Cable Shows Offer Interesting Summer TV Fare

June 1, 2007

A friend of mine recently complained that now that all the season finales were over, his Tivo was empty.  What was he going to do for the next three months?  I told him to look to his nearest cable network for some pretty cool shows to fill his summer void. 

While network television will inundate you this summer with reruns (with a few exceptions) and more cheaply produced reality shows, cable stations are answering viewers demand for better choices with summer fare that rival some prime season offerings.  So after a day of frolicking in the great outdoors enjoying the summer sun, cool off with these summer shows.

Most of my favorite summer selections won’t start until July; therefore, I’m going to by trying out some new choices in June.  Here are my suggestions for your summer line up. (Note: show times are for EST.)

Showing Now

Traveler — Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC
I said there were a few exceptions to the networks filling the summer void with reruns, here’s one of them.  I’ve seen the first two episodes of this quick-paced drama and am hooked.  Three graduate students decided to go on a cross-country trip before entering the work world.  But in their first stop, a harmless prank turns into an act of terrorism leaving two friends  as the prime suspects and the third friend — Will Turner (Aaron Stanford) — missing.  Jay (Matthew Bomer) and Tyler (Logan Marshall-Green) are on the run looking for Will and answers.  Who is Will Turner really? Is he behind the bombing?  Did he set up his friends?  Or is Will a pawn in a bigger plot?  Tune in to find out.  If you missed the first two episodes, you can catch them online at

Hidden Palms — Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW
What better time for a guilty pleasure than the summer?  And although this drama is filled with teen angst, it’s got enough adult soap to make it interesting.  If you are looking for a serious mind-provoking drama, you won’t find it here.  But you will find some fun with a lot of pretty faces.  Kevin Williamson’s latest creation might look a lot like The O.C. (including a few alums), but it’s definitely got Dawson’s Creek dialogue with a little Desperate Housewives mystery mixed in.  Fresh out of rehab Johnny, played by Taylor Handley (Oliver on The O.C.), moves to Palm Springs with his mother and new step-father a year after witnessing his father’s suicide.  But his new friends Cliff (Michael Cassidy, Zach from The O.C.), Greta (Amber Heard), Nikki (Tessa Thompson) and Liza (Ellary Porterfield) have some baggage of their own including how Greta’s last boyfriend (the former resident of Johnny’s room) died.  I was especially excited to see NYPD alums Gail O’Grady and Sharon Lawrence.  O’Grady is Johnny’s uptight mom trying to deal with a son who blames her for his father’s suicide.  On the other hand, Lawrence is a self-absorbed southern belle and Cliff’s mother.  If you missed it, the pilot re-airs on Sunday, June 3 at 8 p.m.

Army Wives — Sundays at 10 p.m. on Lifetime
Normally I’m not a Lifetime-type girl.  Even for a sentimental fool like me, their stuff is too sappy.  But this series has caught my eye and I plan to tune in at least for the first few episodes to see how it measures up.  From the producers of Grey’s Anatomy, Army Wives features a premier cast which includes Kim Delaney (NYPD Blue) as Claudia Joy Holden, the Colonel’s wife; Catherine Bell (Jag) on the other side of the uniform as Denise Sherwood, the wife of a Major; and Brigid Brannagh (Angel) as Pamela Moran, the outspoken wife of a member of the Delta Force.  However, I think what really drives me to try out this show is the subject.  A Navy brat myself, I’m interested in seeing how this version of Desperate Housewives on Fort Marshall plays out.  Premieres Sunday, June 3rd.

Coming Later This Summer

Rescue Me — Premieres June 13 at 10 p.m. on FX
Of course, our favorite gritty fireman survives the fire he was trapped in during last season’s cliffhanger.  But only to face new adventures this season.  First he becomes a father (again) and then he starts dating a female version of himself — a take-no-crap firefighter from another house.

Burn Notice — Premieres June 28 at 10 p.m. on USA
I loved Jeffrey Donovan in Touching Evil, so I’m willing to give his new series Burn Notice a try.  Donovan plays Michael Westen, a CIA spy who gets a “burn notice” (think CIA version of a pink slip) while on a mission.  Not sure why he was fired, Westen launches his own investigation.  But all his assets are frozen and credit cards canceled, so he heads home to Miami and takes on clients — those that can’t get help from legitimate channels — to help finance his search for answers.  Sharon Gless stars as his chain smoking, hypochondriac mother.

Doctor Who — Premieres July 6 at 9 p.m. on Sci Fi Channel
The 10th incarnation of the Doctor (David Tennant) returns for his third season with a new sidekick, Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman).  Don’t miss the adventures of this time traveling duo as they protect Earth and set things straight.  Ironically, Season 3 kicks off with a Christmas episode.  I hear that the Doctor and Martha will meet Shakespeare this season and battle some blood-sucking aliens.

Eureka — Premieres July 10 at 9 p.m. on Sci Fi Channel
Eureka is Sci Fi at its best — fun and quirky.  The residents of Eureka, a town that doubles as a think tank for some of the country’s greatest minds, return for a second season.  When U.S. Marshal Jack (Colin Ferguson) got stranded in Eureka on his trip to return his run-away daughter to his ex-wife (Olivia D’abo), he never imagined he’d stay on as the town sheriff, constantly saving the bright-minded citizens from themselves. 

Monk — Premieres July 13 at 9 p.m. on USA
Tony Shalhoub returns for his sixth season as our favorite obsessive-compulsive detective.  Adrian Monk’s freakouts over daily things — heights, dirt, snakes, milk, to name a few — will keep you in stitches.  Guest stars this season include Snoop Dogg as a rap star, Sarah Silverman in a repeat role as Monk groupie Marcie Maven, and Sharon Lawrence as Linda Fusco, the real estate agent with a crush on Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (Ted Levine).  I’m not sure I want to know who will be the guest star when Monk investigates the nudist beach.

Psych — Premieres July 13 at 10 p.m. on USA
Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) return for a second season of crime fighting as a fake psychic and his sidekick.  The son of a former cop, Shawn uses his keen eye for detail to pick up on clues the police miss and together with Gus, whose job is to keep the duo out of trouble, the pair solve a variety of crimes.  This season Shawn will have to hold his own when he competes with a real psychic and Tim Curry guest stars.

Who Wants to Be a Superhero? — Premieres July 26 at 9 p.m. on Sci Fi Channel
I’m not normally a big fan of reality shows, but I love this one.  Last season I laughed so hard I cried.  C’mon 12 adults in costumes pretending to be superheroes?  It doesn’t get any better than this!  In Season 2, the producers are stepping it up a notch.  Instead of taking place in the real world like last year, the contest will move into a fictitious world (think Gotham or Metropolis) complete with three recurring villains.  And fans of Stan Lee will love that he will take a more active role as the show host.  Tune in for a fun time.

Flash Gordon — Premieres August 10 on Sci Fi Channel
We most recently saw Flash Gordon as a guest star on Smallville and a member of the Oliver Green’s Justice League.  Now another Smallville alum (Eric Johnson) will portray Gordon in his own series.  Gina Holden (Reunion) will star as Gordon’s love interest Dale Arden and Jody Racicot will play Dr. Hans Zarkov.

I don’t have HBO or Showtime so I can’t comment on shows like Big Love or Weeds, but I hear they are good.  Needless to say though, this summer has some good options on the tube.  So if you aren’t out enjoying the summer evenings, tune in.  What will you be watching this summer?