Midseason TV Preview: A Look at New and Returning Shows

  • Publish Date: January 5, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 5 user comments

Returning shows: Broadcast networks

(NBC, Mondays 8p, returning Sunday Jan. 10)

TV critics have grown increasingly fond of this action-comedy about an accidental government agent, and so have its die-hard fans, who successfully lobbied NBC to bring the show back for a third season. There are even some encouraging signs: despite a decline in ratings for season two, the network increased its third-season order to 19 episodes, and "Chuck" will get a prominent two-hour Sunday night season premiere before settling into its normal Monday timeslot. Expect Chuck's antics this season to be less goofball and more heroic.

American Idol
(Fox, Tuesdays 8p, returning Jan. 12)

The ninth season of this little-known singing competition (well, it did drop in the ratings last year) brings a few changes when it returns in mid-January. The number of semifinalists has been returned to its traditional 24 (12 men and 12 women, to be revealed on February 17th) after the show experimented with a higher number last season. And judge Paula Abdul is out, replaced -- beginning in February once auditions are complete -- by Ellen DeGeneres. Guests judges for the audition rounds include Neil Patrick Harris, Mary J. Blige, Shania Twain, and a Jonas brother.

(Fox, Mondays 9p, returning Sunday Jan. 17)

He keeps trying to get out, but they keep pulling him back in. For "24's" eighth (!) season, the action shifts to New York City, where an ostensibly retired Jack Bauer has yet another terrible day battling a never-ending stream of terrorists. (It's hard to explain in greater detail without sounding like we are describing Season 7. Or Season 6. Or Season 5. ...) One of the series' all-time great villains, President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) returns to aid current President Taylor (Cherry Jones), and Katee Sackhoff, Mykelti Williamson, and Freddie Prinze Jr. are among the new cast members.

(ABC, Tuesdays 9p, returning Feb. 2)

Eighteen episodes are all that stand between now and a total understanding of everything that has come before. (Well, the "18" part is true.) Details are scant about this final season of ABC's groundbreaking drama, but producers have hinted that season six will be a departure in storytelling from previous years, with an end to the time travel, flash forwards, and (eventually) even the flashbacks. Many of the actors who play "dead" characters (we use that term loosely) are scheduled to appear in multiple episodes, but what that means is anyone's guess (and trust us, they're guessing). Although we'd appreciate answers to as many questions and mysteries as possible, we'd settle for just about any ending other than a black screen.

(CBS, Thursdays 8p, returning Feb. 11)

"Survivor" celebrates its 20th season with an all-star "Heroes vs. Villains" edition, bringing back some of the most memorable contestants from previous years (although not Season 1's Richard Hatch, who is under house arrest).

The Amazing Race
(CBS, Sundays 8p, returning Feb. 14)

It's hard to remember that there was a time when "The Amazing Race" was close to cancellation. Now entering it's 16th season, this seven-time Emmy-winning reality competition returns in February with a cast that is rumored to include two former "Big Brother" contestants.

(ABC, Thursdays 8p, returning Mar. 4 Mar. 18)

The freshman series returns after a three-month break with its 14 remaining episodes, including one set for April 29, 2010 -- the date on which the events viewed in each person's "flash forward" take place. All but the first three of these episodes will feature a new showrunner -- "FlashForward" co-creator David Goyer, who takes over from the departed Marc Guggenheim. Whether that behind-the-scenes move -- and the promise of plenty of answers and revelations on screen -- is enough to shake off persistent criticism of the promising but flawed drama remains to be seen.

The Celebrity Apprentice
(NBC, Sundays 9p, returning March 14)

This trainwreck of a reality series returns for a third season with "celebrity" contestants including disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, former troubled baseball slugger Darryl Strawberry ("Dar-ryl! ... Dar-ryl!"), former chart-topper Cyndi Lauper, and former reality show star Sharon Osbourne. You could watch the full series, or do what we do and wait for the good bits to appear on "The Soup."

(ABC, Tuesdays 10p, returning Mar. 30)

It's not exactly the textbook way to win fans: hold back your new program until late in the fall season, show only four episodes, then yank it off the air for four months. But ABC's alien-invasion drama will finally return with eight new episodes at the end of March. Whether viewership -- which had been surprisingly high to start, although it tapered off after the first few weeks -- returns as well is as big a mystery as the aliens' plans for Earth. Like "FlashForward," "V" will feature a new showrunner (Scott Rosenbaum, from "Chuck") when it returns.

(Fox, Tuesdays 9p, returning Apr. 13)

Where the rollout of "V" seemed unusual, Fox's treatment of "Glee" has been a success. Debuting the pilot after the "American Idol" finale last spring ensured a fairly strong audience for its return in September, and music from the program -- including a soundtrack album -- has sold well. The concluding nine episodes of the musical-comedy's first season will air beginning in April, and the run will include an episode featuring all Madonna songs, and another with brand-new music written specifically for the show.

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Comments (5)

  • Mike  

    No word on Fringe?

  • Jason Dietz  

    "Fringe" is actually going to air Monday night (Jan. 11) after "House," and then will go on a short hiatus and likely return at some point in April -- possibly as soon as April 1st.

  • Beastie  

    Why diss "24?" The last season managed to stray from the formula and it's fun to watch. Granted, season 6 was bad, but when you've got 6 out of 7 right why not go for 8? I'll admit though, this does need to be the last season. I'm ready for movies. And "V" sucks.

  • Jack  

    No word on "The Walking Dead" coming from AMC? It's one of my favorite comic book series and with AMC recent notable series being very well received and successful like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. I'm looking forward to this "Zombie show, not about the zombies" where the main focus is about how the lives of strangers forced to work together to survive changes not only their way of living,but their humanity and mental states as a whole. How far would you go to survive? Any information would be welcomed.

  • Bebop  

    I didn't see one show I would ever watch. The shows I did like were all cancelled and I have lost faith in television. The best show I have seen in years "Pushing Daises," was cancelled with out a ending. As was Eastwick. Every show is the same. Some cop searching for the bad guy. Some reality show with obnoxious people who want to win money and make you feel sorry for them. I am so tired of watching the same story line over and over. The few original shows they come up with are soon cancelled. I don't start watching new shows until I think they will have an ending. I stick to House and Glee and that is about it. House is funny and original for a medical show, however, Glee is a high school drama. I really don't care at all about the story line, I just like the music. I couldn't tell you the names of the people in the show because I don't care. Would someone think of a show worth watching. I hate t.v. and refuse to pay for it. If I want to watch t.v. I go to my sister's house. Cable companies expect to you to pay $50 a month for the crap they are putting out! Even the movies they are coming out with are not worth the $9.00 for the ticket. God forbid you buy the DVD or Blue Ray. Hollywood should just call it quits and die already.

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