Summer stop-gaps

Is anyone else totally discombobulated over these TV “summer seasons”? We used to moan there was nothing on our happy boxes this time of year but reruns. Now, an old episode of a familiar show might be a refreshing sight.

The rapidly resurgent Law & Order: Criminal Intent ended its season on USA this month. Dylan McDermott’s delectably edgy cop saga Dark Blue doesn’t return for its second TNT season until August 4. In between, it’s obvious networks stagger their summer premiere and finale dates to get the most mileage from their limited number of episodes and keep viewer interest piqued, but this revolving door of comings and goings has my head spinning. I get paid to know these things, and I can’t tell the players without a program.

So I made my own. Here are a few new arrivals to watch for this month:

Rizzoli & Isles
10 p.m. Mondays, TNT
For the record, with that breathy voice and angular beauty, I could watch Angie Harmon read the menu board at Taco Cabana. And she gets far more action than in her Law & Order days as Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli, paired with Sasha Alexander in a new-era Cagney & Lacey whodunit based on Tess Garritsen’s novels. It’s the companion piece to The Closer, which returned for its sixth season Monday.

Covert Affairs
10 p.m. Tuesdays, USA
Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) is adorable as CIA trainee Annie Walker in this Alias knockoff from Bourne Ultimatum producer Doug Liman. She deserves Emmy consideration right now for performing all those action scenes in skin-tight skirts and four-inch heels.

Dogs vs. Cats
8 p.m. July 24, Animal Planet
Never miss a chance to tie into a major movie premiere. On the heels of the live action-3D film Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore comes this special that promises “to answer the age-old question”: Which pet is superior?

Mad Men
10 p.m. July 25, AMC
TV’s most honored drama returns for a fourth season, as enigmatic adman Don Draper (Jon Hamm) prepares to face life without wife, kids, or Sterling Cooper.

Deadliest Catch: Captain Phil Harris Remembered
10 p.m. July 20, Discovery
The rugged, rollicking crab-boat captain, who died of a stroke last February, is memorialized in this one-hour special that includes one-on-one interviews with his sons and fellow fishing-boat skippers.

Project Runway
9 p.m. July 29, Lifetime
The highly emotional Klum-Gunn designer competition expands to 90 minutes for its eighth season. Men, say it with me now: Oh, joy.

Jersey Shore
10 p.m. July 29, MTV
The guidos and guidettes invade Miami for their second season. What more do you need? •