Summer's the TV doldrums, but there are actually quite a few good shows on this season if you know where and when to go. Here are seven ways to avoid Honey Boo Boo and Sookie Stackhouse this summer.
“Under the Dome” (Mondays on CBS)
CBS's 13-episode series based on the Stephen King bestseller debuted this past Monday, and while it's not perfect, it's sooooo the best thing on network TV this summer and easily the best King adaptation since, um … “The Shawshank Redemption”?
As many have noted, it's the plot of “The Simpsons Movie.” A small town, in Maine, of course, gets trapped in a giant, impenetrable dome and nobody knows why.
The why of the dome is far less interesting than the effect it has on the community.
Without the strictures of society, some of the townsfolk turn a little villainous. Particularly Big Jim Rennie, played by “Breaking Bad's” excellent Dean Norris.
Here's the full pilot, if you want to catch up in time for Monday's episode.
"Under the Dome" preview
“Ray Donovan” (Premieres Sunday on Showtime)
The pilot to this new series from the creator of “Southland” is already available online, and this one's a keeper. “Ray Donovan” stars Liev Shreiber as the titular antihero, a Los Angeles fixer who helps erase the mistakes of the rich and famous.
But his own life is complicated by a not-so-easily-fixed problem. His father (played by an oily Jon Voight) just got out of prison and wants to be closer to the family.
I don't know if the series is going to be able to sustain the kind-of-funny/kind-of-scary tone of the pilot, but this has all the ingredients of TV's next great series.
"Ray Donovan" trailer
“Drunk History” (Premieres Tuesday, July 9 on Comedy Central)
Funny or Die's web series, in which drunk comedians recount historical events and actors re-enact them, comes to Comedy Central. The first episode (which you can view online now) tackles Watergate and the Lincoln assassination, with Adam Scott, Jack Black, Dave Grohl and others playing various historical figures.
“The Bridge” (Premieres Wednesday, July 10 on FX)
An American cop (Diane Kruger) and a Mexican cop (Oscar-nominated Demian Bichir) team up to catch a serial killer who's picking off victims on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border. I can't tell a whole lot from the teaser except that, uh, the killer sews his victims' body parts together or something.
"The Bridge" teaser
“The Awesomes” (Premieres Thursday, Aug. 1 on Hulu.com)
Animated comedy from “Saturday Night Live's” Seth Meyers about the son of a superhero who tries to restore the crime-fighting team back to its former glory.
"The Awesomes" teaser
“Breaking Bad” (Premieres Sunday, Aug. 11 on AMC)
The final eight episodes of one of the greatest TV series ever. Perhaps the only show that has never (NEVER) made a single misstep in its entire run. If you haven't started this show and caught up to these final episodes yet by Aug. 11, your summer will have been an inferior one.
The teaser-iest teaser of all teasers
“Low Winter Sun” (Premieres Sunday Aug. 11 on AMC)
Mark Strong and Lennie James in a gritty corrupt cop drama that should appeal to “The Shield” fans.
"Low Winter Sun" trailer