Thank you, Under the Dome.Last year’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel provided evidence that summer television doesn’t have to be a vast wasteland.For many years, the conventional programming wisdom had been that people are too busy with warm-weather outdoor and vacation activities to watch TV. If it weren’t for cable channels such as FX, TNT and USA filling the void, there would have been nothing of substance on the air from June to August.Then CBS gave us Under the Dome, about a small town inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible barrier. It was ambitious, inventive, addictive and the highest-rated scripted show of summer — proof that if you make something worthy, people will make a point of watching.It begins its second season June 30.As a result its success, networks across the TV landscape have beefed up their summer lineups. It’s about time.Here are the top 10 promising new offerings on the way during the months to come. 1: The StrainThe creepiest new show of the year is based on a horror novel trilogy by director Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The 13-episode first season begins with a viral outbreak aboard an airplane that triggers what will become a vampire apocalypse. These aren’t charming, angst-filled vamps either. They’re nasty monsters that brutally suck the life force out of their victims. It’s up to a CDC epidemiologist and an offbeat group of allies to save New York City and humanity. Premieres at 9 p.m. July 13, FX. 2: Jennifer FallsJaime Pressly, who stole scenes as Joy, a force of nature on My Name Is Earl, has transformed herself in this charming comedy, TV Land’s first one-camera original. Pressly plays a fired business exec who hits rock bottom and has to move back in with her mother (Jessica Walter) and work as a Hooters-style sports bar waitress. Only her teenage daughter gives her the strength to carry on. Another thing to like here: Ethan Suplee is a co-star, making this an Earl reunion. Premieres at 9:30 p.m., TV Land. 3: The LeftoversThis domestic drama has an understated sci-fi twist. It focuses on those left behind after a Rapture-like event took 2 percent of the world’s population. Three years after The Departure, many residents of Mapleton, N.Y., are trying to carry on. But there’s another segment of society that has given up (hence all the chain-smoking). It’s the apocalypse in the form of slow decay. Showrunner Damon Lindelof is an expert at mysterious TV. He was one of the minds behind Lost. Premieres at 9 p.m. June 29, HBO. 4: The Last ShipA mutating killer virus infects 80 percent of the world’s population. But there’s hope for survival aboard the Navy destroyer USS Nathan James, commanded by Capt. Tom Chandler (Eric Dane). The ship’s valuable passenger is a CDC doctor (Rhona Mitra) who’s developing a cure. But time is running out. The show is wall-to-wall action, as should be expected from a series with the name Michael Bay attached. The explosion-happy Transformers director is an exec producer. Premieres at 8 p.m. June 22, TNT. 5: Chasing LifeThe radiant Italia Ricci stars as April Carver, a 24-year-old aspiring journalist who’s working her way up the ladder at a Boston newspaper. Her love life is looking up, too. She just had a fabulous first date with a handsome fellow reporter. Then she’s broadsided by devastating news: She has leukemia. How she will proceed with her life? And what will that life, during and after the necessary cancer treatment, be like? The show is based on a popular Mexican series. Premieres at 8:30 p.m. June 10, ABC Family. 6: ExtantThis sci-fi conspiracy thriller stars Halle Berry as Molly Woods, an astronaut who spent 13 months alone in space, only to discover once back on Earth that she’s pregnant. But how? So while trying to reconnect with her husband and son (the kid has a knack for making creepy, possibly prophetic comments), Molly must find out what happened on that space station. Another name worth mentioning: One of the exec producers of this 13-episode series is Steven Spielberg. Premieres at 8 p.m. July 9, CBS. 7: The Hotwives of OrlandoThe outrageous reality-show antics of The Real Housewives of Various Cities Across America are spoofed in this Internet comedy series, in which clueless behavior and name-calling catfights are the order of the day. It’s an easy target for parody, but it’s funny stuff nevertheless. The crazy cast of comedians includes Casey Wilson (formerly of Happy Endings), Angela Kinsey ( The Office) and scene-stealing Kristen Schaal ( The Daily Show). Available for streaming beginning July 15, Hulu. 8: Girl Meets World Boy Meets World, the 1990s sitcom starring Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel, ended its seven-year run in 2000 with sweethearts Cory and Topanga as a young married couple. Now these two viewer favorites are back in a family sitcom with their daughter Riley (Rowan Blanchard) navigating her way through her teenage years. Riley’s life at John Quincy Adams Middle School won’t be easy, not with Dad right there as a history teacher. Premieres at 8:45 p.m. June 27, Disney Channel (then moves to 8:30 p.m. Friday). 9: PowerCurtis “50 Cent” Jackson, the rap artist-turned-actor and business mogul, is the biggest name attached to this gritty New York crime drama. He’s an executive producer and also performs the opening theme song. Omari Hardwick stars as James “Ghost” St. Patrick, a family man who owns one of the hottest new nightclubs in town. Behind the scenes, though, is the ugly truth: He’s a drug empire kingpin with a lot of blood on his hands. Ironically, his desire to go legit may be his undoing. Premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday, Starz. 10: The LotteryThis conspiracy thriller is set in the year 2025, a dystopian future in which all women have mysteriously become infertile. Marley Shelton stars as Dr. Alison Lennon, leader of the research team that successfully fertilizes 100 embryos, a scientific breakthrough that might save humanity from extinction. Then the government gets involved, creating a national lottery to determine who gets to carry the prized embryos to term. A cutthroat battle for the embryos then begins. Premieres at 9 p.m. July 20, Lifetime.10 more premieres worth considering 1. Murder in the First: Taye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson play San Francisco cops investigating a complex murder case; from producer Steven Bochco. Premieres at 9 p.m. June 9, TNT. 2. Dominion: Rival armies of angels battle for dominance on earth, while humans in a post-apocalyptic future grasp for power in their stronghold city, Las Vegas. Premieres at 8 p.m. June 19, Syfy. 3. The Musketeers: In 17th-century Paris, King Louis XIII’s bodyguards (Athos, Aramis and Porthos) embrace justice, honor, valor, love and thrills. Premieres at 8 p.m. June 22, BBC America. 4. Rising Star: Here’s another singing talent competition show, this one hosted by Josh Groban, with music stars Brad Paisley, Kesha and Ludacris also attached. Premieres at 8 p.m. June 22, ABC. 5. Mystery Girls: Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth, former Beverly Hills, 90210 co-stars, reunite; they play ‘90s TV starlets who now solve crimes. Premieres at 7:30 p.m. June 25, ABC Family. 6. Welcome to Sweden: A couple experiences culture shock when they move to Stockholm; Greg Poehler (brother of Amy, who is a producer) stars. Premieres at 8 p.m. July 10, NBC. 7. Matador: Meet Tony “Matador” Bravo, a popular soccer star known for his playboy behavior off the field; he also happens to be a daring CIA operative. Premieres at 8 p.m. July 15, El Rey. 8. Partners: Sitcom powerhouses Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence play two Chicago lawyers brought together despite different backgrounds and styles. Premieres at 8 p.m. Aug. 4, FX. 9. The Knick: Clive Owen stars in and Steven Soderbergh produces this medical drama, set in New York’s Knickerbocker Hospital in the year 1900. Premieres at 9 p.m. Aug. 8, on Cinemax. 10. Outlander: A 20th-century nurse time-travels to 18th-century Scotland, finding adventure and love; adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling book series. Premieres at 8 p.m. Aug. 9, Starz.10 Returning Favorites 1. Longmire: Season 3 opens with Walt dealing with the aftermath of Henry’s arrest and Branch’s shooting, while Vic is unsure if she has shaken a stalker from her past. Returns at 9 p.m. Monday, A&E. 2. Orange Is the New Black: Piper is in solitary confinement after beating up Pennsatucky in the Season 1 finale; she’ll also see time in a Chicago prison. Available for streaming beginning Friday, Netflix. 3. Royal Pains: Season 6 opens with Hank returning from his world travels to find that his HankMed family has moved on, meaning he’ll have to establish a new normal. Returns at 8 p.m. June 10, USA. 4. Rizzoli & Isles: Jane and Maura’s cases in Season 5 include the murder of a jogging mother and the murder of a man in an impenetrable doomsday shelter. Returns at 8 p.m. June 17, TNT. 5. Defiance: Season 2 opens with the Earth Republic assuming control, Nolan searching the Badlands for a lost Irisa and a new role in town for Amanda. Returns at 7 p.m. June 19, Syfy. 6. Falling Skies: The Mason family and the remaining 2nd Mass find themselves under attack by a new Espheni war machine in the Season 4 premiere. Returns at 9 p.m. June 22, TNT. 7. True Blood: Rogue vampires attack Bon Temps in the opener of the seventh and final season, in which Sookie and Bill’s on-again, off-again romance will be settled. Returns at 8 p.m. June 22, HBO. 8. Under the Dome: Two weeks after the dome descended on Chester’s Mill, inhabitants search for answers while new faces emerge looking to grab power. Returns at 9 p.m. June 30, CBS. 9. The Bridge: Sonya and Marco are drawn into a new case involving money laundering, police corruption and the Juarez drug wars. Returns at 9 p.m. July 9, FX. 10. The Killing: After three seasons on AMC, Linden and Holder get a proper send-off, investigating a murder at an all-boys military academy. Available for streaming beginning Aug. 1, Netflix.
Get ready for
Monday: Great new grilling cookbooks; children’s summer safety tips
Tuesday: Poolside reads
Wednesday: Best craft beers of the season
Thursday: A guide to summer events for kids and families
Saturday: Teacher gifts that elementary students can make
Today: Summer TV preview