Traditionally summer programming is an excuse to finally catch up on all those gross TV-on-DVD box sets you bought on Boxing Day. It's kind of like the girlfriend that you know you don’t like but can now finally pay attention to (because there isn't a need to rush home to watch Modern Family).

Fear not fellow couch and boob tube worshippers, you still won’t have to go outside and do any physical activity under the pretense of having fun (phew!). Programming execs have listened and this summer’s lineup is almost as good as the real thing.

And what about those DVDs you've been saving? Maybe you can just offer them to the GF as an anniversary present. This summer, no need to turn off the TV (the girlfriend…that’s another matter), the good news is you can turn on these July highlights:

Weeds season premiere

Is there a better place to start than with Weeds (for the sake of today’s youth, I certainly hope so)? When we last left the Botwins, Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) was headed to jail for Pilar’s murder while Andy (Justin Kirk), Silas (Hunter Parrish) and Shane (Alexander Gould) were hunkered down in Copenhagen. In tonight’s seventh season premiere, Nancy finishes off a three-year stint in the big house and rejoins her family in the Big Apple. Well, most of her family… Silas chooses to stay in Denmark to continue his career as an ‘advertising’ model. Keep an eye out for guest appearances from Martin Short (who will play an eccentric attorney), Aidan Quinn (as an investment firm CEO) and Lindsay Sloane (an artist). Jennifer Jason Leigh reprises her role as Nancy’s sister. (July 6, Showcase, 10 p.m.)

Big Brother season premiere

While some people mark the start of summer by hanging out on a patio with friends or tanning at the beach, couch potatoes and Big Brother fans (is there really a difference?) live vicariously by watching the day-to-day exploits of strangers on television living in a house where cameras film their every move. And I am proud to say I am one of them. If the three primetime episodes per week aren’t enough to fill your appetite, you can even watch the unedited footage on the 24/7 internet feed or on Big Brother After Dark, which is now available on the Global Reality Channel. In this 13th edition of the show, the big twist is that new houseguests will be joined by a few returning pairs from past seasons. Who will the returnees be? Jeff & Jordan? The Donatos? Brenchel? The Brigade? Dr. Will says it won't be Chilltown. If you don’t know who or what I am talking about, this is probably not the pick for you. But it’s a reality fan’s dream. (July 7, Global, CBS, 9 p.m.)

Flashpoint season premiere

We last saw Team One in Flashpoint’s cliffhanger season finale that aired after the Super Bowl. The team’s future was in peril (isn’t it always?) after Ed (Hugh Dillon) was shot. The season premiere picks up right where things left off as the SRU (Strategic Response Unit) rushes to find Ed’s attacker while under heavy scrutiny from psychologist Dr. Toth (Victor Garber). Ed ignores his gunshot wounds, choosing instead to support his wife who is in labour. Oh and keep an eye out for Clé Bennett from Shattered and Lost Girl who joins the squad in episode 6 as the newest recruit. (July 8, CTV, CBS, 8 p.m.)

Friday Night Lights series finale

Ask any critic what the best show on TV is and they will almost certainly include FNL on their list. While most people assume that it’s just another football show, the game is almost a shadow to the brilliantly compelling character development. Initially pitched as a TV take on the big-screen movie, the show kicked off on NBC, was tackled by DirectTV when it didn’t rate as highly with viewers as it did with experts, and then made a glorious return to the main network. FNL is kind of like the Joe Montana of the small screen … The Comeback Kid. Despite the omnipresent uncertainty about its future, the quality of acting, writing and plotline never waver. While you don’t get second chances in the state championship, if you missed the final episode on Global last night you do get another chance to catch it again. (July 15, NBC, 8 p.m.)

Breaking Bad season premiere

If there is one thing that Breaking Bad has shown in its past three seasons, it is that it is anything but a passing fad. Last season, the show featured Jesse on a path of revenge and destruction after learning of Tomas’s death and further proved the loyalty he shares with Walt. The show’s fourth season premieres on July 17 and will answer whether this bond actually results in Jesse’s success or failure in carrying out Walt’s death decree on Gale.  (July 17, AMC, 10 p.m.)

Hell’s Kitchen season premiere

There are Top Chef fans and then there are Hell’s Kitchen fans. If you know what squid ceviche with soy balsamic tapioca is, you’re probably in the former category. If you don’t know how to make risotto and love calling everyone around you a fat donkey, you’re probably in the latter. That being said, I screened the first episode of the ninth season and it is appointment television. Krupa, Chino and Monterray sound more like ingredients than actual contestants, but they are three of the 18 competing for $250,000 and the chance to become head chef at BLT Steak in NYC. In the first episode, chef Will says cooking in Hell’s Kitchen is the same “shit, different toilet and same bologna, different bread” and while the same can be said for the show, it still tastes delicious, especially for summer TV. (July 18, FOX, 8 p.m. / July 19, Citytv, 8 p.m.)

Entourage season premiere

The time has come for Vince and his Entourage – the show’s eighth season will be its last. When we last left the boys, Vince’s drug addiction had gotten much worse. This prompted a party crash and party punch-up (and I don’t mean the bowl you spiked at the high-school dance) with Eminem. The result? The police found his coke (and I don’t mean the soda) and he is in trouble. Can’t wait to see what happens? Neither can I. Oh and for those of you mourning the show’s impending end, it has been confirmed that there will be a movie. (July 24, HBO Canada, 10:30 p.m.)

Don’t Forget…

True Blood

For all you Game Of Thrones addicts that are in withdrawal, luckily True Blood is back. Personally, I will always prefer watching Snooki to Sookie, but this show still rocks. (Sundays, HBO Canada, 9 p.m.)

Love In The Wild

In tonight’s episode of *coughTheBachelorSurvivorParadiseHotelcough,* (excuse me), I mean Love In The Wild, the nine remaining couples navigate through hanging bridges hundreds of feet above the Costa Rican ground. Apparently bats and dark caves will also be involved. I guess that sounds romantic …  if you are Batman. Next week the couples have to navigate themselves to a plane wreck and sort through snakes. Like Paradise Hotel when the couples started turning on each other, I have a feeling this one could get nasty. (Wednesdays, CTV, NBC, 10 p.m.)

The Challenge: Rivals

MTV brings back former Real World contestants, flies them to an exotic location, ensures plenty of booze is available and makes them compete against each other in ridiculously difficult physical contests to win cash. This season sees rivals from other shows/seasons forced to team up and the result is amazing. I never thought Kenny and Wes would partner for everything except perhaps a real-life Fight Club or that CT and Adam would be forced to rely on each other. Who cares about who gets the money? The real winners are the viewers. (Wednesdays, MTV Canada, 10 p.m.)

Expedition Impossible

It’s going to be an interesting week for the new Dave Salmoni-hosted and Mark Burnett-produced adventure reality series as it will finally go head-to-head with the returning powerhouse Big Brother tomorrow night. While the show has been described as the “3-person Amazing Race,” it has been better than expected and it will be interesting to see if it can provide the buzz that The Voice managed to generate over American Idol. Still, if you prefer watching people competing outdoors in Morocco rather than inside a house competing for food, this might be a good alternative. (Thursdays, CTV, ABC, 9 p.m.)

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