The Summer Substitutes: 10 Shows to Cure the Post-Finale Blues

Lost/Persons Unknown (ABC/NBC)

Lost/Persons Unknown (ABC/NBC)

Feel that empty, gnawing void at the core of your very being? Yep, that means the TV season’s over. (Don’t worry—we feel it too.) But help is on the way: Networks have picked up on the fact that we don’t just shut off our TVs for three months every year, and are already rolling out all-new shows for the summer season.

In fact, a few of these new summer shows are perfect substitutes for our favorite just-ended series—a kind of methadone, if you will, for our TV addiction. So as part of Fancast’s mission to keep your DVR filled to the brim year-round, we’re recommending a worthy replacement for every show you’re missing. Whew… we feel better already.

If You Miss:The Office
Then Check Out:Party Down‘ (Starz, Fridays.)
Already halfway through its second season, ‘PD’ hasn’t garnered much buzz—which is a shame, because it’s easily one of the smartest, funniest shows on any channel. Dunder-Mifflin fans will feel right at home with the Party Down catering crew: These people hate their jobs, and go to great lengths to avoid doing them. Co-workers Henry (Adam Scott) and Casey (Lizzy Caplan) have a teasing Jim-and-Pam-esque romance going, and we could totally see incompetent-boss-turned-slacker-employee Ron (Ken Marino) exchanging awkward high-fives with Michael Scott.

Watch a clip of ‘Party Down’:

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If You Miss:Dancing with the Stars
Then Check Out:So You Think You Can Dance‘ (Fox, Wednesdays and Thursdays.)
If you thought watching total novices dance was fun (Nicole Scherzinger excepted), wait till you see people actually trained in dance tearing up that stage. ‘SYTYCD’ has always been the gawky little sister to ‘DWTS”s homecoming queen—but for our money, Fox’s summer hit delivers more excitement, less filler, and (most importantly) better dancing. Hippy-dippy choreographer Mia Michaels replaces the screamy Mary Murphy as permanent judge, so you won’t have to scramble for the mute button quite as often. And they’ve added a ‘DWTS’-inspired twist: Instead of dancing with each other, the 10 finalists will dance with favorite contestants from seasons past. It’s the perfect time to grab a seat on the Hot Tamale Train. (You’ll learn about it soon enough.)

If You Miss:Lost
Then Check Out:Persons Unknown‘ (NBC, starts June 7.)
We can hear you ‘Lost’ crazies already: “Nothing will ever replace ‘Lost’!!! It’s the best TV show of ALL TIMES!!! Smoke Monster forevah!!!” We understand: This is a hard time for you. That’s why we’re hoping ‘Persons Unknown’ can help ease the pain a bit. It’s a serialized mystery where a group of strangers wake up to find themselves stranded (sound familiar?) in a creepy ghost town. How did they get there? And who’s watching them? The show does come with a quality pedigree; Oscar-winning writer Christopher McQuarrie (‘The Usual Suspects’) is the creator. And who knows? Maybe we might actually get some answers this time.


If You Miss:Family Guy
Then Check Out:Neighbors from Hell‘ (TBS, starts June 7.)
Mixing the crude pop culture references of ‘FG’ with the ghoulish fish-out-of-water dynamic of ‘The Addams Family,’ ‘Neighbors’ centers on the Hellmans, a family of demons sent by Satan to live on the surface and blend in with mankind. Although blending in might be difficult when you’ve got a fire-breathing dog and a mink-jockstrap-wearing Uncle Vlaartark. Created by ‘South Park‘ alum Pam Brady and trumpeted by TBS as “coming from the studio that brought you ‘Family Guy'” (whatever that means), ‘Hell’ is looking to provide ‘FG’ fans with some all-new late-night giggles.

If You Miss:American Idol
Then Check Out:America’s Got Talent‘ (NBC, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)
It’s easy to forget now that it’s been America’s top-rated show for six years running, but ‘Idol’ started as a lowly summer fill-in back in 2002. And of its many, many imitators, ‘AGT’ has hung around the longest (like a barnacle, you might say), pilfering ‘Idol”s judges-separate-the-talented-from-the-deluded format and playing it to the hilt. They even have a curt British judge (Piers Morgan) that you can squint and pretend is Simon, if that’s what you’re into. This season, ‘AGT’ is new and improved—now with 100% less Hasselhoff! (Howie Mandel takes the Hoff’s judging chair this season.) Otherwise, we’re predicting plenty of the whacked-out contestants and merciless judging we’ve all come to expect.

Preview this week’s ‘AGT’:

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If You Miss:Tool Academy
Then Check Out:Dad Camp‘ (VH1, Mondays.)
We were a little dismayed when we heard VH1 was moving away from its lowbrow reality shows in favor of more positive fare. What fun is that? This unfortunate trend continues with ‘Dad Camp,’ a classed-up play on the ‘Tool Academy’ formula with ultra-high stakes. This time, each girlfriend is pregnant, and needs to get her toolish boyfriend ready to be a daddy by the time the baby arrives. (Good luck, girls! No, really, good luck.) Expect tough love from host Dr. Jeff Gardere, sad attempts at diaper changes… and plenty of man tears.

If You Miss:How I Met Your Mother
Then Check Out:100 Questions‘ (NBC, Thursdays.)
Rare to find a new sitcom airing during the summer months, but this one might click with ‘HIMYM’ fans who like a clever framing device with their young urban rom-coms. Sophie Winkleman (the UK’s ‘Peep Show‘) stars as a single woman who’s just signed up for online dating. The application process involves her taking a 100-question compatibility test, and each episode is based around her answer to each question. No word on what they plan to do if the show stretches past 100 episodes (does the test have an essay section?)—but for now, this could be a decent Plan B in case ‘Sex and the City 2‘ is sold out.

Watch a clip from ‘100 Questions’:

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If You Miss:The Biggest Loser
Then Check Out:Losing It With Jillian‘ (NBC, Tuesdays.)
Don’t pack those gym clothes away just yet: Kick-ass ‘TBL’ trainer Jillian Michaels and her ridiculously toned arms are back with their own show, making house calls at the homes of fitness-deficient families across the country.  Each week, Jillian moves in with a family and uses her ‘TBL’-honed drill sergeant techniques to improve the family’s nutrition and workout habits. We have no doubt Jillian could whip all 300 million of us into shape… so these first eight families are as good a place to start as any.

If You Miss:Gossip Girl
Then Check Out:Pretty Little Liars‘ (ABC Family, starts June 8.)
Just because school’s out doesn’t mean we’re ready to stop gossiping about pretty teenagers and all the juicy drama that surrounds them. Like ‘GG,’ ‘Liars’ began as a series of books, but these girls’ issues go way deeper than who slept with whom; they’re covering up what really happened when queen bee Alison disappeared last year. Now they’re getting mysterious messages from someone calling herself “A,” facing new questions about their friend’s disappearance—and they still have hair, clothes, and boys to worry about! Life is so hard, you guys.

If You Miss:Project Runway
Then Check Out:Work of Art‘ (Bravo, starts June 9)
Perfect for ‘Runway’ addicts who need a few more diva tantrums in their lives, this latest from the producers of ‘Top Chef‘ takes us inside another realm of high drama: the art world. Fourteen painters, photographers, and performance artists will compete to show the world their masterpiece—if they don’t murder each other with paintbrushes first. We can’t speak for the judges (host China Chow‘s main art credential seems to be that she grew up around artists at her parents’ restaurant… huh?), but we’re pretty certain the contestants will bring the right balance of crazy and fabulous.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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