Although summer is winding down, the cable and premium networks continue to roll out new series. Here are quick rundowns of three that have premiered or will debut this week:
* "Manhattan," 9 p.m. Sundays, WGN America. This is the best new show of the summer, a drama created and written by Sam Shaw of “Masters of Sex." Set in New Mexico, where the series was filmed, “Manhattan” tells the story about the building of the atomic bomb and the toll it took on the scientists and their families. Much of the focus is on project director Frank Winter and his wife, Liza (John Benjamin Hickey, Olivia Williams) and wundekind scientist Charlie Isaacs and his wife, Abby (Ashley Zuckerman, Rachel Brosnahan).
It raises several issues, including if the U.S. is building the bomb for protection or destruction. At one point during the pilot, a scientist asks what happens when countries such as Russia, China and Iran build one, too? It’s a question we’re still asking today. Sunday is the third episode, but you can catch up, as I did, on Hulu. Grade: A.
* "Legends," 8 p.m. Wednesdays, TNT. Being a Sean Bean fan, I had high hopes for this drama based on Robert Littell’s spy novel. Sadly, the “Game of Thrones” actor and a supporting cast that includes Ali Larter (“Heroes”), Tina Majorino (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Steve Harris (“Justified”) are given little to work with here.
Bean plays a deep cover FBI agent who begins to question his identity when a mysterious stranger tells him something to the contrary. The story sort of has a “Bourne Identity” element to it. The pilot is an eye-roller, with the main storyline featuring Bean infiltrating a survivalist camp. There’s a particularly bad scene set in a strip club involving Bean, Larter and the bad guys. Even the shapely Larter couldn’t save it. “Legends” premieres this week. Grade: C.
* "Outlander," 8 p.m. Saturdays, Starz. Adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s best sellers and created by “Battlestar Galactica’s” Ronald D. Moore, “Outlander” has been one of the buzziest shows of the summer. But because it’s on a premium channel, not a lot of folks will see it until one of the streaming services picks it up. That’s too bad, because it has the look and feel of a sweeping “Game of Thrones” kind of epic filled with romance, intrigue and violence.
It stars Caitriona Balfe as a British WWI field nurse, who, after the war is over, is vacationing with her husband when she unexplainably is transported to 18th century Scotland, where she becomes involved with a hunky Scottish warrior (Sam Heugan). Imagine that. Shot in Scotland, the series is something to behold, from all the old castles to the lush Scottish highlands. Heck, the scenery alone is reason to watch. The first episode aired Saturday. Grade: B+
Across the remote
* NET Television will premiere “NEBRASKA Land & Sky,” a 60-minute program featuring stunning aerial views of the state, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday on Time Warner Cable channels 12 and 1012. Skyworks, a British aerial videography team, joined NET on a statewide journey to film and archive Nebraska’s landscapes and hidden places from above.
* “Big Bang Theory” actors are back to work after the original five; Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar agreed to new contracts. Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco reportedly will make $1 million per episode.
* Summer shows earning second-season renewals include Disney’s “Girl Meets World” and the NBC comedy “Welcome to Sweden.” ABC’s “Black Box,” however, was canceled after just one season.