Starz, Fridays at 10 p.m. EST, returns Aug. 17
Kelsey Grammer was a surprise Golden Globe winner as Best Actor for the first season of this edgy political drama. Grammer sheds his Frasier Crane typecast as Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, a political animal who's trying to navigate the rocky, corrupt political landscape in the Windy City while also concealing a neurological illness that's slowly robbing him of short-term memory and other brain functionality. Grammer is clearly having fun with the role, which allows him to reveal a villainous side previously glimpsed only through his voice work as Sideshow Bob on The Simpsons. The writing is taut, and the stellar cast also includes Connie Nielson and Kathleen Robertson. The eight-episode first season will be released on DVD July 24 — it's worth catching up before Season 2 starts in August.
HBO, Sundays at 9 p.m. EST, returned June 10
Wondering how much longer the current pop cultural fascination with all things vampire can last? Judging by the still-growing success of HBO's supernatural drama, which enters its fifth season with bigger ratings than ever, it won't be ending anytime soon. The show's labyrnthine plots reward long-term viewers, but HBO offers seasonal recaps on its website that can help new viewers get acclimated. Last season ended with several cliffhangers that had viewers guessing and hypothesizing, but one thing's for certain: Expect lots of blood to be spilled this summer.