The cast of this summer's kooky
"I Survived a Japanese Game Show,
on ABC starting June 24.
Once a graveyard of repeats and canceled series, the summer season has become a creatively fertile period. "Sex and the City" was a longtime summer hit for HBO. Last season's "Mad Men" (returning to AMC in July, date to be determined) was not just the best show of the summer, but the most critically acclaimed series of 2007. Of course, summer 2007 also produced Fox's "Anchorwoman," canceled after just one airing.
Here's a selective list of new series, returning favorites and a few mind-boggling oddities that simply defy category.
NEW DRAMAS AND COMEDIES
Sunday: "In Plain Sight" (10 p.m., USA). Mary McCormack ("The West Wing") stars as a marshal for the witness-protection program, helping fugitives and witnesses find new furtive lives.
Thursday: "Swingtown" (10 p.m., CBS) revisits the 1970s and the heyday of wife-swapping and adulterous exhibitionism explored in "The Ice Storm" and other tales of the Pet Rock era.
June 29: "The Factory" (10 p.m., Spike) offers a blue-collar variation on "The Office," following four characters in an improvised comedy about working (and avoiding work) at a drab, small-town assembly-line job.
RETURNING DRAMAS AND COMEDIES
June 8: "Army Wives" (10 p.m., Lifetime) ended its first season with a bomb on the base and the perfect cliffhanger.
June 16: Weeds" (10 p.m., Showtime), considered smart by some, smug by others and habit-forming by many, enters its fourth season of distribution and cultivation.
July 10: "Burn Notice" (10 p.m., USA). A spy on the lam survives on wit, sex appeal, charm and his ability to MacGyver his way out of sticky situations.
July 14: "The Closer" (9 p.m., TNT) enters its fourth season with Kyra Sedgwick sporting the thickest Georgia accent since Suzanne Sugarbaker.
NEW REALITY SERIES
June 18: "Black Gold" (10 p.m., TruTV) follows the tough-guy genre to the world of oil fields and wildcatters. From the makers of "Ice Road Truckers," "Deadliest Catch" and "Ax Men."
June 24: "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" (9 p.m., ABC). This documentary-style comedy follows 10 Americans to Tokyo where they vie for a $250,000 prize, compete in strange contests and encounter countless culture shocks.
June 25: "The Baby Borrowers" (8 p.m., NBC). "Kid Nation" meets "Juno" in a social experiment that asks a group of teens to become instant parents to babies, toddlers and preteens.
July 10: "The Greatest American Dog" (8 p.m., CBS) pits pampered pooches against unspoiled mutts in a quest for $250,000 and national acclaim.
July 17: "The Gong Show" (10 p.m., Comedy Central) allows amateurs to flaunt their dubious talents as host Dave Attell channels his inner Chuck Barris.
July 27: "Jingles" (9 p.m., CBS) challenges contestants to write and perform catchy songs about everything from grocery items to toys and enables the network to work product placement right into the competition.
RETURNING REALITY SERIES
June 8: "Ice Road Truckers" (9 p.m., History). Last summer's hit rumbles into a second season.
June 9: "Nashville Star" (9:30 p.m., NBC) celebrates its sixth season by moving from cable to network, begging the question: Has "Nashville" grown more popular or is NBC just more desperate? Billy Ray Cyrus hosts.
(c) 2008, Newsday.
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