The traditional television season is over and we’re now in glorious summer — but what was once a TV dead zone full of reruns and disposable reality fare freeing people to actually go outside is now packed with new and returning series and docs (not to mention the season finales of “Game of Thrones” on June 9 and “Mad Men” on June 23). Hell, all that sun is bad for your skin anyway — here’s a guide to what’s on this summer.
HBO’s Summer Doc Series: June 10-August 12, HBO
HBO has a new documentary every Monday night this summer, starting with Sundance selection “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer” on June 10 and ending with “Americans in Bed” on August 12. Being HBO, many of the films are fresh from festival premieres and come from major directors like Nina Davenport, Josh Fox and Liz Garbus. Check out the lineup.
“Futurama”: June 19-September 4, Comedy Central
The 13 episodes this summer will represent a last hurrah for Matt Groening’s animated sci-fi comedy, which has been bounced around networks and into DVD over its lifetime, but seems to finally have been canceled — for real this time — by Comedy Central. Check out the trailer.
POV: June 24-September 23, PBS
PBS’s longest-running documentary series will kick off its 26th season with “Homegoings,” Christine Turner’s film about African-American funerals, and includes the likes of “Only the Young” (July 15), “5 Broken Cameras” (August 26) and “The World Before Her” (September 16). POV is, like HBO’s summer series, now airing on Monday nights, making it a big night for nonfiction film this season. Check out the lineup.
“Under the Dome”: June 24, CBS
This 13-episode limited series represents a change of pace from the usual procedurals and multi-camera sitcoms that have worked so well for CBS. Based on the Stephen King novel, the series will look at the fate of a small Maine town when they’re suddenly and mysteriously cut off from the rest of the world by an impenetrable, clear dome. Check out the trailer.
“Dexter”: June 30, Showtime
What will happen in the final season of “Dexter”? Will everyone’s favorite lovable serial killer Dexter (Michael C. Hall) die? Will he have to kill his adopted sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) now that she seems to be crumbling under the weight of his secret? However it goes, the end game for Showtime’s longrunning series should be worth a look. Check out the trailer.
“Ray Donovan”: June 30, Showtime
Liev Schreiber’s first regular small screen role is as the title character in this Showtime drama with an interesting premise — he’s a Los Angeles-based fixer for the wealthy and powerful whose personal life, as it so often is in these situations, is a mess. The contrast between the gleamingly hypocritical L.A. world in which he moves and his rough Boston roots (and fresh out of prison dad, played by Jon Voight) offers a surprising amount of juice. Check out the trailer.
“Being Mary Jane”: July 2, BET
“Being Mary Jane” is the latest project from husband and wife Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the team behind dramedy “The Game” and the underrated (seriously) 2012 movie “Sparkle.” Created by Mara Brock Akil, who also created “Girlfriends” and who’s a significant force in bringing stories of professional African-American women to the screen, “Being Mary Jane” is centered around the talk show host of the title (Gabrielle Union) trying to balance out career ambitions and a romantic life with a family more interested in her finding her Mr. Right.
“The Bridge”: July 10, FX
FX has been turning out some great dramas lately. While “The Bridge” has a terrific pedigree — a remake of an acclaimed Scandinavian drama, it stars Demián Bichir and Diane Kruger and its pilot was directed by Gerardo Naranjo (“Miss Bala”) — it’s the El Paso/Juárez border setting and the potential to explore the darkly complicated current realities of the area that’s most promising. Check out the trailer.
“Orange is the New Black”: July 11, Netflix
Based on Piper Kerman’s memoir about her year in prison, “Orange is the New Black” will be Netflix’s first female-driven original, coming from Jenji Kohan (“Weeds”) and starring Taylor Schilling in the lead role as a woman pulled from her comfortable, grown-up Brooklyn life with her fiancé to serve time for a drug incident committed years before.
“The Newsroom”: July 14, HBO
Love it or hate it, Aaron Sorkin’s strident cable news drama is difficult to ignore. The new season will focus on an overarching story as well as individual ones as the “News Night” team, led by Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), continues to show us how to do TV journalism the right way (with the help of hindsight). Check out a teaser.
“The Writers’ Room”: July 29, Sundance Channel
Co-presented by Entertainment Weekly, Sundance Channel’s new series will look at the minds behind the shows making this a current “Golden Age” of television. Actor and screenwriter Jim Rash (“Community”) hosts the roundtable talk show, which will feature writers, showrunners and cast members from “American Horror Story,” “Breaking Bad,” Game of Thrones” and more.
“Clear History”: August, HBO
There’s still no actual premiere date announced for “Clear History,” the HBO original movie written by and starring Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”). What we do know: Greg Mottola directed it, and David plays a marketing executive at an electric car start-up who walks out on the job and his shares after a petty clash with his boss (Jon Hamm), only to see the company go on the make billions. Check out a teaser.
“The White Queen”: August 10, Starz
Based on Philippa Gregory’s bestselling series “The Cousins’ War,” this British co-production promises to be a sumptuous historical drama about the power clashes during the Wars of the Roses as seen through the eyes of three ambitious women — Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson), Margaret Beaufort (Amanda Hale) and Anne Neville (Faye Marsay).
“Breaking Bad”: August 11, AMC
The final eight episodes of Vince Gilligan’s stunning drama are set to air at the end of this summer, bringing the gripping, funny and tragic tale of chemistry teacher-turned-meth kingpin Walter White (Bryan Cranston) to an end. It should be quite a ride. Check out our review of the midseason finale ‘Gliding Over All.”
“Low Winter Sun”: August 11, AMC
AMC’s new crime drama has a slightly more TV typical scenario than its past shows — corrupt cops in Detroit as opposed to meth dealers in New Mexico, ad men in 1960s New York or survivors in a zombied-out, apocalyptic Georgia. Still, the series, a remake of a British miniseries, has some great leading actors in Lennie James and Mark Strong (reprising his role from the 2006 Channel 4 original) and comes from a network with a very solid batting average when it comes to scripted programming. Check out the trailer.