LOS ANGELES — There's no summer break anymore for broadcast networks, with overachieving cable competitors regularly airing new series instead of succumbing to rerun laziness.
That's why NBC has "America's Got Talent," Fox is airing "So You Think You Can Dance" and ABC scheduled the flirty "Mistresses." Over at CBS, star students have teamed up for the ambitious "Under the Dome."
The 13-episode drama series debuting Monday is based on the best-selling Stephen King book and includes heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Neal Baer ("ER," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"), Jack Bender ("Lost") and comic-book and TV scribe Brian K. Vaughan as executive producers.
Such firepower counts in this increasingly competitive season, said CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler. It's even more crucial because CBS is rolling the dice with a drama, atypical first-run network fare in June.
"There is a lot of original content on-air during the summer, and there will be choices for viewers. Especially for us, for broadcast, we're looking for big-marquee auspices" such as those provided by King, Spielberg and their collaborators, Tassler said.
It's a smart move, said one industry analyst.
"It's about time networks put on these types of shows. Cable networks have been exploiting" broadcasting's seasonal weakness, said Brad Adgate of Horizon Media. "Putting on a high-profile series like this in summer is worth the gamble."
Tassler considers "Under the Dome" a safe bet, calling it the kind of escapist fare that "seemed to us to fit nicely as summer programming."
Escapist for viewers, just the opposite for the drama's characters. The premise is adapted from King's 1,000-plus-page book: The town of Chester's Mill (state unspecified) is abruptly enclosed by a mysterious, invisible dome. The residents can't leave and no one can come to their rescue.
How they carry on with daily life trapped in a social "pressure cooker" is the emotional heart of the story.
"Secrets bubble up because there's no place to hide. It's like Sartre's `No Exit': Three people stuck together in a room, hell for eternity," Baer said, referring to the French writer's 1944 play.
For the people stuck in "Under the Dome," the questions are both existential and practical: "Why us? How are we going to live together, do we have the same government, how long will (the dome) be here, how do we sustain our lives?" he said.
While the premise is fantastical, the show strives to have a sense of realism for "our science-oriented friends and viewers," said Baer, himself a physician whose early entertainment credits include writing for NBC's "ER."
How permeable the dome is to elements including air, water and radio waves will be answered, he promised.
The summer slot allowed for a solid ensemble cast, Baer said. Hiring was done last winter, before other producers and studios had tied up actors for the flood of pilot episodes taped for the 2013-14 season.
Working with the casting directors of "The Walking Dead" and "Breaking Bad," Baer and his fellow producers picked actors including Dean Norris (federal drug agent Hank Schrader on "Breaking Bad") and Rachelle Lefevre ("A Gifted Man").
CBS executive Tassler said there was no arm-twisting to get Spielberg and the other big names to buy into the scheduling.
"At the end of the day, what do creators want? They want to be seen by as many people as possible. They want creative support and marketing support," she said.
Viewing levels (and typically ad rates) drop during the season's longer, warmer days as travel and outdoor activities draw people's attention away from TV sets and mobile devices. But producers who want to cultivate their network ties and opportunities recognize the value in helping expand broadcasting to year-round.
Helping make the business model work: The digital rights were sold to online retailer Amazon, with its Amazon Prime subscribers able to stream episodes four days after CBS airs them and after they stream on CBS.com.
There's no downside to a summer run, Baer said.
"We love it. We love going June 24 to September. There are no interruptions, no repeats. It's very predictable for viewers: You get a dose every week and then you're done," he said.
For now, maybe. While "Under the Dome" is considered a limited-run series in terms of its number of episodes – a baker's dozen compared with the 22 or so that air during the regular September-to-May season – that doesn't mean it's one summer and done.
The producers have "such a clear vision of where this show is going. We're prepared for success," Tassler said, confidently. "Under the Dome" could return next summer and there might be a "winter cycle" as well, she said.
That has to send a shiver down the collective spine of imprisoned Chester's Mill.
"Family Tools" (ABC)
<em>Series premieres Wed., May 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know</strong>: Starring J.K. Simmons and Kyle Bornheimer, "Family Tools" centers on a guy who returns home to take over his dad's hardware business when he finds himself jobless.
"MythBusters" (Discovery Channel)
<em>Season 10 premieres Wed., May 1 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong> What To Know</strong>: This season there will be a "Breaking Bad" themed episode and the crew will tackle myths such as "Are women better than men at multitasking?" and "Which is more sanitary: drying your hands with a hand dryer or a hand towel?"
"The Big Brain Theory" (DSC)
<em>Series premieres Wed., May 1 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know</strong>: Hosted by Kal Penn, this reality competition show will give contestants 30 minutes to solve a daunting engineering challenge.
"Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous" (MTV)
<em>Series premieres Thurs., May 2 at 10:30 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> The series follows Zach (Bo Burnham), who hires a camera crew to film him throughout his daily life as a part of his quest to become an overnight celebrity – even though he possesses no real talent. From Zach’s attempts to become a celebrity chef or a ring-tone recording artist to purposefully going missing, he’ll try any avenue to get noticed and stop at nothing until he reaches fame.
"The Show With Vinny" (MTV)
<em>Series premieres Thurs., May 2 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> For the legions who can't say goodbye to "Jersey Shore" just yet, the legacy continues as we follow GTLer Vinny into his sure-to-be-scintillating home life. The premise has random "celebrities" dropping by his house for impromptu interviews -- and Vinny going to visit their homes, too.
"Newlyweds: The First Year" (Bravo)
<em>Series premieres Mon., May 6 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Bravo's new eight-episode docu-series follows four newlywed couples and their most personal moments, from their wedding day to their first anniversary. There's bi-coastal Christian couple Kimberly and Alaska; domestic partners Jeff and Blair, who are 16 years apart; Indian pop star Tina and her modeled-turned-tech-geek husband Tarz; and suburbanites Kathryn and John.
"Million Dollar Listing: New York" (Bravo)
<em>Season 2 premieres Wed., May 8 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Because we're all so fascinated by real estate that we could never realistically afford, this show is returning for a second season. C'mon, it's fun to live vicariously.
<em>Season 6 premieres Thurs., May 9 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> With Season 5 episodes titled "Hillbilly Wipeout," "Gorillas In Our Midst" and "Hotties vs. Nerds 2.0," there can only be more magic in store for Season 6. Viewers of all stripes love watching people hurt themselves in new and remarkable ways.
"Family Tree" (HBO)
<em>Series premieres Sun., May 12 at 10:30 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> "Bridesmaids" funnyman Chris O'Dowd stars in Christopher Guest's ("Best in Show") new documentary-style series about a hapless thirtysomething trying to find meaning in his life by tracing his heritage.
"Long Island Medium" (TLC)
<em>Season 4 premieres Sun., May 12 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> We were hoping that those nails and that hair would be around for another season -- and our wish came true! Theresa Caputo is back, communicating with the dead, for at least another 30 episodes.
“Breaking Amish: Brave New World” (TLC)
<em>Season 2 premieres Sun., May 12 at10 p.m. ET .</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Speculation and accusations about the show’s “reality” aside, “Breaking Amish” was a hit for TLC. Now, the five Amish and Mennonite rebels, who moved to New York City in the show’s first season, are headed south to Florida ... but trouble seems to follow them wherever they go.
"Small Town Security" (AMC)
<em>Season 2 premieres Thurs., May 9 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off: </strong> In Season 1, we met the owners and employees of JJK Security in small-town Ringgold, Georgia, and Season 2 will offer more insight into the unscripted lives of this unusual group, including Dennis' ongoing journey in his gender transition from female to male.
"So You Think You Can Dance" (Fox)
<em>Season 10 premieres Tues., May 14 at 8 p.m. ET. </em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> After a season of intense competition, Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp took home first place wins, both for ballet, while Tiffany Maher was the female runner-up for jazz and Cyrus Spencer was the male runner-up for popping/animation.
<em>Series premieres Thurs., May 23 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Billed as a unique, original approach to the typical cop drama, "Motive" operates backwards. Each episode starts off showing the victim, and then works its way towards finding the perpetrator and his/her motivations by the end of the episode.
"The Goodwin Games" (Fox)
<em>Series premieres Mon., May 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know: </strong> The Fox comedy centers on estranged siblings Henry (Scott Foley), Chloe (Becki Newton) and Jimmy (T.J. Miller) as they attempt to "rediscover their lives" with the money their father left them.
<em>Season 4 premieres Wed., May 22 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> The home cook competition crowned its third consecutive female winner last season, Christine Ha. Cool fact: She is legally blind. No telling what twists they'll have this season.
"Rookie Blue" (ABC)
<em>Season 4 premieres Thurs., May 23 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> The last time we saw the cops at 15 Division, they were all in the midst of making some serious decisions about their lives -- including career calls, a possible transfer and, for Andy, a major emotional choice.
"Save Me" (NBC)
<em>Series premieres Thurs., May 23 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> After a near-death experience, Beth (Anne Heche) is revived only to realize she now has a direct line to God. Of course, her husband Tom (Michael Landes) is skeptical and dismissive -- but when inexplicable things begin to happen, everyone’s beliefs are tested.
"The Bachelorette" (ABC)
<em>Season 9 premieres Mon., May 20 at 9 p.m ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off: </strong> Emily Maynard of North Carolina thought she'd finally found love in Jef Holm, but after only being engaged for a short time, they broke up. Here's to hoping "Bachelor" contestant Desiree Hartsock has better luck!
"Arrested Development" (Netflix)
<em>Season 4 premieres Mon., May 26 at 12:01 a.m. PT.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> The Bluths are finally back, but there's no telling where and how we'll actually find them. One thing we do know: Each of the nine main characters will have their own episode in this season's 15-episode order, chronicling what they've been up to the last seven years. Some may cross over, but they'll all be complementary -- and they're all meant to set up an eventual "AD" movie. Considering the season will all be available the day it premieres, it sounds pretty perfect for a marathon viewing.
"The Glades" (A&E)
<em>Season 4 premieres Mon., May 27 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> In the Season 3 finale, Jim (Matt Passmore) proposed to Callie (Kiele Sanchez), even though she passed her board exam and may move to Atlanta. But she didn't respond yet ...
<em>Season 2 premieres Mon., May 27 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Did Walt Longmire murder his wife's killer? Season 1 saw flashbacks of the Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, that would support the theory, but when the FBI asked him in the Season 1 finale, he simply said, "No."
"Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition" (ABC)
<em>Season 3 premieres Tues., May 28 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> As in the seasons before it, "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition" will center on a group of people losing large amounts of weight over the course of a year through diet and exercise.
"Brooklyn DA" (CBS)
<em>Series premieres Tues., May 28 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know</strong>: The six-part series takes viewers behind the scenes of the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. ADA Kathleen Collins (pictured) is just one of the profiled attorneys. "When you’re on trial, there’s never a day that you really go home and don’t feel stressed," she said.
"The American Baking Competition" (CBS)
<em>Series premieres Wed., May 29 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Based on a popular British reality competition, this new Jeff Foxworthy-hosted show features 10 home cooks vying for the title of best amateur baker in America, as well as a contract to publish their own cookbook and a $250,000 grand prize. Not bad for a couple of pies work, huh?
"Melissa & Joey" (ABC Family)
<em>Season 3 premieres Wed., May 29 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Joe married Russian businesswoman Elena, but then she received a call that prompted her to fly back to Russia to testify for one of her innocent colleagues. The Season 2 finale ended with Mel -- who officiated the wedding -- and Joe toasting to the next "Mrs. Longo," wherever she may be.
"Baby Daddy" (ABC Family)
<em>Season 2 premieres Wed., March 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET. </em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Ben and Riley's friend Katie faced some major drama when they found themselves in bed together after a night of partying. The only problem with their little tryst was that Katie was supposed to get married (to someone else) the next day. Luckily, they soon find out that nothing happened, and Riley and Ben share a romantic dance.
"Dancing Fools" (ABC Family)
<em>Series premieres Wed., May 29 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know: </strong> The half-hour comedy clip show, hosted by "Baby Daddy" star Melissa Peterman, features the funniest, most outrageous and memorable dances caught on camera. The dancers from the top two clips of the week compete on stage for a chance to win $10,000.
"The Killing" (AMC)
<em>Season 3 premieres Sun., June 2 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Season 2 ended with Rosie Larsen's Aunt Terry being arrested for her murder. Detectives Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) got a call about a new case, but Linden wanted no part of it. Season 3 picks up a year later, with Holder searching for a runaway girl and discovering a string of murders connected to one of Linden's old cases. Though Linden is no longer a detective, she inevitably gets pulled back in.
"The Real Housewives of New Jersey" (Bravo)
<em>Season 5 premieres Sun., June 2 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong> Where We Left Off</strong>: The "Housewives" were fractured -- to say the least -- but the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy brings new beginnings for the first ladies of the Garden State. Of course things could certainly go sour yet again.
"Princesses: Long Island" (Bravo)
<em>Series premieres Sun., June 2 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know</strong>: The reality series follows six college-educated women from affluent areas of Long Island who are still living with their families.
“Keeping Up With the Kardashians” (E!)
<em>Season 8 premieres Sun., May 20 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Kim and Kanye’s relationship was just breaking the Internet, and now we’ll see it all on screen -- including their baby drama. Khloe’s fertility issues continue, but new “castmember” Brody Jenner -- Bruce’s son from a previous marriage who is no stranger to reality TV -- looks to be this season’s biggest diva.
<em>Series premieres Mon., June 3 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Soapy drama "Mistresses" stars Alyssa Milano, Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes and Jes Macallan as four friends all struggling with different issues in their love lives, with men (including Jason George) and other women complicating matters. And as the title suggests, some of them are flirting with disaster and becoming mistresses themselves.
“The Fosters” (ABC Family)
<em>Series premieres Mon., June 3 at 9 p.m. ET. </em> <strong>What To Know: </strong>This new one-hour drama from executive producer Jennifer Lopez follows a multi-ethnic, blended family, being raised by two working moms, as they welcome another troubled child into their home.
"Teen Wolf" (MTV)
<em>Season 3 premieres Mon., June 3 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> At the end of last season, Allison broke up with Scott, Peter warned Isaac and Derek that a new pack made up entirely of Alpha werewolves was coming, and said Alphas trapped Boyd and Erica in the woods, leaving viewers uncertain of their fate. Season 3 will pick up four months later, and focus on the introduction of the Alpha pack and the havoc they wreak.
"Push Girls" (Sundance Channel)
<em>Season 2 premieres Mon., June 3 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off: </strong> Throughout Sesaon 1 we got to know Auti, Mia, Tiphany and Chelsie, four women living in Hollywood who also happen to all be in wheelchairs. Season 2 will follow the foursome's new loves and new adventures, including 21-year-old Chelsie's decision to move out of her parents' home.
"America's Got Talent" (NBC)
<em>Season 8 premieres Tues., June 4 at 9 p.m. ET</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Last season, traveling dog act Olate Dogs was crowned the winner. This year, a new crop of performers will compete for the $1 million prize. Spice Girl Mel B. and Heidi Klum join the judging panel with Howie Mandel and Howard Stern.
"Burn Notice" (USA)
<em>Season 7 premieres Thursday, June 6 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> In an effort to get more information on Riley, Michael sent Bly to tail her to a meeting with the cartel kingpin, but a cartel member disguised as security blew up Bly's car, killing him and destroying the evidence they collected on Riley. Michael later incapacitated Riley and got her to agree to confess. Then, Fiona, Madeline, Sam and Jesse were released from their prison cells. Michael explained he "did what [he] had to do," but Fiona corrected him, saying, "You did what you wanted to do."
<em>"Graceland" premieres Thurs., June 6 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> This cop drama, starring Daniel Sunjata and Aaron Tveit, follows a special group of law enforcement agents from the FBI, the DEA and U.S. Customs who all live under the same roof in sunny Southern California. Like frat guys (and girls), but with badges.
"The Hero" (TNT)
<em>Series premieres Thurs., June 6 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is producing this competition series to test the strength, courage and integrity of a diverse group of nine individuals. Each week, the contestants will be challenged physically, mentally and morally as they try to prove that they truly deserve the title of "The Hero" and the life-changing grand prize that goes with it.
"72 Hours" (TNT)
<em>Series premieres Thurs., June 6 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Contestants on this "Survivor"-esque reality show are dropped into the wilderness with only a bottle of water and a GPS device on a mission to find a briefcase filled with $100,000.
<em>Season 2 premieres Fri., June 7 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> According to series lead Rachel Nichols, Season 2 is all about responsibility. Kiera, Alec and even the terrorists at Liber8 all have to make intense choices that could change the very fabric of their worlds.
<em>Season 8 premieres Sun., June 30 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off: </strong> Deb finally learned the truth about Dexter's dark secret, and took a page out of her step-brother's book in the shocking season finale. Can she live with what she did? And can Dexter escape the series without being brought to justice in this final season?
"Being Human" (BBC America)
<em>Season 5 premieres Sat., June 8 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Our favorite supernatural threesome is back from across the pond for their fifth and final season where they'll finally confront the Devil, once and for all. No biggie.
<em>Series premiere Sat., June 8 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> The 12-episode British series follows the epic sea journey of the flawed hero Sinbad (Elliot Knight), who embarks on a quest to rid himself of a curse and embrace his destiny. Look for "Lost" alum Naveen Andrews as Lord Akbari.
"Primeval: New World" (Syfy)
<em>Series premieres Sat., June 8 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong> What To Know</strong>: The 13-episode first season follows a team of animal experts and scientists that investigate paranormal events.
"Falling Skies" (TNT)
<em>Season 3 premieres Sun., June 9 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Last season ended with the arrival of a new species of alien, and Anne became pregnant with Tom's child. Season 3 will explore whether the new alien is on the side of the humans or has another dark purpose in mind. We'll also learn what happened to Hal while he was unconscious, and what that might mean for the rebellion.
"Switched At Birth" (ABC Family)
<em>Season 2 summer premiere Mon., June 10 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: "Switched At Birth" left on a big cliffhanger: Daphne struggled to keep the Carlton School for the Deaf open, John's campaign for office came to a startling halt and Emmett told Bay about Daphne and Noah's kiss.
"Major Crimes" (TNT)
<em>Season 2 premieres Mon., June 10 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Rusty became a ward of the state to the delight of everybody, and Captain Raydor continued to gain the trust and respect of the Major Crimes unit.
“King & Maxwell” (TNT)
<em>Series premieres Mon., June 10 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Based on author David Baldacci’s bestselling private eye series, Rebecca Romijn and Jon Tenney star as the titular former Secret Service agents now working as private investigators who aren’t always by-the-books.
"Pretty Little Liars" (ABC Family)
<em>Season 4 premieres Tues., June 11 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Red Coat, who looked a whole lot like Ali, saved Emily, Aria, Hanna and Mona from a fire, while Spencer looked on in shock. The first episode of Season 4 is titled "A Is For A-L-I-V-E" and <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/394204/spoiler-chat-scoop-on-pretty-little-liars-once-upon-a-time-revolution-new-girl-and-more" target="_hplink">E! News reports that viewers will meet Marion, Toby's mother</a>, who was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jaimie-etkin/pretty-little-liars-recap_b_2673316.html" target="_hplink">revealed to be dead in Season 3, Episode 18, "Dead To Me."</a> "All of the questions fans have will be answered," <a href="http://www.wetpaint.com/pretty-little-liars/articles/pretty-little-liars-star-sasha-pieterse-dishes-on-season-4-questions-will-be-answered-exclusive" target="_hplink">star Sasha Pieterse told Wetpaint Entertainment recently</a> of Season 4.