It used to be that summer TV was a vast wasteland of reruns and, if you were lucky, second-rate shows that the networks didn't trust on their fall schedules. OK, so in a lot of ways it still is, but now that TV viewers have other options - binge-watching on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, for example - the Big Four networks are making somewhat of an effort to put original content on the small screen during the summer months.
Here are some new and returning shows to get you excited about summer TV this off-season.
Beyond the Tank (Debuted May 1): Fans of Shark Tank will enjoy this series that takes things a step further, following the Sharks and the entrepreneurs to see what happens after a deal has been struck.
The Bachelorette(May 18): The "reality" series that everyone loves to hate - especially the critics - returns with an all new Bachelorette and two dozen suitors.
500 Questions (May 20): The premise of this new summer game show is simple: contestants must answer 500 (!) of "the most difficult general knowledge questions ever devised," without the help of multiple choice options, phone-a-friend, or anything else. Miss three in a row and you're out.
Extreme Weight Loss(May 26): This Biggest Loser knockoff promises to show the transitions of morbidly obese people shedding up to half of their body weight over the course of a year.
The Whispers (June 1): Produced by Steven Spielberg, this supernatural/suspense thriller promises creepy children playing with imaginary friends that may not be imaginary. What's not to love?
The Mistresses(June 18): What's summer TV without a sexy potboiler? This rework of a popular UK series promises plenty of sex, sass, and scandal.
The Astronaut Wives Club(June 18): Based on the book by Lily Koppel, this series will show the true stories of the wives of astronauts during the heyday of the U.S. space program.
BattleBots(June 21): ABC is being cautious about this reboot of the early-2000's Comedy Central nerdfest, bringing back the classic robot-battling mayhem for a six-episode run.
Celebrity Family Feud(June 21): Steve Harvey will host the primetime version of the popular daytime game show, pitting celebrities - instead of ordinary families - against each other.
Rookie Blue(June 25): The summer cop drama returns for its sixth season, and promises to satisfy fans still reeling from last summer's season-ending cliffhanger.
The Briefcase(May 27): Not a single episode of this summer "reality" series has aired, and already the critics are crying foul. The premise is both simple and weird: two families are each given a briefcase containing $101,000 and told the money is theirs. Then they're told about another family and offered the chance to give some or all of the money to them. The "twist" is that neither family knows that the other one has a briefcase.
Big Brother(June 25): The houseguests return for the 16th season of CBS' summer ratings juggernaut.
Under the Dome (June 25): Loosely based on the Stephen King thriller of the same name, the drama about a New England town trapped under a mysterious dome returns for its third season.
Zoo(June 30): Based on James Patterson's bestselling novel, Zoo will follow a zoologist trying to figure out why animals are attacking humans in a series of attacks that seem to increase in ferocity and cunning.
Extant(July 1): Season 2 of the sci-fi series, set in the near future, resumes with Halle Berry's character dealing with the aftermath of the events of the first season. "Molly discovers she has unwittingly put the human race on a path to destruction, and that she and mysterious stranger J.B. Richter may be the only hope for survival."
Wayward Pines (May 14): M. Night Shyamalan (what could possibly go wrong?) executive produces this mystery series about the creepy goings-on in an isolated Idaho town, and the Secret Service agent who finds himself trapped there.
MasterChef(May 20): Gordon Ramsay "welcomes" another round of hopefuls to the venerable reality cooking competition.
Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader(May 26): Jeff Foxworthy brings back the once-popular primetime game show.
Boom!(June 25): Fox is describing this summer show as an "interactive quiz show," whatever that means (details aren't clear, as of this post). Players will somehow play along at home while contestants must answer questions before a "bomb" goes off.
The Island(May 25): Imagine Suvivior with only men, and without Immunity Challenges and Tribal Councils. Fourteen men are stranded on an island and, with only basic tools, must find food, water, and shelter.
America's Got Talent(May 26): Host Nick Cannon returns to host Season 10 of the long-running summer competition series. Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Mel B and Howard Stern return to the judges' chairs.
I Can Do That (May 26): Marlon Wayans hosts this variety show that will feature celebrities showing off weird "talents they didn't even know they had."
Aquarius (May 26): This miniseries stars David Duchovny (The X-Files) as an L.A.P.D. detective trying to track down Charles Manson in the days leading up to the Tate-LaBianca murders.
Hannibal (June 4): Season 3 of the series based on the famed Thomas Harris character Hannibal Lechter returns.
Food Fighters (July 2): Because there just aren't enough reality cooking competitions on TV, Adam Richman returns to pit regular home cooks up against professional chefs.
Hollywood Game Night (July 7): Jane Lynch returns to host a third season of the popular game show where celebrities and "civilians" - that is, regular people - play party games on Jane's couch.
Running Wild with Bear Gryllis(July 13): Yet another celebrity "reality" show, this time pitting the likes of Zac Efron and Channing Tatum against Mother Nature, with Bear Gryllis providing "guidance."
Welcome to Sweden (July 19): This quirky, weird, and undeniably funny Swedish import (mercifully, it's - mostly - in English) returns for a second season. If you missed the first season, NBC.com has the entire season available online "for a limited time."
Last Comic Standing (July 22): Roseanne and Keenan Ivory Wayans return to the judge's chairs, and new host Anthony Jesenik takes over, in the ninth season of the comedy reality competition that launched the career of Ralphie May.
Mr. Robinson (August 5): Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine) plays a musician and substitute teacher in this scripted sitcom.
The Carmichael Show (August 5): The second of two new NBC scripted sitcoms debuts on the same night as Mr. Robinson. Here, Jerrod Carmichael "stars in an irreverent sitcom inspired by his life with his outspoken family and therapist-in-training girlfriend."
What summer TV shows are you excited about? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.
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