Summer may be vacation time for you and me, but television rarely takes a break anymore, as series will be premiering on a regular basis clear through August. Here's a look at a few of the scripted series on tap to premiere or return this summer. Be sure to tune in again tomorrow for Part 2 of our Summer TV Preview, featuring reality shows!
June 4: Royal Pains (USA): If there's a theme to this summer's new series, it's "when in doubt, go medical." Mark Feuerstein, who always seems to be this close to breaking out, stars as Hank Lawson, a New York doctor who finds himself out of a job. After being useful in an emergency in the Hamptons, Hank turns himself into the area's most famous doctor-on-call.
June 7: Army Wives (Lifetime): Soap operas aren't dead; they have just moved to Lifetime and gotten classier. The third season will find Roxy fighting to hold on to her business, Joan and Roland dealing with the new challenge of parenthood as a deployment to Iraq looms, and Denise having to withstand the scrutiny when her affair becomes public knowledge.
June 8: Nurse Jackie (Showtime): Edie Falco began the 2000s as the second most important character in what many regard as the decade's definitive drama, and is ending them as the lead in a highly touted new series. The premise -- middle-aged woman balances dedication to career with complicated personal life -- sounds like the majority of the series on cable, but Falco is always watchable and ought to make this work.
June 8: The Closer (TNT): The big change regarding the fifth season will be seeing Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) as a married woman. Will she still be interesting to viewers? If you're a brilliant detective and completely competent in your personal life, where's the drama? I'm sure the producers will come up with something, and the question of whether Brenda should opt for mommyhood could make for some conflict.
June 8: Weeds (Showtime): Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) was discovered to be pregnant at the conclusion of last season, meaning that she now has a chance to be the world's worst mother in as many as four different decades. The only thing worse than having a drug kingpin trying to kill you is having his baby. Alanis Morissette has a key supporting role as Nancy's obstetrician.
June 14: True Blood (HBO): A second season of gothic love and neck bites amidst the Spanish moss. Sookie (Anna Paquin) ends up being recruited by the Dallas vampire community (don't ask) and tries to prevent more of the people around her from dropping dead. Evan Rachel Wood joins the cast as the queen of the vampires.
June 16: Hawthorne (TNT): Jada Pinkett Smith hasn't had a lot of high profile gigs in recent years, preferring to stand by as her children build their careers. But she's the key to the latest entrant in TNT's stable of female-headed dramas, playing a chief of nursing who puts her patients ahead of the bureaucrats. Having seen the pilot, I can tell you that this is going to be the most gorgeous hospital staff anywhere.
June 24: The Philanthropist (NBC): A vigilante philanthropist? Hey, it worked for Bruce Wayne. James Purefoy stars as Teddy Rist, an impossibly wealthy man whose do-gooding covers up personal pain, and whose cash allows him to help people by gaining access to dangerous elements.
June 28: Hung (HBO): The premise here sounds a like a cross between Boogie Nights and Breaking Bad: a high school teacher named Ray (Thomas Jane, who had a role in Boogie Nights), depressed by the end of his marriage and impending middle age, decides to go into business as a male escort. Now there's a stimulus package for you. Anne Heche brings her usual oddness to the role of Ray's estranged wife.
July 12: Entourage (HBO): After a fifth season that found Vincent Chase dealing with public humiliation, he and his entourage look like they will be back in the saddle this coming season, assuming the career boost from Martin Scorsese has its intended effect. Expect the usual parade of guest stars, girlfriend troubles, and Ari Gold profane threats.
August 7: Monk (USA): The series that put USA on the map as a purveyor of original programming, and made Tony Shalhoub a multiple Emmy winner, is gearing up for its farewell season. Let's hope the poor guy learns to relax. There are reports that Bitty Schram, who left the series/was fired and then promptly disappeared from the galaxy, is reprising her role as Monk's original nurse at some point.
August: Mad Men (AMC): There were some nervous moments where it looked like Mad Men, or perhaps just its major creative force, Matthew Weiner, would not be coming back, but all turned out to be right with the world. Details are sketchy as production only just resumed on the show, but look for the repercussions of Betty's pregnancy, Don's new power at an agency that seems in danger of drifting behind the times, and Peggy's struggle between professional success and losing her identity.