by Meredith O’Brien
Okay, so we TV addicts are still feeling a tad melancholy about the fact that many of our favorite TV shows have wrapped for the season, not to return with new episodes until late September or early October. And some shows, like Lost, 24 and The New Adventures of Old Christine, aren’t going to return at all. (*sniff*)
But all is not lost. Many new and returning shows are premiering over the summer. So if you’re looking for a cheap form of entertainment for which you don’t need to hire a babysitter, fight traffic or find a parking spot, I’ve got a few suggestions for you, TV-wise, to keep you entertained until the fall:
Mad Men  (Season 4) AMC, 10 p.m. Premieres July 25.
This show cannot return fast enough for me. I’m jones-ing for new Mad Men episodes in a big way. For the uninitiated: Mad Men is an exquisitely thoughtful, sexy, intriguing series set in 1960s New York City, and its suburbs, chiefly focusing on the devastatingly handsome ad man Don Draper who, at the end of the third season, was told by his wife Betty (the mother of their three kids including a baby) that she was leaving him and heading to Reno (with her new boyfriend and the baby) in order to get a divorce. Don, who has been a serial liar and cheater throughout the series, was toting his suitcases to a new apartment after his marriage officially failed in the season three finale, soon after he and his colleagues started their own advertising agency based, for the time being, in a hotel suite.
I’m eager to see where season four will take the newly (or nearly) divorced Betty Draper, as well as the savvy career gals, married administrative assistant Joan Harris and single, glass ceiling-breaking copywriter Peggy Olsen.
Weeds (Season 6) Showtime, 10 p.m. Premieres August 16.
When last we left Nancy Botwin -- the pot-dealing suburban mom who has a teenage son, a twentysomething son as well as a new baby – she’d been newly married to Esteban Reyes, a Mexican politician who’s involved in the drug trade and whose henchmen have spent a good chunk of time menacing Nancy and her family. In the closing seconds of the season five finale, Esteban’s criminally-connected and uber-powerful political advisor was killed by one of Nancy’s sons – who hit her in the head with a croquet mallet -- after said advisor threatened to kill Nancy’s children, except for the baby Nancy just had with Esteban.
A trailer  for the new season shows Nancy digging a hole in the desert and burying a croquet mallet, a gun, a passport and a ringing cell phone which was receiving a call from Esteban. Hmm.
The Big C  (Season 1) Showtime, 10:30 p.m. Premieres August 16.
Yep. This show’s about someone with cancer. But it’s got Laura Linney, Oliver Platt, Gabourey Sidibe and dark humor. This new comedy likely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – cancer is a downer – but, based on the preview , it promises to have grab-life-by-the-lapels moments that make you appreciate what you have. Oh, and did I mention that The Big C stars Laura Linney?
Linney’s character Cathy is a high school teacher who learns she has cancer. Before her diagnosis, the married mother, who has a teenaged son, considered herself a dreadfully boring suburbanite. Then she got cancer and decided to let her “weird” finally rise to the surface. Boring be gone. Will it be smart and funny enough fare for summer evenings? I don’t know yet, but hey, I’ll tune in just to watch Laura Linney.
HawthoRNe  (Season 2) TNT, 9 p.m. Premieres June 22.
The freshman season of this Jada Pinkett Smith-led drama had Pinkett Smith’s Christina Hawthorne, a chief nursing officer, allow herself to finally openly share her amorous feelings with surgeon Tom Wakefield, the man who’d been Christina’s husband’s doctor when he died a year before and who flirted with Christina throughout the first season. Christina and Tom work in a hospital beset by huge financial problems, and Christina has a still-grieving teenaged daughter to raise.
Season two will reportedly feature Christina starting to finally come up for air after a year of mourning and rebuild a personal life, while asking her daughter Camille to start thinking about colleges and trying to help her hospital simply survive.
Rescue Me (Season 6) FX, 10 p.m. Premieres June 29.
After a gripping fifth season, the gritty firefighter drama returns with rogue firefighter Tommy Gavin, who relapsed into his drinking ways last season, having been shot by his Uncle Teddy, who blamed Tommy’s unhinged pro-alcohol rants for leading to Teddy’s wife’s death. On the home front, other than being shot and all, Tommy will have to deal with his off-center estranged wife Janet, the mother of his children with whom he’s been hooking up, and with his even more off-center dead cousin’s wife Sheila, with whom he’s also been carrying on. It’s messy. Messy all around.
Hot in Cleveland  (Season 1) TV Land, 10 p.m. Premieres June 16.
Take three TV sitcom veterans – Valerie Bertinelli from One Day at a Time, Jane Leeves from Frasier and Wendie Malick from Just Shoot Me – and team them up with the awesome Betty White and you’ve got Hot in Cleveland. The premise of this new show is as follows: A trio of sexy, stylish 40+ Los Angelinos gets stuck in Cleveland and realizes that Cleveland men think they’re “hot.” So of course they’ve got to establish residency there. They find a house to rent together that comes with one caveat: It comes with the wise-cracking White who’s been its resident caretaker for 50 years. I really hope this show is good. I have such a crush on Betty White.
Friday Night Lights (Season 4) NBC, 8 p.m. In midst of its fourth season.
I’m starting to feel like a passionate preacher trying to recruit new followers when it comes to this NBC drama. I just adore this show. I love the central family, Eric and Tami Taylor, where Eric’s a kind-hearted high school football coach and Tami’s the principal at a rival high school. They have a toddler and a teen daughter who’s applying to colleges. (Read my recent love letter to Friday Night Lights )
Given that NBC is posting free full episodes online  you can easily dive into this season right now without ever having watched the show, which is about a whole heck of a lot more than football. A recent episode didn’t even have any game scenes. Trust me, you’ll like it.
What are you looking forward to seeing this summer?