June 25, 2012 12:00 PM

>As temperatures rise, kick back with these cool series you might have missed

REVENGE HULU.COM

Let’s hope ABC’s surgingly over-the-top melodrama gets a huge bump this fall when it replaces Desperate Housewives on Sundays. Season 1 not only builds to one of the best cliffhangers I’ve seen but swings between two great, contrasting performances: Emily VanCamp is emotionally remote as a woman whose sole aim is to avenge her father’s death, while Madeleine Stowe, as one of her targets, communicates every sensation with purple intensity.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY

AMAZON INSTANT VIDEO

FX’s cult hit returns this fall with a new cast, plot and setting (a ’60s mental institution). But Jessica Lange is again a central character, and I can’t imagine the show being as pleasurably sinister if you haven’t watched her tease out every spidery nuance in season 1. Like her odd little pep talk about offal.

SMASH NBC.COM

The heralded drama about the launching of a Broadway musical turned out to be as corny as the old 42nd Street, but we got to watch the birth of two stars—and isn’t that what showbiz is about? As rivals to play Marilyn Monroe, American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty sing, sizzle, dance, dream and blossom.

HOMELAND

SHOWTIME ON DEMAND

Relentless CIA analyst Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) suffers a breakdown on the hunt for a Marine turned terrorist (Damian Lewis)—and in her shattered mind is buried a clue on which season 2 may possibly hinge. The single best drama of the past year, it’ll also be out on iTunes and DVD in August.

NEW GIRL iTUNES

I glommed onto the FOX sitcom because of Zooey Deschanel as childlike, panda-eyed Jess. Who knew a borderline personality could be so cute? Then the show got around to building up her male roommates. They’re more articulate, but even more infantile and—Max Greenfield especially—just as funny.

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