Cable outlets have had the right idea for years – if you put quality programs on in the summer, people will watch.
Before you slam me, I’ll acknowledge that sometimes the big networks put decent shows on in the summer. Sure, "Seinfeld," "Survivor" and "American Idol" were all born in the summer before being moved to the traditional fall and spring calendars. However, traditionally, summer was a throw-away time for ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.
Cable outlets that produce original shows have found ratings success by plotting a calendar when the big four were in rerun land.
Here’s a list of some of the most anticipated shows of the summer season, if not the entire year, from cable outlets:
"Breaking Bad" – AMC
Walter White, brilliantly played by Bryan Cranston, is at the end. He has ruled the meth market and has enough cash to get out. But, with complicated relationships and heavy consequences with participating in a highly illegal business, there’s little doubt that he will be able to simply walk away.
I still can’t believe the goofy dad from "Malcolm In the Middle" is the anchor of one of the best-written shows in TV history. Cranston is an expert at his craft. Season starts on July 15.
"Dexter" – Showtime
In the final season it will be interesting to see who will all know the doings by the title character as law enforcement close in on getting the Bay Harbor Butcher. Many critics have called the show unbalanced at best and that some of the last few seasons have wavered between good and mediocre. Possibly knowing it is coming to an end will tighten up the writing and cause even more suspenseful endings for each episode.
"Dexter" starts its final season on June 30.
"True Blood" – HBO
Because of star Anna Paquin’s pregnancy, the vampire series has been shorted to only 10 episodes. That could mean some tighter writing, and moving the plot along on a faster pace.
The last season was building to a foul out war between "fangers" and humans, so it will be interesting to see how many smaller subplots will highlight the character development that we’ve come to know from the series. The series starts up on June 16.
"Falling Skies" – TNT
"The Fighting Mass" group of freedom fighters battling aliens continues for a third season in this series produced by Steven Spielberg. Noah Wyle returns as the dad trying to keep his sons alive amid alien battles, and finding unlikely allies among his enemy’s ranks.
It’s sci-fi storytelling at its best, telling us more about humanity in dealing with the overcoming alien threat. "Falling Skies" picks up again on June 9.
"The Killing" – AMC
Word is that the third season will involve a totally new case, brining detectives Linden (Mirielle Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) into a new place. It may also bring a different way of telling the basic cop story that can re-kindle the magic that was part of the first season.
The second season wavered enough, that there was talk whether or not AMC was going to keep the show in production.
"The Newsroom" – HBO
This one holds a special place in my heart, because I can relate to the energy felt in an active newsroom when details are rolling in during breaking news coverage. Writer Aaron Sorkin taps into that energy, taking the staff through the motions on some stories we can recognize and remember from the recent past.
It’s a romantic comedy with a little drama thrown in as we wonder how the News Night team will cover a story. I’m guessing the 2012 president election will be part and parcel for this second season.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.