It's different now. Technology has made it so. DVRs, those handy devices that record the shows you would otherwise miss because of your summer activities, are used in counting viewership and those numbers are taken quite seriously. This is why it's not unusual for strong new programming and season premieres to crop up in the months formerly relegated to reruns and soggy summer replacement shows.
For example, season seven of Showtime's hit series Weeds premieres on June 27. Audience pleasers such as Dexter, Entourage, Boardwalk Empire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Breaking Bad will all have their season premieres in June, July or August. Summer is no longer the lean season for television viewers. If anything, many claim more of their favorite shows air in the warmer months than in the fall.
Now even news shows are getting into the act. To attract viewers tired of the political ballyhoo which seems to be everywhere, ABC's Nightline will be launching their "Nightline Prime" summer series, which will air for thirteen weeks beginning in June. These shows will combine the fanciful with the mystical adding just enough logic and reason to keep viewers wondering if there might not be some truth to it all. As Nightline executive producer Jeanmarie Condon so aptly puts it, "Sometimes the most interesting trips are the ones that take you places you never thought you'd go."
Kicking it off will be a five part investigation into "the realm of the extra-sensory, the spiritual, and the experiences many call 'beyond belief'." This "Beyond Belief" sub-series will build on the success of an exploration of the mystery and science of the brain that aired in primetime last year.
Here is a quick overview of what viewers can expect:
"Twintuition" addresses the psychic bond twins often share. "If twins can communicate on a level that defies spacial and time constraints, what does that mean for the rest of us?"
Pilgrimage sites in places such as Nazareth, Rwanda, Spain, and Bosnia, will be explored in "The Miracle Mysteries". These are popular destinations for those who believe the Virgin Mary has appeared at each to communicate with the faithful.
"The Battle With the Devil" explores the belief that demonic possession can cause a person to perform acts of evil, and asks the question, "Can a real-life killer get away with the "demon defense" for murder?"
The "Psychic Power" segment will delve into the world of the 21st century psychic and feature "a medium to the stars, psychic addicts who can't make a decision without consulting a clairvoyant, and people who believe their pets are psychic."
Finally (and this could turn out to be my favorite), there is "The Other Side," in which journalist Bob Woodruff unlocks the mysteries of his own near death experience, speaks with others who've reported a similar "out-of-body" sensation, when death came to call, and interviews theologians, preachers, neurologists, psychologists, and anthropologists to get their take on life after death.
These shows sound intriguing and controversial, and may offer a refreshing change from the usual fare news shows so frequently heap upon us.
ABC's "Beyond Belief" series will begin on June 22 and air at 10 PM ET on four subsequent Wednesdays, through July 20.