Hey, Mom, here's a great summertime detective show you and your husband can share. And if you haven't got a husband, a nice glass of wine might do, as you watch another single mother struggle with jobs and kids in an entertaining if unrealistic way.

You're sure to love it when her older son (he's maybe in fifth grade) asks, "Do you ever sleep?"

Not surprisingly, The Protector is on Lifetime, "the source for women's entertainment," premiering at 10 p.m. Sunday after the season finale of the network's popular Army Wives.

It's not real clear who Ally Walker's Gloria Sheppard is protecting in her job as a Los Angeles homicide detective, since she turns up after people are dead. But it's very clear she's protecting her sons off the job. The littler one, Leo (Thomas Robinson), who looks to be about 7, is so adorable it hurts. Rom-com fans will recognize Thomas as Sebastian, Jennifer Aniston's son in The Switch.

There's no romance on the horizon for Walker's Gloria, but the show plays a lot like a comedy. The pilot has no violence, but lots of wisecracking, as Gloria goes against every grain in the police department, putting chauvinists in their place, to discover who killed a hedge-fund manager. "Wouldn't it be fun," you're bound to think, "if a real single-mother cop could be this successful?"

The first scene sets the tone. "Welcome to the neighborhood," Gloria tells a woman who knocks on her door, and who, it turns out, has lived there eight years and nine months longer than the detective, who moved into her brother's house three months ago.

The neighbor hopes the detective can help end the local crime spree and turn up all the missing gnomes and flamingos, not to mention a St. Francis of Assisi and a Venus on the half shell. Gloria tells her severed heads are more up her alley, and says good day. But, not to give too much away, in addition to finding the murderer, she eventually solves the Case of the Missing Lawn Ornaments.

Walker is probably happy to have left behind the troubled character she played so well last century in NBC's Profiler, though she may miss her most recent TV role as June Stahl, the gloriously sociopathic federal agent (actors love villain roles) in Sons of Anarchy.

She's joined ably by Tisha Campbell-Martin as Michelle Dulcett, the long-suffering man-magnet sidekick who would prefer it if (1) Gloria's correct crime theories would start off seeming a little less crazy, (2) she would explain them better, and (3) she wouldn't call in the middle of the night to talk about them. Miguel Ferrer plays their lieutenant, who has learned to give Gloria lots of rope because she always drags in the perp.

Summertime is filled with a million of these shows on the big basic cable channels. It's hard to find one that's not more entertaining than watching one of your winter favorites the second time around.

Picking three or four regulars to go with summer's more esoteric fare, which includes Breaking Bad, The Big C, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and some others, makes an excellent TV strategy. The Protector deserves a slot in the rotation.

Jonathan Storm:


The Protector

Premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday on Lifetime.