While this winter looks especially strong for NBC, thanks to the Winter Olympics (Feb. 4-20) and Super Bowl LVI (Feb. 13), it actually looks reasonably strong for everyone else, too. The big commercial network behemoths are about to return, while the streaming wars — after the briefest of respites due to the pandemic — are set to heat up again too. (Or sort of heat up: The early part of 2022 will be relatively quiet on Disney +).
In short, there's a lot to get excited about and here are just 53 reasons why:
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (WNET/13, 8 p.m.)
David Tennant ("Doctor Who") stars in this eight-episode adaptation of the Jules Verne novel about the Englishman — Phineas Fogg who heads around the world (in 80 days) with valet, Passepartout (Ibrahim Koma). "Masterpiece" is calling this "innovative," but my cursory glance also indicates something surprisingly dark, moody and violent.
THE CLEANING LADY (Fox/5, 9)
Thony De La Rosa (Élodie Yung, "Daredevil"), a native of Cambodia, was a doctor in the Philippines, but when she comes to the States to get treatment for her son, finds life here not as easy as she hoped. So what does she do? Become a cleaning lady for the Mob! (Hey, this is Fox — what else is she supposed to do?) (Based on a successful Argentine series.)
ABBOTT ELEMENTARY (ABC/7,9)
This mockumentary (from "The Office's" Randall Einhorn and Quinta Brunson) about a Philadelphia elementary school, and its plucky teachers — like Janine Teagues (Brunson), Barbara Howard (Sheryl Lee Ralph) and Melissa Schemmenti (Lisa Ann Walter) — got road-tested in December and first appearances were promising indeed.
AMERICAN AUTO (NBC/4, 8)
Payne Motors bets its future on an electric car — and, yes, there are bugs, and also kooky executives trying to pilot this troubled launch, notably a new CEO (Ana Gasteyer) who wouldn't know cars from cannolis. "Superstore's" Justin Spitzer created this amusing workplace sitcom that also got a December tryout.
GRAND CREW (NBC/4, 8:30)
A group of pals chew the fat, drink the drinks and figure out life (and love) at the local wine bar, those pals being: Kristen (Maya Lynne Robinson), Noah (Echo Kellum), Wyatt (Justin Cunningham), Nicky (Nicole Byer), Anthony (Aaron Jennings), Sherm (Carl Tart) and Fay (Grasie Mercedes). Think "Friends" meets "Girlfriends" meets "Cheers."
THIS IS US (NBC/4, 9)/BLACK-ISH (ABC/7, 9:30)
The 6th and final season of one of network TV's most successful dramas of the last decade (which doesn't have the initials "FBI" or "NCIS" in the title) launches with an episode entitled "The Challenger," presumably referring to Kevin's (Justin Hartley) traumatic viewing on TV of the Challenger disaster on Jan. 28. 1986. (Kevin, of course, left Madison — Caitlin Thompson — at the altar in the season 5 finale, so the Challenger is to blame? We and poor Mad will find out.) With "Black-ish" also entering the last lap, you can expect a cameo by former first lady Michelle Obama, while Zoey (Yara Shahidi, "Grown-ish") is back from college.
GOOD SAM (CBS/2, 10)
This new medical drama stars Sophia Bush ("One Tree Hill," "Chicago PD") as a heart surgeon and Jason Isaacs ("Star Trek: Discovery") as her surgeon dad. The twist: when dad falls into a coma, she steps into the boss role, and when he comes out of the coma, she's still the boss.
WOMEN OF THE MOVEMENT (ABC/7, 8)
This six-part docudrama based on Devery S. Anderson's book "Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement" stars Broadway star Adrienne Warren as Mamie Till-Mobley, with Glynn Turman as Mose Wright, Emmett Till's great-uncle who identified his nephew's kidnappers (and murderers) in court. For more on this, stick around for the documentary series, "Let the World See," which follows at 10.
JOE MILLIONAIRE: FOR RICHER OR POORER (Fox/5, 8)
After all these years (nearly 20), "Joe" is back to fool some gold-diggers — umm, ladies looking for true love that is also well-remunerated. The twist this time around: There will be two Joes, and one will actually be "rich," or at least what Fox is calling "rich." (The other one, like the original Joe, is apparently not so much.) Farmingdale native SallyAnn Salsano ("Jersey Shore") is producing this reboot and made certain to include an LIer among the contestants: We know her (so far) only as "Doris," 32, a dance company owner from Bethpage.
PIVOTING (Fox/5, 8:30)
Veteran Seaford-raised producer Liz Astrof ("The King of Queens") is giving a sitcom shoutout to Long Island in this show about three Liers — Amy (Eliza Coupe, "Happy Endings"), Sarah (Maggie Q) and Jodie (Ginnifer Goodwin, "Once Upon a Time") — who are shocked by the recent death of their longtime friend. Ah, but where on "Long Island" is this set? Nowhere we are familiar with: In the opener, a brief tracking shot reveals mountains in the background.
ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL (WNET/13, 9)
The adaptation of the James Herriot book series about a wise and humble vet (Nicholas Ralph as Herriot) who tends to the flocks, literally, in the Yorkshire Dales, arrives for a second season. The first starred Dame Diana Rigg (who died in September, 2020, at the age of 82) who has been replaced by Patricia Hodge, the veteran stage (most recently "Private Lives") and TV actor ("Rumpole of the Bailey").
THE KINGS OF NAPA (OWN, 8)
House of Kings is, we are told, one of the top vineyards of Napa, but what makes it unique is that a Black surgeon (Isaiah Whitlock Jr.) has purchased it. The old (white) guard of Napa didn't see that coming! Nor did members of his own family — played by Ebonee Noel, Rance Nix, Karen LeBlanc, Yaani King Mondschein, Ashlee Brian and Devika Parikh — who find themselves battling for control of this wine kingdom when dad backs out.
NAOMI (CW/11, 9)
Naomi McDuffie (Kaci Walfall) has superpowers and can emanate some type of super-energy through her hands. But what makes her even more unusual, or at least her show, which is based on the DC Comics series of the same name, is that it's produced by star director Ava DuVernay.
PEACEMAKER (HBO Max)
John Cena is back as the scary dude who enforces the peace with a vengeance, last seen in "The Suicide Squad." This eight-parter gets down (in part) to Christophers Smith's origin story, and also stars Danielle Brooks — you may best or most vividly recall her as Taystee on "Orange Is the New Black" — who plays Leota Adebayo. She's another member of so-called Task Force X (the Suicide Squad) who's got different ideas about law enforcement than her pal (and was not in the movie).
WOLF LIKE ME (Peacock)
Apparently not to be confused with the old TV on the Radio song of the same name, this six-part romcom (that drops in its entirety on Jan. 13) stars Josh Gad and Isla Fisher as Gary and Mary. What's so intriguing about "Wolf'' is that no one really knows what it will be about; viewers are told to expect "surprises" or "shocks." So you'll just have to watch to find out what those are.
RAY DONOVAN/THE MOVIE (Showtime, 9)
Fans howled when Showtime canceled "Donovan" in February, 2020, and Showtime took note. The series didn't get a full reprieve, but at least a movie will wrap matters up.
ARCHIVE 81 (Netflix)
This found footage horror series (with horror maestro James Wan at the helm) is about a Manhattan-based film archivist by the name of Dan Turner — played by Mamoudou Athie who was in 2020's "Uncorked" and "Black Box." He gets a job to restore a bunch of tapes from 1994 and what he finds on said tapes is creepy and freaky indeed.
THE HOUSE (Netflix)
And speaking of the freak, this stop-motion three-parter is about a family in a house which, in time, also becomes home to anthropomorphic cats and rats. Tim Burton did not direct — Belgium-based filmmakers Emma de Swaef and Marc Roels did — but his influence seems pervasive. "The House" is a comedy, albeit extremely dark, and clearly kids are not the intended audience.
SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE (HBO, 10:30)
The always funny Bridgett Everett ("Patti Cake$") plays someone who returns to her Kansas hometown after the death of her sister. She's a fish-outta-water back where she never belonged in the first place. This does looks promising.
HOW I MET YOUR FATHER (Hulu)
Hilary Duff stars in this 10-episode sequel to "How I Met Your Mother" (2005-14) as Sophie, who also appears in flash-forward played by Kim Cattrall (which may explain why she's AWOL in the new HBO Max "Sex and the City" spinoff).
LA FORTUNA (AMC+)
This six-parter — which will later air on AMC — is unusual indeed, and stars Stanley Tucci as fortune hunter Frank Wild who discovers (or maybe steals?) bullion from a shipwreck which the Spanish seek to reclaim, with the help of one Jonas Pierce (Clarke Peters). It has already aired on Spanish TV.
SELLING THE HAMPTONS (Discovery+)
This infomercial, err, reality series about Nest Seekers International gets back down to the same business of Netflix's (since canceled) "Million Dollar Beach House," finding the most perfect, most incredibly overpriced pad in that stretch of LI known as the Hamptons. The happy band of agents includes Bianca D’Alessio, J.B. Andreassi, Michael Fulfree, Peggy Zabakolas, Kenny Arias and Mia Calabrese.
SINGLE DRUNK FEMALE (Freeform, 10)
Samantha Fink (Sofia Black-D’Elia) confronts her alcoholism by moving back home with "Smother," aka her mom, Carol (Ally Sheedy) who should be able to set her on a straight-and-sober course if anyone can.
AS WE SEE IT (Prime Video)
Showrunner Jason Katims hopes to bring some of that old "Friday Night Lights" (or, if you prefer, "Parenthood") magic to this comedy-drama about the life and struggles of three friends on the autism spectrum — Jack (Rick Glassman), Harrison (Albert Rutecki), and Violet (Sue Ann Pien). From what I've seen: Good.
The Byrds are back for one last ride, and you may be guaranteed: It will be a wild one.
THE GILDED AGE (HBO, 9)
Jullian Fellowes' ("Downton Abbey") much-awaited drama is about (per HBO) "a period of immense economic change, of great conflict between the old ways and brand new systems, and of huge fortunes made and lost. " The year is 1882 and Marian Brook (Louisa Jacobson) has moved to New York to live with her aunts Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski) and Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon). Much of this was filmed at locations around LI, including most prominently, Old Bethpage Village Restoration.
PROMISED LAND (ABC/7, 10)
ABC calls this prime-time soap "generation-spanning … about two Latinx families vying for wealth and power in California’s Sonoma Valley." Stars John Ortiz ("Silver Linings Playbook") as patriarch Joe Sandoval. And yes, in perhaps a network TV first, or at most second, the rest of the cast is Hispanic too.
RESIDENT ALIEN (Syfy, 9)
Herewith an obligatory shoutout for the second season of the show everyone seems to love — or everyone who has seen it loves, about the alien (Alan Tudyk) who has come to Earth to wipe out the human race, but gets sidetracked in a small town in Colorado. Alex Bornstein ("Mrs. Maisel") joins this season.
ASTRID AND LILLY SAVE THE WORLD (Syfy, 10)
Best (high school) friends Astrid (Jana Morrison) and Lilly (Samantha Aucoin) somehow open a dimension to a realm where monsters make merry, and are just waiting for a couple of teens to release them so they can destroy the world. And it gets weirder (and potentially funnier) from there.
THE AFTERPARTY (Apple TV+)
This may remind you of Hulu's recent success, "Murders Only in the Building," and reminders may well be intentional. It's about a pop star who falls to his death during his 15th high school reunion party at his cliff-hugging mansion. When Dets. Banner (Tiffany Haddish) and Cusp (John Early) arrive, they find plenty of suspects — like Chelsea (Ilana Glazer), Zoe (Zoë Chao) and Aniq ("Veep's" Sam Richardson). Someone dunnit — but who? We'll find out hopefully at the end of eight episodes (the first of which looks terrific).
THE WOMAN IN THE HOUSE ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE GIRL IN THE WINDOW (Netflix)
And winner of the longest name in TV history contest goes to "TWITHATSFTGITW," which promises to be about as spoofy as that name would suggest. This one's about Anna (Kristen Bell) who watches life pass her by outside her apartment window. Like Jimmy Stewart's character in "Rear Window," she too observes a terrible crime that she was not meant to observe. Or maybe she did; that's TBD over the course of eight episodes.
MONARCH (Fox/5, 9)
Susan Sarandon stars in this "multigenerational musical drama" that sounds an awful lot like ABC's "Nashville," with country singer Trace Adkins as family dynasty member Albie Roman and Anna Friel as Nicolette Roman. The throughline: Dottie (Sarandon) and Albie have created a country music empire that isn't quite what it has long appeared to be.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT BILL COSBY (Showtime, 10)
This four-parter from W. Kamau Bell is intended to "shed new light on Cosby’s cultural contributions and impact at the height of his disgrace — accused of rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery and other misconduct by more than 60 women as far back as nearly 60 years."
PAM & TOMMY (Hulu)
Can anyone — even Seth Rogen and longtime production partner Evan Goldberg — get eight hours out of the (in) famous Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee sextape scandal? We are all about to find out, and if buzz is to be believed, a lot of us will. This one stars Lily James as Anderson and Sebastian Stan as the Motley Crüe drummer, and picks up the story beginning with their quickie 1995 wedding. Later, a disgruntled electrician (Rogen) who had worked on their mansion steals a safe from there with the help of an accomplice, Uncle Miltie (Nick Offerman). What they find in that safe knocks their socks off — yours will be forcibly removed as well.
REACHER (Prime Video)
Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson, "Titans") is discharged from the Army and heads to Margrave, Georgia where — well, let's just say he breaks a whole lot of china. Police need his assistance to solve a string of murders, and Jack helps in his own charming way. This 8-parter looks to be both a sendup of the genre and full-on embrace of it, and a sharp departure from the Tom Cruise "Reacher" films. All eight episodes drop on the 4th.
SUSPICION (Apple TV +)
This eight-episode thriller with Uma Thurman is based on an Israeli series called "False Flag," about five innocent people who suddenly (and unexpectedly) learn they are suspects in a kidnapping. Noah Emmerich ("The Americans") also stars.
JEOPARDY NATIONAL COLLEGE CHAMPIONSHIP (ABC/7, 8)
With the Winter Olympics on NBC, ABC needs something to answer, and that would be this — three nights a week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) through Feb. 22. Mayim Bialik hosts.
INVENTING ANNA (Netflix)
Anna Delvey (Julia Garner) — aka Anna Sorokin — pretended to be a wealthy German heiress with a keen affinity for Instagram, all the while defrauding wealthy acquaintances, hotels and banks. She was convicted in 2019. This 9-parter from Shonda Rhimes picks up in 2017, when a New York Magazine journalist (Anna Chlumsky) gets on the story. (It's based on Jessica Pressler's "How Anna Delvey Tricked New York's Party People.") The pilot looks particularly Shonda-esque — which is to say, frothy and fun.
From the land of reboots arrives this reincarnation of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," but this one actually sounds interesting: It's a drama, based on the same fish-out-of-water idea, starring newcomer Jabari Banks. Also same idea: He arrives from West Philadelphia to live with Uncle Phillip (Adrian Holmes) and Aunt Vivian (Cassandra Freeman).
SEVERANCE (Apple TV+)
This nine-episode thriller has plenty of buzz too because of the director (Ben Stiller), cast (Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro, Christopher Walken) and concept: Workers at some creepy company have their memories from the workplace surgically excised after they are fired. (Even worse, they don't get severance payouts.)
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL (Prime Video)
A recent teaser established (or hinted at) a fully confident Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan), who's ready to take her act to the world, without apologies or as a second banana. This long-delayed 4th season opens in 1960.
Harold Perrineau ("Lost") stars in this sci-fi horror series from "Captain America's" Russo brothers (Anthony and Joseph), about a town you can enter but can never leave.
AMERICAN SONG CONTEST (NBC/4, 8)
Expect to see plenty of promos for this during the Olympics. It's a copy of a long-running and popular European songwriting contest known as "Eurovision." There are no covers here by the contestants and it's all live.
THE ENDGAME (NBC/4, 10)
NBC just ordered this in September, so to call it a "rush job" might be unfair, but there isn't (yet) a whole lot known about it, other than — bank heist drama with "Homeland's" Morena Baccarin and "First Wives Club's" Ryan Michelle Bathe. Some veterans are behind the production (Nick Wootton, Julie Plec) so it should at least be polished.
LAW & ORDER (WNBC/4, 8)
Needs no introduction, with Jeffrey Donovan new to the cast, while Sam Waterston recently agreed to rejoin the show he helped make a classic. (Anthony Anderson is back, too.) Could S. Epatha Merkerson — Lt. Anita Van Buren — -be far behind? Unlikely because she's already got that regular gig on "Chicago Med," but cameos can't be ruled out. Camryn Manheim ("The Practice") will be onboard as a new character, Lt. Kate Dixon.
VIKINGS: VALHALLA (Netflix)
This sequel to the hugely popular History series takes place a hundred years later, with England in the thrall of those guys with the long flowing locks and who all kind of look like Noah Syndergaard.
THE DROPOUT (Hulu)
The totally true and fictionalized story of Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes (Amanda Seyfried), also starring Naveen Andrews ("Lost") who plays her partner Sunny Balwani. The rest of the cast is pretty amazing too: William H. Macy, Stephen Fry, Laurie Metcalf, Alan Ruck, Sam Waterston, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Michael Ironside, and Elizabeth Marvel.
OUTLANDER (Starz, 9)
This much-anticipated 6th season is based on "A Breath of Snow and Ashes," the sixth book in the Diana Gabaldon series. Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) have a busy stretch ahead on Fraser Ridge.
SHINING VALE (Starz, 10)
A crazy — or, more politely, dysfunctional — family moves from Brooklyn to that land of overpriced haunted houses (Connecticut) where their lives continue to dysfunction under the watchful gaze of supernatural forces within. Yes, this is a comedy, but the big draw is the cast — Courteney Cox, Greg Kinnear, Mira Sorvino and Judith Light. Eight half-hours and this could (or should) be fun.
THE THING ABOUT PAM (NBC/4, 9)
This limited series is based on the wild story (also podcast and endlessly recurring "Dateline" investigation) of one Pam Hupp — Renée Zellweger, in a rare TV starring role — who was convicted in the murder of Betsy Faria (Katy Mixon). As the many convolutions are traced, or unraveled, viewers will also meet Russ Faria (Glenn Fleshler), Betsy's husband whom Pam framed for his wife's murder; Joel Schwartz (Josh Duhamel), his defense attorney; Leah Askey (Judy Greer), who prosecuted Faria and Mark Hupp (Sean Bridgers), Pam's long-suffering husband. This cast alone ensures that "The Thing" may be one of the major entries of these winter 2022 TV sweepstakes.
ATLANTA (FX, Hulu)
It's been so long that you might be forgiven for thinking that this is a series about the city but …"Atlanta" is (reminder!) all about Earn (Donald Glover), Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) and Van (Zazie Beetz). For this long-awaited third season, they're in Europe, on tour, and involved in much else. Should be great. Ten episodes in total (two the first night) and each will stream the following day on Hulu.
While some fans had expected a Christmas Day 2021 2nd season launch, they'll have to settle for March 25, 2022, instead. The first (which launched Dec. 25, 2020) largely focused on the courtship of Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page) while the second is about Lord Anthony Bridgerton's (Jonathan Bailey) search for a spouse -- presumably newcomer Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley), who arrives in London with her younger sister Edwina (Charithra Chandran) from India.