Summertime on television used to mean endless reruns -- including those hopelessly dated Christmas and Thanksgiving episodes that aired when the weather was far from frosty -- and pilots for shows that never quite made the cut for a regular fall time slot.
Now attracting audiences knows no season, as demonstrated by a wave of new shows arriving this week. Fox leads the way with several prime time shows plus original fare for kids: The animated series "Winx Club" airs at 8 a.m. on Saturdays.
Fox started shying away from the traditional September launch for new shows because of its commitment to broadcast Major League Baseball in October.
"What we're trying to do is look for a way that there is always a freshness for Fox," said Preston Beckman, Fox's executive vice-president for strategic program planning.
Other TV suits have followed suit. Lifetime brings back Leeza Gibbons, USA gives Tony Shalhoub another collection of cases to crack, and the return of Joe Schmo reminds us that reality programming, like reality, never takes a summer vacation.
-- Kathy Blumenstock
Monday at 8 p.m. on Fox
Location, location, location: After a few years off the TV radar, the Aloha State returns to prime time as a prime location, a backdrop for this ensemble drama centered around beautiful
Kristoffer Polaha stars
as Jason Matthews, the popular head of guest relations at a luxury hotel in Hawaii. Brooke Burns plays the hotel's general manager, who also happens to be Jason's ex-girlfriend.
If you like "The O.C.," this show may be your cup of iced tea.
Monday at 9 p.m. on Fox
What happens when a couple of Internet millionaires decide to gamble it all in Sin City? This series will show us.
Reality-television titan Mark Burnett, the man behind "Survivor," throws open the doors of the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for a behind-the-scenes look at running the joint.
The program trails Tim Poster and Tom Breitling -- who founded Travelscape.com, then sold it to Expedia and pocketed millions -- as they take over the Nugget, along with a sister property in Laughlin, Nev. Their gamble will last 13 episodes.
NEXT ACTION STAR
Monday at 10:05 p.m. on NBC
It's not the easiest job, but somebody has to do it, or there'd be no action scenes in movies. This reality show gives tomorrow's stunt stars a place to begin basic action training.
Ten one-hour episodes focus on 14 finalists as they learn how to become stunt artists. Acting lessons, combat training, racecar driving and other action skills will be a part of their lives, while they reside together in a Hollywood Hills mansion. A weekly screen test helps pick the two winners, who will appear in a movie backed by the show's producers.
Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. on Fox
If twins are a trial, imagine quints.
Now imagine quints as loud noisy teenagers, and you have a TV series starring Andy Richter.
Richter is a dad named Bob who battles with his wife over the care and feeding of their brood.
While the tykes were cute as toddlers, they're not adorable as adolescents. Multiply the typical teenage crises by five, and enjoy parenthood as a spectator sport.
METHOD & RED
Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.
Urban hipsters move into the world of suburban socialites in this new comedy.
Hip-hop artists Method Man and Redman play unlikely residents of a posh gated community where residents are more hip to the top of the stock market than the top of the charts.
Although a 12-year-old boy who lives next door is thrilled to have his musical idols nearby, the rest of the straight-laced neighbors aren't too sure. What effect will these guys have on the community?
And will any of the established crowd suddenly turn to hip-hop?
Wednesday at 10 p.m. on AMC
If you've secretly, or openly, longed to actually BE the protagonist in your favorite flick, this is the show you've been waiting for.
A reality show with an agenda, this program challenges individuals to spend two weeks becoming their favorite film character. But instead of a session in makeup or special effects, the participants immerse themselves in the movie's own minutiae, whether that's carving a baseball bat like "The Natural" or throwing a punch like "Rocky."
PHIL OF THE FUTURE
Friday at 7 p.m. on Disney
The teenager of tomorrow arrives today in a live-action comedy series starring Ricky Ullman.
Four back-to-back episodes will introduce Phil Diffy, whose family's time machine breaks down -- don't you just hate it when that happens? -- and strands them in present-day suburbia (which is to say, beyond the Beltway).
Now Phil must try to fit in while keeping his origins a secret. He has some gadgets from the future to help. He's also got a half-robotic mother whose circuitry sometimes needs adjusting and a father who worries their secret will be discovered.
Curtis, a caveman who stowed away on the time machine when it went through the prehistoric age, is also part of the action.
Saturday at 8 a.m. on Fox
Love, friendship, magic, music and fashion are at the core of this new animated series about five teenage girls and their fight against the forces of darkness.
The five members of the Winx Club -- Bloom, Stella, Flora, Tecna and Musa -- are fairies, and each carries powers related to nature. Stella, for instance, draws her energy from the sun and moon while Flora gets strength from plants and flowers.
SIX FEET UNDER
Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO
Returning for its fourth season, this critically-acclaimed series delves into the lives of the Fishers, the proprietors of Fisher & Diaz Funeral Home.
Matriarch Ruth (Frances Conroy) settles into marriage with her new husband. David (Michael C. Hall) and Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) work to rebuild their relationship, while Claire (Lauren Ambrose) has a reawakening. Rico (Freddy Rodriguez) struggles
to find his niche within the clan, and Nate (Peter Krause) deals with the loss of a loved one.
Sunday at 9 p.m. on Lifetime
The health issues of today, as seen from a woman's perspective, are at the core of this drama, returning for its fifth season.
Patricia Richardson and Rosa Balsi star. The show is executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg.
JOE SCHMO 2
Tuesday at 10 p.m. on Spike
A surprise hit last year, "Joe Schmo" blended elements of scripted comedy and reality, as it hoodwinked an ordinary guy into thinking he was part of a reality series. But in reality, everyone but the poor schmo was scripted.
Now the show expands its horizons by including a woman in the mix. Along with this year's "Joe," she believes they are participating in a dating show called "Last Chance for Love." Will "Jane Schmo" catch on or be just as big a dupe as the guy?
Host Ralph Garman returns as Derek Newcastle.
the simple life 2: road trip
Wednesday at 8 p.m. on Fox
They're back. This season of the riches-to-rags reality show follows the continuing escapades of socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, roughing it this summer in a pink pickup truck.
They're hauling their one-bedroom trailer along and taking a cross-country road trip from Miami to Los Angeles.
Lacking life's basic necessities -- basic for this pair anyway, such as money and cell phones -- the two must depend on the kindness of gracious families they meet along the way.
what should you do?
Friday at 10 p.m. on Lifetime
If you KNEW what you should do, you wouldn't need to watch. Leeza Gibbons returns to host a second season of this series that focuses on coping with life's crises.
Using reenactments and safety tips, the show includes interviews with those who have survived crises in their own lives.
Now if you can just remember those tips during your own crisis.
Friday at 10 p.m. on USA
Adrian Monk and company will travel to New York, chasing a lead that might solve the murder of his wife, in the third season about the obsessive-compulsive detective.
Emmy Award-winner Tony Shalhoub stars as the brilliant detective with an abnormal fear of germs, heights and nearly everything else. His psychological disorders caused him to lose his job as a homicide detective on the San Francisco police force. He has two quests: to be reinstated on the force and to solve his wife's murder.
Bitty Schram plays Monk's nurse, Sharona.