We’re about to enter one of the busiest television times of the year, with shows returning from their holiday hiatuses and new shows premiering on every network you can think of. There is enough TV happening that you’re sure to find something to watch — musical sitcoms, musical dramas, dating reality competitions, furniture reality competitions, and so on — but it can definitely get a bit overwhelming. Flavorwire will soon take an in-depth look at the highs and lows of midseason but until then, here’s a quick rundown of your best TV bets for next week.
Sunday, January 4
Galavant — ABC, 8 PM
From Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love and The Neighbors), Galavant is a fairy tale comedy with all original music that’s been described as “Camelot meets The Princess Bride.” In the sitcom, Galavant (Joshua Sasse) seeks revenge against a king (Timothy Omundson) who stole the love of his life (Mallory Jansen). It’s a strong pilot, but unfortunately the show gets weaker as the series goes on. Still, its unique experimental nature makes it worth the short commitment.
Million Dollar American Princesses — Smithsonian, 8 PM
Smithsonian’s Million Dollar American Princesses provides an in-depth look at the heiresses who inspired Downton Abbey. The three-part documentary series is about the 200-ish American heiresses who married British lords, the challenges they faced, and the changes they helped bring about.
Downton Abbey — PBS, 9 PM (returning)
Sure, you’ve probably already illegally downloaded this series from the UK but now Series 5 premieres in the United States, on PBS. Series 5 will cover the February to December 1924, exploring a pregnancy and a broken engagement.
Total Divas — E!, 10 PM (returning)
The strangest thing about Total Divas is that because WWE Raw (and the entire franchise) is basically a very elaborate reality show, then Total Divas is a reality show about a reality show. It goes behind-the-scenes of the “real” lives of some of WWE’s divas and it’s somehow even more scripted than wrestling. It’s nothing but cat fights and awful acting, and it’s one of the best guilty pleasures on TV.
Monday, January 5
The Bachelor — ABC, 8 PM (returning)
The 19th season of this sadly popular competition dating show features Chris Soules, who came in third place in The Bachelorette‘s Season 10. The season kicks off with 30 contestants and a live three-hour premiere.
Fatal Attraction — TV One (returning)
Based solely on the tagline, Fatal Attraction is the most Lifetime show to not actually air on Lifetime: “Some men will kill you with kindness… literally.” Fatal Attraction is a docu-series about women whose lives are ruined by men. So, it’s basically The Bachelor.
Tuesday, January 6
Marvel’s Agent Carter — ABC, 8 PM
Agent Carter is ABC’s spinoff of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and focuses on Peggy Carter (from Captain America) and her attempt to navigate her personal life (she’s single and ready to mingle!) with her secret work life at the Strategic Scientific Reserve.
Pretty Little Liars — ABC Family, 8 PM (returning)
Pretty Little Liars returns for the second half of its fifth season and reminds us that this series will probably never, ever end.
MasterChef Junior — Fox, 8 PM (returning)
Just a few weeks after its season finale, MasterChef Junior returns for another season this Tuesday with a whole new crop of child prodigy chefs — seriously, where are they finding these super adorable geniuses? As always, the series will feature cute kids making elaborate meals (and making new friends!) while Gordon Ramsay proves that he’s actually the sweetest guy.
Switched at Birth — ABC Family, 9 PM (returning)
ABC Family’s secret best show Switched At Birth is also back this week, entering its fourth season, focusing on a slew of changes now that Bay and Daphne have both officially graduated high school and are on different paths.
Framework — Spike, 10 PM
Out of all the weird reality shows premiering this week, Framework might be the strangest. Not only is it on Spike (television for men!) but it’s a competition reality program about furniture and is hosted by rapper Common. I don’t understand, but I’m going to watch.
The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II — MTV, 11 PM (returning)
For the second time, MTV has reality show couples who have broken up paired together to compete for money because MTV is kinda genius.
Wednesday, January 7
American Idol — Fox, 8 PM (returning)
The reality competition juggernaut airs the first hour of its three-hour premiere on Wednesday; the next two will air Thursday from 8-10.
Baggage on the Road — GSN, 9 PM
Secret: I am a little addicted to reruns of GSN’s Baggage, a game show hosted by Jerry Springer that is terrible in every sense of the world. In it, a contestant chooses a date from three potentials who all have emotional “baggage” that they must reveal so the contestant can decide whether the baggage is too much or not. It is embarrassing and awkward and I love it. Now there’s a spinoff that’s basically the same thing except it’s all around the United States, meaning I can finally apply to be on it.
Empire — Fox, 9 PM
Wednesday marks the premiere of the first highly-anticipated new show of midseason: Fox’s Empire, from Lee Daniels and Danny Strong. Terrence Howard plays Lucious Lyon, a mogul who must decide which of his sons will take over for him. It’s an old story with a unique twist — it’s essentially a hip-hop soap opera and features original music from Timbaland — and a strong debut.
Hindsight — VH1, 10 PM
Here is something that will make you feel old: VH1’s upcoming scripted series is about a woman getting a redo and going back in time — all the way to 1995. 1995! Wasn’t that like, only five years ago?
Wahlburgers — A&E, 10 PM (returning) and Donnie Loves Jenny — A&E, 10:30
Golden Age of Television: A&E now has an entire hour dedicated to the Wahlbergs.
Thursday, January 8
Archer — FX, 10 PM (returning)
After the wondrous insanity that was Archer: Vice last season, the consistently hilarious animated series returns to form in Season 6. Well, sort of: Archer has ceased the use of the term “ISIS” within the series and the gang now works for a CIA organization. But the series remains as funny as ever, back to its roots as a screwed up, alcoholic workplace comedy — but with Archer now on father duty.
Babylon — Sundance, 10 PM
For another strange take on the workplace comedy, there is Sundance’s Babylon. Co-created by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Sunshine), this BBC comedy is about the Metropolitan Police Service in London (and centers on both the cops and the PR department).
Portlandia — IFC, 10 PM (returning)
The only thing more surprising than the runaway success of Season 1’s Portlandia is its continued success through subsequent seasons, always managing to having at least one laugh-out-loud funny sketch per episode (but, of course, often more than just one). There’s no doubt this will continue with Season 5.
Friday, January 9
Glee — Fox, 8 PM (returning)
After approximately 17 years on air, Glee begins its slow, musical march toward the end. The sixth and final season will consist of 13 episodes and be decidedly less NYC-centric than Season 5. Many former cast members will return as guest stars throughout the season, and five new students will appear.
Saturday, January 10
Black Dynamite — Adult Swim, 10:30 PM (returning)
If you haven’t been watching Black Dynamite, then this is definitely the episode to start. This one-off special episode is a topical musical about police brutality and features Erykah Badu, Tyler The Creator, and J.B. Smoove.