It's time for those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. And those lousy TV summer reruns.
But times have changed. Thanks to cable and PBS, summer TV doesn't mean just repeats and busted TV pilots. New series and specials abound on public TV and cable, and even the networks have somewhat beefed up their summer programming.
Summer debuts are iffy. Many series pop on the air and are forgotten as soon as they are gone. Occasionally, a show can break out in July or August--"Northern Exposure" and "The Sonny and Cher Show" started as summer shows, to name two.
One new network series this year is "Stephen King's 'Golden Years,' " an eight-part original thriller starring Keith Szarabajka ("The Equalizer"), Felicity Huffman and Frances Sternhagen, scheduled to premiere later this month or in early July.
Richard P. Rubinstein, executive producer of "Golden Years" with King, said he loves the fact the series is premiering over the summer. He said the series will have a better chance to reach an audience.
"For me and Steve, theatrically we have never been Christmas or June people (King and Rubinstein produced the features "Pet Semetary" and "Creepshow")," he said. "You don't get a real opportunity to find an audience. We thought the summer was a real opportunity to convince an audience we are worth watching."
Jay Mulvaney, director of development at Nickelodeon, also thought the summer was the ideal season to premiere Nick's new series "Salute Your Shorts," which kicks off July 4. Mulvaney developed "Salute," a comedy set in a summer camp, with David Lynch's Propaganda Films. "Salute Your Shorts" originally aired as a special last October on Nick.
"Kids in a summer camp really is a perfect match for summertime entertainment," Mulvaney said. "We very specifically targeted that time as the most optimal as catching an audience when they are anxiously looking for new stuff to watch."
Here's a rundown of the summer's highlights:
ABC will offer new episodes of its canceled series China Beach (Tuesdays at 10 p.m.) and Equal Justice (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.), plus the network will premiere the new comedy The Man in the Family (Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.), starring Ray Sharkey.
ABC's In Concert '91 (Fridays at midnight) presents such rockers as Don Henley and David Bowie.
Upcoming for July is the sitcom "Hi Honey, I'm Home." In an unprecedented arrangement, ABC will air an episode during the week that will be repeated over the weekend on cable's Nick at Nite, which developed the series and will be producing it.
Norman Lear's new series Sunday Dinner (Sundays at 8 p.m.) and his vintage sitcom All in the Family (Sundays at 8:30 p.m.) will continue through mid-July.
The CBS News series Verdict, premiering Friday at 8 p.m., will focus on actual courtroom trials, providing viewers with "a front-row seat to the judicial system."
Stephen King has written an eight-part thriller: Stephen King's Golden Years (late June or early July).
Rob Reiner is the executive producer of the slapstick-comedy series Morton & Hayes (mid-July), starring Kevin Pollak and Bob Amaral.
C. Everett Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General, hosts the health special C. Everett Koop, M.D. (June 20 at 7 p.m.).
Fans of "Quantum Leap" do some time-traveling of their own, watching five repeats for the Second Annual Quantum Leap Week (June 24-28 at 10 p.m.). NBC also presents the broadcast premiere of Roland Joffe's Oscar-nominated drama.
The Mission (June 23 at 9 p.m.), starring Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro.
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Several acclaimed PBS series are back with new episodes. Here are highlights, with the premiere dates:
Adventure (Monday at 8 p.m. KCET Channel 28; July 1 at 8 p.m. KPBS Channel 15) travels to China, the Soviet Union and the South Pacific.
P.O.V. (Tuesday at 10 p.m. KCET and KPBS) kicks off its new season of independent documentaries with Peter Adair's "Absolutely Positive," a look at living with HIV.
The award-winning documentary series American Masters (July 1 at 9 p.m., KPBS, 10 p.m. KCET; July 2 at 9 p.m. KOCE Channel 56; July 5 at 10 p.m. KVCR Channel 24), begins its sixth season with "Helen Hayes: First Lady of the American Theatre."
Alive From Off Center (July 12 at 11 p.m. KCET and KVCR; July 18 at 11 p.m. KPBS), the showcase for the performing arts, returns for its seventh season of dance, music, theater, spoken words, animation and film.
E.G. Marshall hosts A Capitol Fourth (July 4 at 5 p.m. KVCR; 7:30 p.m. KCET; 8 p.m. KPBS), the 12th annual holiday concert from the west lawn of the Capitol in Washington.
John Williams and the Boston Pops kick off the 22nd season of Evening at the Pops (July 7 at 8 p.m. KCET and KPBS).
A sixth season of nature documentaries airs with the return of The Natural Audubon Society Specials (July 9 at 9 p.m. KPBS; July 15 at 9 p.m. KCET).