world's first atomic bomb. (Yes, the Manhattan Project.) The 13-episode series comes from Masters of Sex writer Sam Shaw and stars John Benjamin Hickey (The Big C), Olivia Williams (Dollhouse), Daniel Stern (Home Alone), and Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards). Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing) serves as director and producer, while the score comes from Sigur Rós' Jónsi and Alex Somers.

Matador NEW
El Rey, July 15

The second original drama series on Robert Rodriguez's El Rey Network is this action-filled offering from writer-producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Sleepy Hollow, Transformers) about a popular soccer star who leads a double life as a covert CIA agent. Gabriel Luna, Nicky Whelan, Alfred Molina, Tanc Sade, and Elizabeth Peña star, while Rodriguez himself directs the first episode.

Murder in the First NEW Watch trailer
TNT, June 9

Veteran TV producer Steven Bochco attempts to return to the formula of his critically acclaimed (but low-rated) 1990s series Murder One with another crime drama that follows a single high-profile murder case across an entire season (though this time from the perspective of a pair of homicide detectives rather than a defense attorney, making it more like The Killing than anything else). The San Francisco-set series stars Taye Diggs, Kathleen Robertson, Steven Weber, James Cromwell, and Tom Felton.

The Night Shift NEW Watch trailer
NBC, May 27

Still missing ER, NBC returns to the medical arena with a straightforward (generic?) procedural focusing on the graveyard shift at a San Antonio hospital. Created by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah (the team that brought you—or maybe your kids—the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies), the series stars Freddy Rodriguez (Six Feet Under), Brendan Fehr (Roswell), Ken Leung (Lost), Eoin Macken (Merlin), and Jill Flint (The Good Wife).

Power NEW Watch trailer
Starz, June 7

Rapper 50 Cent is among the producers of this eight-episode drama about the wealthy owner (Omari Hardwick) of an elite New York nightclub who is actually using the club as a front for his day job: drug kingpin. The series comes from The Good Wife producer Courtney Kemp Agboh and also stars Victor Garber, Naturi Naughton, Sonya Walger, and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson himself.

Ray Donovan Watch trailer
Showtime, July 13

Not nearly as critically acclaimed as fellow Showtime newcomer Masters of Sex last year, this tale of a fixer (Liev Schreiber) to L.A.'s rich and famous did earn a surprise Golden Globe trophy for co-star Jon Voight. Joining the cast for Donovan's second season are Hank Azaria (The Simpsons), Wendell Pierce (The Wire), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), Vinessa Shaw (3:10 to Yuma), and Ann-Margret.

Reckless NEW Watch trailer
CBS, June 29

This soapy legal drama set in Charleston, South Carolina—where a police sex scandal threatens to tear the city apart (though not literally, as that would defy physics)—stars Cam Gigandet and Anna Wood.

Rush NEW Watch trailer
USA, July 17

Tom Ellis stars as a renegade, hard-partying "medical fixer" who provides services to the rich and famous of Los Angeles. The gritty (by USA Network standards) drama comes from writer/director Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies).

Satisfaction NEW Watch trailer
USA, July 17

Pairing with Rush in USA's Thursday lineup is another darker-than-normal drama depicting a rapidly disintegrating marriage. Matt Passmore (The Glades) and Stephanie Szostak star for series creator Sean Jablonski (Nip/Tuck). The two new shows join new seasons of returning dramas Covert Affairs (6/24), Graceland (6/11), Royal Pains (6/10), and Suits (6/11) on USA's summer schedule.

Taxi Brooklyn NEW
NBC, June 25

Chyler Leigh (Grey's Anatomy) stars in a 12-episode adaptation of Luc Besson's action-dramedy film franchise Taxi.

In brief: Sci-fi, fantasy, and action

Crossbones NEW Watch trailer
NBC, May 30

Like this season's other new pirate drama (Starz's Black Sails), Crossbones is set in the year 1715, though this NBC series is based on a true story: that of the pirate Blackbeard, played here by John Malkovich. Crossbones comes from Luther creator Neil Cross, and the first episode is directed by David Slade (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse).

Defiance Watch trailer
Syfy, June 19

Syfy's video game/science fiction series crossover returns for its second television season with new cast members James Murray, William Atherton, and Anna Hopkins, plus a guest appearance by Linda Hamilton.

Dominion NEW Watch trailer
Syfy, June 19

Though Dominion isn't exactly drawing from top-notch source material—it is based on the 2010 movie Legion—there is decent early buzz for this supernatural drama series set 25 years after the start of a war between angels and mankind. The cast includes Christopher Egan (Kings), Tom Wisdom (300), Alan Dale (Lost), Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Roxanne McKee (Game of Thrones), and Luke Allen-Gale (The Borgias)

Falling Skies Watch trailer
TNT, June 22

The expanded fourth season of TNT's sci-fi drama will feature 12 episodes (rather than the usual 10) and a new recurring role for Mira Sorvino.

Hemlock Grove
Netflix, July 11

Not every original series on Netflix is a winner. Take Eli Roth's supernatural horror series Hemlock Grove, which turned off most critics (though not necessarily Netflix members) in its first season last year. Nevertheless, Grove returns with 10 new episodes this summer, under the guidance of new showrunner Charles H. Eglee (Murder One, The Shield, Dexter). Madeleine Martin (Californication) and Madeline Brewer (Orange Is the New Black) are among this season's new cast members.

In the Flesh Watch first 4 minutes
BBC America, May 10

Originally conceived as a three-part miniseries, this British zombie drama—depicting a world in which the undead can be "rehabilitated" and allowed to safely re-enter society—is now a full-fledged (though still relatively mini) series, returning for six new hour-long episodes beginning Saturday.

Intruders NEW Watch trailer
BBC America, date tbd

X-Files writer-producer Glen Morgan adapts Michael Marshall Smith's best-selling novel The Intruders for BBC America's new eight-episode paranormal thriller about a secret society that may have discovered the secret to immortality (hint: it involves inhabiting the bodies of other people). John Simm (Life on Mars) and Mira Sorvino star, while horror veterans Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism) and Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project) direct.

The Musketeers NEW Watch trailer
BBC America, June 22

Already renewed for a second season, this new adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel (The Three Musketeers) set in 17th century Paris stars Luke Pasqualino (The Borgias), Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It), Santiago Cabrera (Merlin), and Tom Burke (The Hour).

True Blood Watch trailer
HBO, June 22

This seventh season will mark the final 10 episodes for HBO's vampire drama, with producer Brian Buckner once again stepping in for departed series creator Alan Ball. Season 6 newcomer Bailey Noble has been upped to series regular for this final season, while Nathan Parsons (Bunheads) will join the cast as James, a role previously played by Luke Grimes.

Under the Dome Watch trailer
CBS, June 30

This adaptation of Stephen King's novel was a hit when it debuted last summer, leading to a second season that arrives next month. King himself wrote the screenplay for the June 30th premiere (which will kill off two returning characters), though much of the action this season will go beyond the events in his original novel. Joining the cast are Sherry Stringfield (ER), Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY), Karla Crome (Misfits), and singer Dwight Yoakam.

In brief: Comedies

Almost Royal NEW Watch trailers
BBC America, June 21

BBC America's first original scripted comedy series, the mockumentary-style Almost Royal centers on two British aristocratic siblings—who are very, very, very distant descendants of the royal family—on their first trip to the United States.

Backpackers NEW Watch online episodes
CW, July 14

Backpackers follows a pair of twenty-something friends on their travels across Europe. The first series to make the jump from online platform CW Seed to the TV network itself, this 10-episode comedy will include both previously aired material from the digital series as well as all-new episodes.

Derek Watch trailer
Netflix, May 30

Ricky Gervais' somewhat under-the-radar retirement home dramedy, which received decent but not great reviews for last year's debut season, returns for a second batch of six new episodes.

Garfunkel and Oates NEW
IFC, date tbd

The comedy-music duo of Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome get their own comedy series, with Fred Savage on board as executive producer and director. The eight-episode season should kick off in late summer.

Girl Meets World NEW Watch trailer
Disney, June 27

Disney's new comedy series is a sequel to Boy Meets World, which aired during ABC's TGIF lineup from 1993-2000. Though the original show's stars Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel return, the new series will focus on their characters' 12-year-old daughter, played by Rowan Blanchard. Returning guest stars like William Daniels will be joined by the likes of Jane Lynch, Cloris Leachman, Willie Garson, Charlotte Rae, and Herbie Hancock.

Married NEW
FX, date tbd

One of two new comedies expected to debut on FX this summer, Married comes from Andrew Gurland (The Virginity Hit, Mail Order Wife) and stars Nat Faxon (Ben & Kate) and Judy Greer (Arrested Development) as an oft-bickering married couple. Kroll Show alumni Jenny Slate and Brett Gelman co-star.

Adult Swim, date tbd

Adult Swim's newsmagazine parody is expected to return for its second season this summer, with Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Suburgatory) taking over as host.

Play It Again, Dick NEW
CW Seed, date tbd

This digital-only spin-off from Veronica Mars (produced and co-written, like that show, by Rob Thomas) centers on Veronica Mars co-star Ryan Hansen (played by a perfectly cast Ryan Hansen) as he attempts to get a spin-off for his Dick Casablancas character. Expect cameos from various Mars players.

Seed NEW
CW, July 14

The CW's other new scripted comedy series (along with Backpackers, above) follows an underachieving bartender and sperm donor (Adam Korson) who connects with the families of three of his recipients.

Undateable NEW Watch trailers
NBC, May 29

This Bill Lawrence (Scrubs)-produced comedy centers on a group of 20-something friends, as most sitcoms are obligated to do. The show will air as back-to-back new episodes each week, and if that sounds like NBC is trying to quickly unload this leftover series that it never got around to airing during the regular season, well, you said it, not us. Chris D'Elia, Brent Morin, and Ron Funches star.

Vicious NEW Watch trailer
PBS, July 6

A British comedy about a bickering elderly gay couple who have been living together for 50 years, Vicious will make its U.S. debut this summer on PBS stations. The show was a minor hit in Britain despite mixed reviews, and a second season has been ordered. Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi star.

Working the Engels NEW
NBC, July 10

Paired with fellow new comedy Welcome to Sweden (see above) on Thursday nights, Engels follows a family struggling to stay afloat after the family patriarch dies, leaving behind a mountain of debt. While that doesn't exactly scream "funny!", the cast does, led Andrea Martin, who will be joined (in guest appearances) by her former SCTV co-stars Martin Short and Eugene Levy.

You're the Worst NEW
FX, date tbd

FX's other new summer comedy, like Married, also deals with an imperfect romantic relationship, but this one showcases the beginning stages, when a pair of self-destructive people—played by Aya Cash (The Wolf of Wall Street) and British actor Chris Geere (After Earth)—attempt to become a couple.

In brief: Reality and talk

Bachelor in Paradise NEW
ABC, date tbd

In the past few years, hoping to milk the its Bachelor(ette) franchise for a few extra weeks in the summer, ABC has locked a group of former contestants in a house for a month for a bit of Big Brother-style "fun." When that proved to be a bit less fun than advertised, a reboot became necessary. Hence the new Bachelor in Paradise, which is basically the same thing, but at the beach. ABC promises both twists and surprises, so there's that.

Famous in 12 NEW
CW, June 3

It doesn't seem all that hard to find yourself on TMZ—even if your last name isn't Sterling—but it gets even easier for one "lucky" family. These ordinary folks will move to Los Angeles and, under the "expert" guidance of TMZ's Harvey Levin, attempt to become famous in just 12 weeks. Can they do it? (Hint: yes; they star in their own primetime network television show called Famous in 12.)

I Wanna Marry "Harry" NEW Watch trailer
Fox, May 27

You can always count on Fox to have the year's most malevolent reality series. Harry, from producer Ryan Seacrest, is a dating series that finds 12 single women sent to an English castle to compete for the affection of a man whom they believe to be royalty. Here's a secret: he's not.

Last Comic Standing Watch trailer
NBC, May 22

After a four-year absence, NBC's stand-up comedy competition returns with new host JB Smoove and new judges Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Russell Peters.

Penn & Teller: Fool Us NEW
CW, July 30

The latest TV series from the semi-loquacious magic duo is actually an import of a show they originally created for British television. Fool Us is a competition series that asks aspiring magicians to perform a trick in front of Penn & Teller, who have one chance to figure out how it was done. If the contestant manages to stump Penn & Teller, he gets a gig as their opening act. The CW will air a second magic series, Masters of Illusion (in which variety of illusionists perform in front of a live audience), in August.

The Quest NEW
ABC, July 31

Sounding like an MMORPG crossed with The Amazing Race (whose producers are behind this new series), this "fantasy competition" asks a dozen contestants to undergo a series of challenges in "Everealm," describe by the network as "a land of magic and malevolence, where mythical creatures lurk in the woods, agents of darkness stir in the shadows, and mystical beings infiltrate the keep." Finally, a reality show for LARPers.

Riot NEW Watch trailer
Fox, May 13

Steve Carell is the man responsible for bringing this Australian comedy game show (known there as Slide Show and elsewhere as Anything Goes) to the U.S. In Riot, teams of comedians and other celebrities (regulars such as John Ross Bowie and Jamie Denbo will be joined by guests like Carell himself, plus Jason Alexander, Michael Ian Black, Tom Green, D.L. Hughley, and more) will face off in a series of improvisational challenges on a slanted stage that's tilted at a precise 22.5 degree angle (we checked; there's no need to get out your protractor).

Rising Star NEW
ABC, June 22

What's the difference between Rising Star and the countless singing competitions that came before it? The gimmick here in this import of a popular Israeli format is that audience members get to vet the auditioning contestants in real time by voting via a smartphone app. If you want something a bit less conventional, ABC also has Sing Your Face Off, a singing competition in which C-list celebrities ranging from Jon Lovitz to Lisa Rinna are transformed into impersonators of music legends, starting May 31st.

Top Chef Duels NEW
Bravo, date tbd

Airing in lieu of Top Chef Masters this summer is a new format (originally known as Top Chef Extreme) that will pit 18 former TC and TCM contestants against each other in head-to-head duels (closer to Chopped than Iron Chef) in a season-long tournament. The regular version of Top Chef will also return this fall with its first Boston-set season.

The Wil Wheaton Project NEW Watch trailer
Syfy, May 27

The former Star Trek TNG star and current blogger gets his own weekly comedy talk series which he describes as "Talk Soup for geeks," featuring commentary on the week in TV, internet, and pop culture events.

In brief: Movies, miniseries, and specials

Labyrinth MINISERIES Watch trailer
CW, May 22 and May 23

A rare miniseries from the CW, the four-hour Labyrinth follows the search for the Holy Grail across two time periods, in medieval and present-day France. (It's based on Kate Mosse's 2005 novel, and it's the same miniseries that already aired in other countries in 2012 and 2013.) Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Sebastian Stan (Gossip Girl), John Hurt, and Tom Felton star.

The Maya Rudolph Show SPECIAL
NBC, May 19

Kids, it's called a "variety show." The former SNL star welcomes guests such as Kristen Bell, Andy Samberg, Fred Armisen, Craig Robinson, Sean Hayes, and Chris Parnell, for a few comedy sketches, with music from Janelle Monáe and Raphael Saadiq. For now, it's a one-off special, but there's potential for it to become a recurring series.

Petals on the Wind MOVIE Watch trailer
Lifetime, May 26

The sequel to last year's Flowers in the Attic telefilm takes place a decade later and stars Rose McIver, Wyatt Nash, Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn, Bailey Buntain, and Dylan Bruce.

Seven Deadly Sins MINISERIES
Showtime, June 19

The latest high-concept, darkly comedic documentary series from Morgan Spurlock (30 Days, Super Size Me) will span seven episodes, with each one telling a variety of nonfiction stories relating to a central theme: one of the seven deadly sins.

The World Wars MINISERIES Watch trailer
History, May 26–May 28

The team behind The Men Who Built America returns with a three-night look at the 20th century's two major armed conflicts. Hurt Locker star Jeremy Renner narrates the six-hour mix of CGI, dramatizations, and talking heads (including Colin Powell, John McCain, and John Major).

What's on your must-watch list?

Do any of the new summer shows sound good to you? Let us know what you'll be watching in the comments section below.


Comments (7)

  • martinex  

    I think I'll take a break from TV for a while. Everything I like (Boss, The Killing, Terriers) always gets canceled anyway.

  • mrmonster  

    Why wasn't Crossbones on this list

  • FleshWorld  

    The Last Ship is a tough one. It looks an awful lot like that Andre Brauer series that the networks never gave much of a chance. The cast in general looks excellent and I enjoy the battleship setting but do I want to invest much of my time when you're just going to pull the rip cord on it? I don't know. I will definitely TuneIn for the second season of in the flesh. Such an original take on the zombie genre.

  • silasbodnick  

    I thought that the first season of Rectify was outstanding. The actress who plays Amantha really needs to have a larger part this season. Moreover it seems that FX can do no wrong. Their summer shows look super intriguing and I'll definitely Tune in.

  • Spica  

    NBC has done a remarkable job of late, so I have high hopes for Crossbones..

  • MarcDoyle  

    I"m ready for some Penny Dreadful and Longmire.....

  • LamontRaymond  

    Halt and Catch Fire looks incredibly promising..... great cast....

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