'Intelligence,' 'Downton Abbey' and more TV shows returning or debuting in mid-winter
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Could be January is the new September. Just look at the loooong list of shows debuting/returning this month and next, making midseason seem fuller than fall.
And we don't even have room to ruminate past February. Spring will have another slew slated, including lots of big-deal network dramas and the series finale of "How I Met Your Mother."
But why look ahead now, when there's so much to see this week? And next. And later this month.
Downton Abbey (PBS/13, 9 p.m.) -- Paul Giamatti and Kiri Te Kanawa join in season 4's battles over the estate. Back for more: Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Shirley MacLaine. Continues through Feb. 23.
Blood, Sweat & Heels (Bravo, 9 p.m.) -- New: New York City up-and-comers do their thing(s) in real estate, fashion and media.
Gator Boys (Animal Planet, 9 p.m.) -- Paul and Jimmy return with their reptile friends.
The Curse of Oak Island (History, 10 p.m.) -- New: Michigan brothers explore the myths of the "booby-trapped" treasure isle off Nova Scotia.
The Bachelor (ABC/7, 8-10 p.m.) -- Venezuelan soccer-playing single dad Juan Pablo Galavis segues from "The Bachelorette" to his own search for love.
Single Ladies (VH1, 9 p.m.) -- LisaRaye McCoy and Denise Vasi are back in the romance drama's season 3. (Catchup marathon today at 12:30 p.m.)
Teen Wolf (MTV, 10 p.m.) -- Season 3's second half adds the new 11 p.m. "Wolf Watch" post-show. (Catchup marathon starts tonight at 3 a.m.)
Intelligence (CBS/2, 9 p.m. preview; then Monday at 10 p.m.) -- Josh Holloway ("Lost") is "reckless, unpredictable and insubordinate" as a government agent fitted with a Web-connected computer chip, which makes him "the most valuable piece of technology this country has ever created." When he isn't "cyberrendering" to help solve cases, he's engaged in gunfire and physical combat with baddies or verbal sparring with his bodyguard (Meghan Ory, "Once Upon a Time"). He's also haunted by his agent wife's terrorist treachery -- or was it? -- in a sort of Red John story thread wending through each episode's stand-alone story. Fancy CGI depicts his computations, but it's basically another CBS procedural, stranding poor Marg Helgenberger ("CSI") as his hard-line/heart of gold boss.
Killer Women (ABC/7, 10 p.m.) -- Tricia Helfer ("Battlestar Galactica") kicks butt as a principled Texas Ranger in a high-octane actioner for which too much is never enough. Red patent high heels with matching minis. Massive gunfire and flaming explosions. Car chases (one in reverse). Throbbing guitars and Mexican horns. The surprise in this Robert Rodriguez-flavored fetishfest is that there's character depth, too. Helfer holds the screen amid local Lone Star color. (Pilot encore Saturday at 10 p.m.)
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, 8 p.m.) -- Who's buried in Ali's grave? As season 4 continues, the girls investigate.
Ravenswood (ABC Family, 9 p.m.) -- Caleb copes with returning from "the other side" as the first-season thriller resumes.
Justified (FX, 10 p.m.) -- Michael Rapaport ("Prison Break") stirs up backwoods trouble in season 5 as part of a gator-farming family. Jere Burns is now a series regular.
Cougar Town (TBS, 10 p.m.) -- The Penny Can goes global in season 5 of Courteney Cox's cul-de-sac comedy. Matthew Perry guests next week.
Being Mary Jane (BET, 10 p.m.) -- Gabrielle Union's TV-movie goes to series in this personal hour from producer Mara Brock Akil ("The Game") that tracks a modern career woman. She finds herself juggling too much life -- her cable anchor job, a sick mother, troubled relatives -- and not enough love, thanks to her might-turn-into-a-husband (Omari Hardwick), who turns out to be married. No obvious good/bad guys, though. Just people trying to find love, get ahead and, hopefully, do the right thing, with no emotional road map. Finally, BET delivers a strong black drama. And it's a solid watch for anyone. (The pilot movie repeats first, at 8 p.m.)
Chicago P.D. (NBC/4, 10 p.m.) -- What is it with cops beating answers out of people this season? First, it was Blair Underwood's (thankfully canceled) "Ironside." Now, it's Jason Beghe's righteous "cowboy" cop, spun out by producer Dick Wolf from his "Chicago Fire" success. Jon Seda and Sophia Bush co-star as intelligence unit detectives advised by Beghe to "tell me the truth, so I can lie for you."
Psych (USA, 9 p.m.) -- The cabler's longest-running series flies James Roday and Dulé Hill to London for their season 8 premiere.
The Real World: Explosion (MTV, 10 p.m.) -- Jenna Compono of Wantagh is one of the exes who moves in to surprise this season's San Francisco housemates.
The Spoils of Babylon (IFC, 10 p.m.) -- Will Ferrell plays the self-important author-turned-auteur behind this spoof of melodramatic '80s miniseries. In his cast: Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Tim Robbins, Jessica Alba. From the Funny or Die folks.
Enlisted (Fox/5, 9:30 p.m.) -- The latest comedy workplace? The military. Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell and Parker Young play brothers on a Florida Army base, with Keith David as their command sergeant. Showrunners Mike Royce ("Everybody Loves Raymond," "Men of a Certain Age") and Kevin Biegel ("Cougar Town," "Scrubs") have thrown comedy, drama, sentiment and slapstick into one big single-camera blender.
Helix (Syfy, 10 p.m.) -- Billy Campbell ("The Killing") stars for stellar producer Ronald D. Moore ("Battlestar Galactica") in this intriguing new thriller. Campbell leads a team of Centers for Disease Control doctors to an Arctic commercial research facility hit by a mysterious pathogen. They discover scientists lying about their work, bodies dead or dismembered, black goo oozing from human orifices, and ultimately "the perfect contagion machine," which they must stop at all costs. Who developed it, and why, and how? All questions inspire more questions in the early going. The claustrophobic setting delivers edge-of-your-seat adrenaline that some viewers will find spellbinding. Others may feel the story explains too little for too long.
Banshee (Cinemax, 10 p.m.) -- Antony Starr's master crook turned crooked sheriff returns to action in season 2 vs. Ben Cross and newcomer Zeljko Ivanek.
10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty (Spike, 10 p.m.) -- Dean Cain hosts a new competition search for Sasquatch armed with scientists, high technology and the title prize for proof.
When Calls the Heart (Hallmark, 9 p.m.) -- A frontier coal town is the setting for "hope, love and encouragement" in the uplift channel's new drama series, based on the same-named novel. Michael Landon Jr. is an executive producer, with stars Erin Krakow ("Army Wives"), Daniel Lissing ("Last Resort") and Lori Loughlin.
True Detective (HBO, 9 p.m.) -- Premium cable giants face off in a big night of drama/comedy, led by this uber-moody big-name mystery with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey playing estranged police detective partners. They're assigned to a kinky Louisiana murder case -- a dead woman adorned with a crown of thorns and antlers -- which involves layered flashbacks, foreboding music, slooww drawling, and cop-car chitchat like "Human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution." Yes, there's something to see here, but it takes its sweet time happening. Will viewers stick around?
Girls (HBO, 10 p.m.) -- Lena Dunham's buzzed-about half-hour of lost New York souls returns for season 3 with a two-episode premiere. Guests coming up: Amy Schumer, Rita Wilson, Colin Quinn, Bob Balaban.
Shameless (Showtime, 9 p.m.) -- What's patriarch Wiliam H. Macy's medical fate? Chicago's hardscrabble Gallagher clan awaits word in season 4 of the UK fave's American version.
House of Lies (Showtime, 10 p.m.) -- Mekhi Phifer, T.I., Eliza Coupe and Daniel Stern guest on season 3 with power consultant Don Cheadle. Starting his own firm, he's up against former partner Kristen Bell, with dad Glynn Turman psychoanalyzing him at home.
Episodes (Showtime, 10:30 p.m.) -- Brit-turned-Hollywood TV writers Sean and Beverly are back together for season 3, as "fake" Matt LeBlanc's career continues its ego-driven careen.
Switched at Birth (ABC Family, 8 p.m.) -- Peabody-winning family drama's season 3 finds its interchanged teens starting senior year with new classmates (R.J. Mitte, "Breaking Bad") and teachers (Sandra Bernhard).
The Fosters (ABC Family, 9 p.m.) -- The first season resumes with parents Stef and Lena, now married, confronting the fallout of Callie running away. Commack-raised Rosie O'Donnell plays a foster care counselor in three episodes starting next week.
Lost Girl (Syfy, 8 p.m.) -- George Takei and Ali Liebert guest star in season 4 of succubus, shape shifters and supernatural tribe rivalry.
Being Human (Syfy, 9 p.m.) -- Josh is trapped in his wolf form to start season 4 of this U.S. version of supernatural roommates.
Bitten (Syfy, 10 p.m.) -- Never seen a female werewolf? You'll see pretty much all of one in this sensual adult thriller. Laura Vandervoort ("Smallville") embodies author Kelley Armstrong's cursed photographer aching to break away from the "pack." Look out, bar boys, she's got super-hearing.
Archer (FX, 10 p.m.) -- Fondue party! It's season 5 of the smart and sexy spy satire animated for adults only. With killer voice work from H. Jon Benjamin, Aisha Tyler, Jessica Walter, Chris Parnell, Judy Greer.
Chozen (FX, 10:30 p.m.) -- The title gay white rapper emerges from prison with a new world view. Animated half-hour features Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress and Danny McBride (also executive producer).
American Idol (Fox/5, 8-10 p.m.; same times Jan. 16) -- The long-running singing contest tries again to regain its mojo, keeping Keith Urban, bringing back Jennifer Lopez and adding Harry Connick Jr. as a judge.
Suburgatory (ABC/7, 8:30 p.m.) -- Dad George and daughter Tessa try to get along again as this single-camera comedy's season 3 goes to the dogs.
Duck Dynasty (A&E, 10 and 10:30 p.m.) -- This new season 4 was shot before patriarch Phil Robertson popped off to the press about happy blacks in the cotton fields and gays going to hell. That resulted in A&E briefly suspending him before the network reversed its decision. But this past holiday season's "DD" merchandise overkill may have signaled the tipping point anyhow. Will the ratings stay stratospheric?
Men at Work (TBS, 10 p.m.) -- The guycom starts season 3 with its work/play adventures of Danny Masterson, James Lesure and crew.
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (TLC, 9 p.m.) -- No honeymoon for June and Sugar Bear. Not without Boo Boo and the other kids along. And so starts season 3 for the tube's controversial paragons of "redneck" family reality.
Under the Gunn (Lifetime, 9 p.m.) -- "Project Runway" guru Tim Gunn gets his own gig, overseeing three mentored teams of fashion wannabes facing tough design challenges.
SWV Reunited (WE, 10 p.m.) -- The '90s trio Sisters With Voices tries getting back together, personally and professionally, in this reality series.
The Following (Fox/5, 10 p.m.-ish; then Monday at 9 p.m. starting Jan. 27) -- Kevin Bacon's crime drama/gorefest gets the big post-NFC championship game slot for its special season 2 return, titled "Resurrection." Action starts a year after last season's, when Joe Carroll and his serial-killer cult come back.
Sherlock (PBS/13, 10 p.m.) -- Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return for season 3's three weeks of modern-day Holmes and Watson mysteries.
Looking (HBO, 10:30 p.m.) -- New scripted half-hour finds San Francisco gay guys tackling careers, monogamy and even (horrors!) middle age, just as new civil rights shake up their options. Starring Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, Murray Bartlett.
Rich Kids of Beverly Hills (E!, 10 p.m.) -- TV can never eye enough pampered lives.
Bad Ink (A&E, 9 and 9:30 p.m.) -- New season of Las Vegas tattoo misadventures.
Klondike (Discovery, 9 p.m.) -- The channel's first scripted miniseries, from producer Ridley Scott, spotlights strangers struggling together in 1890s frontier Alaska. Stars include Richard Madden ("Game of Thrones"), Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Abbie Cornish, Sam Shepard.
Hollywood Hillbillies (Reelz, 9 p.m.) -- The Web's Angry Ginger Kid and his Georgia clan head to Tinseltown for their own "reality sitcom." Web videos at youtube.com/CopperCab
Opposite Worlds (Syfy, 10 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday) -- Viewers vote in twice-weekly live competition series/social experiment: Two teams share a house divided by a glass wall into past and future living styles.
Horseplayers (Esquire, 10 p.m.) -- Handicappers travel the country competing for a chance at the National Handicapping Championship. Among them: Oceanside's Kevin Cox and John Conte.
Teen Mom 2 (MTV, 10 p.m.) -- Addiction, chronic disease and legal battles entangle Chelsea, Jenelle, Kailyn and Leah in season 5.
Wahlburgers (A&E, 10:30 p.m.) -- Actors Mark and Donnie Wahlberg watch older brother Paul, mom Alma and their old "entourage" run the family burger spot in their Boston neighborhood.
Broad City (Comedy Central, 10:30 p.m.) -- Amy Poehler produces this citycom in which scrappy twentysomethings Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson face down the Big Apple's daily dirt. Web original at broadcitytheshow.com
Rake (Fox/5, 9 p.m.) -- Oscar-winner Greg Kinnear returns to TV ("Talk Soup," anyone?) as a rascal L.A. lawyer -- smart as a whip, homeless, showboat-y, deep in gambling debt, more principled than you might expect, but pretty much lacking in "dignity." The adult-themed pilot hour waves its whimsy like a flag, but employs its quirks and Kinnear charisma in service of basic legal logic.
Black Sails (Starz, 9 p.m.) -- Sand, ships, sex and savagery, with movie moneymaker Michael Bay behind it all. This multinational 1715 pirate saga stars Toby Stephens ("Die Another Day") as much-feared Captain Flint, with Luke Arnold (playing Michael Hutchence in upcoming INXS movie) as ambitious young John Silver.
The Capones (Reelz, 10 p.m.) -- The great-nephew of the infamous crime boss runs a Chicago restaurant alongside his family of "larger-than-life personalities."
Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond (BBC America, 10 p.m.) -- Dominic Cooper ("Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter") stars in a four-part miniseries as the James Bond author who finds his way to fame during World War II.
Celebrity Home Raiders (Lifetime, 10 and 10:30 p.m.) -- Out of the closet! Famous names rifle their belongings to choose goodies to auction for charity.
Sochi Olympics (NBC channels, through Feb. 23) -- The Winter Games beam from Russia with a promised 1,539 hours of coverage on NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, MSNBC, USA and nbcolympics.com; Bob Costas hosts nighttime coverage.
The Walking Dead (AMC, 9 p.m.) -- The ratings powerhouse returns for more zombie apocalypse in the second half of season 4. Followed weekly by "Talking Dead."
House of Cards (Netflix, entire season streams) -- Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright start season 2 of their climb to Washington power.
Ripper Street (BBC America, 10 p.m.) -- Matthew Macfadyen launches season 2 of Victorian investigation into Jack the Ripper-time crimes.
The Voice (NBC/4, 8 p.m.) -- Shakira and Usher return, joining Adam Levine and Blake Shelton as spring-season judges.
Dallas (TNT, 9 p.m.) -- Season 3 of Ewing family machinations among the next generation of Texas oil elite.
The Tonight Show (NBC/4, 11:35 p.m.) -- Jimmy Fallon takes over hosting late-night's legendary franchise.
Late Night (NBC/4, 12:35 a.m.) -- And Seth Myers takes over for Fallon.
Mixology (ABC/7, 9:30 p.m.) -- A trendy Manhattan bar is the meeting place for 10 singles.
The Americans (FX, 10 p.m.) -- Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys start season 2 as Soviet agents in '80s America. Also returning: Margo Martindale.
The Red Road (Sundance, 9 p.m.) -- More haunting character drama from a channel moving smartly into original series. This tale traces a local tragedy that inexorably envelops a New Jersey policeman's family and nearby Native American clans, unfolding with the steady thrall of previous Sundance production "Rectify" (returning in 2014) and presentation "Top of the Lake." Martin Henderson is the cop, with Julianne Nicholson as his disturbed wife and Jason Momoa as an ex-con exploiting the situation.
Vikings (History, 10 p.m.) -- Season 2 of Norse warriors in the Dark Ages adds Linus Roache and Alexander Ludwig.
Hannibal (NBC/4, 10 p.m.) -- After Dracula's season ends, the network turns to another ravenous killer. Season 2 follows the further wits-match of Hugh Dancy's profiler and Mads Mikkelsen's deranged psychiatrist.