January brings cold weather into our days and really bad movies into our theaters. Luckily, TV provides a small glimmer of warmth, and I don’t mean the channel that plays that burning fireplace all day. Call it what you will, midseason television, whatever, it’s that winter mix where new shows start, favorites continue their seasons, and we prepare for the new offering Spring will bloom onto our tubes in a few months. I’ve gathered a list of some of the best offerings in Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy, and just plain cool TV to get you through the next four months of hibernation. This is the TVEye guide to midseason Television.
In terms of ambition and grandeur there really hasn’t been a show to match 2005’s epic scale series Rome. That show was amazing, but sadly only lasted two seasons on HBO, no doubt a result of budget restraints. But now, HBO promises the most epic Television series yet, with the serialization of George R.R. Martin’s beloved NY Times best-selling fantasy series of books, GAME OF THRONES, set to air in mid-April. I personally have never read the books, but my wife, and fantasy fiction connoisseur assures me that the series is one of the best. From the previews, the show does indeed look like an epic undertaking, and I’m psyched to see if they can pull off a multi-season series of this scope. If anybody has the means to do it, it’s HBO. What better network to stage a family drama of noble and fantastic struggle than the home of the Soprano and Fisher families? HBO’s other current family drama BIG LOVE will begin it’s final season on January 16th. The Mormon Polygamist series promises to end on a high note, and as a fan, I really hope they don’t disappoint. The other HBO series of note is the animated rambling’s of the Ricky Gervais podcast on THE RICKY GERVAIS SHOW, premiering its hilarity and Karl Pilkington ignorance on January 14th.
Over on the networks, NBC premieres THE CAPE on January 9th, a superhero show that actually looks pretty cool. I’m surprised that NBC, whose once popular show Heroes dwindled into obscurity, has the boldness to put on another caped hero series. The circus element, and inclusion of Keith David (They Live) and James Frain (True Blood) in the cast have me interested. FRINGE continues its stellar third season on FOX January 21st. Unfortunately, FOX has moved the show to Fridays, a common kiss of death for a series. I blame the inability for these great Sci-Fi, high-concept shows to find an audience on their networks ridiculous scheduling. Fringe has a devoted and huge audience, but when you put it up against CSI and Grey’s Anatomy (both HUGELY popular shows) of course its going to pale in comparison. Elsewhere on the networks, the hilarious COMMUNITY continues its second season on NBC January 20th, while ABC’s alien-invasion saga V premiered its second season on January 4th. CBS’s superbly acted supernatural crime series MEDIUM ends its seven season run on January 21st.
Syfy launches its new series BEING HUMAN on January 17th, a U.S. remake of the BBC series about three roommates; a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf. Sounds like a good concept, but I fear it will fall into Twilight territory with sophomoric storylines and soap-opera-esque angst. We’ll see. Also coming to Syfy is the 2 hour pilot for BLOOD AND CHROME, a prequel series to Battlestar Glactica that may succeed where Caprica failed. Following a young Adama in the early stages of his Battlestar service, Syfy promises a science fiction series heavy on realistic action and war, like a futuristic Hurt Locker or Restrepo. Its uncertain when the pilot will premiere, could even go to the Fall, but Syfy will most likely wait on the ratings before green-lighting an entire season.
The second season of the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand has been pushed back due to the illness of lead actor Andy Whitfield. In its place, Starz is premiering a prequel series, SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA on January 21st. Starring Lucy Lawless (Xena) as Lucretia, the series will follow in the heavy gladiator action of Blood and Sand. Starz will be launching another new series on April 1st, with their take on CAMELOT, a fantasy series starring Joseph Fiennes (FlashForward) as Merlin. Is this a blatant counterstrike against HBO’s Game of Thrones or what? Other interesting premieres on cable include the boxing drama LIGHTS OUT, premiering on FX January 11th, and AMC’s newest series, THE KILLING, premiering in March. With the murder mystery series The Killing, AMC, the most consistent programmer on cable brings another dark tale to their lush lineup of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead.
After the airing of the BBC One mini-series Sherlock in the states last year, I can only hope that the BBC Four mystery series DIRK GENTLY also finds a U.S. audience. Based on Douglas Adam’s cult novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, the series first aired in the UK in December 2010. It looks fantastic and fun, and I only hope BBC America begins airing it soon. Speaking of BBC, Series six of DOCTOR WHO begins in early Spring, and the prehistoric science fiction series PRIMEVAL began it’s new season the first week of January. Can’t say I’m really into either Doctor Who or Primeval, both a bit too cheesed even for me. Speaking of cheese, the sometimes hilarious, often eye-roll inducing Adult Swim series ROBOT CHICKEN returns for its new season on January 9th, a season sure to be filled with 80’s pop-culture references and more fart jokes then I care to entertain. Also returning on the cartoon network, STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS continues its third season with the introduction of Savage Opress, brother of Darth maul. How’s that for a damming name? Savage Opress!
In cool reality TV (yes there exists such a thing) MTV’s new show VICE GUIDE TO EVERYTHING continues its first season with freshly produced vignettes on Pakistani gun markets, Mexican Narco Cinema, and all sorts of international strangeness that only Vice can deliver. While the show is interesting and hip, it pales in comparison to the longer investigations offered on the VICE TV website. Everyone’s favorite faux news outlet, the Onion offers two new shows of satirical promise. Comedy Central premieres Sports Center spoof show, ONION SPORTS DOME on January 11th, while IFC premieres ONION NEWS on January 21st. My favorite critic, and Pulitzer Prize winning author Roger Ebert returns his thumbs up/down movie criticisms to TV with the relaunch of ROGER EBERT PRESENTS AT THE MOVIES, to be aired on PBS beginning January 21st. With Ebert producing, and great critics like NPR’s Elvis Mitchell hosting, its sure to be a welcomed return to the standard he and Siskel set some years ago.
Be sure to stay tuned to Cinema Suicide as my weekly TVEye reviews/recaps continue next week.