Despite such redundancies, there are still a few good reasons to remain an avid indoorsman (or indoorswoman) this summer. What could possibly await you outside, anyhow, besides mosquito bites and heat stroke? Herewith, my very quick guide to what’s worth watching. We’ve also included accompanying lists of new shows, plus season premiere dates for your returning favorites.
* Denotes critic’s recommendations
THE HOT STUFF
Or: You know better than to bother me on Sunday nights
True Blood; Weeds
I’m lumping these two shows together because they were once among my favorites, but this summer I’ve put both on probationary notice.
The first few episodes that I’ve seen of “True Blood’s” fifth season focus on internal squabbles in the clandestine Vampire Authority, headed by new cast member Christopher Meloni. The authority’s real aim should be to gain control of “True Blood’s” rudderless, almost improvisational storylines — though it is encouraging to see that a formerly human character has seroconverted into a vampire.
Meanwhile, I’m holding out faint hope that Jenji Kohan’s once-addictive “Weeds,” starring the underpraised Mary Louise Parker as an itinerant mother/drug dealer/parolee, can right itself after last year’s sleepily stoned season set in New York that ended with someone getting shot . . . by whom? “True Blood” returns June 10 on HBO; “Weeds” returns July 1 on Showtime
This new HBO drama from “The West Wing’s” Aaron Sorkin (about a news anchor’s angry epiphany about the state of things in America) is this summer’s only real big kahuna, as far as hype and anticipation goes. Sadly, the pilot is so chock full of Sorkinesque speechifying dialogue that it immediately feels like an uphill climb. Jeff Daniels stars, along with Sam Waterston, Emily Mortimer and occasionally Jane Fonda. June 24, HBO
* Breaking Bad
People have finally come around to what I think is TV’s finest current show. Maybe it had something to with seeing [redacted’s] [redacted] blown off in last season’s finale. (Redactions supplied as a courtesy to you fools who are still a season or more behind.) The universal acclaim gets here just in time to see “Breaking Bad” off: This summer’s eight episodes will set us up for methmaker Walter White’s treacherous journey into the Albuquerque sunset when the series ends next year. July 15, AMC