Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the 2013-2014 network upfronts that wrapped up last week was knowing that three months of soul-crushing reality TV, generic police procedurals and over-the-top (in a bad way) primetime soaps stand in the way between now and all the shiny, new shows the networks promised this fall. Thank the TV gods in the meantime for cable channels, premium networks and Internet streaming companies, because without them, summer television wouldn't be worth watching. Here are some highlights.
Without a doubt, the new season of "Arrested Development," which Netflix is releasing in one productivity-killing package, is the most anticipated event of the season. The Bluth family returns to their hilariously selfish ways six years after FOX canceled the cult comedy. (May 26, Netflix)
In this gritty police drama, FBI, DEA and U.S. Customs agents must live under one roof in an undisclosed location, investigating Southern California's drug cartels. They stop being polite and start getting real when a fresh out-of-academy FBI agent moves into the house (Aaron Tveit) hoping a veteran officer (Daniel Sunjata) will be his mentor. (June 6, USA)
This "Mad Men"-hits-Miami period drama did not get the attention it deserved in last year's first season, but is back for a second. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, as handsome as ever, returns as the owner of a ritzy hotel on South Beach in the 1950s. James Caan joins the cast as a Chicago mobster, along with Esai Morales, who plays as a Cuban revolutionary. (June 14, Starz)
The premium cable universe will lose an anti-hero this summer, as "Dexter" bows out after eight seasons. Dexter Morgan – a crime scene analyst by day, vigilante serial killer by night – confronts his demons as the Miami police department comes closer to uncovering his many murders. (June 30, Showtime)
Liev Schreiber stars as Ray Donovan, a mobster-type who takes care of the "problems" that arise for L.A.'s most powerful celebrities, athletes and businessmen. In what looks to be a crime thriller meets family drama, the surprise release of Ray's father (played by Jon Voight) from prison upsets the life Ray has made for himself. (June 30, Showtime)
Inspired by the notoriously graphic Scandinavian drama "Bron," "The Bridge" is a cop procedural that takes place on the border between El Paso and Juarez – one of the most dangerous places in the world. Diane Kruger plays an American officer who must work with a Mexican detective (Demian Bichir) to investigate extremely violent drug crimes. (July 10, FX)
"Orange is the New Black"
Based on the Piper Kerman memoir of the same name, "Orange Is the New Black" is dramedy set in a women's prison, starring Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon and Jason Biggs. "Weeds" showrunner Jenji Kohan is at the helm, and per Netflix standard operating procedure, the entire 13-episode season will be available all at once for subscribers to stream. (July 11, Netflix)
Whether you're an earnest fan or an avid hate-watcher, the second season of Aaron Sorkin's HBO series is a must-see, if only to join in the chorus of those complaining about Mackenzie's inability to send email or the emotional roller coaster that is the Don-Maggie-Jim love triangle. The upcoming season will cover the 2012 presidential campaign, which will surely lend Sorkin plenty of material to wax ever so sanctimoniously on (we can't wait for Will McAvoy's homily on the "47 percent" tape). Constance Zimmer, Marcia Gay Harden and Patton Oswalt join the cast. (July 14, HBO)