Network: HBO
Stars: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgård, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellis, Chris Bauer, Deborah Ann Woll, Carrie Preston, Jim Parrack, Jessica Tuck, Todd Lowe
Premiere Date: To be determined
Why we’re excited: We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: True Blood’s fourth season was the worst. Lame character arcs, too much “were-panther” talk, cheesy effects, and the softening of Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård) all combined for an uneven, at times painful-to-watch crop of 12 episodes, but then came the season finale, along with a shiny glimmer of hope. Within the finale’s last 15 minutes, Tara (Rutina Wesley) got shot in the face, the show’s best antagonist to date, vampire boss Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare), escaped from his concrete grave, and other potentially major developments came in the form of slick cliffhangers.

Is all forgiven, then? Not quite, but all of Season Four’s closing teases worked like charms, making us more excited for this summer’s fifth season than we’ve been for any subsequent True Blood year. Partly to see if showrunner Alan Ball and his team can bounce back and recapture the show’s one-time shameless magic, and partly to see if True Blood has sadly jumped the shark. The addition of underrated actor Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) as “an ancient, powerful vampire who holds the fate of Bill (Stephen Moyer) and Eric in his hands” is certainly a step in the right direction.