Summer 2012's Most Buzzed About TV

Vampires, TV news reporters and Jenny MCarthy will entertain when the Olympics aren't

The biggest television event this summer won't have a script and it won't be a reality show either. But it will be packed with drama, story lines and even break-out stars. The London 2012 Olympic Games, airing on NBC July 27-Aug. 12, stand to be full of lots of entertaining and memorable moments, as swimmer Michael Phelps tries for the record books again, and women's boxing premieres.

But during the rest of the season, here are some of the shows likely to be buzzed about, in order of appearance.

Love In the Wild (June 7)

What’s a TV season without a reality dating competition? Summer provides a second season of NBC’s exotic entry – think “The Bachelor” meets “Survivor” – this time with a new host in the bikini-ready form of Jenny McCarthy. “I watched the first season and chewed off all my nails because the format worked,” says McCarthy. “I realized why they wanted to use me for the second season: to just add a little bit more pizzazz, some comedy and bring out the drama that we love in these shows. I said, 'Yes, I would love to do it as long as you let me bring that 'Singled Out' Jenny back to T.V.'" The new ringleader found herself learning from the intrigue the mismatched couples provided. “Initially they pick each other based off looks – we only give them a few seconds, so they have to go 'OK, you!’ As the day goes on, they can instantly see that there's no chemistry and start to see red flags," which she said taught her some things about life.

True Blood (June 10)

HBO’s horror kicks off with a fang – er, bang, as the apparently irresistible Sookie (Anna Paquin) continues to tame her werewolf crush Alcide (Joe Manginaello), while Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) form a necessary alliance. “This is a political year,” reveals Deborah Ann Woll, who plays the angst-y vamp Jessica, of the arrival of Vampire Authority leader Roman (Christopher Meloni) to settle the bubbling-over human/vampire tensions in Bon Temps. “We're going to see more about the different factions of vampires – there are the mainstreaming vampire and there are the vampires who want to be more primal.” As for Jessica, Woll reveals “she's exploring her vampire side, and also her teenage side: the girl that grew up a little too fast is sort of coming out a bit. The relationship with Jason will take a very quick turn right away – and then a more interesting one a little later.” Woll also reveals “there are some actors and characters coming back that are some of my favorites, so it's going to be exciting to see them again.” Among the returnees: the bloody entertaining former Vampire King of Louisiana himself, Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare).

Dallas (June 13)

The phenomenally popular series that defined the nighttime serial is back, with a new cast of hottie and hardbodies joining Southfork Ranch stars Larry Hagman, Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy on TNT. Hagman says the iconic role of perpetually plotting oil baron J.R. Ewing fit back on “like an old pair of slippers. I'm playing my age – it slows you down a little bit, but I'm still as mean as always. Maybe a little meaner, because I've got more experience at it.” J.R.’s and Sue Ellen’s son John Ross proves to be a drip off the old oil derrick, says actor Josh Henderson: “I'm having a ton of fun because I'm getting to recreate this energy of who J.R. was, but in his younger spawn – the manipulation, the intense energy, the blackmail.” Duffy reprises his role as Bobby, now stricken with cancer, and says he was moved by revival. “Tears were running down my cheeks from the moment that the theme song started. I said, 'It's back.' It's as exciting and I'm as thrilled to do it as I was then.” Hagman’s hoping for a lengthy return tour in the ten gallon hat. “Wouldn't be great to do another ten years? I'd be 95 f__ years old!”

The Newsroom (June 24)

Aaron Sorkin, one of Hollywood’s most heralded writers (“The Social Network,” “The West Wing”) makes his hotly anticipated return to television – this time at anything-goes HBO – with the latest of his revealing insider-y shows, this time taking place “behind the scenes at a nightly cable news show, where they have made a decision to try to do the news well,” says Sorkin. “I'm loving the idea of coming back to television and taking the same combination of idealism and romanticism and realism that made government sexy on ‘The West Wing’ and seeing if we can't do the same with the news and journalism, which are held in at least as much contempt.” Jeff Daniels headlines as principled anchorman Will McAvoy, with a supporting cast that includes Sam Waterston, Dev Patel, Olivia Munn, Allison Pill, Thomas Sadoski, John Gallagher, Jr., and Emily Mortimer, who calls the opening episode “the most amazing script I think I've ever had the pleasure of getting to perform.”

Breaking Bad (July 15)

Details about the first half of the fifth and final season of AMC’s pitch-black drama – which stars the multiply awarded Bryan Cranston as science teacher-turned-meth dealer Walter White – are scarce, but the playing field was decidedly reset at last season’s finale: Walt and Jesse (Aaron Paul) are partners again, but at what cost if/when Jesse discovers the extremes Walt secretly may have gone to? Given last season’s deadly outcomes, there’s also certain character voids to be filled, with several new additions to the cast, including Paul, a co-worker of Jesse’s who despite his working class status is smarter and possibly more dangerous than his colleague realizes. And as the series approaches its swansong, will Walt's outlaw lifestyle he adopted to save his own life finally lead to his ultimate demise?

More Summer Hotness

Charlie Sheen returns to television, for good or ill, in FX’s “Anger Management” on June 28, as does a third season of comedian Louie C.K.’s brutally funny “Louie”. “Pretty Little Liars” assembles its dissemblers for a third season of ingénues and intrigue June 5 on ABC Family. "Suits," about a pair of mismatched lawyers, returns to USA June 14. “The Closer” closes up shop with its final season beginning July 9 on TNT; and the History Channel’s miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” – starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the heads of the warring Appalachian clans – premieres May 28 and promises enough feudin’, fussin’ and fightin’ to get us through to fall.

Want to get your entertainment out of the house? Here are Summer 2012's biggest franchise movies.

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