Things we Love: Summer TV Edition

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From the June 20, 2013 edition

Most of the hype around television comes in the fall because that’s when the big four networks release their new seasons. But the major networks have been serving up mostly crap lately and the best TV shows are found elsewhere. Here’s five shows debuting this summer — three I’ve already seen some episodes, two I haven’t — that I’m very excited about.

“Dexter” (9 p.m. June 30, Showtime)

It had become a love-mostly-hate relationship with “Dexter” for me. The series had fallen into a rut of serial killer malaise—Dexter (Michael C. Hall) straps bad guys to a table, stabs, rinse and repeatbut last season began setting the series up for it endgame. The first couple episodes of this final season are promising and very dark, especially Dexter’s sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter).

“Ray Donovan” (10 p.m. June 30, Showtime)

Airing after “Dexter,” Showtime’s newest series doesn’t have a great pilot. It’s your basic anti-hero setup about the titular Ray (Liev Schreiber), a Hollywood fixer with a perchance for violence and intimidation. But the following three episodes improve by building a strong supporting cast, including Ray’s slime ball father Mickey (appropriately played by Jon Voight).

“The Bridge” (10 p.m. July 10, FX)

FX rarely lets me down and “The Bridge” — based on an acclaimed Scandinavian series — is another in the network’s line of gritty, compelling dramas. When a woman is found murdered on the U.S.-Mexican border, an El Paso detective (Diane Kruger) and a Juarez cop (Damian Bichir) must work together to track down a serial killer. The early episodes build tension, carry a creepy aesthetic and Kruger and Bichir give strong performances, elevating “The Bridge” above the typical murder mystery drama.

“Orange is the New Black” (July 11 Netflix)

Netflix’s original series lineup has some successes (“House of Cards,” “Arrested Development”) and failures (oh, “Hemlock Grove”), but I’m predicting the new dramedy from “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan will be worth watching. Based on the memoir of Piper Kerman, “Orange” is the story of a wealthy woman (Taylor Schilling) being sent to federal prison.

“Breaking Bad” (9 p.m. August 11, AMC)

The final eight episodes in the twisted tale of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) are sure to intense and shockingly dark. The big question seems to be who will make it out alive? I hope it’s Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), but nobody is safe here.