Summer 2012 TV picks: Reality, drama, Olympics & "Dallas"

Communities wades through the summer TV shows to find the best new dramas, returning series, and reality shows worth your time. Photo: TNT

SAN DIEGO, May 26, 2012 –  Your favorite TV series have come to a conclusion until next fall with winners crowned on “Dancing With The Stars,” “The Celebrity Apprentice” and “American Idol.” We got season ending cliffhangers. We said goodbye to the housewives of Wisteria Lane.

Programmers know the TV audience shrinks as the days get longer but they still have to fill the schedule and sell commercials or subscriptions. There is plenty of programming to enjoy with the return of quality drama series, favorite guilty pleasures, and new offerings.

If you tried to catch them all, your DVR might explode and you would never leave the house for the beach or park at all before Labor Day. So we give you our top recommendations what to spend your time watching this summer.

Drama Series

Three new series are getting the big buzz, none bigger than the return of the granddaddy of all nighttime soaps, “Dallas.” Yes, TNT is bringing back Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing, one of TV’s best all time villains, 21 years after the original series ended. The new edition should be called “Dallas: The Next Generation.” While your favorite characters are back, the show will focus on J.R.’s son, John Ross Ewing III, and Bobby Ewing’s son Christopher. (Premieres June 13; Wednesdays at 9 p.m.).

Charlie Sheen is ba-a-ack. Will his new series be #winning for FX? Photo: FX Network

Another familiar face is back, but he hasn’t been gone quite as long as Hagman. Some of you will say not long enough. FX is either crazy like a Fox, or just plain crazy to gamble on Charlie Sheen in the new series “Anger Management.” He plays a therapist. Some saying about truth and fiction comes to mind. (Premieres Thursday, June 28).

Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”) brings us “The Newsroom” on HBO, which looks at the daily grind at a fictional 24-hour cable news network. Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterston lead the cast. (Premiere Sunday, June 24). Sorkin is a brilliant writer and HBO does nothing halfway.

Other new series include “Political Animals” starring Sigourney Weaver as a former first lady turned Secretary of State, complete with a philandering ex-husband. No, I didn’t put this in the wrong section. It’s a drama, not a reality show. (Premiere Sunday, July 15, USA Network); and “Saving Hope,” a Canadian series set in a hospital (Premier Thursday, June 7, NBC).  If you’re fortunate enough to get BBC America, check out “Copper,” from “Homicide” producer Barry Levinson, set in 1860s New York City (Premieres Sunday, August 19).  Whether it’s a drama or comedy is hard to predict, but “Hollywood Heights” is based on a popular Mexican telenovela featuring two best friends and a cast of nutty characters (Premiers Monday, June 18, Nick at Night).

Returning are:

  • “True Blood,” with Christopher Meloni from “Law & Order” joining the cast (HBO, Sunday, June 10, 9 p.m.).
  • “Burn Notice” back for a sixth season (USA Network, Thursday, June 14, 9 p.m.).
  • “Breaking Bad” back for its fifth and final season (AMC, Sunday, July 15, 10 p.m.).
  • “The Closer,” with Emmy winner Kyra Sedgwick bidding farewell in its final season number seven (TNT, Monday, July 9, 9 p.m.).
  • “The Glades,” the quirky show about Florida crimes with a devoted following (A&E, Sunday, June 3, 9 p.m.).

Comedy Series

If you love British comedy, don’t miss BBC America’s Twenty Twelve,” a droll mockumentary style comedy about the London Olympics starring British comedians like Hugh Bonneville with David Tennant as the oh-so-earnest narrator (Premiere Thursday, June 28).

Back for the summer:

  • “Drop Dead Diva” starring the underappreciated Brooke Elliott, who shares screen time this season with guest star Kim Kardashian (Lifetime, Sunday, June 3, 9 p.m.)
  • “Episodes,” the best comedy you aren’t watching with Matt LeBlanc playing a cartoon version of himself to hilarious effect with a Golden Globe to prove it (Showtime, Sunday, July 1, 10:30 p.m.).

Reality Series

The original reality series of all, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, runs from Friday, July 27 through Sunday, August 12. NBC and its various partners promise 5,500 hours of coverage.

Whatever Nigel Lythgoe touches turns to ratings gold, so the odds are good for his new reality series Opening Act for E!. Photo: E!

This category also offers two-dozen new series to wade through. Among the most promising:

  • Super producer Nigel Lythgoe of “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” plucks YouTube singers from the Internet to hit the stage as the “Opening Act” for big name acts like Nicki Minaj and LMFAO. (Premieres Monday, July 9, E!).
  • “The Great Escape” has a good pedigree, coming from the folks behind “The Amazing Race.” In this version, everyday people find themselves in an action-adventure game show, getting themselves out of jams like a sinking ship. (Premiere Sunday, June 24, TNT).
  • If you love dogs, try “Dogs in the City,” featuring comedian and would-be canine counselor Justin Silver. It’s actually the owners he counsels, not the dogs. (Premieres Wednesday, May 30, CBS).
  • “Breaking Pointe” follows the behind the scenes drama at Salt Lake City’s Ballet West. It’s produced by the BBC, so it may be worth a chance. (Premieres Thursday, May 31, CW).
  • “Trust Us With Your Life” will either be fun or a complete train wreck, which could still be fun. Improv comics take liberties with the truth and create fictional biographies of celebrity guests. (Premieres Tuesday, July 10, ABC).

“The Choice” is “The Dating Game” with celebrities, hosted by Cat Deeley. (Premieres Thursday, June 7, Fox). Apparently CW thinks we need an upscale version of “Jersey Shore” set in Miami’s South Beach: The Catalina (Premieres Tuesday, May 29). In another recycled storyline, if you like “Khloe and Lamar,” try “Married to Jonas” as in Kevin Jonas, with bride Danielle (Premieres Sunday, August 19, E!).

Oprah’s OWN cable venture offers a barrage of reality shows about female firefighters, flash mob musical acts, a competition between penny-pinching families, learning to love your neighbor (get your head out of the gutter, this is Oprah), and whether you’re a normal American if you do housecleaning in the buff. Good luck with all that.

Already underway are the established reality shows that rule the summer, “America’s Got Talent” with new judge Howard Stern (NBC, Mondays at 8 p.m., and Tuesdays at 9 p.m) and season nine (really, nine?) of “So You Think You Can Dance,” (Fox, Thursdays at 8 p.m.) which will name both a male and a female winner this year. 

Returning in all their trashtastic glory:

Think MTV is trying to exploit Snooki’s pregnancy in its new reality show? Nah. Photo:

Technically not a return, Snooki and J&Woww of MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” share a house together. (MTV, Thursday, June 21). Snooki’s pregnancy is front and center, literally. “Jersey Shore” will shoot a sixth season this summer, although Snooki will not be living in the house with the rest of the gang, and The Situation has gotten sober thanks to rehab.

“Big Brother” CBS is already hyping the return of this guilty pleasure for its 14th season, and it’s still a month and a half away. Raise your hand if you’ll be sick of it by the time it finally starts. It’s OK, there is still the beach, the backyard and a great book or two beckoning.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.


Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at” when quoting from or linking to this story.  



Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group

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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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