UPDATE [1/7]: Fox's "Our Little Genius" has been placed on indefinite hold by the network and will not air as originally planned. Also, CBS's "Miami Trauma" has been renamed "Miami Medical" and given an official premiere date. [1/8]: ABC has changed the return date for FlashForward.
This winter, bask in television's warm, glowing, warming glow
If your TiVo wasn't busy in the fall, it probably will be over the upcoming months. There are over a dozen new shows debuting on the major networks, and many more on cable. Add in returning series that will be making their season debuts in the winter and spring months, and we are looking at a flood of new programming from now until May.
Winter and spring will see the much-anticipated final season of "Lost," new cable shows from the creators of "The Wire," "Boomtown," and "Battlestar Galactica," and the return of critical favorites like "Breaking Bad," "Big Love," and "Damages" -- plus reality show competition favorites like "American Idol," "Survivor" (in a special all-star edition) and the Winter Olympics. Okay, so the 2010 Vancouver Games may not technically qualify as a reality show, but they are one of the big stories of the upcoming season: you'll notice very few premiere dates below that overlap with the Olympic schedule (the Games run from February 12-28).
Over the next few pages, we'll preview the most anticipated and intriguing of the new and returning shows expected to air over the coming months. You may also view a comprehensive list of upcoming shows by premiere date in Metacritic TV.
All times below are Eastern/Pacific unless otherwise noted.
New shows: Broadcast networks
Our Little Genius
Tuesdays 9p, starting Jan. 13)
Fox's latest game show, hosted by comedian Kevin Pollak, attempts to capitalize on its "American Idol" lead-in while "Glee" is away. The producers of "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" have reversed the formula this time around, with youngsters competing for large cash prizes by answering a series of increasingly difficult questions, with their parents on hand to determine when to call it quits. On January 7th, Fox announced that it would pull "Our Little Genius" from its schedule indefinitely.
(Fox, Wednesdays 8p, starting Sunday Jan. 17)
Based on the DC Comics graphic novel, Fox's new action series stars Mark Valley as Christopher Chance, a private security expert who protects his clients by completely integrating himself into their worlds and becoming the target of their attackers. A previous (and short-lived) TV incarnation starred Rick Springfield as Chance, but Fox is counting on Valley to bring more of a "human touch." Early internet buzz is mixed, but the show offers something different in a time period where the competition is mainly sitcoms (plus NBC's poorly performing "Mercy").
(CW, Mondays 9p, starting Jan. 18)
After spending all 15 years of her life in foster care, an Oregon teen finally meets her biological parents, and, in true television fashion, quickly moves in with the previously separated and mis-matched couple in this oddly capitalized CW drama. It doesn't sound like much on paper, but the early buzz on this heartwarming series is very strong, including some "Gilmore Girls" comparisons and descriptors like charming and poignant.
The Deep End
(ABC, Thursdays 8p, starting Jan. 21)
ABC's soapy legal procedural has been in development for several years (its original pilot, with a partially different cast, was abandoned), but the drama finally gets a chance to gain an audience while "FlashForward" is on hiatus. The series follows a group of first-year associates (including Tina Majorino from "Veronica Mars") at a cutthroat Los Angeles law firm where the managing partners (including Billy Zane) are locked in a battle for control. Expect a lot of moral dilemmas, and a lot of angry "FlashForward" fans.
(CBS, Sundays 9p, starting Feb. 7)
CBS has selected this new reality series about the working world for the plum post-Super Bowl slot in February. Each week, a different corporate executive will attempt to work anonymously at his own company as a low-level employee to get a better feel for how the business operates. (So that's who that new guy over in the corner is! Must ... type ... harder!)
(Fox, Thursdays 9p, starting Feb. 11)
Fox's supernatural procedural centers on a pair of past-life
whisperers detectives who investigate whether their clients' present-day troubles are caused by events experienced in previous lives. The show is likely to be short-lived itself; only seven episodes were ordered.
(NBC, Mondays 9p, starting Mar. 1)
Basing a television show on a 20-year-old movie (and one that had already been turned -- unsuccessfully -- into a TV series in 1990) is an odd decision in itself, but NBC's new "Parenthood" has also been plagued by bad luck, with original star Maura Tierney forced to drop out due to health problems and the show bounced from fall until March. The hourlong dramedy now stars "Gilmore Girls'" Lauren Graham as well as "Six Feet Under's" Peter Krause, and has little to do with the movie other than the fact that both center on members of a large, multi-generational family. The show does, however, bear a strong resemblance to ABC's "Brothers and Sisters."
Sons of Tucson
(Fox, Sundays 9:30p, starting Mar. 14)
While live-action family comedy "Malcolm in the Middle" had success for Fox on Sunday nights, recent years have seen the network concentrating on its animated comedies. Curiously moved from from its original 8:30p slot to a seemingly too-late 9:30p (where it will temporarily displace "American Dad"), "Sons of Tucson" echoes "Malcolm" in its quirkiness -- and its use of a family with three children. In this new comedy, however, those three kids hire a drifter (Tyler Labine) to serve as their single father when their real dad is sent to prison.
The Marriage Ref
(NBC, Sundays 8p, starting Mar. 14)
It's nice to see Jerry Seinfeld doing something that doesn't require him to be an animated bee, even if we'd prefer that it's another season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- or something more than this lightweight comedy-reality show. The comedian doesn't actually appear in "The Marriage Ref," but serves as the executive producer for the hourlong show, which uses celebrity guests to officiate real-life marital disputes. If they could somehow land Tiger Woods as one of the celebrity judges, they might just have a hit.
Miami Medical [formerly Miami Trauma]
(CBS, Fridays 10p, starting Apr. 2)
You'd never guess it from the title, but the latest procedural from producer Jerry Bruckheimer centers on a group of trauma surgeons in Miami. If it's successful (and that's a big if, given how viewers have responded to other medical dramas this season), maybe future seasons will see thrilling spinoffs like Miami Medical: Los Angeles. (Don't be fooled by the trailer; the great Andre Braugher is only a guest star, not a regular.)
ABC has been unafraid to encourage "Twin Peaks" comparisons to this still unscheduled quirky drama, which is set in a tiny Minnesota town where a recent murder -- the town's first crime in seven years -- threatens to unearth long-held secrets. We're going to go out on a limb and say that "Happy Town" is no "Twin Peaks." Early word on the pilot was negative, and two key roles have since been re-cast. Sam Neill, Steven Weber, and Amy Acker star.
Like ABC's "FlashForward," this post-apocalyptic, serialized drama begins with a global catastrophe, including scenes of damaged skyscrapers and panic in the streets of Los Angeles. In "Day One," however, the destruction (caused by a mysterious event) is much, much greater, wiping out the world's communication networks and infrastructure, and the show follows a group of survivors who lived in the same apartment complex. Originally intended as a 13-episode series, "Day One" has been reduced to a four-hour miniseries, although it could return for a second season if ratings are strong.