Television has finally gotten hip to the idea that between Memorial and Labor Days, many of us avoid the warm sun and continue our never-ending quest for some cool TV. This summer, there’s lots of good and potentially good stuff around. Want laughs? Seinfeld will return in August with new episodes right after the Summer Olympics. Aug. 15 brings the debut of The Larry Sanders Show Starring Garry Shandling, the wittily doleful comedian’s new HBO sitcom. Want avant-garde laughs? Cult gross-out cartoon Ren & Stimpy will showcase new adventures on cable’s Nickelodeon beginning Aug. 15.
Want sexy drama? The season’s most hotly anticipated new series, Fox’s Melrose Place — from the folks who brought you Beverly Hills 90210 — starts July 8. But a CBS show that will begin in August, 2000 Malibu Road, just might be your best trash-TV bet: Lisa Hartman is an ex-prostitute who shares a beach house with three roomies, including Jennifer Beals and Poison Ivy’s Drew Barrymore — yow, pass the calamine lotion! If you get your kicks from soap opera that’s more upscale — dive right into Masterpiece Theatre’s three-part version of the 1973 British best-seller by Nigel Nicolson, Portrait of a Marriage, July 19 and 26 and Aug. 2 on PBS. It’s about the arty, racy triangle of lives led by Nicolson’s mother, Vita Sackville-West; her diplomat-in-every-sense husband, Harold; and Vita’s best friend, Violet Trefusis. From Malibu to London, these will be lazy, hazy, occasionally crazy summer days.