As soon as January arrives and the holidays are out the way, television can finally begin to settle back into the business of offering enjoyable entertainment on a regular basis. Not only will we get new episodes of favorite shows like Fringe and Parks and Recreation, but there are also midseason premieres of favorites old and, just maybe, new. Here are five you should pay attention to.
Maybe it’s because I live in Portland, OR, that I was left more than a little perplexed by the first season of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s sketch show – For everything that I recognized and laughed at, there was as much “But that’s just the way people actually act.” I seemed to be in the minority, though, judging by the amount of people still gleefully reminding each other to put a bird on it online, so here’s hoping that this second outing is less uneven and more downright funny. (Jan 6, 10pm on IFC)
Pity poor 30Rock – No longer wowing critics like it did when it first launched, and taking Community‘s timeslot, there’s plenty of ill will facing the show when it returns mid-January. But, thankfully, it still has one thing going for it: It’s still a remarkably funny show, and I’m hoping that the enforced downtime it faced as a result of Tina Fey’s pregnancy will mean that it’ll come back renewed and stronger than it’s been in a long time, ready to demonstrate why it deserves to keep Jeff, Brita and everyone else at Greendale off our screens for awhile, at least. (Jan 12, 8pm on NBC)
If you’ve been feeling a lack of Jorge Garcia on your screens since Lost finished, your wait is over; he plays one of the leads in this new JJ Abrams series about the mysterious disappearance of all inmates from America’s most high-security prison, and just why they’re making a comeback today having not aged at all in the past few decades. Mysterious events and characters who aren’t saying everything that they know? Of course! It’s a new JJ Abrams show! (Jan 16, 8pm on Fox)
A return for one of the happiest surprises of 2011’s television, as the Syfy remake of the BBC original supernatural soap opera turned out to be just as good (if not quite the same) as the original. The producers are promising more of the same with this second season, including more separation from the BBC storylines, so I’m eagerly awaiting surprises amongst the blood, guts and angst. (Jan 16, 10pm on Syfy)
What started as watchable enough and became must-see television with its second season last year returns for a third year, as Timothy Olyphant is back as television’s greatest lawman, facing off against Carla Gugino, who joins the cast this year as an assistant director of the US Marshalls Service who may or may not have a history with Raylan Givens. (Jan 17, 10pm on FX)