If this years TV mid-season has anything going for it, its quantity. Im not sure Ive seen a more crowded field of new series and special presentations in January and February (and continuing on into March and April). Heres my attempt to at least make some sense of the coming flood, which abates a bit during the Sochi Olympics.
Ive included short reviews of some shows Ive already watched (Foxs Rake, starring Greg Kinnear and the CWs The 100, about post-apocalyptic teens, are among the best so far), as well as dates for some annual events the Golden Globes, the Super Bowl and Oscar night.
Sunday, Jan. 5
Blood, Sweat and Heels (Bravo at 9 p.m.) Follows a group of black women described as movers and shakers in the New York fashion, real estate and media scenes. The usual.
Tuesday, Jan. 7
Intelligence (CBS at 9 p.m.; moves to its regular time Monday, Jan. 13, at 10 p.m.) Losts Josh Holloway returns to series TV in this espionage drama as Gabriel, an intelligence agent who is the first human to have a supercomputer implanted in his brain. He can mentally sort through heaps of data with a wink-blink of his pretty eyes. CSIs Marg Helgenberger stars as his boss at a clandestine government cybersecurity agency; Meghan Ory plays a tough Secret Service agent assigned to protect Gabriel from an array of foreign bad guys who want the billion-dollar science project inside his head. Complicating things is Gabriels heartsick obsession with his wife, who turned out to be a terrorist.
So there you have it. Holloway is pretty much his usual simmering self, as is Helgenberger. The technology in the show displays the very latest in what-the-. . .?, as far as TVs hyperactive imagination goes. (If wed had the Internet in 1974, this is what The Six Million Dollar Man mightve looked like.) On the whole, Intelligence trafficks in the usual request to suspend your disbelief and then some, but its also mildly intriguing especially in the idea that its macho lead character is also treated as a vulnerable prize who needs to be protected at all costs. Grade: C+
_ Killer Women (ABC at 10 p.m.) The shows title and advertising seemed to suggest something much saucier and violent, but this lady-cop drama (co-produced by Modern Familys Sofia Vergara) is a fairly straightforward and briskly perfunctory affair about a gutsy Texas Ranger named Molly (Tricia Helfer), who chases after criminals while trying to put her own life back together. She wants a divorce from her politician husband, and shes having secret trysts with a handsome DEA agent. (Dangerously handsome, the press release insists. Hmm, if you say so.)
Like all shows filmed and set in Texas, Killer Women is cooked through with too much yee-haw sauce and a whole lot of urban-cowgirl chic, but Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) ably carries off the assignment and keeps the momentum going. Killer Women is one belt notch tighter and better than some of ABCs already-forgotten fall dramas. Grade: B-
100 Days of Summer (Bravo at 10 p.m.) A group of self-absorbed, 30-something Chicago strivers mate and grate during the citys much-welcomed months of sunshine.
American Experience: The Poisoners Handbook (PBS, check local listings) A documentary about Charles Norris, who in 1918 became New Yorks first official medical examiner and developed forensic techniques that sent otherwise-elusive criminals to the electric chair.
Being Mary Jane (BET at 10 p.m.) New series based on the TV movie starring Gabrielle Union as a busy news anchor who juggles family and work.
Escaping the Prophet (TLC at 10 p.m.) This six-part docu-series follows former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints member Flora Jessop as she helps others break away from Warren Jeffs strict religious community.
Wednesday, Jan. 8
Mind of a Man(GSN at 8 p.m.) It may sound like the premise for an SNL sketch, but in this actual game show, two female contestants try to figure out the male thought process, aided by a panel of celebrities.
The 40th Annual Peoples Choice Awards (CBS at 9 p.m.) Favorite movie, music and TV performances, as selected by those of you who voted online.
Chasing Shackleton (PBS, check local listings) Five adventure-seekers follow the treacherous 1914 Antarctic journey of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew. A three-part docu-series.
Chicago P.D. (NBC at 10 p.m.) Creator Dick Wolf (Law and Order) spins off his Chicago Fire into a drama about an intelligence unit that investigates the Windy Citys biggest crimes, contrasted with the work of the uniformed beat officers in the same precinct.
Thursday, Jan. 9
The Spoils of Babylon(IFC at 10 p.m.) Tobey Maguire stars in this comedy spoof of those sprawling, 1970s miniseries based on tawdry bestselling novels about the rich and powerful in this case, The Spoils of Babylon, written by one Eric Johnrosh (Will Ferrell), who exhumes the film reels of the never-aired series (the networks deemed it too long) that he directed himself.
So thats the set-up. The cast includes a whole lot of familiar faces Kristen Wiig, Molly Shannon, Michael Sheen, Tim Robbins, Haley Joel Osment, Val Kilmer, David Spade and so on. Though I admire the shows commitment to form in satirizing an entire genre, something about Babylons overall shtick wears immediately thin. Part of the joke is that The Spoils of Babylon was utterly unwatchable, and thats why the network never showed it; it seems they achieved that goal a little too well. Grade: D
Friday, Jan. 10
Enlisted (Fox at 9:30 p.m.) Its a comedy about three Army brothers (Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, Parker Young) stationed at a rear-detachment base in Florida. Enlisted was originally scheduled to premiere in November; in The Posts fall season guide, yours truly negatively compared the show to old Beetle Bailey comic strips and gave it a C+. But having seen some more episodes, I think theyve charmed their way up to at least a Grade: B-
$10 Million Bigfoot Bounty (Spike at 10 p.m.) The sasquatch pursuit never ends. Actor Dean Cain hosts this weekly competition show in which hunters must deliver proof of the elusive creature.
Helix (Syfy at 10 p.m.) A team of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travels to the Arctic and finds something that could wipe out all of us. Billy Campbell (The Killing; Once and Again) stars in this drama/thriller.
Saturday, Jan. 11
When Calls the Heart (Hallmark at 9 p.m.) A new original series about a young teacher (Erin Krakow) who leaves big-city life to teach in a small frontier prairie town in the 19th century.
Sunday, Jan. 12
The 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards (NBC at 8 p.m.) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler return to host this loosey-goosey night of film and TV honors.
True Detective (HBO at 9 p.m.) Highly touted eight-episode crime drama stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as Louisiana detectives investigating a macabre murder that has obsessed them for nearly two decades. The narrative hopscotches around from 2012 to 1995 to 2002.
Monday, Jan. 13
Chozen (FX at 10:30 p.m.) An animated comedy about a gay white rapper (voiced by SNLs Bobby Moynihan) who goes by the name Chozen, fresh out of prison and now seeking another chance at fame.
Dont Trust Andrew Mayne (A&E at 10 p.m.) In this goofy reality show, a magician uses his talent to assist people seeking revenge on others.
Bitten (Syfy at 10 p.m.) Based on Kelley Armstrongs novels, in which a young woman leaves behind her werewolf pack (and the man who turned her into a howler) for a new life in the big city.
American Experience: 1964? (PBS, check local listings) Documentary (based on Jon Margolis book The Last Innocent Year) explores a pivotal 12 months in American politics and culture.
Friday Night Tykes (Esquire at 9 p.m.) A 10-part docu-series about the super-serious world of the Texas Youth Football Association, where the players are all 8- and 9-year-old boys.
Building Wild (National Geographic Channel at 9 p.m.) Two home-building experts tackle jobs from clients who want to build cabins in challenging locations.
Inside Job (TNT at 9 p.m.) Job-seeking execs live together and vie for a six-figure corporate position in this reality show but one of them is a mole who is spying on the others behavior.
Save Our Business (TNT at 10 p.m.) Yet another show where a successful entrepreneur administers advice and tough love to struggling business owners.
Wednesday, Jan. 15
Crazy Hearts: Nashville (A&E at 11 p.m.) Reality series follows a group of musicians trying to make it in country music. Moves to its regular slot at 10 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16.
Thursday, Jan. 16
Under the Gunn (Lifetime at 9 p.m.) Tim Gunn calls in former Project Runway winners to provide guidance to young designers in a new fashion competition.
SWV Reunited (WEtv at 10 p.m.) The 90s R&B trio get its act together (after a tense breakup 15 years ago) in hopes of a comeback. Or maybe just getting a reality series will suffice?
Tabloid (Investigation Discovery at 10 p.m.) Jerry Springer hosts this look into some of the wildest stories and claims found in supermarket tabloids.
Friday, Jan. 17
The Square (Netflix) From the filmmaker of StartUp.com and The Control Room, a documentary about Cairos Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring uprising.
The Diamond Collar (OWN at 10 p.m.) Reality series about James Head Guiliani, a former associate of Mafia man John Gotti who now runs a dog-grooming parlor in Brooklyn.
Saturday, Jan. 18
June in January (Hallmark at 7 p.m.) In this new movie, a busy bride-to-be (Brooke DOrsay) has her ideal June wedding all planned out, but her husband is transferred and she has to move her special day to January.
Flowers in the Attic (Lifetime at 8 p.m.) A new movie version of V.C. Andrews popular mystery/horror novel, starring Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn and Kiernan Shipka (Mad Mens Sally Draper).
My Gal Sunday (Hallmark Movie Channel at 9 p.m.) Adventures of husband-wife crime solvers (Rachel Blanchard and Cameron Mathison), based on short stories by Mary Higgins Clark.
HitRECord on TV (Pivot at 10 p.m.) Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings his online project to TV, in which Web users collaborate on short films and videos around an assigned theme.
Moms Got Game (OWN at 10 p.m.) Reality series follows former WNBA basketball star Pamela McGee and her 25-year-old son, JaVale McGee, a center for the Denver Nuggets.
Sunday, Jan. 19
#RichKids of Beverly Hills(E! at 10 p.m.) This docu-series follows a clique of fancy kids who gain Internet notoriety by promoting their every action and thought on social media. You can only hope one of them is named Jamie, but probably not.
Looking (HBO at 10:30 p.m.) A new dramedy about three gay men in San Francisco who are at different stages of life and emotional issues.
Monday, Jan. 20
The Powerpuff Girls: Dance Pantsed (Cartoon Network at 7:30 p.m.) Fifteen years after their debut, the heroic Powerpuff Girls return with a new special and a new computer-generated animation style. Original characters/voices return to do battle with Mojo Jojo; Ringo Starr provides the voice of Townsvilles flamboyant mathematician.
Klondike (Discovery at 9 p.m.) Richard Madden (Robb Stark from Game of Thrones) stars as one of two adventurers who head for the Yukon in 1890 during the gold rush. Its Discoverys first original miniseries drama.
Tuesday, Jan. 21
American Masters: Salinger (PBS, check local listings) Television premiere of Shane Salernos 2013 documentary about the reclusive author, with 15 minutes of new material included. (That might not be such great news: While some of the stories are interesting, the film is much longer than it needs to be, The Posts Stephanie Merry said in her review when the film played in theaters last fall.)
Wednesday, Jan. 22
Broad City (Comedy Central at 10:30 p.m.) Upright Citizens Brigade alums Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer bring their critically acclaimed online series to Comedy Central.
The Wahlburgers (A&E at 10:30 p.m.) Brothers Mark and Donnie Wahlberg head back to Boston to join forces with their brother Paul and open a hamburger restaurant.
Treasure King (Reelz at 10 p.m.) Accompanied by his comely Gallery Girls, globe-trotting collector Richie Marcello seeks to buy and sell pop-culture treasures and memorabilia that were thought to be lost.
Thursday, Jan. 23
Rake (Fox at 9 p.m.) Greg Kinnear happily and believably sinks his pearly whites into this amiably sharp drama (based on a hit Australian series) about a criminal defense attorney who finds trouble everywhere: Hes up to his ears in gambling and IRS debts, drinks way too much, lives in a ratty apartment above a restaurant and is hopelessly in love with the prostitute he pays for conversation and backgammon games. His therapist is also his ex-wife.
House comparisons will surely abound, but Rake is easily one of the more confident network dramas to come our way of late. Its a procedural (in an episode shared with critics last year, Kinnears character Keegan Deane defends a cannibal against murder charges), but its just unorthodox enough to make me eager to see more. Grade: B+
Friday, Jan. 24
Mitt (Netflix) Straight off the bill at the Sundance Film Festival, this documentary follows the unsuccessful Romney presidential campaign of 2012 and tries to get into the mind and personality of the man himself.
Saturday, Jan. 25
Black Sails (Starz at 9 p.m.) At first glance, this is a sprawling, big-budget pirate drama series that somehow manages to feel too cheap. Black Sails follows several bands of Caribbean-based pirates in 1715, the golden age of pirating. When the British Navy starts to crack down on these legendary criminals, the pirate Capt. Flint (Toby Stephens) allies with the daughter of New Providence Islands crime kingpin to chase after the ultimate treasure.
Theres a whole lot else going on in just the first episode, with too many indistinguishable characters; at times Black Sails feels like it wants to be taken seriously as a complicated, premium cable drama (a la Game of Thrones) . At other times, it feels more like cheesier, more niche material (a la Spartacus). Ill watch a few more episodes, but walking the plank seems more tempting. Grade: C-
Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (Lifetime at 8 p.m.) Christina Ricci stars in this made-for-TV movie as the infamous woman charged with ax-murdering her parents in 1892.
Sunday, Jan. 26
The 56th Annual Grammy Awards (CBS at 8 p.m.) LL Cool J returns to host the music industrys biggest awards night.
Monday, Jan. 27
Herblock: The Black and the White (HBO at 9 p.m.) Documentary about the prolific Washington Post editorial cartoonist.
The 2014 Breakthrough Prizes (Science Channel at 9 p.m.) An awards show for scientists in which six researchers each get $3 million grants as prizes. Hosted by Kevin Spacey.
Tuesday, Jan. 28
The Capones (Reelz at 10 p.m.) Docu-series about a larger-than-life family (translation: yells and fights with one another a lot) who run a pizzeria and claim to be distantly related to the famous mobster.
Wednesday, Jan. 29
Hawking (PBS, check local listings) A new one-hour documentary about the famed physicist.
Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond (BBC America at 10 p.m.) Four-part miniseries drama about the real-life inspiration for the 007 character a sophisticated maverick whose life was upended by World War II.
Saturday, Feb. 1
Oscar (TCM at 8 p.m.) A documentary about the history of the Academy Awards.
Sunday, Feb. 2
Super Bowl LXVIII (Fox) Lots of Roman numerals, a Bruno Mars halftime show, the spendy Madison Avenue commercials and oh, right _a professional football championship game. And dont forget Puppy Bowl (Animal Planet at 3 p.m.) and, for some reason, Kitten Bowl (Hallmark at noon).
Tuesday, Feb. 4
American Experience: The Amish Shunned (PBS, check local listings): Documentary explores the worlds of women and men who found themselves banished from their Amish communities.
Thursday, Feb. 6
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC at 11:35) Jay says goodbye. (For the second time.)
Friday, Feb. 7 Sunday, Feb. 23
XXII Olympic Winter Games (NBC) From Sochi, Russia. Will it be as grim as some people expect it to be?
Sunday, Feb. 9
The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles (CBS at 8 p.m.) All-star concert will commemorate 50 years (exactly) since the Fab Four appeared on Ed Sullivans show.
Monday, Feb. 17
Star Crossed (CW at 8 p.m.) Two Baton Rouge teens experience some angsty, sci-fi themed Romeo and Juliet-type issues because the boy (Matt Lanter) belongs to an alien race of refugees called the Atrians and the girl (Aimee Teegarden) is the daughter of the commander tasked with keeping the aliens in line.
As part of an integration effort, the gorgeous Atrian teens (who come with their own natural neck and face tattoos) are bused in every day to a local high school, where they try to fit in. Star Crossed hews hard to outsider themes and a nominally relevant exploration of civil rights history amped up in CWs instinctive flair for stylish (and predictable) teen melodrama. One imagines the screenplay being written in purple ink and very loopy handwriting, intercepted by the English teacher wearing the Battlestar Galactica T-shirt. Grade: C+
Monday, Feb. 24
The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon (NBC at 11:35) The affable host reboots his late-night talk show, now from New York instead of Burbank, Calif. (And the Roots are sticking with him.)
_ Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC at 12:35) And after that, the Saturday Night Live writer and Weekend Update anchor takes over Fallons old spot.
Wednesday, Feb. 26
Mixology (ABC at 9:30 p.m.) This new comedy is set in a bar called the Mix, where 10 single people have random encounters and conversations in their unending quest for love. If I understand the concept correctly, the entire season (however long it lasts) takes place on a single night.
Thursday, Feb. 27
Review (Comedy Central at 10 p.m.): Andy Daly stars as a life critic, who reviews experiences instead of arts and culture.
Saturday, March 1
The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards (IFC at 10 p.m.): The casual, Oscar-eve awards show for the cool movies that cool people liked. Hosted by Patton Oswalt.
Sunday, March 2
The 86th Annual Academy Awards (ABC at 8 p.m.) Its Oscar night! Get ahold of yourselves!
Thursday, March 6
Sirens (USA at 10 p.m.) Denis Leary co-produces this new comedy about three EMT dudes in Chicago.
Sunday, March 9
Resurrection (ABC at 9 p.m.) The residents of Arcadia, Mo., react to the fact that a young boy who died 32 years ago has returned unchanged from the dead. (Not to be confused with the excellent French miniseries The Returned, but it looks a little bit like it.)
Tuesday, March 11
Mind Games (ABC at 10 p.m.) Steve Zahn and Christian Slater star as Clark and Ross Edwards, two brothers who run an agency that helps clients fix their problems through psychological manipulation and influence. (Zahn plays the goofy, genius one.)
Wednesday, March 19
The 100? (CW at 9 p.m.) A refreshingly taut and well-executed futuristic sci-fi series about a group of 100 jailed juvenile delinquents who are banished from an orbiting space-station colony and sent to live on Earth 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse.
Theyve barely crash-landed when things get pretty Lord of the Flies, but a determined young woman (Eliza Taylor) tries her best to stick to the groups real mission: Locate a mountain bunker and determine whether or not the rest of the humans on the dying space station above can join them on land. What they discover along with mutant deer is that Earth is not as depopulated as they were led to believe.
I realize that sounds like a lot to chew on, but The 100? does an excellent job of launching a CW-style take on bigger-budgeted adventure series like Lost or Terra Nova or Revolution, with a little Hunger Games thrown in. But unlike Terra Nova and Revolution, its got characters you can actually care about. Maybe Ive been too eager for an addictive sci-fi series that doesnt feel instantly dumb, but I raced through the first several episodes of The 100? with pleasure. Grade: A-
Tuesday, March 25
Story of the Jews (PBS, check local listings) Author Simon Schama explores Jewish culture and history in this five-part (two-night) documentary series.
Monday, March 31
Friends With Better Lives (CBS at 9 p.m.) A new sitcom about six pals, premiering after the one-hour How I Met Your Mother series finale. Takes over the 8:30 p.m. slot on April 7.
Wednesday, April 1
TripTank (Comedy Central at 10:30 p.m.) Yet another venue for edgy, animated shorts.
Sunday, April 6
The 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards (CBS at 8 p.m.) Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan will return as hosts.
Tuesday, April 15
The Address (PBS, check local listings) Ken Burns film about a small boys school in Vermont where the students memorize, practice and recite the Gettysburg Address.
Waiting in The Wings
These shows havent been given an air date as of press time, but theyre expected sometime before May . . .
The Red Road (Sundance Channel) Drama series about a small-town cop who also patrols a nearby Indian reservation.
Game of Arms (AMC) Reality series about competitive arm-wrestling.
Turn(AMC) Drama about spies in the Revolutionary War.
Gang Related (Fox) Cop drama. An elite LAPD officer has a past with Latino gangs.
Surviving Jack (Fox) Comedy set in the 1990s about a father and his teenage son.
Us and Them (Fox) Comedy starring Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel as young lovers.
Crisis (NBC) Drama in which a bus carrying children of the Washington, D.C. elite including the presidents son is taken hostage. Gillian Anderson stars.
The Night Shift (NBC) Drama about the overnight staff at a San Antonio hospital.
About a Boy (NBC) Comedy based on Nick Hornbys novel.
Growing Up Fisher (NBC) Jenna Elfman and J.K. Simmons star in this comedy about a family going through divorce.
Penny Dreadful (Showtime) Described as a psychosexual horror series about the origin of monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein) in Victorian England.
Salem (WGN) More witches.