The TV midseason isn’t as ballyhooed as the shiny new fall lineup every year, but the first few months of 2012 bring an onslaught of fresh TV for us to anticipate and eventually judge. Here are a few shows that I intend to give a chance in the coming months.
House of Lies (Showtime) January 8
Kristen Bell’s back! Kristen Bell’s back! Sure, there are other reasons to catch Showtime’s new House of Lies, but Bell’s lackluster feature career has left me yearning for the days that her snarky, efficient brand of spunk graced my small screen. And House of Lies looks just right for her, a scathing send-up of the cutthroat business that takes place in a management consulting firm. Don Cheadle plays the lead, and he comes across as effortlessly funny and cool in the preview. Also starring Ben Schwartz—better known as the endlessly entertaining Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation--and a bunch of other people who look great in suits, House of Lies seems like a blast.
Alcatraz (Fox) January 16
I’m not entirely sure what the deal is with this show, even after having watched multiple previews, but I mostly dig it. The newest joint from JJ Abrams, Alcatraz is about San Francisco detective Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones), who is working a murder case when she discovers the prime suspect is an Alcatraz inmate who died in prison fifty years ago. She soon finds the inmate on the streets killing himself up a spree, and he hasn’t aged a day. Madsen becomes embroiled in a much larger, more sinister mystery, working alongside an Alcatraz expert (Jorge Garcia), a shadowy government agent (Sam Neill) and her uncle, a former Alcatraz guard (Robert Motherloving Forster). I love the cast and I’m intrigued by the premise, so I’ll definitely give this one a shot. I do, however, reserve the right to denounce Alcatraz as maddeningly obtuse within the first few weeks.
Luck (HBO) January 29
Luck, a challenging look at the world of horse racing, is from Michael Mann and Deadwood creator David Milch, and it stars Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina as a bunch of racing-obsessed, grizzled old men. They all frequent the same track, and Luck follows them through their highs and lows. This seems like a real man's man's show, and the preview is polished and alluring. A great cast, creative team and concept make Luck a safe bet.
Ahh, a musical drama to fill the hopes-dashed hole left in my heart by Glee midway through its first season. I wouldn’t necessarily say my hopes are sky high for Smash either; it stars a former American Idol contestant (Katharine McPhee), the preview's climax heavily features the song “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera and the creator (Theresa Rebeck) is responsible for writing a ton of crime procedurals, the movie Gossip and the story for Catwoman. But she’s also written several acclaimed plays and has been nominated for a Pulitzer, and I found myself somewhat engrossed during the sneak peek.
Also, okay, this show stars ANJELICA HUSTON. So I will watch it, and that is that.
Frozen Planet (Discovery) March 18
I am quite the fan of nature documentaries, and this mini-series about the Earth’s polar regions is sure to be mind-meltingly spectacular on the small screen. As it’s from the creators of Life and Planet Earth, I wholly presume Frozen Planet will be easy on the eyeballs, vastly informative and most likely heartbreaking. Every image or moment of footage I’ve found—and I’ve found plenty, as I’m slightly stalking this series—has been awesome in the most traditionally intended sense of the word. Just take a look at the dazzling, magnificent scale of this thing:
Girls (HBO) April ?
Girls, an HBO series written by Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture) and executive produced by Judd Apatow, looks fresh, genuine and very, very funny. I simply adore this trailer; the first time I saw it, I knew I had to watch the show. “I am thirteen pounds overweight and it has been awful for me my WHOLE LIFE!” I wish the title weren’t so vexingly indistinguishable—unless that’s the point, in which case: bravo, Dunham.
Originally titled Don’t Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23, then Don’t Trust The B--- In Apartment 23, this show has a “TBA” release date and no preview to share, but I still find myself enticed. Starring the adorably peculiar Krysten Ritter as a weirdo New Yorker with “pirate morals” and Dreama Walker as her square, Midwestern roommate, I know the predictable Odd Couple premise should put me off, but you guys: this show stars James Van Der Beek AS HIMSELF. That is hilarious! In lieu of a preview for Apartment 23, I will direct you to a Funny Or Die skit which should be enough to demonstrate that James Van Der Beek playing a heightened version of himself is reason enough to watch anything.
Unfortunately, embedding is disabled, but if you’ve never seen the James Van Der Memes clip, please go here.
Angry Boys (HBO) January 1
From Chris Lilley (Summer Heights High) and Laura Waters, Angry Boys is a bizarre comedy featuring six wildly different characters, shot over seven months, edited for a year and filmed in more than seventy locations. I love it on paper, but I found the trailer a bit exhausting.
Unsupervised (FX) January 19
An animated series about two high school boys who live in a house with no adult supervision and the mad shenanigans they get up to, the series is from the people who brought us Archer, which I quite like.
The River (ABC) February 7
Almost certain to be remarkably dumb, but I’ll probably review it for the site anyway. The River is a horror “found footage” television series, and let’s not even get into what little sense that makes as a concept.
Awake (NBC) March ?
A police detective wakes from a coma after a car crash and finds himself existing in alternating realities—in one, his wife survived the crash and in the other, his son survived. According to Wikipedia, the show takes on the theoretical notion of quantum immortality.
Feedback time, readers! What shows are you looking forward to in 2012, and more importantly, what do you want to see covered on BAD? We are here to appease you! Well, to a point.