Summer used to be a dead zone for new television. Kids, complaining about their favorite shows being reruns, would be forced to use their imaginations for entertainment and possibly even venture outside under the blistering sun. Adults didn't have time to watch new shows because their kids were out of school and demanding attention despite Mom & Dad getting off nine-hour shifts and still needing time to feed everyone. This ritualistic torture has thankfully ended. Virtually every network debuts new shows in the summer, now, some with lofty ambitions ("The Newsroom" was a summer premiere two years back) while others are try-outs to see if they can hack it in the fall.
Indiewire has compiled a list of the hottest summer premieres you won't want to miss. These 10 shows are all brand new, widely available, and ready to take over as entertainment for the whole family -- well, at least one of them is kid-friendly.
"Penny Dreadful" (May 11th)
Creator: John Logan
Cast: Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Timothy Dalton
We liked what we saw in the premiere episode of "Penny Dreadful" when it screened at SXSW, and there's no reason to doubt what's to follow considering the talent involved. Sure, it's nice to see Josh Hartnett back in action and Eva Green digging into another meaty role, but it's hard to top Oscar winners Sam Mendes and John Logan behind the camera. Logan, the screenwriter behind "Gladiator" and the under-appreciated "The Last Samurai" created the fictional tale of three talented individuals teaming up and delving into the depths of London's cobbled streets to fight monsters.
Not just any monsters, mind you -- monsters brought to life from literary classics including Dracula and Frankenstein's monster. They're not just picking fights for fun, mind you. This isn't a procedural. Logan and executive producer Mendes have mapped out an eight-episode arc for their first television series, making it as much like a movie as possible -- just four times as long. Here's hoping the filmmakers find as much success in their new medium as they've had in their old one.
"Halt and Catch Fire" (June 1st)
Creators: Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers
Cast: Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, Kerry Bishe, Toby Huss
Another hit from this year's Episodics program at SXSW, "Halt and Catch Fire" is not a replacement for "Mad Men." Yes, it stars a suit-wearing dreamer with an attitude problem who has big plans for a relatively small company, but the similarities pretty much stop there. Set during the 1980s PC race that was being dominated by IBM before a few start-ups took them to task, AMC's new drama moves much smoother than the glitchy personal computers of old. It's as fast, sleek, and sharp as a modern day machine.
Starring Lee Pace as the aforementioned entrepreneur with secret plans in store, namely for the hard-working programmer played by Scoot McNairy, "Halt and Catch Fire" is about more than just secrets and much more than computers. The pilot, quite the impressive product demo, made sure everyone had plenty invested in each and every one of their decisions before the quick-moving hour was up. It establishes an improbably high number of storylines, and each and every one seems worthy of their own 60 minutes. Considering AMC doesn't have as many time slots as the creators do ideas, we'll have to hope they can continue to reign their creativity into incredibly effective full episodes.
"The Leftovers" (June 15th)
Creators: Damon Lindelof & Tom Perrota
Cast: Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Chris Eccleston, Live Tyler and Ann Dowd
Based on “Election” scribe Tom Perrota’s novel of the same name, “The Leftovers” marks Damon Lindelof’s highly anticipated return to television since the conclusion of “Lost” back in 2010. The series begins in medias res – following an event similar to the Biblical Rapture. A portion of the world’s population disappears without a trace and those who have been left behind must grapple with the aftermath.
Lindelof’s partnership with Perrota on this series is highly suggestive that “The Leftovers” may, in fact, possess the capacity to surpass its predecessor in both quality and success as their skill sets complement each other. Where one is lacking, the other makes up for it. Lindelof brings extensive experience with world building to the table via his tenure on “Lost,” as well as his co-writing credits on “Cowboys & Aliens” and “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Perrota, on the other hand, has demonstrated impressive breadth in his writing – having penned both comedy and drama.
"The Musketeers" (June 22nd)
Creator: Adrian Hodges
Cast: Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera, Howard Charles
Network: BBC America
The fact that the BBC has already picked up “The Musketeers” for a second season prior to the premiere of its first suggests that the show is not one to be missed. Created by “My Week With Marilyn” screenwriter Adrian Hodges, “The Musketeers” is a period adaptation of Alexander Dumas’ oft-revisited characters. Although rife with swordplay, hopefully the series will not be as heavy as heavy as “Game of Thrones.” This behind-the-scenes video about the actors attempting to grow their beards to play their parts seems to suggest that we’re in for a fun-filled, mostly stress free journey.
"The Strain" (July)
Creator: Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
Cast: Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Kevin Durand, Mia Maestro
Based on Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire horror novel trilogy of the same name, “The Strain” centers on an epidemiologist who is called in to investigate a mysterious biohazard situation at John F. Kennedy International Airport involving a plane that lands with two hundred corpses and four survivors.
Given the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, it will be interesting to see how del Toro and Hogan’s universe both reinforces and challenges our notions of this uncannily similar real-life incident.