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).
Gerard Schwarz conducts the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra with James Galway on flute and Andrew Watts on piano on “Live From Lincoln Center” Mostly Mozart Festival, Silver Anniversary (July 10 at 8 p.m. KCET and KPBS; 9 p.m. KVCR; July 15 at 9 p.m. KOCE).
Set your VCR: Ken Burns’ landmark documentary series The Civil War (July 17 at 9 p.m. KPBS; July 31 at 8 p.m. KCET; and KVCR, tentatively for August) is back for another airing.
Also scheduled for PBS: A Baltic Requiem (June 24 at 9 p.m. KCET and KPBS); Talking with David Frost--Margaret Thatcher (June 26 at 8 p.m. KCET and KPBS; 9 p.m. KVCR and KOCE); The Rise and Fall of Ceausescu (July 2 at 9 p.m. KPBS; 11 p.m. KCET; and KVCR, to be announced); episodes of American Playhouse, Mystery! and Masterpiece Theatre; The Metropolitan Opera Presents: The Magic Flute (Wednesday at 8 p.m. KCET and KOCE; 9 p.m. KVCR and KPBS); Moyers/Oren Lyons the Faithkeeper (July 3 at 8 p.m. KVCR; 9 p.m. KPBS; July 8 at 9 p.m. KCET; July 9 at 10 p.m. KOCE).
Channel 2’s Travel, Travel (Sundays at various times) is a new series that visits different destinations and includes hotel and restaurant recommendations, travel tips and historic information.
Channel 5 presents the 3-D John Wayne classic Hondo (June 26 at 8 p.m.) and its semi-annual Twilight Zone Marathon (July 4 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.).
Also scheduled: KTLA Morning News, beginning July 8, 7-9 a.m.
Channel 9 presents the five-hour Say No to Drugs Telethon (June 29 from 5-10 p.m.) and three Raiders exhibition football games: San Francisco (July 27), Chicago (Aug. 17) and San Diego (Aug. 23).
Channel 11 presents live coverage of the opening ceremonies of the U.S. Olympic Festival ’91 from Dodger Stadium (July 12 at 8 p.m.).
Channel 13, the independent channel, premieres two new series: the talk show The Montel Williams Show (June 24 at 4 p.m.) and the comedy sketch series, Johnny B . . . On the Loose (June 24 at 7:30 p.m.), starring disc jockey-comic Jonathan Brandmeier.
Fight fans can catch live boxing from the Reseda Country Club (June 25 at 8 p.m.). For film buffs: the second annual Fourth of July Movie Marathon (July 4 at midnight), which features 22 hours of unedited, commercial-free movies including “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Sunset Boulevard” and “Mr. Roberts.”
Channel 28’s Hooked on Books (July 1 at 1 p.m.) features kids’ programming such as “Reading Rainbow,” “Tales from the Brothers Grimm” and “Wonderworks”; Huell Howser looks at the Golden State on California’s Gold with Huell Howser (July 7 at 7:30 p.m.); Tom Peters: Speed is Life (July 20 at 10 p.m.) examines time-based management.
The popular British series Emmerdale Farm (July 4 at 10 p.m.) is described on Channel 56 as sort of a rural “Dynasty.” Nat King Cole fans will be able to catch 25 episodes of this late ‘50s TV series (July 6 at 9 p.m.).
Tongues already are wagging over Naked Hollywood (July 28 at 5 and 9 p.m.), a controversial six-part BBC series that exposes the underbelly of Tinseltown and features appearances by such Hollywood notables as Michael Ovitz, Mel Brooks, Robin Williams and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
For those who want to relive the recent Gulf War, A&E; has Desert Storm (June 30 at 7 and 11 p.m.), a four-hour retrospective of combat footage and analytical commentary.
Air Combat (July 11 at 5 and 9 p.m.) is a 12-part series chronicling the history of air power from World War I to Vietnam. Monte Markham narrates.
More down to earth is The Birth of Europe (July 7 at 6 and 10 p.m.), a seven-part exploration of the forces that caused the development of the European continent.
Baseball (and coffee) fans will want to check out Biography: Joe DiMaggio: The Way It Was (July 16 at 5 and 9 p.m.), a documentary about The Yankee Clipper.
Also up on A&E;:
Pop Goes the Fourth (July 4 at 4:30 and 9 p.m.), a live concert from Boston’s historical Esplanda on the Charles River; Biography: Prince Charles: A King in Waiting (July 23 at 5 and 9 p.m.); As It Happened: The Royal Wedding 1981 (July 29 at 8 a.m.).
Carrie Fisher’s mom hosts the new weekly talk show Debbie Reynolds’ Movie Memories (Saturday at 7 p.m.). Reynolds will chat about the cinema with the likes of Donald O’Connor, James Stewart and Ann Miller.
Reflections of the Silver Screen with Professor Richard Brown kicks off its second season (Aug. 3 at 4:30 p.m.) with a conversation with Robert Mitchum.
Also up for August:
A Robert Mitchum film festival and a film noir festival.
The Independents Film Festival (June 23-29) features such independently made movies as Drugstore Cowboy, Targets, Salaam Bombay and Paris, Texas.
Charles Champlin visits with Oscar-winner Kevin Costner on Champlin on Film (June 29 at 4:30 p.m.).
July’s The Sounds of Summer Music Festival features King Sunny Ade (July 21 at 7 p.m. and midnight) in a concert taped last year at the Hollywood Bowl.
Discovery’s big fish of the summer is Shark Week ’91: The Revenge (July 21 at 7 p.m.). “Shark Week” features eight days of specials on the mysterious creatures of the deep and includes interviews with shark attack survivors and experts who devote their lives to studying sharks.
The network also offers The State of the Natural World (June 24-28 at 7 and 11 p.m.; June 30 at 6 and 10 p.m.), a five-part series and epilogue on the health of our planet.
Disney’s Rodgers and Hammerstein Festival features the movies “Flower Drum Song” (July 1); “Oklahoma!” (July 15); “South Pacific” (July 22) and “The King and I” (July 29).
July also kicks off Disney’s Classic Rock and Roll Summer, featuring special editions of the British series “Ready Steady Go!: The Beatles Live!” (July 21 at 9 p.m.) and “The Rolling Stones Special” (July 28 at 9 p.m.).
Tony-winning actor John Lithgow performs his favorite kids’ songs in John Lithgow’s Kid-Size Concert (July 20 at 8:30 p.m.)
Disney also presents the world television premiere of the 1990 animated feature “DuckTales: The Movie--Treasure of the Lost Lamp” (Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.).
The Family Channel
Ace Award-winner Scott Ross hosts The Battle of the Sexes (June 29 at 10 p.m.), an exploration of the differences in attitudes between men and women.
Dennis Weaver explores the differences in the animal kingdom when he travels to zoos around the world on the weekly series Backstage at the Zoo (July 6 at 10:30 a.m.).
The Future: Then and Now (July 27 at 10 p.m.) peers into the future and looks back at failed forecasts.
HBO kicks off the summer with the return of two popular series: the horror anthology series Tales From the Crypt (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.) and the adult-comedy Dream On (July 7 at 10 p.m.).
HBO Sports will present 11 days of coverage of the Wimbledon tennis tournament (June 24 at 7:30 p.m.).
The award-winning American Undercover documentary series offers “Rape: Cries of the Heartland” (July 2 at 10 p.m.), a graphic depiction of the physical and psychological aftereffects of rape.
On a lighter note is When It Was a Game (July 8 at 8 p.m.), a documentary featuring rare, never-before-seen color footage from baseball’s Golden Age, the 1930s-50s.
Dennis Hopper stars in the drama Doublecrossed (July 20 at 9 p.m.), the story of DEA informant Barry Seal.
Scheduled for August is the HBO Showcase: Women and Men II, adaptations of stories by Carson McCullers, Henry Miller and Irwin Shaw. Andie McDowell, Ray Liotta and Matt Dillon are set to star.
The guy who gets no respect introduces young comics on Rodney Dangerfield: The Really Big Show.
The network for women premieres its first night of original programming (July 23 at 9 p.m.), featuring three new series: Veronica Clare, a mystery series about a private investigator who is a partner in a jazz club; the anthology series The Hidden Room, and the reality series Confessions of Crime.
Lifetime also is introducing a new game show, Shop ‘Til You Drop (July 8 at 6:30 p.m.) and offers the new supernatural thriller Death Dreams (June 25 at 9 p.m.), with Emmy-winner Marg Helgenberger and Christopher Reeve.
The Movie Channel
It’s a marathon summer for the Movie Channel. The Longest Day Marathon (Friday) features such epics as “In Harms Way,” “The Greatest Show on Earth,” “Paint Your Wagon,” “Funny Girl” and “Anatomy of a Murder.” Beginning Aug. 1, the network offers The Movie Channel Challenge--421 different titles, including 32 musicals (“Funny Lady,” “Singin’ in the Rain”), 21 movies based on Broadway shows (“Cactus Flower”) and festivals starring James Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep, Cary Grant, Lassie and Mel Gibson.
MTV presents the trendy news magazine House of Style: Summer Edition (July 10); Just for Laughs Comedy Concert (July 24), and MTV News Special Report: Racism (July 24 at 10 p.m.).
The Nashville Network
Lorianne Crook visits with singers Vince Gill, Willie Nelson and Clint Black on Celebrities OffStage XI (June 26 at 5 p.m.). Dinah Shore talks with her old boyfriend Burt Reynolds (July 10 at 5 p.m.) on Dinah Shore: A Special Conversation with Burt Reynolds. The legendary country singer Eddy Arnold talks about his life and career on Eddy Arnold: An Inside Look (July 24 at 5 p.m.).
David Lynch’s Propaganda Films and hip Nick have teamed for the new series Salute Your Shorts (July 4 at 5:30 p.m.), a comedy set in a summer camp.
Nick at Nite’s first original sitcom Hi Honey, I’m Home premieres in July. It also will air on ABC.
Showtime presents two original movies: Keith Carradine stars in the revenge drama Payoff (Saturday at 9 p.m.), and a new edition of the 30 Minute Movie Trilogy: Missing Parents, Letters from Moab and Once in a Blue Moon (July 10 at 9 p.m.).
Also up are the comedy specials Pair of Jokers: Pam Stone/Thea Vitale (July 6 at 10:30 p.m.), and Just for Laughs, the Montreal International Comedy Festival (July 20 at 10 p.m.).
Anthony Hopkins narrates the documentary Top Guns and Toxic Whales: Our Environment (June 26 at 5:05 p.m.). James Earl Jones lends his vocal talents to Audubon: Toxics in the Great Lake (Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.), an examination of toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes.
Corbin Bernsen, his wife Amanda Pays and John Glover headline the thriller Dead on the Money (Monday at 5, 7 and 9 p.m.). Katharine Ross and her husband Sam Elliott star in Louis L’Amour’s romantic western adventure Conagher (July 1 at 5 and 8 p.m.).
Oscar-nominee Christine Lahti and Ruben Blades headline the romantic comedy Crazy From the Heart” (Aug. 19 at 5, 7, 9 and 11 p.m.).
USA offers several new movies: Sammi Davis and Kelly Preston star in the mystery The Perfect Bride (June 26 at 9 p.m.); Roddy McDowall, Marc Singer, Michael Beck and Jenny Seagrove star in the thriller Deadly Game (July 10 at 9 p.m.); Bruce Dern and Mariel Hemingway headline the offbeat western Into the Badlands (July 24 at 9 p.m.); Jennifer Rubin and Sally Kellerman star in the murder-mystery Drop Dead Gorgeous (Aug. 7 at 9 p.m.); Isabella Rossellini and Aidan Quinn star in the thriller Lives of the Twins (Aug. 21 at 9 p.m.).
The Best of the Prince’s Trust Rock Gala (July 14 at 5 p.m.) is a 90-minute special featuring the best performances from the last six Prince’s Trust Rock Galas. Phil Collins, Dire Straits and Peter Gabriel are featured.
Upcoming is Dance! Dance! Dance!, a special look at the influence of dance and choreography on music video, and A Tribute to Bob Dylan.