Community returned last night after a long hiatus, and with a new helping of original creator Dan Harmon. It was the inaugural punch of a really strong midseason slate of new and returning shows. At this point we’re starting to prefer the January-March run of new stuff to the fall, actually. Here’s all the most interesting shows that will either premiere or start new seasons in the next three months.
Downton Abbey (January 5)
Everyone’s favorite British aristocrats return to entertain you with lavish clothes, wrinkled noses, and David Caruso-esque career decisions from the cast. Word from the UK is that this season is not great, but at this point people are watching out of pure loyalty.
Girls (January 12)
Thinkpiece season is soon to be upon us with this new third season of the Williamsburg hipster Ride of the Valkyries. Whether you love it or hate it, you’re sure to hear about it, especially because, as we understand it, there’s some commentary on online media within it, and online media LOVES to be acknowledged in television shows.
True Detective (January 12)
This looks to us like HBO’s attempt to emulate the hardboiled British crime show, and we are into it. Set in Louisiana, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, with music by T. Bone Burnett. What’s not to like?
American Idol (January 15)
Our annual ritual of laughing at rubes who can’t sing returns to haunt the collective conscience in mid-January. This year, the jackals manning the judging table are Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr.
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (January 16)
Speaking of rubes… the hillbillies are back to horrify us with their embrace of processed food and total lack of care about the way they’re being held up for our ridicule. I actually like this family quite a bit.
Looking (January 19)
“Hey,” said someone at a pitch meeting at HBO some time ago, “wouldn’t Girls be great if it starred only gay guys and also if it was always serious and had no comedy?” “Great idea,” sang the entire table. Jonathan Groff, known to most of you as That Guy Who Is On Glee Sometimes, stars.
House of Cards (February 14)
It is hard to imagine just how much more appetite Kevin Spacey can display for the scenery in this second season of the popular HBO binge-watch show, but I’m sure he can up the camp ante again. As a Canadian I must remark that I approve of the addition of Molly Parker (Alma from Deadwood) to the cast.
The Americans (February 26)
This show is going to be plagued by celebrity-gossip rumors this season — go ahead and google. The plan, the series creator says, is to expand the focus from just the show’s central couple.
Portlandia (February 27)
At this point you know the Portlandia shtick; fair to say you can expect more of the same.
Resurrection (March 9)
This new show from ABC mirrors, in some respects, the plot elements of the French zombie show The Returned. Dead people come back to a small town, and the show traces the emotional fallout. In fact, this show was to be called The Returned, but then they changed it. It has a lot to live up to.
Game of Thrones (Late March)
Technically, they haven’t set premiere date for the next season of Game of Thrones, but as the thing’s in the can and traditionally it premieres in March, we’re making a bet that it will be back then again this year. The big highlight will be the so-called “Purple Wedding,” which HBO has already described as “not to be missed” in its production diary.
Hannibal (April 4)
I bet Hannibal is going to catch a lot of serial killers this season, Y/Y?
Believe (Sometime this spring)
Lately, whenever a show has “created by J.J. Abrams” above the title, I think to myself: ah, yet another show Abrams will shape an intriguing premise for and then abandon to some terrible showrunner for multiple seasons, leaving the audience feeling duped. This is not a reputation you want to continue to cultivate, J.J. Abrams. But I’ll probably still watch the first episode of this show about a girl with mysterious powers.
Orphan Black (April 19)
This BBC show’s first season was a big hit with those in this country who actually saw it. (I haven’t, yet, though I’ll fix that by the time the second season comes out.) It revolves around clones, and the lead actress, Tatiana Maslany, has been called 2013’s most overlooked actress by NPR. Look for a lot of buzz around the premiere date as this critic’s darling tries to get a wider audience in its second time around the bend.