Ten years ago, the idea of a true summer TV season was far from a reality. This year, even the broadcast networks have jumped back into the game. Television has finally achieved year round programming.
The summer TV landscape is getting so crowded that Sunday nights have emerged as a major new battleground. While HBO and AMC have previously dominated Sundays, TNT, FX and WGN America are all bringing new dramas to that night this summer. In that kind of showdown, somebody has to lose.
To get you ready for the TV season ahead, CraveOnline has compiled a list of 14 of the best new and returning drama series coming out this summer. Get your DVRs ready, because this is going to be fun.
Summer 2014 TV Preview
Series Premiere: Thursday, June 19
Friday nights on Syfy have been claimed by WWE Smackdown, so Syfy is starting up a new night of programming on Thursdays. First up, is “Dominion,” a TV sequel series to the 2010 feature film, Legion.
Set 25 years after Legion, “Dominion” continues the story of humanity’s war with the angels. An ordinary soldier named Alex Lannon (Christopher Egan) discovers that he may hold the key to humanity’s survival. Alex’s protector and mentor is the Archangel Michael (Tom Wisdom), who is also the only angel to side with humanity.
Genre veterans Alan Dale (“Lost”) and Anthony Head (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer”) round out the supporting cast.
Season Premiere: Thursday, June 19
Last season on “Defiance,” the town was forcibly taken over by the Earth Republic, Nolan (Grant Bowler) was killed and Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas) brought him back to life before disappearing.
In season 2, Nolan leaves Defiance behind to find Irisa as the town struggles under Earth Republic control. And Amanda (Julie Benz) begins searching for her sister and the truth about what happened to her.
On top of everything else, there’s a new mayor in town...
Season Premiere: Sunday, June 22
The end of the road is coming for “True Blood.” HBO’s vampire series is hanging up its fangs after seven seasons. Last season, several of the residents in Bon Temps made uneasy alliances with vampires to keep them safe from the infected vampires who have been driven insane.
Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is finally dating the werewolf Alcide Herveaux (Joe Manganiello), but her vampire ex-lover, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) keeps worming his way back into Sookie’s heart.
As for Eric Northman, he was last seen burning to death in the sixth season finale. But as long as Alexander Skarsgård is a part of the cast, Eric will definitely turn up at some point.
Season Premiere: Sunday, June 22
Last season, Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) and his resistance fighters narrowly avoided being shipped off to Brazil and being shut out of the war between the Overlords and the Volm. But in “Falling Skies” Season 4, Tom may wish he had taken up the Volm on their offer.
TNT has largely withheld the story details of the new season of “Falling Skies.” However, the network has announced that Mira Sorvino is joining the cast as Sara, an enigmatic woman who forms a connection with John Pope (Colin Cunningham).
The Last Ship
Series Premiere: Sunday, June 22
TNT is going in a more action oriented direction with its original programming. And with “The Last Ship,” TNT believes that it finally has the perfect companion series for “Falling Skies.”
Based on William Brinkley’s novel of the same name, “The Last Ship” stars Eric Dane, Rhona Mitra and Adam Baldwin as crew members of the USS Nathan James, one of the few remaining vessels after humanity falls to a deadly worldwide epidemic.
It’s up to the crew to find a cure and save what’s left of the world. But that’s easier said than done.
Network: BBC America
Series Premiere: Sunday, June 22
Before Peter Capaldi fully steps into his role as the Doctor on “Doctor Who,” he’ll be featured in BBC America’s new adaptation of
The Three Musketeers as the infamous Cardinal Richelieu.
Created by Adrian Hodges, “The Musketeers” features “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome” star Luke Pasqualino as D'Artagnan, with Tom Burke as Athos, Santiago Cabrera as Aramis and Howard Charles as Porthos.
“The Musketeers” has already aired in the U.K. and a second season has been ordered. In a few weeks, we’ll find out if America will embrace “The Musketeers” as well.
Series Premiere: Tuesday, June 24
“Tyrant” is one of the most anticipated new shows of the summer largely because it was created and developed by the “Homeland” creative team. Howard Gordon even described “Tyrant” as “a reverse Homeland” because it follows Bassam "Barry" Al Fayeed (Adam Rayner), the son of a Middle Eastern dictator who reluctantly returns to his country after twenty years of living in America.
Unfortunately for Barry and his family, their short stay in the country of Baladi won’t be over any time soon as Barry finds himself drawn into his father’s orbit once again.
Series Premiere: Sunday, June 29
“Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof returns to television with an adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel, “The Leftovers.” Basically, the Rapture finally happened and several million people instantly vanished. But this isn’t their story. “The Leftovers” is about the people who were left behind.
Justin Theroux headlines a very genre friendly cast that includes former “Doctor Who” star Christopher Eccleston and Liv Tyler (
The Lord of The Rings). “The Leftovers” briefly stopped production to address some creative issues, which is why it’s premiering a week after the “True Blood” season premiere.
However, all eyes are going to be on Lindelof’s TV comeback. It may be impossible to recapture the alchemy of “Lost,” but perhaps “The Leftovers” can carve out a legacy of its own.
Series Premiere: Wednesday, July 9
CBS won a bidding war to land “Extant,” and then it managed to sign Halle Berry to play the lead role. If "Extant" fails, it won’t be because the network didn’t give it everything that it needed to succeed.
Berry plays Molly Woods, an astronaut who finds herself mysteriously pregnant after returning from an extended mission in outer space. The question is, what is she pregnant with? And how will it change the course of human history?
Series Premiere: Sunday, July 13
FX could have put “The Strain” on any night of the week and scored a hit with this adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire novels. Instead, FX went for the jugular and put “The Strain” on Sunday nights against the HBO and AMC dramas.
It’s a tough call, but my money is on “The Strain” to be this summer’s breakout hit. Del Toro directed the first episode and the early previews for the pilot have looked amazing. This may be the show that makes vampires scary again.
Network: WGN America
Series Premiere: Sunday, July 27
WGN America’s second original drama, “Manhattan” will also stake its claim on Sunday nights near the end of July. This series will explore the origins of the Atomic bomb during World War II as a team in Los Alamos, New Mexico frantically works on the infamous Manhattan Project.
Series Premiere: Friday, August 8
The final season of “Strike Back” has been delayed because of an injury suffered by Sullivan Stapleton. But Cinemax is still a player in original programming this summer, as it unveils “The Knick,” a new period drama from Steven Soderbergh, who directed all ten episodes of the first season.
“The Knick” stars Clive Owen as John W. Thackery, a doctor at New York’s Knickerbocker Hospital in 1900, when medical techniques and knowledge weren’t nearly as refined as they’ve become in the present. This is the first stab at TV for both Soderbergh and Owen, and it looks very interesting.
Series Premiere: Wednesday, August 13
TNT kicks off another action series with “Legends,” based upon the novel by Robert Littell. Sean Bean stars as Martin Odum, a spy so gifted at assuming different identities (or “legends”) that he’s losing hold of his own persona.
Ali Larter, Steve Harris, Tina Majorino, Amber Valletta, Mason Cook and Rob Mayes co-star in “Legends.” Hopefully this will be one of the rare times in Hollywood in which Bean’s character doesn’t suffer an extremely violent death.
Network:: BBC America
Season Premiere: August 2014
“Any minute now, he’s a-comin’... The Doctor...”
There’s a new Doctor on the TARDIS, as Peter Capaldi steps into his role as the Twelfth Doctor. The last time we saw the Doctor and Clara (Jenna Coleman), the TARDIS was crashing and the Doctor had no idea how to pilot it.
But they’ll be fine. There are too many adventures to be had for the Doctor to die prematurely. The upcoming eighth season of “Doctor Who” will introduce Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink, a friend of Clara’s who may become one of the Doctor’s companions.
The recurring characters, Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax will be back once again as the Doctor and Clara take on new threats and a few of the old favorites.