New shows: Cable
John Oliver's New York Stand Up Show
(Comedy Central, Fridays 11p, starting Jan. 8)
The "Daily Show" correspondent (and co-host of the popular -- in our car, at least -- podcast The Bugle) hosts a weekly stand-up comedy show that will feature performances by some of the top names in "alternative" comedy, including Paul F. Tompkins, Janeane Garofalo, Brian Posehn, Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman.
(FX, Thursdays 10p, starting Jan. 14)
This promising new animated comedy (whose pilot screened unannounced last September to positive notices) looks tailor-made for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, but instead marks FX's first foray into animation. The edgy "Archer," which comes from one of the creators of "Sealab 2021" and "Frisky Dingo," centers on the (mis)adventures of a suave master spy voiced by H. Jon Benjamin ("Home Movies," "Dr. Katz"). The remainder of the cast is strong as well, but it's best that you hear about them directly from Sterling Archer himself:
(Syfy, Fridays 9p, starting Jan. 22)
Die-hard "Battlestar Galactica" fans have probably already seen the pilot for this prequel series, which has been available on DVD since April. Promising a somewhat lighter tone than its critically-acclaimed but very dark predecessor, "Caprica" is set nearly 60 years earlier in a vibrant, pre-war universe, and centers on two rival families: the Adamas (headed by Esai Morales) and the Graystones (led by Eric Stoltz). The series returns much of the creative team behind "Battlestar," and will explore themes ranging from race and religion to the impact of technology.
Spartacus: Blood & Sand
(Starz, Fridays 10p, starting Jan. 22)
Although the first episode is still weeks away from debuting, this stylized and intense "300"-esque action series has already been renewed for a second season. Centering on a Roman gladiator who leads a slave revolt, "Spartacus" promises three things lacking in most other current series: lots of gory violence, relatively graphic sex, and Lucy Lawless.
(BBC America, Mondays 9p, starting Jan. 25)
A student is forced to make the switch from private school to public education in this comedic look at teenage life in Britain. Penned by two of the writers from HBO's "Flight of the Conchords," "The Inbetweeners" was very well received in the UK during its two-season, twelve-episode run, drawing comparisons to "Freaks and Geeks." ABC is currently developing an American adaptation.
How to Make It in America
(HBO, Sundays 10p, starting Feb. 14)
Two young Brooklynites attempt to use their street smarts to make it big in the fashion business in the latest HBO comedy executive-produced by Mark Wahlberg ("Entourage"). The cast includes Bryan Greenberg, Victor Rasuk, Luis Guzman, and rapper Kid Cudi.
The Ricky Gervais Show
(HBO, Fridays 10p, starting Feb. 19)
Recorded with his writing partner Stephen Merchant and producer Karl Pilkington, Ricky Gervais' audio show established records as the most downloaded podcast in history. This limited HBO series pairs the original audio from some of these podcast episodes with new animation.
(FX, tbd starting in March)
Formerly titled "Lawman," "Justified" stars "Deadwood's" Timothy Olyphant as modern-day renegade U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, a character popularized in a series of Elmore Leonard stories. The drama comes from creator Graham Yost ("Boomtown"), guest-stars "The Shield's" Walton Goggins, and has one of the more compelling trailers out of any upcoming series.
(HBO, tbd starting in April)
After completing one of the most acclaimed series in television history, "The Wire" creator David Simon now moves from Baltimore to unfamiliar territory -- post-Katrina New Orleans -- for his latest HBO drama. "Treme" centers on musicians living in one of the city's working-class neighborhoods, but will also explore political corruption and other topics. "The Wire's" Clarke Peters and Wendell Pierce (a New Orleans native) are on board for this new series, which also stars "Homicide: Life on the Street's" Melissa Leo, "The Corner's" Khandi Alexander, and Steve Zahn.
Although Louis C.K.'s last eponymous series -- HBO's "Lucky Louie" -- was met with critical disdain and was quickly canceled, the comedian has a long, successful history as a stand-up and television writer, and has earned acclaim for his recent guest-starring role on NBC's "Parks and Recreation." His unconventional new FX comedy (which will debut in the spring) offers a series of vignettes drawn on observations about his life as a newly-divorced single parent.
Formerly titled "Failure to Fly," this latest original comedy from the increasingly visible cable network centers on an outpatient program for survivors of attempted suicide. (That's right, we said it is a comedy.) Krysten Ritter, Ving Rhames, and actor/writer/director/show co-creator Eric Schaeffer (If Lucy Fell) head the cast.