'The Closer,' 'Army Wives' and 'Weeds' heat up summer nights

FOR A moment or two, I thought we had lost the summer and would have to spend the pre-Emmy months in wistful nostagia and reruns. Undone by the writers strike, Emmy hopefuls like HBO's "Big Love" and FX's "Damages," which made last year one of the best TV summers ever, won't be back for many months. This season was so weird and truncated, reruns weren't appealing and no one seemed to be launching summer shows. Would my son and his gaming friends gain control of the flat-screen?

No! There is light in the darkness, my friends. June is a little patchy but offers a chance to catch up on some award hopefuls you may not have watched regularly. "Army Wives" returned to Lifetime this week; maybe now I'll have time to keep up with the gals and their shenanigans. And "Weeds" will be back Monday, with everyone's favorite pot-mom Nancy Botwin ( Mary-Louise Parker) having fled Agrestic for a more border-like 'hood.

And then comes July, a hotbed of great shows, some of which are likely Emmy contenders: The underappreciated "Burn Notice" brings its wacky "fired" spy back to USA on July 10, and with any luck, way more people will watch this year. Kyra Sedgwick returns to her now iconic role as "The Closer" on TNT as of July 14 and, perhaps most important, the critics' darling "Mad Men" will be back on AMC on the 27th, with the impossibly handsome Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and all his buddies at Sterling Cooper riding the social change of the early '60s.

That should keep us busy until the Olympics. Because it's summer, and we should try to get to the beach once in a while.


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