A good rerun is hard to find this summer, but people who count on summer repeats as a way to catch up on shows they missed aren't entirely out of luck.
After years of watching their viewers drift away to cable in the summer months, the broadcast networks are fighting back with everything new — new reality shows, new games and, this summer, even new dramas. All of these new shows push reruns off the schedule.
The theory is that in this day of DVRs, on-demand viewing, streaming video and downloads, anybody who wants to see a show has already seen it; thus, no need for reruns.
But the truth is that many things, including life, can keep you from watching everything on TV you might want to watch.
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Some people just don't have enough time, until summer. Others, burned by past experience, are understandably reluctant to latch onto a new show until they're sure it will survive. Others might think a show isn't for them, only to discover that it might be but they've missed a lot of episodes.
Catching up can be difficult, but it isn't impossible. Here's a look at some shows to seek out this summer, and how to find them. All have been renewed for fall, and some are even airing in reruns.
'The Good Wife,' CBS
What it's about: Alicia Florek (Julianna Margulies) goes back to work as a lawyer after her politician husband (Chris Noth) is sent to prison.
Why you'll like it: The Good Wife skillfully blends legal procedurals with the juicy personal stories of Alicia and her family and colleagues, including Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Archie Panjabi and (as Alicia's rival at her new firm) Matt Czuchry. Excellent performances and good writing lift the drama far above the ordinary.
Where to watch: CBS still likes summer reruns, and The Good Wife is just the kind of show that will draw solid audiences the second time around. So look for repeats at 10 p.m. Tuesdays this summer. The full season is available online for streaming or download on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and other sites.
In reruns on CBS this summer: Freshman hit NCIS: Los Angeles (9 p.m. Tuesdays).
'The Vampire Diaries,' CW
What it's about: Teenage Elena (Nina Dobrev) falls in love with classmate Stefan (Paul Wesley), who's a vampire — problem enough even before Stefan's bad-vampire brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) arrives.
Why you'll like it: In the hands of Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek), Diaries combines the aching romance of the Twilight series with a multi-layered, soapy story of small-town secrets.
Where to watch: The CW is cleverly pairing reruns of Vampire Diaries with repeats of the canceled CBS vampire drama Moonlight at 9 and 10 p.m. Thursdays.
In reruns on the CW this summer: Life Unexpected (10 p.m. Tuesdays), a sweet — and renewed — drama about a foster child reunited with her birth parents.
What it's about: A high school glee club uses music to cope with bullies, boyfriend-and-girlfriend problems and even serious stuff.
Why you'll like it: Maybe you've heard a little something about Glee, which ends its season this week with deafening buzz and soaring ratings. Plus, it already has been renewed for two more seasons.
Where to watch: Wisely, Fox will air repeats at 8 p.m. Thursdays beginning this week, because even people who couldn't be bothered with Glee during the regular season, or just never got into the Glee groove, might find that its mixture of silliness and poignancy is perfect for summer.
In reruns on Fox this summer: Fox isn't running anything else yet, but stay tuned.
What it's about: Aliens land on Earth promising great things but hiding an evil agenda.
Why you'll like it: V offers plenty of eye candy, from the dazzling beauty of alien leader Anna (Morena Baccarin) to the high-tech gloss of the Visitors' ships. The complicated story should be more appealing now that ABC has given viewers a reason to invest by picking up V for fall.
Where to watch: Except for comedy repeats, ABC's schedule is 100 percent new this summer. But Season 1 of V is available for purchase download or streaming at Amazon, iTunes and Netflix, and for advance order on DVD (no release date yet). Or catch up free online with the last five episodes at ABC.go.com/V and Hulu.com.
In reruns on ABC this summer: Comedies Modern Family and The Middle (both highly recommended) and Cougar Town (which hasn't won me over) air 8 to 10 p.m. Wednesdays.
What it's about: A multi-generational family calls on humor to cope with challenges.
Why you'll like it: Parenthood tells many stories at once and tells them well, with the tone switching from lighthearted to downbeat without missing a note. The casting (especially Peter Krause and Lauren Graham as siblings and Craig T. Nelson as the crusty patriarch) is superb.
Where to watch: NBC isn't airing Parenthood reruns at the moment but might schedule them before the summer is over. Meanwhile, episodes will stream until September on NBC.com and other Web sites.
In reruns on NBC this summer: The Thursday night comedies, including 30 Rock, which always deserves a second look, will get multiple airings.