Not too long ago, midseason television was looked upon as nothing more than a punch line, or limbo for the not-strong-enough-for-September players. How times have changed! Thanks to shows like Grey’s Anatomy and The Office—hits that were spawned midseason—in-between period of TV has become more than just the network dumping ground.
Take a look at the returning favorites brightening up winter’s gloom. American Idol has come back with some new blood (Paula Abdul replacement Ellen DeGeneres) and some pending controversy (the last season of the Cowell). Resident world-saver Jack Bauer is back too, going through yet another worst day ever on 24. The twist this time around is that the season takes place in a New York that allows travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn in 20 minutes or less during rush hour. Disbelief suspended!
Plus, by now your mind has probably already been blown by the beginning of the end of the final season of Lost, which premiered Tuesday.
As for yet-to-be favorites: You probably didn’t watch the first season of Party Down (Starz, premieres 4/23 at 10 p.m.), but don’t make that mistake in season two. The comedy, about the workplace indignities at a Los Angeles catering company, is blessed with a cast on the brink (Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan) and a biting humor that recalls the Ricky Gervais–led version of The Office. How cutting edge is Party Down? Season one featured a before-she-was-a-television-icon Jane Lynch in a supporting role. Unfortunately, because of her commitments to Glee (where she plays Sue Sylvester), Ms. Lynch won’t be back as a full-time cast member; Megan Mullally has joined the series in her stead, and based on the first four episodes, the show hasn’t missed a beat.
And, hey, it wouldn’t be midseason if a slew of new shows didn’t premiere, too! Here are the four you’ll want to save a slot for on the DVR.
The Marriage Ref
(NBC, premieres March 4, 10 p.m.)
The premise: Jerry Seinfeld returns to television … sort of. Mr. Seinfeld is the executive producer behind this reality-cum-game show that features married couples arguing about whatever mundane things married couples argue about. The buzz on the Internet is strong—filming began just last week—and since NBC has had its fair share of problems lately, expect it to be given every chance to succeed.
(NBC, premieres March 2, 10 p.m.)
The premise: Remember Parenthood, the Ron Howard film that came out 20 years ago? Originally on the schedule for fall of ’09, and delayed after co-star Maura Tierney was diagnosed with cancer, Parenthood returns as a savior for NBC’s woes—the dramedy is being given a huge push by the network. With a cast of recognizable faces (Peter Krause, Craig T. Nelson and Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham, filling in for Ms. Tierney) and a very entertaining pilot, it very might well be around for a while.
(FX, premieres March 16, 10 p.m.)
The premise: From the network that brought you The Shield and Sons of Anarchy comes another testosterone-heavy show about badasses. Based on a character created by pulp novelist Elmore Leonard, Justified stars Timothy Olyphant as a deputy U.S. marshal on the lookout for justice. Fans of Deadwood take note: There will be cowboy hats.
How to Make It in America
(HBO, premieres February 14, 10 p.m.)
The premise: Two 20-something New Yorkers try to make it in the fashion world in this new HBO comedy from the producers of Entourage. Like that show, How to Make It in America offers plenty of pretty ladies and stunt casting (look for Luis Guzman and Kid Cudi). However, at its core, America is the type of bromance that Hollywood loves in our post-Apatow era.