Midseason TV: A Guide to Winter's New and Returning Shows

  • Publish Date: January 2, 2014
  • Comments: ↓ 6 user comments

Below, we take a look at the notable new and returning shows premiering in January and February. (Only those shows with announced start dates are included; in March, we'll return with a preview of shows debuting during the spring months). Be sure to visit our frequently updated Midseason TV Premiere Calendar for a quick list of all TV premiere dates for 2014.

Notable newcomers

About a Boy
NBC | tbd February

What they said about the pilot:

"Hilarious and heartfelt, About a Boy is one of the bright spots of this development season."

—Jace Lacob, The Daily Beast

Expected to air on Tuesday nights following the conclusion of the Winter Olympics in February, this adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel (previously made into a 2002 film starring Hugh Grant) has the potential to be NBC's best new show this season; the pilot episode was definitely the favorite among critics of the network's 2013-14 slate. The series comes from Parenthood and Friday Night Lights producer Jason Katims, who is working in the 30-minute sitcom format for the first time, and it follows the relationship between an immature bachelor (David Walton of New Girl) and the precocious young son (Benjamin Stockham of 1600 Penn) of the eccentric single mother (Minnie Driver) who moves in next door. The Daily Show's Al Madrigal co-stars.

Black Sails Watch trailer
Starz | Saturdays at 9p starting January 25

Produced by Michael Bay and created by Jon Steinberg (Jericho, Human Target), Starz's new pirate adventure Black Sails is intended as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Treasure Island, taking place two decades before the events of the book. Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) stars as Captain Flint, while Australian actor Luke Arnold plays John Silver. The eight episodes impressed network executives enough that the show was renewed for an even longer second season, months before a single minute had aired.

Broad City Watch trailer Watch full episode
Comedy Central | Wednesdays at 10:30p starting January 22

The latest comedy series to make the jump from the web to Comedy Central, Broad City is executive produced by Amy Poehler. Series creators and stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer (both Upright Citizens Brigade alums) star in this scripted half-hour as two 20-something friends trying to make a go of it in New York City. (Think of it as a funnier, more outlandish version of Girls.) Hannibal Buress co-stars, and guests will include Janeane Garofalo, Fred Armisen, Rachel Dratch, and Amy Sedaris as well as Poehler herself.

Chicago PD Watch trailer
NBC | Wednesdays at 10p starting January 8

If you can't figure this one out from the title, then perhaps TV isn't your thing. As you may have guessed, PD is a spin-off from Dick Wolf's new-ish procedural Chicago Fire that centers on cops rather than firefighters. If you watch that show, you've already met some of the cast in a cops-oriented Fire episode last season, though there have been numerous changes in the ensuing months. The spin-off's stars now include Jason Beghe, Jon Seda (Homicide: Live on the Street), Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill), Patrick Flueger (The 4400), and Elias Koteas, and the procedural's focus will be on two groups: uniformed beat cops, and the elite detectives that make up the city's Intelligence Unit.

Chozen Watch red-band trailer
FX | Mondays at 10:30p starting January 13

Originally set to be sister channel FXX's first new original series, the new comedy Chozen has been shifted to FX, where it will air with Archer as part of the network's new Monday night animation block. Coming from much of the creative team behind HBO's Eastbound & Down, Chozen centers on a gay white rapper (SNL's Bobby Moynihan) who seeks to jumpstart his music career after being released from prison. The vocal cast also includes Nick Swardson, Kathryn Hahn, Hannibal Buress, Michael Pena, and Method Man.

Enlisted Watch trailer
Fox | Fridays at 9:30p starting January 10

What they said about the pilot:

"This comedy is well cast and made me smile quite a few times. If we're lucky, it'll develop into a sitcom version of 'Stripes.'"

—Maureen Ryan, Huffington Post

First announced as a November premiere, Fox's new military sitcom was delayed a few months, though it remains in an undesirable Friday night time slot. Don't let that discourage you though; critics generally liked the pilot, which finds three very different brothers working together at a small Army base in Florida. Geoff Stults (The Finder) plays the natural leader, who is assigned to the base's Rear Detachment (composed of the misfits who aren't good enough to be sent overseas to the front lines) as punishment after a fight with a superior officer. Chris Lowell (Veronica Mars) is the smart but cynical middle brother, and Parker Young (Suburgatory) is the overenthusiastic youngest sibling. This goofy single-camera comedy comes from Cougar Town co-creator Kevin Biegel, who loosely based it on his own life.

Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond Watch trailer
BBC America | Miniseries begins January 29 at 10p

Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) stars as James Bond creator Ian Fleming in this four part, four-hour miniseries (airing on consecutive Wednesdays). Set during WWII, the biopic follows the future author as a young man as he transitions from directionless, wealthy playboy to become a spy for Britain's Naval Intelligence—a portion of his life that would go on to influence his 007 books. The film was directed by Mat Whitecross (The Road to Guantanamo).

Helix Watch trailers
Syfy | Fridays at 10p starting January 10

One of two new series from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore due to arrive in 2014 (the other, Outlander, will air on Starz later this year), Helix is a sci-fi thriller about a team of CDC scientists who travel to a remote Arctic research facility to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak that threatens the human race. The season-long storyline is expected to be resolved at the end of the 13 episodes. Billy Campbell (The Killing) heads the cast, and Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager) will guest in a multi-episode arc.

Intelligence Watch trailer
CBS | Mondays at 10p starting January 13 | Special premiere Tuesday, January 7 at 9p

What they said about the pilot:

"It's not bad, but it's so CBS-ish that you start to forget that you're not actually watching a special episode of NCIS or Criminal Minds."

—Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast

Forget Google Glass; Josh Holloway has something akin to Google Brain. The newest CBS procedural finds the Lost vet playing a former solider who has a microchip implanted in his head, giving him permanent access to worldwide computer networks, enhanced vision, and other unusual talents. Rather than use his techno-powers to play Candy Crush Saga, he fights terrorists as a member of U.S. Cyber Command (which, unlike 24's CTU, is a real thing—though, as far as you know, they don't actually implant chips in their employees). Marg Helgenberger (CSI) plays his boss, and Meghan Ory (Once Upon a Time) and Michael Rady (The Mentalist) also star. After a special Tuesday premiere (following a new episode of NCIS), Intelligence will take over the Monday 10:00p slot vacated by Hostages, which wraps up its first (and certainly, if unofficially, final) season on January 6th.

Killer Women Watch trailer
ABC | Tuesdays at 10p starting January 7

What they said about the pilot:

"I was excited to see a new strong female lead on TV, but this one needs some serious work."

—Maggie Furlong, Huffington Post

Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer stars as one of the first female members of the Texas Rangers (the law enforcement agency, not the baseball team) in a drama based on the Argentine series Mujeres Asesinas. Helfer's former BSG co-star Michael Trucco also stars, along with Marc Blucas (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Marta Milans (Shame). The show is produced by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) and Modern Family star Sofia Vergara, and is created by Hannah Shakespeare (screenwriter of The Raven). Aside from some nice cinematography, there wasn't much in the original pilot that appealed to critics.

Klondike Watch trailer
Discovery | Miniseries begins January 20 at 9p

Airing across three consecutive nights, Discovery's first scripted miniseries is based on Charlotte Gray's nonfiction book Gold Diggers: Striking It Rich in the Klondike. The Ridley Scott-produced gold rush tale is set in a remote frontier town in the Yukon Territory during the 1890s and stars Richard Madden, Abbie Cornish, Sam Shepard, Tim Roth, and Tim Blake Nelson.

Looking Watch trailer
HBO | Sundays at 10:30p starting January 19

You'll no doubt see plenty of Sex and the City comparisons in reviews for this new HBO half-hour, though neither the sex nor the city will be quite the same. Created by Michael Lannan (Interior. Leather Bar.) and produced and directed by Andrew Haigh (Weekend), Looking revolves around a trio of gay friends in San Francisco, played by Jonathan Groff (Glee), Frankie Alvarez, and Murray Bartlett. Scott Bakula also co-stars.

Mixology Watch trailer
ABC | Wednesdays at 9:30p starting February 26

ABC's new single-camera comedy follows a group of 10 singles looking for love at a bar in Manhattan's trendy meat-packing district over the course of a single night. Yes, we said a single night: the gimmick here is that the entire series will take place during that one evening—which makes the 24 hours that Jack Bauer gets each season seem like a luxury, and seems to portend a short on-air life right from the start. (Like Lost, the show will also use flashbacks to fill in each character's back story). The series comes from the writing duo of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who wrote The Hangover and 21 and Over, two films dealing with a similarly compressed time scale.

Rake Watch trailer
Fox | Thursdays at 9p starting January 23

What they said about the pilot:

"It emulates the tone of other successful FOX shows, such as Bones and House to a tee, but has a really difficult time convincing us that it's a natural fit for the writers and actors."

—Robert Bell, Exclaim

Rake looks to fill the void left by House, though this time the skilled but self-destructive protagonist is a lawyer, not a doctor. Greg Kinnear takes his first regular series television starring role (he also hosted Talk Soup and Later in the 1990s and received an Emmy nomination for The Kennedys miniseries) as a brilliant criminal defense attorney with a reputation for speaking his mind too freely and ongoing problems with gambling, the IRS, a prostitute, and an ex-wife. The dramedy is based on an acclaimed Australian series (whose creator, Peter Duncan, serves as producer here), and the pilot was directed by Sam Raimi. Miranda Otto and John Ortiz (Luck) also star, while Michael Imperioli will guest in an upcoming episode. The unfocused pilot didn't exactly wow critics, though some feel the show has potential, and Fox is giving it Glee's plum Thursday post-Idol time slot. (Glee, meanwhile, will go on hiatus for a month, and will shift to Tuesdays when it returns in February).

The Red Road Watch trailer
Sundance | Thursdays at 9p starting February 27

The increasingly ambitious Sundance Channel aired three of critics' favorite shows last year (in The Returned, Top of the Lake, and their first original drama series, Rectify), and looks to score another hit with new crime drama The Red Road. Set in rural New Jersey, the series finds a dirty cop (Martin Henderson, Devil's Knot) forming an alliance with a dangerous criminal (Game of Thrones vet Jason Momoa) on the Native American reservation under his jurisdiction after a tragedy puts his wife (Julianne Nicholson, Boardwalk Empire) at risk. Tom Sizemore and Lisa Bonet (Momoa's real-life wife) also star. As was the case with Rectify before it, Road's first season will be short, at just six episodes.

Comedy Central | Thursdays at 10p starting February 27

Comedian Andy Daly (Eastbound & Down, MADtv, and a familiar voice on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast) co-created and stars in this Comedy Central series as Forrest MacNeil, a critic who takes to reviewing life experiences—from paying bills to drug addiction—on a five-star scale. (We'll be happy to convert those scores to our 0-100 system). Also starring are fellow CBB vet Jessica St. Clair, plus James Urbaniak and Fred Willard; guests include Andy Richter, Jason Mantzoukas, and Emo Phillips.

The Spoils of Babylon Watch trailer
IFC | Miniseries begins January 9 at 10p

If you find yourself missing the "event" miniseries that were so popular in primetime during the 1970s and '80s, then this adaptation of Eric Jonrosh's best-selling epic novel might be just the ticket for you. Not familiar with Jonrosh? Perhaps that's because he's as real as Ron Burgundy. Indeed, it is Will Ferrell who plays the author, re-teaming with his behind-the-camera collaborators Matt Piedmont (Casa de Mi Padre) and Adam McKay (Anchorman) for this three-hour, six-episode spoof that features a star-studded cast that puts The Thorn Birds to shame. Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Tim Robbins, Jessica Alba, Michael Sheen, Val Kilmer, and Haley Joel Osment are just some of the faces you'll recognize in this generations-spanning tale of a wealthy oil family.

Star-Crossed Watch trailer
CW | Mondays at 8p starting February 17

What they said about the pilot:

"The show might be just as, if not more, interesting if the sloppy alien element wasn't tacked on."

—Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast

A human girl (Aimee Teegarden, Friday Night Lights) falls for an alien teen (Matt Lanter, 90210), who, along with eight others of his kind, begins attending her high school after being released from the internment camp where they had spent a decade after first landing on Earth. (Yes, we said high school; please disregard the fact that much of the cast looks at least 10 years too old). Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica) will also have a recurring role. Think of this sci-fi romance as District 9 meets Romeo and Juliet (perhaps with a little 90210 thrown in for good measure), but don't expect good reviews; critics mostly hated the pilot.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
NBC | Weeknights at 11:30p starting February 17

With Jay Leno making his final final Tonight Show appearance on February 6 (at least for now), the coveted seat will go to current Late Night host Jimmy Fallon, who will become the ninth full-time host of NBC's flagship talk show. Fallon is moving the show from Burbank back to New York (where it originated), with current Late Night executive producer Lorne Michaels, house band The Roots, and announcer Steve Higgins retaining those roles on the new Tonight Show. Fallon will get a boost in his first week from the Winter Olympics, which will serve as his lead-in. Meanwhile, fellow Saturday Night Live alum Seth Meyers will take over for Fallon on Late Night beginning February 24th. (Meyers will also continue co-anchoring Weekend Update on SNL for at least a few episodes this year, and potentially the remainder of the season).

True Detective Watch trailer
HBO | Sundays at 9p starting January 12

Have we saved the best for last? HBO's True Detective certainly has the potential to be the top newcomer this winter. Matthew McConaughey (who will likely pick up his first Oscar nomination just days after this show debuts) and Woody Harrelson star as a pair of homicide detectives embroiled in a 17-year hunt for a serial killer in rural Louisiana. (The action takes place in three time periods, alternating between 1995, 2002, and 2012). Michelle Monaghan, Clarke Peters, and Kevin Dunn also star. The gritty eight-episode series has the rare luxury of consistency behind the camera: every episode was written by novelist Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre). Even better: there will be a definite conclusion. Future seasons (if renewed) will pick up with a new cast, setting, and story, much like FX's American Horror Story.

In brief: Key returning series

The Americans
FX, February 26

Easily one of critics' favorite new shows of 2013 (and one of their top picks of the year, period), Cold War spy drama The Americans returns for its sophomore run next month. Annet Mahendru (who plays the Russian spy Nina), Alison Wright (Martha), and Susan Misner (neighbor Sandra) have been elevated to series regulars for the upcoming season. If you missed the debut season, you'll have a chance to catch up when it comes to DVD on January 14th.

FX, January 13

Shifting to Mondays for the first time, the always terrific animated spy comedy promises a radical shake-up in its fifth season, with the ISIS gang seeking a new home base after the government shuts down their operation. (Perhaps the recent Miami Vice-inspired ad campaign is a clue).

Banshee Trailer
Cinemax, January 10

Cinemax's drama series, set in Pennsylvania Amish country where an ex-con rules over a small town by posing as the sheriff, returns for a second season that will feature guest stars Zeljko Ivanek and Julian Sands. The network has another original series (Steven Soderbergh's period medical drama The Knick) arriving later this season.

Community Trailer
NBC, January 2

Exiled series mastermind Dan Harmon returns as showrunner after a (very noticeable) one-year absence, while the cast loses Chevy Chase and (after this season's first five episodes) Donald Glover while gaining John Oliver and Jonathan Banks in recurring roles. There will also be guests aplenty, with Rob Corddry, Chris Elliott, Nathan Fillion, David Cross, LeVar Burton, Walton Goggins, Paget Brewster, Brie Larson, Paul Williams, Mitch Hurwitz, Vince Gilligan, and Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim set to appear. Early reviews (based on three of the first four episodes) suggest the show is back on track after last season's misfire.

Downton Abbey Trailer
PBS, January 5

The monster hit's eight-episode fourth season has already aired in the UK (where the show has been renewed for a fifth series), but American audiences will finally get a (legal) chance to watch it beginning Sunday. Lily James (who appeared briefly as Rose last season) has been elevated to series regular, while a returning Shirley MacLaine will join new guests including Paul Giamatti and opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa. In addition to the characters killed off last year, O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran) has also departed the show.

Episodes Trailer
Showtime, January 12

The Emmy-nominated comedy's third season will see Chris Diamantopoulos (The Office) joining the cast as the head of the network that airs Matt LeBlanc's show.

The Following
Fox, January 19

Critics soured on this bleak serial killer drama over the course of its debut season in early 2013, but it was a hit for Fox, which will air 15 new episodes beginning later this month. Stars Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, and Natalie Zea return, joined by newcomers like Jessica Stroup (90210), Keith Carradine (Dexter), Sam Underwood (also Dexter), and Connie Nielsen (Boss).

Girls Trailer
HBO, January 12

The critically acclaimed comedy returns for a third season that will feature guest stars Amy Schumer, Richard E. Grant, John Cameron Mitchell, Colin Quinn, Gaby Hoffman, and Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, though Christopher Abbott (who played Charlie) will not return.

NBC, February 28

A hit with critics and those viewers who managed to find the series last spring, Bryan Fuller's Silence of the Lambs prequel series returns with 13 new episodes that will add Cynthia Nixon and Martin Donovan in recurring roles.

House of Cards Trailer
Netflix, February 14

Molly Parker (Deadwood) and Sam Page (Mad Men) join the Netflix original for its second season, which streams in its entirety beginning at 12:01 am PST on Valentine's Day. After last year's debut season, the acclaimed political thriller won three Emmys (and was nominated for nine altogether, becoming the first online show to compete in the Best Drama category). It is unclear if the show will continue after this second season, though Netflix has expressed interest in extending the series.

Inside Comedy
Showtime, February 2

The third season of the comedians-discussing-their-craft talker will feature Zach Galifianakis, Jimmy Fallon, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bette Midler, Jonah Hill, Alan Arkin, Dick Van Dyke, Richard Belzer, and more.

Justified Trailer
FX, January 7

Jere Burns (who plays Wynn Duffy) has been elevated to series regular for the acclaimed drama's fifth season, which will see Michael Rapaport (a heretofore unseen member of the Crowe family) as the main foil to Timothy Olyphant's Raylan Givens. David Koechner, Alicia Witt, A.J. Buckley, Wood Harris, Dave Foley, Xander Berkeley, Amy Smart, and a returning Patton Oswalt will also appear this season.

Kroll Show
Comedy Central, January 14

Nick Kroll's sketch series returns for a second season of 11 episodes, with plenty of familiar sketches ("PubLIZity," "Rick Dicks," etc.) back for another round. Guests this season include Katy Perry, Jordan Peele, Will Forte, Craig Robinson, Bill Burr, Andy Daly, Jon Heder, Pete Holmes, And Jason Mantzoukas.

IFC, February 27

The sketch comedy's fourth season will feature appearances by Kirsten Dunst, Nick Swardson, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Goldblum, Olivia Wilde, Steve Buscemi, Kumail Nanjiani, and Kyle MacLachlan (naturally), plus musicians Jello Biafra, Jeff Tweedy, Josh Homme, k.d. lang, Duff McKagan, Michael Nesmith, and Tunde Adebimpe. A fifth season has already been ordered for next year.

Sherlock Trailer
PBS, January 19

After a two-year hiatus, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) return with three new episodes/movies, preceded by a seven-minute online prequel. American audiences will get the new episodes—including one centered on Watson's wedding, and another that introduces a new villain played by Borgen's Lars Mikkelsen—just a few weeks after British viewers do, thanks to PBS's decision to pair the show with hit Downton Abbey on Sundays.

ABC, January 15

Fans of this fairly well-reviewed but low-rated ABC comedy feared cancelation last year; instead, they get another season, albeit a short one of just 13 episodes, and one that will find co-stars Alan Tudyk and Rex Lee demoted to part-time status.

History, February 27

History Channel's hit historical drama returns for a second season of 10 episodes, with new cast members Alexander Ludwig (The Hunger Games) and Linus Roache (Law & Order) joining returnees like Travis Fimmel and Donal Logue.

The Walking Dead Trailer
AMC, February 9

Season four of AMC's zombie hit concludes with eight new episodes, which will find the surviving cast members on the move once more, bringing the show back to something closer to its first-season format, when the characters had no set base in which to hide. This season, Michael Cudlitz (Southland) joins the cast as Sgt. Abraham Ford. Dead will return for a fifth season in the fall, and a spin-off is in the works for 2015.

What will you be watching?

Do any of the new winter shows sound good to you? Let us know what you'll be watching in the comments section below.


Comments (6)

  • M9ki  

    True detective is a blast to watch none the less.

  • kcott95  

    Unreal list of show's coming back this season, got my dates from here http://www.s-trip.com/live/februarys-best-returning-tv/

  • FleshWorld  

    Fired up for True Detective. love the feature!

  • cristane  

    From the new shows, I'll check out True Detective, Red Road and Helix. And anything else that gets good hype and reviews.

  • MarcDoyle  

    I'm ready for a little Banshee Justified, Girls and The Americans. Is it just me, or is mid-season rivaling fall TV for quality?

  • NirvanicPanic  

    The Killing, Season 4

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