Summer TV's Best New & Returning Bets: 'Wayward Pines' Debuts, 'True Detective' Returns

Wayward Pines |
M. Night Shyamalan’s first foray into television is this 10-episode event series led by Matt Dillon, who is accompanied by a slew of recognizable faces from Terrence Howard to Melissa Leo. “Wayward Pines” is a mystery thriller in the vein of “Twin Peaks” and follows a Secret Service Agent’s (Dillon) investigation into the mysterious disappearance of two federal agents in small town Idaho.

M. Night Shyamalan serves as an executive producer on the series and directs the first episode. The possible influence of his slow burn pacing should be a strong fit for this story and television as a whole. After a series of backlashes for his theatrical work, this could be the project that puts Shyamalan back on the map. That in mind, as the ill-fated ABC series “Happy Town” learned, it’s not easy to successfully reproduce the success of “Twin Peaks”. Premiere Date: May 14 (FOX)

Aquarius | David Duchovny stars in this mystery series set in 1967 Los Angeles. One of the big buzz terms in network television right now is the "event series". Like the aforementioned "Wayward Pines", "Aquarius" is currently billed as one. The concept allows a network to test run a series without making a full commitment to continue. If the series' finds ratings success, more seasons would follow and if it were to fail, the story is wrapped up within its original episode order. The upside for the network is they don't have to invest in an entire season before having to relent and pull the plug. It also works to the advantage of viewers, who can invest in a low-rated show without having to worry about being left in limbo after an ill-timed cancellation. The trend towards "event series" mirrors the ever growing popularity of cable and streaming service's setup of annual 10-13 episode runs. In a bid to directly compete with the streaming craze surrounding "binge watching" NBC will make the entire season of "Aquarius" available online following its network premiere.

The series marks Duchovny’s first foray back to television, since the end of his long-running Showtime series, “Californication”. In the new NBC drama he plays a police sergeant investigating a series of missing persons cases with the aid of an undercover officer (Grey Damon) posing as a hippie during the crest of Hait-Ashbury’s subculture wave. “The Originals” and “Vampire Diaries” fan favorite Claire Holt co-stars. Premiere Date: May 28 (NBC)

Mr. Robinson | After a few behind-the-scenes shakeups, NBC’s half-hour comedy is slated to debut in late summer. Craig Robinson (“The Office”, “This Is the End”) stars as a musician turned middle school music teacher who trades in the bright lights of the stage for the florescent ambiance of the classroom. After recasting the key role of the school’s principal (Jean Smart was replaced by “Frasier” star Peri Gilpin) and changing the sitcom setup from single to multi-camera, things are on track for a nicely put together end product. NBC’s slate of high profile Fall comedies; “Bad Judge” and “A to Z” were quickly cancelled. With NBC taking their time to finesse “Mr. Robinson”; it seems poised to fare better. Premiere Date: August 5 (NBC)

Best Returning Bet (Anthology) | True Detective | Catching a brief glimpse of the first season wasn't enough to entice a full season of personal viewing, this despite starring two incredible leading actors in Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. The slow pacing and drawn out pauses just didn't draw me in. A year later, HBO's anthological series will kick off its second season with the same Showrunner and a totally different cast of characters, actors, story and location. Last year, rabid reporting of the latest casting rumors to circulate the internet grabbed headlines as a veritable casting war broke out for the female lead (the role ultimately went to Rachel McAdams). Whether it can live up to all of the frenzied excitement surrounding its return will be interesting.

It has certainly amassed a credible cast. An interesting aspect at play is that cast. Every member of the ensemble has something to prove with this high-profile police drama. Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch have all starred on the silver screen and experienced its varying turbulence. For Farrell and McAdams it's a chance to play the gritty and multidimensional roles the television renaissance has become known for. If they secure enough buzz, the silver screen could beckon for them again and with juicier roles than were possibly offered beforehand. For Kitsch, who's highly publicized film career met with the eviscerating scrutiny of a relentless media hounding, it's a chance to remind everyone why he was given the opportunities he was to begin with. He has major talent and his career making turn on "Friday Night Lights" was no fluke. Knowing what's at stake for its talent, it's a show you can't help but root for. Premiere Date: June 21 (HBO)

Best Returning Bet (Series) | Tyrant | FX's lavish, edgy and exotic drama featured a complex story about love, loyalty, betrayal and family. Breakout turns by Adam Rayner, Ashraf Barhom and Moran Atias made this freshman series a must-see. Adding to the anticipation of its return is the resolution surrounding that nail-biting cliffhanger, which left viewers on the edge of their seats and anxious for more. Return Date: June 16 (FX)

Hot Picks Premiere Dates:
"Beauty & the Beast" (CW) - May 21
"Pretty Little Liars" (ABC Family) - June 2
"Under the Dome" (CBS) - June 25
"Teen Wolf" (MTV) - June 29
"Scream" (MTV) - June 30 (Premiere)

[Images by FOX, NBC, HBO]