Summer TV preview

The new and returning series worth consuming this summer.

Once a veritable wasteland for repeats, burned-off episodes of canceled series and just plain leftovers, the broadcast networks are now 12-month programmers. At least they claim to be, that is. Combined with cable, which always aggressively steps up to the programming plate in the non-traditional TV season, and digital, which has no rules, there is more in the original series department (scripted and non-scripted) in this era of "Peak TV" than ever before.

With that in mind, here is a look, in order of debut date, of some of the worthy new entries this June through July. Keep in mind that new NBC singing competition "Songland," which shifts the focus behind the scenes to undiscovered songwriters competing to write the next big hit, already debuted on Tuesday this week (out of the return of "America’s Got Talent").

Immediately following these upcoming new program highlights is a listing of notable returning series premiere dates. 

"The Big Stage" (CW) – debuts Friday, June 7 at 9 p.m. ET

It was a really "big shew" in those black and white TV days of yesteryear when "The Ed Sullivan Show" had families glued to the tube for a weekly Sunday night talent showcase. While perennial "America’s Got Talent" on NBC remains an arena for today’s burgeoning performers, The CW is stepping to the plate with "The Big Stage."

Hosted by Elizabeth Stanton ("Elizabeth Stanton’s Great Big World," "This Just In") and James Maslow ("Big Time Rush"), "The Big Stage" is pure uplifting entertainment. "These performers are the best at what they do, so there is no competition," noted Elizabeth Stanton at the opening of the series. "Just amazing entertainment."

And amazing it indeed is, with five or six acts (singers, dancers, comedians, jugglers, acrobats, ventriloquists and more) presented each week on "The Big Stage," It airs out of  "Masters of Illusion" and Associated Television International produces both series.

"Euphoria" (HBO) – debuts Sunday, June 16 at 10 p.m. ET

Adapted from the 2012 Israeli series of the same name, HBO is joining the growing teen drama bandwagon with this tale of a 17-year old outcast (Zendaya) who returns to high school after a stint in rehab. Exploring mental health and human connection in the digital age, the focus is on a group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and social media.

The cast of "Euphoria" incudes Maude Apatow ("Girls"), Angus Cloud, Eric Dane, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Barbie Ferreira, Nika King, Storm Reid, Hunter Schafer, Algee Smith and Sydney Sweeney ("Sharp Objects"). 

"Too Old to Die Young" (Amazon) – available for streaming on June 14

Miles Teller is featured as Martin Jones, a grieving Los Angeles police officer who finds himself caught up in a criminal underground that features a Japanese organized crime syndicate, the Russian mafia, the Mexican cartels, and gangs of teenage killers.  The series, which comes from Nicholas Winding Refn ("Drive"), is not for the faint of heart. And it another reason why original content in the summer months is not just about reality/competitions and leftovers anymore.

"The Rook" (Starz) – debuts Sunday, June 30 at 8 p.m. ET

Described as a supernatural spy thriller, "The Rook" tells the story of Myfanwy Thomas (Emma Greenwell), who wakes up in the rain beside London’s Millennium Bridge with no memory of who she is and no way to explain the circle of latex-gloved dead bodies splayed around her. The scoop: When Thomas discovers she is a high-ranking official in the Checquy, Britain’s last secret service for people with paranormal abilities, she will have to navigate the dangerous and complex world of the agency to uncover who wiped her memory – and why she is a target.

The cast includes Joely Richardson, Olivia Munn, Adrian Lester, Ronan Rafter, Catherine Steadman, Jon Fletcher, Shelley Conn and James D’Arcy. 

"The Loudest Voice" (Showtime) – debuts Sunday, June 30 at 10 p.m. ET

Based on the book "The Loudest Voice in the Room" by Gabriel Sherman, this seven-part drama chronicles the rise and fall of former Fox News chief Roger Aisles (played by Oscar winner Russell Crowe). Focused primarily on the past decade, included, of course, are the recent sexual harassment accusations and settlements that ended his reign at Fox News.

"The Loudest Voice" also stars Naomi Watts as former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson (who was the first to accuse Ailes of sexual misconduct), Sienna Miller as Ailes’ wife Elizabeth, Seth MacFarlane as former Fox News PR chief Brian Lewis and Simon McBurney as News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch. 

"Pearson" (USA) – debuts Wednesday, July 17 at 10 p.m. ET

Spun-off from "Suits," Gina Torres reprises her role as powerhouse lawyer Jessica Pearson as she enters the dirty world of Chicago politics. The logline: Stripped of her law license, Jessica moves to Chicago to reconnect with her family and to try to make a difference in their community. Taking on a role in the mayor’s office, she brings her signature fight and passion to the corrupt politics ruling the city

"What’s really so wonderful about this show and that I get to have this second chance with Jessica Pearson," said Gina Torres at the Summer 2019 Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles. "Now you get to see a fully realized human being, a fully fleshed out woman, and what it costs her to stay at the top of her game, to maintain relationships, interpersonal relationships, whether they’re professional or whether they’re personal."

"Pennyworth" (Epix) – Friday, July 28

If you can’t get enough of the origins of Batman, this time the focus is on the Wayne family’s legendary butler Alfred Pennyworth. Set in the 1960s London, this version of Alfred (played by Jack Bannon) is in his mid-20s, fresh out of the military, and eager to make his mark on the world. There he meets billionaire aristocrat Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge), who needs protection from dark and mysterious forces.

In addition to Jack Bannon, the cast includes Ben Aldridge ("Our Girl"), pop star Paloma Faith, Jason Flemyng ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"), Ryan Fletcher ("Outlander"), Hainsley Lloyd Bennett ("Eastenders"), Emma Paetz ("Gentleman Jack"), Polly Walker ("The Mentalist") and Emma Corrin ("The Crown"). 

"Four Weddings and a Funeral" (Hulu) – debuts Wednesday, July 31

Inspired by the 1994 film of the same name, the limited series from Mindy Kaling follows four American friends — Maya (Nathalie Emmanuel), Craig (Brandon Mychal Smith), Ainsley (Rebecca Rittenhouse) and Duffy (John Paul Reynolds) — who reunite for a London wedding. But after a bombshell at the altar throws their lives into turmoil, they must weather a tumultuous year of romance and heartbreak.

"I wanted to take the themes and the essence of the movie and apply it through my eyes of what I would like to see that I haven’t seen yet," said Kaling in an interview. "I know so many beautiful, funny, interesting African-American girls and so many handsome, hilarious British-Pakistani and British-Indian guys and I don’t think anyone would put them together if I’m not going to do it." 

Returning Series Premiere Dates of Note

-"Fear the Walking Dead" (AMC): season 5, Sunday, June 2

-"Luther" (BBC America): season 5, Sunday, June 2

-"Black Mirror" (Netflix): season 5, Wednesday, June 5

-"The Handmaid’s Tale" (Hulu): season 3, Wednesday, June 5

-"Big Little Lies" (HBO): season 2, Sunday, June 9

-"Claws" (TNT): season 3, Sunday, June 9

-"Pose" (FX): season 2, Tuesday, June 11

-"Younger" (TV Land): season 6, Wednesday, June 12

-"Big Brother" (CBS): season 21, Tuesday, June 25

-"Stanger Things" (Netflix): season 3, Thursday, July 4

-"Orange is the New Black" (Netflix): season 7: Friday, July 26 (final season)

-"Veronica Mars" (Hulu): season 4 (revival), Friday, July 26

 

 

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