January is typically a dumping ground for less-than-stellar movies, but over on the small screen, there’s a glimmer of hope as networks roll out their mid-season replacements. Stay home, save yourself ten bucks and a trip to the theater and check out the 10 TV premieres we’re looking forward to instead. We promise none of them involve Snooki.
The Artist Toolbox
American Public Television, 1/7 (check local listings)_
For this new APT series, host John Jacobsen sits down with artists of all types — including actors, musicians, writers, fashion designers, architects and chefs — to ask them about their creative processes. Each half-hour show is dedicated to one guest, and John Legend, Jason Alexander and Ramsey Lewis are among those slated to appear this season.
FOX, 1/9 at 8:30/7:30c
H. Jon Benjamin (Home Movies, Dr. Katz) is no stranger to animated comedies, so it should be a given that he’s right in his wheelhouse as Bob, a family man and owner of a struggling burger joint. He’s joined by some other seriously funny folks: Kristen Schaal and Eugene Mirman voice his kids, Louise and Gene.
Showtime, 1/9 at 9:30/8:30c
Matt LeBlanc stars as a fictional version of himself in this fish-out-of-water comedy. Desperate to make his triumphant return to TV, he joins an American adaptation of an acclaimed British series, and hilarity ensues. Try not to smirk as you watch him endure fans’ choruses of “how YOU doin’?” and impress the Brits with his (ahem) assets.
Showtime, 1/9 at 10/9c
Speaking of American adaptations of British series, Shameless (based on the UK show of the same name) is a dramedy that follows alcoholic Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) and his six kids as they struggle to make ends meet in Chicago. Emmy Rossum stars as Fiona, the eldest daughter who acts as the family’s surrogate mom.
FX, 1/11 at 10/9c
As the promo for this FX drama puts it, “This country loves a comeback.” Years past his prime, protagonist Patrick “Lights Out” Leary becomes hired muscle, beating up guys with unpaid gambling debts to support his family. When he’s diagnosed with pugilistic dementia after one too many blows to the head, he decides to reclaim boxing glory before it’s too late. Sounds like a knockout.
The Ricky Gervais Show
HBO, 1/14 at 9/8c
Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington are back for a second season of their animated show. As usual, Gervais will use his biting wit to poke fun at poor ol’ Karl, but if that’s not enough for you, he’ll be tearing into Hollywood’s elite as host of the Golden Globes this year (which air Jan. 16 on NBC) as well.
MTV, 1/17 at 10/9c
Remaking British shows seems to be what all the cool kids are doing these days, but no American adaptation has been as controversial as the new version of the popular, gritty teen drama Skins. Loyal fans across the pond are bemoaning the liberties taken with the story, while Yank parents are concerned with the show’s frank depiction of teenage drug use, sex, violence and general debauchery. Love it or hate it, it’s sure to be unlike any youth drama American audiences have ever seen.
Parks & Recreation
NBC, 1/20 at 9:30/8:30c
As Nick Purdy wrote when we declared Parks & Recreation one of the 20 Best TV Shows of 2010, “The half-hour each week I devote to Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope, Nick Offerman’s uproarious Ron Swanson and the rest of the city officials in Pawnee, Ind., is tops for pure relaxation and sitcom bliss.” Now, after a far-too-long break, the gang’s all back, and they’ll be joined by Rob Lowe full-time this season. Finally!
The Onion News Network
IFC, 1/21 at 10/9c
The Onion makes the logical step from fake print stories to fake broadcast journalism, making cable news the object of their satire. They boast “an army of reporters bred to lack human empathy or compassion,” so you better not mess with them.
IFC, 1/21 at 10:30/9:30c
Fred Armisen? Carrie Brownstein? Sketch comedy about how “Portland is where young people go to retire”? Count us in.