From HBO to PBS: What's Coming Up on TV this Spring
The holidays are over and that means so are the doldrums of television. Finally, we TV addicts will get new episodes of favorite shows and premieres of a whole crop of new shows. And as your intrepid TV watcher, I'm here to tell you about the shows I'll be excited to see debut on my flat screen.
New ShowsSmash is NBC's attempt at reproducing the success of Glee, and they've recruited American Idol alum, Katherine McPhee (pictured left) to star. It's about producers mounting a new Broadway show. It's from the producers of the film Chicago, and also stars Debra Messing and Anjelica Houston. This has the potential to be a fabulous show, and if the writing lives up to the premise, NBC may finally have a hit on its hands.
Keifer Sutherland returns to Fox with a role that's very different from 24's Jack Bauer -- that of a father whose 11-year-old son is emotionally challenged and communicates with the world in a very unusual way in Touch. The whole premise of the show and how the kid communicates through numbers and shows how people are interconnected all over the world is a little hard to describe, but I'm willing to give it a chance. It co-stars Danny Glover.
Also on Fox is Alcatraz, the latest show from J.J. Abrams about a police detective who tracks a grisly modern day murder to an Alcatraz prisoner that died 30 years ago. I said it was J.J. Abrams, didn't I? And where J.J. goes, I follow. The show stars Sarah Jones (pictured below), Sam Neill and Jorge Garcia.
The march of film stars turning to television in search of edgy drama and quality writing continues as the versatile Don Cheadle stars in Showtime's House of Lies, about less than ethical corporate consultants and their clients. Showtime is still basking in the glow of its masterful thriller, Homeland, which just concluded, and if House of Lies, which premiered this week, comes even close to that kind of quality, it'll be a grand show indeed.
On ABC, Ashley Judd stars in Missing about a woman searching for her son who's disappeared in Europe. This one is supposed to be kind of like the film Taken, except with a female lead. And a special note for you Game of Thrones fans, ex-Ned Stark, Sean Bean, co-stars.
Meanwhile, on HBO, Dustin Hoffman navigates the seedy world of horse racing in Luck. This one's from director Michael Mann and Deadwood creator David Milch so expect there to be a lot of cursing.
Image courtesy HBO
I'm breathless awaiting the return of four shows this spring. First, there's HBO's Game of Thrones. As I wrote right before last season's spectacular finale, this is show that plays for keeps. It's hard to believe the first season of HBO's adaption of George R.R. Martin's novels, only had ten episodes, because it covered so much exciting ground in those episodes.
Season two will once again pit the Starks, the Lannisters, the Baratheons and the Targaryens against each other, all vying for the iron throne. Oh, and then there's the threat of the White Walkers and Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clake, pictured above) and her baby dragons! Game of Thrones will be back on HBO in April.
Then, remember a little show called Mad Men?. I could see how you might have forgotten about it since it's been forever since the last season aired. Contract negotiations kept the show from coming back sooner, but all that's behind us like so much Ivory Soap, and the folks at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce will be back in March. And just as a reminder, the last time we saw Don Draper, he was about to marry his secretary Megan.
Just premiering this week is the second season of the Emmy Award-winning, deliciously wonderful Downton Abbey. It's a classic family drama set in the highbrow and lowbrow worlds of the British aristocracy around 100 years ago. With this show, PBS has served notice to premium channels like Showtime and HBO that they're back in the game when it comes to quality entertainment.
Season two takes place during WWI, and here's a snippet of Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, talking about women and war.
Also on PBS, the very entertaining Sherlock, which gives us Sherlock Holmes, played by the perfectly cast, Benedict Cumberbatch, plunked down in the middle of modern day London. The plotting and acting are first class, and what really gives the show its distinctive style is the visual cues used to show how Sherlock's razor sharp, deductive mind.
There were only three 90-minute shows in the first series, and I've watched them each several times. They were that good. And even though the second season just premiered in England to great fanfare, we Yanks will have to wait for it to return to PBS in May. Sherlock co-stars Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson.
For a full calendar of what shows start when, check out TV Guide's 2012 Winter Schedule Calendar.
Megan Smith is the BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television/Online Video. Her personal entertainment blog is Megan's Minute.