By Paula Hendrickson
I don’t enjoy hot weather, so I’m relieved that we haven’t had a major heat wave yet this year. While summer doesn’t officially begin until next week, summer premieres are in full swing.
Already back, or returning soon: Major Crimes, Falling Skies, Necessary Roughness, Switched at Birth, Royal Pains, Drop Dead Diva, The Killing, Perception, The Glades, Franklin & Bash, Longmire, Sullivan & Son, Copper, Burn Notice, Rizzoli & Isles, Hot in Cleveland, Teen Wolf, Wilfred and even Ice Road Truckers.
(I always thought it was inspired to air Ice Road Truckers in the summer — seeing all that ice and snow almost makes me appreciate the summer heat.)
There are several new series this summer, too. One of the summer’s most promoted new series is ABC’s Mistresses, which brings Alyssa Milano (Charmed) and Yunjin Kim (Lost) back to TV. It’s based on a British show of the same name. Despite the title, it’s not actually about a group of conniving mistresses, but about four women with complicated lives and who sometimes make bad choices. It’s light summer fare with a strong cast.
Another new show generating interest is USA’s Graceland. It isn’t set in Memphis or about Elvis. The title is the nickname of a Malibu beach house occupied by a group of undercover agents from the FBI, the DEA and Customs. Daniel Sunjata (Rescue Me) leads the cast as legendary FBI agent Paul Briggs, and Aaron Tveit (Les Miserables, Gossip Girl) as top-of-his-class newbie FBI agent Mike Warren who’s secretly investigating Briggs. It’s fun, and the cast is good, but like Mistresses, Graceland isn’t a show that will revolutionize television.
One that might do that arrives next week — CBS’s 13-episode summer series Under the Dome, based on Stephen King’s 2009 best-selling novel of the same name.
Unlike Mistresses and Graceland, Under the Dome’s title is very accurate: The small town of Chester’s Mill is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible dome. But are they prisoners in their own town, or are they being protected from something even worse on the other side of the dome? Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight) and Mike Vogel (Bates Motel) star.
Under the Dome’s self-contained format (pardon the pun) is what some people think — or hope — might change the way programmers and viewers think about TV. It’s more engaging than a two- or three-part miniseries, but unlike traditional series, the entire story will play out in one intensive 13-episode season. (Not unlike how each season of American Horror Story is a separate tale.)
If Under the Dome is a hit, expect to see broadcast networks experimenting with ambitious big-event summer programming instead of the cheaply-produced reality shows and news magazines we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the big four networks summer after summer.
Mistresses airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on ABC.
Graceland airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on USA.
Under the Dome premieres Monday, June 24, at 9 p.m. on CBS.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the June 19-25, 2013, issue