'True Blood': The HBO series with Stephen Moyer, left, Alexander Skarsgard and Lucy Griffiths returns Sunday.
Summer is never long enough, is it?
Never enough time to sit on the beach, catch up on cool books, head to hot destinations.
And never enough time to watch TV.
You’re forgiven for thinking unseasonably searing temperatures fried our brains. The tube is simply overflowing this summer with wondrous stuff.
There’s new blood in Dallas
. The old (sometimes very old) in True Blood
. The latest from Aaron Sorkin, Charlie Sheen, Kyra Sedgwick and Glenn Close. Plus Snooki and JWoww and Bristol Palin. Even Russell Brand, ranting weekly on whatever topics tease his warped comedic mind.
And then there are the London Olympic Games airing July 27-Aug. 12 on NBC-owned broadcast, cable and online channels, accounting for another — and we got this directly from NBC — 5,535 hours of programming.
See what we mean? TV’s 2012 summer slate is serious indeed. Here are 10 shows especially worth catching:
• ‘True Blood’
(9 p.m. Sunday, HBO, season 5). Creator Alan Ball’s last season in charge unreels 12 episodes resolving cliffhangers like Tara getting shot, as Bill and Eric come under review by higher-ups. There’s trouble from Russell, Terry and — oh, heck, pretty much everybody in this lurid adult addiction.
• ‘Hollywood Heights’
(debut episode previews 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, series premieres June 18, Nick at Nite). Ready for some summer soap? This one runs nightly through October with its dreams-come-true scenario: One Life to Live
youth fave Brittany Underwood plays an aspiring singer who wins her rock idol’s love amid crises with friends, parents, rivals, etc. Adapted from the telenovela Alcanzar Una Estrella
, it screams low budget, but, hey, it’s summer, right?
(9 p.m. Wednesday, TNT). Southfork Ranch welcomes a new generation to mix it up with the moneyed old guard in a continuation of the ’80s sensation packed with cliffhangers and duplicity. Conniving J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) mentors wildcatting son John Ross (Josh Henderson), while Southfork guardian Bobby (Patrick Duffy) supports his kid Christopher’s (Jesse Metcalfe) clean-energy aims. Also in the mix: J.R.’s politically connected ex, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray); Bobby’s smart wife, Ann (Brenda Strong); the younger Ewing boys’ babes (Jordana Brewster, Julie Gonzalo) and other schemers, both fresh and familiar. Authenticity bonus: It’s shot completely in Texas this time.
• ‘The Newsroom’
(10 p.m. June 24, HBO). Aaron Sorkin’s latest series stars Jeff Daniels as a trusted cable news anchor whose sudden truth-telling may not mesh with the agendas of producer Emily Mortimer and boss Sam Waterston. Fellow staffers include Olivia Munn, Alison Pill and Dev Patel, plus Jane Fonda.
• ‘Anger Management’
(9 p.m. June 28, FX). It’s Charlie Sheen’s aptly titled comeback after his CBS debacle. This scripted sitcom casts him as an ex-athlete now becoming a ‘nontraditional therapist.’ Never fear: Chaos is promised.
• ‘The Closer’
(9 p.m. July 9, TNT, season 7). Time to say goodbye for Kyra Sedgwick’s Brenda, heading toward the crime drama’s finish line after seven seasons. Time to say hello to Mary McDonnell, readying the spinoff series Major Crimes
that premieres after the Aug. 13 Closer
finale, then takes the show’s time slot. • ‘Damages’
(9 p.m. July 11, DirecTV, season 5). Glenn Close and Rose Byrne also wrap things up in the last 10 episodes of this legal thriller. Their climactic clash comes over a whistle-blower website involving Ryan Phillippe, Jenna Elfman, Janet McTeer and John Hannah.
• ‘Political Animals’
(10 p.m. July 15, USA). This scripted series casts Sigourney Weaver as a former first lady now serving as secretary of state. (Hmm.) Also in this hour from Greg Berlanti ( Dirty Sexy Money
): Dylan Baker, Carla Gugino, Ellen Burstyn, Ciaran Hinds, Sebastian Stan, James Wolk and Adrian Pasdar.
(9 p.m. Aug. 19, BBC America). From acclaimed drama auteurs Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson ( Homicide
) comes the channel’s first original scripted series. Irish-American cops in 1860s New York City fight for respect, led by Tom Weston-Jones’ officer policing the tough Five Points section.