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The small screen heats up

Gail Choice | 6/16/2010, 5 p.m.

Expect to see new and exciting programming on television this summer. Some old faces return, and then there are outrageous comedies, scary dramas and several great detective series with all kinds of characters and twists.

"Neighbors from Hell" is a new animated series on TBS. It appears an oil drilling company may drill too deep and could potentially bore straight through to the center of the earth. Well, the devil can't have that, so he sends one of his torturers and his family to go undercover and sabotage the project. Ladies and gentleman, meet the Hellmans.

"Rookie Blue" premieres on ABC, and is a show about five rookies wanting to make a difference on the job, but who then realize that nothing is black and white. The series centers on female lead, Andy McNally, played by Missy Peregrym. Her best friend, also a rookie named Traci Nash, is played by Enuka Okuma (Nickelodeon's "Fifteen"). This honest portrayal of rookie cops depicts all the blunders and fears faced by young cops on the streets. Premieres June 24.

"The Gates" is another offering by ABC. If you're into the vampire thing, "The Gates" is for you. A very unique and exclusive community, that seems very White, you've got to ask: "Where's 'Blacula' when you need him?" A new family arrives, and the question is, will they fall into the pack, or will they turn and run? You get the drift . . . these bats bite. Premieres June 20.

In ABC's "Shaq Vs," NBA superstar Shaquille O'Neal takes on top athletes head-to-head in their own sports. We're talking world champions and Olympic medalists--that's chutzpah. Each week, we'll watch as Shaq takes his top-level skills and athletic prowess from the basketball court and transfers it to a brand new sporting event. The big boy actually takes on Serena Williams, just to name one of his competitors. Returns August 3.

A&E premieres "The Glades" starring Aussie actor Matt Passmore portraying bad boy Jim Longworth, a former Chicago homicide detective, who moves to a small resort town in South Florida. He thinks detective work will be a piece of cake, but dead bodies keep cropping up, and his boss Colleen Manus, played by Michelle Hurd, is keeping him on a very short leash.

TNT's "Memphis Beat" is already tops on my list. The irreverent cop series centers on Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee), a quirky Memphis police detective with an intimate connection to the city, a passion for blues music and a close relationship with his mother.

Despite his impeccable instincts as a detective, Dwight's loose, relaxed style of police work rubs his demanding new boss, Lt. Tanya Rice (Alfre Woodard), the wrong way.

This is a different kind of cop series, lots of humor, and unexpected twists. Leonard Earl Howze also stars. Premieres June 22.

Another TNT entry that has my vote is "Rizzoli & Isles." It follows Boston detective Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) and medical examiner Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), complete opposites and good friends, who solve crimes and bust some of Boston's most notorious criminals. Rizzoli is the only female detective in homicide, and she's partnered with rookie Detective Barry Frost played by Lee Thompson Young. The interesting thing about Young's character is that he barfs every time he sees a dead body. Premieres July 12.

And we can't forget the new reality shows: ABC presents "Downfall" a very stressful quiz show. Why? Try answering questions perched on the roof of an L.A. high-rise. Premieres June 22.

VHI premieres "Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch." Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, who legally changed his name to match his number, is spending the off-season, looking for love. He'll narrow the field of 85 hopefuls down to one lucky woman. Premieres July 11.

Gordon Ramsay turns his attention to a different set of competitors, as amateur at-home cooks face off in this new culinary-challenge show "Masterchef." Premieres July 27.

I'm not suggesting you become a couch potato, but television viewing this summer is hot.

Gail can be reached at gail@hollywoodbychoice.com.