New and Returning Shows of Winter 2012: What You Should Be Watching

Thanks to the Internet, DVDs and other mediums, TV networks now have to keep us interested for twelve months straight. That means new shows all year round, and winter 2012 is no exception. To help you sift through crap like “Rob!” and “Are you there, Chelsea?”, we give you our list of the top 7 new shows you should be watching in January and February, as well as some returning shows you should consider checking out!


7. Napoleon Dynamite
Series Premiere: January 15, FOX

What You Need to Know: Go on Netflix or your local rental store (if those still exist), and watch the 2004 cult classic Napoleon Dynamite. Now, picture all those same actors as cartoons, in slightly zanier situations. That’s Napoleon Dynamite on Fox.

Why You Should Watch: In all honestly, this probably isn’t for everyone. You either loved Napoleon Dynamite or you hated it, and that polarization should come into play with the animated series. Clearly, Jon Heder, the actors and the crew members involved are just trying to bank on whatever success Napoleon Dynamite brought them 8 years ago. Eight years is a long time, and the show won’t have lead ins as strong as Family Guy and The Simpsons used to be, so it might be a moot point after the initial 13 episode run, especially with Fox’s loose cancellation fingers, but it will be intriguing to see whether the cartoon can rebuild some of the film’s magic.

6. The River
Series Premiere: February 7, ABC

What You Need to Know: The River is the latest in a long line of paranormal/adventure/horror series looking to make a claim as the show that will finally take the place of “Lost”. The comparison might be a little thin, but it’s obviously already being made, seeing as the show is on ABC. The show is about an explorer, Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood), who goes looking for adventure deep in the Amazon, but never returns. Six months after his disappearance, his son and wife (Leslie Hope) set out on an expedition to rescue him, along with a documentary film crew, as well as to reveal the secrets of what took Dr. Cole.

Why You Should Watch: The show is from the mind of Oren Peli, best known as the writer/direcor/producer of the Paranormal Activity series, which has of course been a smash hit at the box office. If Peli can bring a similar style to the small screen, The River could definitely be a success. He also has Emmy-winning writer/producer Michael R. Perry to back him up, as well as Green Lantern and Heroes writer Michael Green, and “Unknown” director Jaume Collet-Serra. The crew, along with the cast, is a potentially underrated group which could take a gimmick and turn it into an interesting horror show. But we know little about the project, so that remains to be seen. If anything, it’s promising that the show is only slated for an 8-episode run in its first season, which seems odd for a network show but possibly a good thing.

5. House of Lies
Series Premiere: January 8, Showtime

What You Need To Know: Celebrated actor Don Cheadle makes his return to TV in “House of Lies”, a dark comedy about management consultants who act rich and dirty in order to get business done. Cheadle is joined by Kristen Bell, Dawn Olivieri, Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio from Parks & Rec) and Richard Schiff, among others, in a show that promises plenty of cursing and nudity, much like the shows it’s paired up with, Californication and Nudity.

Why You Should Watch: In all honestly, I find the premise a little pretentious. Showtime is notorious for shows that are unnecessarily dirty, and House of Lies seems like no exception. But if you’re going to be tuning in for something like Shameless of Californation, then House of Lies could definitely appeal to you. From the looks of the trailer, the show is already promising a lot of teasing with Kristen Bell, at the very least, so that might be a reason alone to tune in.

4. The Firm
Series Premiere: January 8-12, NBC

What You Need to Know: Don’t worry, you’re not suffering from Déjà vu. The Firm is actually something you should remember, as it is a television adaption of the 1993 Tom Cruise thriller of the same name, which is, in turn an adaptation of the best-selling John Grisham novel. While the film and novel tell the story of a lawyer who unwittingly becomes a representative to organized crime, only to take them down from the inside, the TV series picks up 10 years after these events, as Mitch McDeere (Josh Lucas, The Lincoln Lawyer, J.Edgar), his wife (Molly Parker, Deadwood), and their kids emerge from Witness Protection. McDeere sets up his own law firm and must deal with some shady business. The series also stars Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) and Shaun Majumder.

Why You Should Watch: Admittedly, this one’s a little close to home for me, as The Firm is a Canadian production. Canadian television has taken an upswing since the success of Flashpoint, and this show will look to continue that trend. Remakes are all the rage these days and usually make eyes roll rather than stick to the screen, but I like that the show is continuing Grisham’s story instead of trying to retell it. Grisham is actively involved, so you can expect some accuracy when it comes to how close it resembles his previous work, and there’s a good group of people involved. The project strikes me as a less-intense version of FX’s Damages, and that could very well be a good thing for the series.

3. Alcatraz
Series Premiere: January 16, Fox

What You Need to Know: We talked about the spiritual successor to Lost already, but here’s one for you. J.J. Abrams brings us a show about a mysterious island (that happens to house the US’s most notorious prison), where a bunch of inmates that disappeared 50 years ago are magically starting to re-appear, dead. Now that’s what we call the new version of Lost.

Why You Should Watch: Early reaction to the show has admittedly been a little mixed. People are weary of the Lost concept, and Alcatraz promises to be the type of show that reveals a lot but yet nothing at all as it continues its run. Early success will mean stringing out its concept further and further, but honestly, it still looks like it could be very entertaining. The show has a great cast to cushion a relative unknown (Sarah Jones) in the lead, including Jorge Garcia and Sam Neill, and seems to fit in nicely on Fox’s slate. At the very least, interest should be piqued by the pilot.

2. Touch
Series Premiere: March 19 (sneak peak on January 25), Fox

What You Need to Know: Another well-known serial TV producer, Tim Kring, brings us “Touch”, starring Kiefer Sutherland as Martin Bohm, a father of an autistic boy, Jacob, (David Mazouz) who starts to communicate with his father through numbers. Martin uses his skills as a former journalist, as well as child psychology expert Arthur DeWitt (Danny Glover) in order to decipher what his son is trying to tell him, and by the looks of it, save the world.

Why You Should Watch: In all honesty, this section could be titled “reasons not to watch Touch”, because on the surface, there are plenty. Tim Kring proved with Heroes that he’s unreliable when it comes to serial, supernatural TV thrillers, and the concept seems a lot like the terrible Nic Cage film “Knowing”. Moreover, I have a sinking feeling that a lot of this show is going to be Jack Bauer unrealistically saving the world. In all honestly, I’m kind of digging the mix of all this. The concept could end up being really fresh, the cast is amazing, and there seems to be an interesting balance between action and a character drama here. As it stands right now, Touch could go either way, but we’re definitely in for the show’s sneak peak later in January.

1. Luck
Series Premiere: January 29, HBO

What You Need to Know: Four-time Emmy winner and creator of NYPD Blue and Deadwood, David Milch, is, for all intents and purposes, a television genius. Michael Mann is an Academy Award-nominated and iconic Hollywood director and producer of films like Heat, Collateral, and The Aviator. Dustin Hoffman is one of the best actors of all-time, Nick Nolte one of the most underrated. They come together, along with an insane troupe of supporting actors, to give us “Luck”, a show about horse racing and the gambling and crime that comes side by side with it. No less, on HBO.

Why You Should Watch: I think we covered every reason you should have to watch Luck above. But if that’s not enough, then you can already check out the Pilot, which aired on HBO last month. A little convoluted, the first episode had a lot going on, but that’s common for HBO, and certain to ease out as the first season moves along. Whether or not this is another instant classic for HBO remains to be seen, but so far, all signs are looking good.

Returning Shows

New shows aren’t the only thing to look forward to. These winter months will also bring us the return of many of our favourite series, and we have a quick glance at what you should expect.

The Jersey Shore Season 5, MTV, Jan. 5
You either love this show or you hate it. I happen to be one of the people who hates it. And usually if you love it, you likely hate yourself. Clearly there’s a love/hate relationship going on here. Can you tell I can’t bother to say anything about this show?

Californication (S5) and Shameless (S2), Showtime, Jan. 8
While these two shows are very different on the surface, you inherently watch them for the same reasons. To see Emmy Rossum and whoever David Duchovny is banging in their birthday suits. Although Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA joins Californation’s cast as a character named “Samurai Apocalypse”, so that’s also pretty cool.

30 Rock Season 6, NBC, Jan. 12
The latest season of 30 Rock was delayed thanks to Tina Fey’s pregnancy, and quite frankly, we’re not sure we’re all that bothered. 30 Rock used to be the best comedy on TV, now we hate to say that it’s gotten kind of stale. Still, could the break fuel new life into Tina Fey’s creative juices? You’d have to tune in to find out.

Justified Season 3, FX, Jan. 17
Justified is one of the best shows on TV you probably aren’t watching. Timophy Olyphant and the gang return for a third season this month, so it could finally be your chance to start.

The Voice Season 2, NBC, Feb. 5-6
While American Idol might usually hold on to the ratings titles on TV, The Voice proved last year that it can inject new life into the singing competition genre. Led by Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton, The Voice shows that it’s less about the judges’ egos (even though, judging by the names above, you’d think it would be) and about looks and personalities, and all about the actual voices of the people involved. If they can keep that up with season 2, they’ll certainly manage to bite into Idol’s market share.

Celebrity Apprentice, Season 5, NBC, Feb. 12
You may hate Donald Trump, you may think that the celebrities aren’t that spectacular, but you can usually bet that the Celebrity Apprentice will give us a good amount of fun. This year’s cast is “headlined” by Lou Ferrigno, Arsenio Hall, Penn of Penn & Teller, Dee Snider, George Takei, Paul Sr. from American Chopper and Cheryl Tiegs, so we should be in for some fun.

Survivor: One World, Season 24, CBS, Feb. 15
After two failed seasons that saw returning castaways dominate groups of mostly uninteresting newbies (see: South Pacific and Redemption Island, season 24 presents a new twist, pitting men against women, but forcing them to live on the same island. We’ve been unenthused with survivor since Heroes vs. Villains gave us the worst double winner ever, so we’ll be looking for the show to give us some great characters again that are actually fans of the series, and not just aspiring actors.

Eastbound & Down, Season 3, HBO, Feb. 19
With Danny McBride’s career spiking upwards, season 3 of Eastbound & Down will be the show’s last. While we’ll be disappointed when Kenny Powers leaves our screens for good, season 3 should be a good one, with Jason Sudeikis joining the cast, Will Ferrell and Matthew McConaughey returning to their season 1 roles, and Kenny Powers looking to fulfill his dream of returning to Major League Baseball once and for all.

Breaking In, Season 2, FOX, March 6
While it isn’t the greatest show, we’re fully behind Fox’s Breaking In because of its perseverance in coming back from cancellation twice, and being the only show that Christian Slater has managed to keep going. In all likelihood, we’ll be talking about cancellation yet again when the comedy-espionage show’s 13 episode run is done, but we’ll support it while we can.

There you have it! What are you looking forward to watching this winter? Let us know in the comments below!

Comment 1
Phil T's picture

Tim Kring... May god have mercy on our souls