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Soaps, pirates, soldiers: It's summertime TV

Summer television is no longer a vast rerun wasteland.

Although most of your favorite network shows have, indeed, gone off into hibernation, there is plenty of fresh fare coming your way, including new scripted programs and reality series.

Here's a look at summer's 10 best TV bets:

_"Hidden Palms": Kevin Williamson ("Dawson's Creek") is still doing the teen soap thing with this freaky drama that follows a troubled youngster (Taylor Handley, formerly the much-despised Oliver on "The O.C.") who moves to Palm Springs after seeing his father commit suicide. Once there, he meets all sorts of quirky people, some of whom are hiding dark secrets. Premiered at 8 p.m. Wednesday, The CW.

_"Pirate Master": It's days of plunder as Jack Sparrow meets "Survivor" in this latest offering from reality czar Mark Burnett. The show has 16 contestants going on a high-seas adventure aboard a vintage square-rigger, where they live as buccaneers and travel around a Caribbean island in search of hidden treasure worth $1 million. 8 p.m. Thursday, CBS.

_"Army Wives": Kim Delaney ("NYPD Blue") stars in this ensemble drama about the struggles, dreams and friendships of a diverse group of women - and one man - who form an unlikely bond based on one common theme: They all love a soldier who could be gone at any moment. Filmed on location in Charleston, S.C., the show also features Sally Pressman, Brigid Brannagh and Brian McNamara. 10 p.m. June 3, Lifetime.

_"Tyler Perry's House of Payne": This new comedy dabbles in the lives of a multigenerational working-class family forced by circumstances to live under one roof. Life gets a whole lot more complicated when it's discovered that one family member - a mother to two children - is addicted to crack. Created by Perry, the show stars Allen Payne, LaVan Davis and Cassie Davis. 9 p.m. June 6, TBS.

_"John From Cincinnati": There's just no replacing "Deadwood," but fans of that remarkable series may want to follow its creator, David Milch, to this offbeat drama. It focuses on a family of dysfunctional pro surfers whose reputation has been eroded by years of "bad luck, addiction and hubris." Just when things look like they can't get any worse, a mysterious stranger arrives in town to give new meaning to their existence. 10 p.m. June 10, HBO.

_"Meadowlands": Dark dramas set in the suburbs are now old hat, but we'll give this one a chance. It follows the Brogan family members, who, as part of a witness protection program, move into a bucolic neighborhood to begin a new life. Picturesque and crime-free, Meadowlands appears to be a suburban paradise, but the Brogans soon realize that it's not so easy to escape their past. David Morrissey and Lucy Cohu star. 10 p.m. June 17, Showtime.

_"Age of Love": This new dating reality series attempts to answer the question: Does age really matter when it comes to matters of the heart? Australian tennis pro Mark Philippoussis, 31, is given a full house of women to choose from. But what separates this show from "The Bachelor" is that the women are divided into two groups: Those in their 20s and those in their 40s. Mark Consuelos hosts this intriguing social experiment. 9 p.m. June 18, NBC.

_"Heartland": Fans of the dearly departed "Everwood" will be pleased to learn that there is still a place in prime time for Treat Williams - and that he's still in the medical field. Williams plays a pioneering organ-transplant surgeon who tends to take risks other doctors wouldn't in order to save lives. He also has a volatile relationship with his ex-wife (Kari Matchett), who happens to be an organ- donor coordinator. 10 p.m. June 18, TNT.

_"Damages": Glenn Close, who dazzled us during a guest run on "The Shield," returns to television in this legal thriller. Close plays Patty Hewes, one of the nation's most revered and reviled attorneys - a woman who has a ruthless, win-at-all-costs attitude that doesn't sit well with the bright young protege (Rose Byrne) she hand-picked to be her first-year associate. 10 p.m. July 24, FX.

_"Saving Grace": Holly Hunter makes her television series debut in this unconventional crime drama. She plays a fast-living, self-destructive Oklahoma City detective who, while driving drunk one night, hits a man on the side of the road. It's then that she meets an angel named Earl (Leon Rippy), who attempts to help get her life back in order. 10 p.m. July 18, TNT.



Here's a rundown of some other shows, new and established, that are airing this summer:

_"On the Lot": A reality series intent on finding the next great movie director. Premiered May 22. 8 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, Fox.

_"So You Think You Can Dance": Young wannabes compete to see who has all the right moves. Premiered May 24. 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fox.

_"The Simple Life Goes to Camp": More silly high jinks as Paris and Nicole work as camp counselors. Premiered May 28. 10 p.m. Sundays, E!

_"The Starter Wife": Debra Messing stars as a Hollywood spouse trying to rebound from a divorce in this six-part series. 9 p.m. Thursday, USA.

_"Creature Comforts": "Wallace & Gromit" creators put the comments of real people into the mouths of animated animals. 8 p.m. June 4, CBS.

_"Hell's Kitchen": Devilish chef Gordon Ramsay is back and if you can't stand the heat ... 9 p.m., June 4, Fox.

_"America's Got Talent": Jerry Springer takes over as host of this reality show from Simon Cowell. 9 p.m. June 5, NBC.

_"American Inventor": Another rush to the patent office begins. 9 p.m. June 6, ABC.

_"Destination Truth": An explorer invites us along as he investigates "stories of the unexplained" around the globe. 10 p.m. June 6, Sci Fi.

_"Kyle XY": That cute, but oh-so-mysterious teenager (Matt Dallas) returns for another season. 8 p.m. June 11, ABC Family.

_"Big Love": It's getting tougher for Bill Pullman to juggle three wives as this tale of polygamy returns on a new night. 9 p.m. June 11, HBO.

_"Rescue Me": Can firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) ever get his life together? Doubtful. 10 p.m. June 12, FX.

_"The Last Comic Standing": Stand-up comedians work hard for the funny. 9 p.m. June 13, NBC.

_"Top Chef 3 Miami": Fifteen hot new chefs vie in this culinary competition. 10 p.m. June 13, Bravo.

_"The 4400": Time to stock up on plenty of "Promicin" for Season 4 of this far-out drama. 9 p.m. June 17, USA.

_ "The Closer": Kyra Sedgwick and basic cable's most popular drama return for a third season. 9 p.m. June 18, TNT.

_"Shaq's Big Challenge": Basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neal works to transform the lives of obese children. 9 p.m. June 26, ABC.

_"The Best Years": This drama follows a young woman as she embarks on her college career at a Massachusetts university. 8:30 p.m. June 29, The N.

_"Eureka": There's another season of weird goings-on in this little Northern California town. 10 p.m. July 10, Sci Fi.

_"Monk": Tony Shalhoub returns as America's favorite obsessive-compulsive detective. 9 p.m. July 13, USA.

_"Psych": Can Shawn (James Roday) keep up the psychic act for another season? 10 p.m. July 13, USA.

_"Who Wants to Be a Superhero?": Wannabe heroes don tights and capes for Season 2. 9 p.m. July 25, Sci Fi.