Team TVLine: What Excites Us About 2011!

One of the best things about launching TVLine.com when we did (the site did go live, right?) is that it came on the cusp of much fresh fare hitting the airwaves. This month alone, you’ve got 14 TV series making their debuts, while a slew of returning favorites (Parks and Recreation included) are set to uncork new seasons. And the other 11 months of the year promise to deliver even more TV treats.

With that in mind — and to help you get to know the TVLine staff even better — here are the TV events that have each of us excited for 2011. In Comments, tell us what you are looking forward to!

Parks and Recreation | They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but when NBC put Leslie Knopes and Co. on extended hiatus, my heart only grew… well, pissed! What were they thinking?! Eh, no matter. It’s coming back on January 20, at which point all will be right with the world.

The Killing | I know next to nothing about AMC’s new crime thriller, but based on the network’s near-perfect track record — Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and the late, lamented Rubicon — I’m going to go out on a limb and assume this thing’s gonna be a winner.

Torchwood | The new season has a new Stateside distributor (Starz), a bigger, more international playing field (Capt. Jack hits Rodeo Drive!) and some promising new blood (Mekhi Phifer!). Ready for summertime takeoff!

True Blood | Even if I didn’t know that the fourth season was going to introduce witches into the mix, I probably would’ve made a joke here about how sure I was that I would be spellbound. A joke like that one, in fact.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena | I’ve seen the first episode, and it’s good. Really good. So good that I’m going to say something I thought unthinkable just a few months ago: This franchise is much bigger than any one actor, and that includes even the extraordinary Andy Whitfield. Here’s hoping they find a worthy enough successor that allows the show to go on.

The second seasons of Justified and The Walking Dead | I so enjoy Justified that I’ve been trying to ration the three screeners FX sent my way last month; that has been a torturous process. The wait for The Walking Dead promises to be just as agonizing, if only because it’ll be a 10-month gap ‘tween the shortened first season’s finale and October’s Season 2 opener.

American Idol | I must confess that I “checked out” of America’s most watched TV series last season, and it sounds like I didn’t miss much. (Quick, name who won! And… crickets.) But having glimpsed almost a half hour of Season 10, I’m quite curious to see if Steven Tyler, J.Lo and a better crop of crooners will in fact energize the aging reality juggernaut.

Smallville‘s series finale | We’ve been waiting a super-long time for Clark to meet his destiny. Come late May, we get to see just how the CW series will wrap up its 10-year run. (Ideally, it involves a red cape and a bit of aeronautics.)

HBO’s Luck | The headstrong mix of writer David Milch, director Michael Mann and two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman reads like a recipe for nitroglycerine. That’s why there is no way I am missing a moment of HBO’s (likely) next great drama series, this one delving into the ethically and literally muddy world of horseracing.

Terra Nova | Some may snark about the delays and behind-the-scenes shake-ups sustained by Fox’s upcoming Steven Spielberg-produced time-travel series, which sneak-peeks in May. For them I have one word: dinosaurs!

American Idol‘s 10th season | The greatest pop-cultural phenomenon of the last decade cannot end with the whimper of Lee DeWyze gasping his way through U2’s “Beautiful Day.” So whether or not Season 10’s Simon Cowell-free panel of Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson proves to be ridiculous, sublime, or somewhere in between, is there a reality-TV fan alive who’s not at least a little interested in seeing what TV’s No. 1 series looks like after a massive facelift?

The X Factor | Even if you’re one of those certifiable folks who enjoy a seven-month Idol “off-season” — blasphemy if you ask me! — you can’t deny being a bit curious about Simon Cowell’s U.S. version of Britain’s megahit singing competition. Still, go ahead and pooh-pooh the concept, if you must; we won’t be able to hear you as we crank up the volume on a future crop of hitmakers in four distinct categories (boys, girls, groups, and “over-25s”).

Courteney Cox‘s Emmy Nomination | Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I’m convinced Cox’s hilarious, touching work on Cougar Town‘s terrific second season will finally score her the Emmy nod that eluded her during 10 seasons of Friends (making her the only member of that ensemble to never net such an honor). One more snub and I’m starting a petition for Nancy Grace to take up the cause on behalf of the criminally maligned actress. Justice must be obtained at any cost!

Bravo’s Going Platinum | To use a Simon Cowell-ism, she went from zero to hero between American Idol‘s eighth and ninth seasons. Now, exiting Idol judge Kara DioGuardi is coming to Bravo with a new series that will watch singer-songwriter types duel to the musical death in a series of challenges that we’re hoping will invoke the best aspects of the network’s Top Chef and Project Runway. Hey, when it comes to pop-culture redemption, there are no boundaries.

Doctor Who | It took Matt Smith and Karen Gillan the better part of Who‘s fifth season to get into a groove as the raggedy Doctor and his miniskirt-clad companion. But a thrilling two-part finale buoyed by Alex Kingston’s crazy-sexy-cool River Song left fans of the British sci-fi staple clamoring for more. For its upcoming season, American fans (who often must dodge across-the-pond spoiler carriers) are being rewarded with two episodes set and shot in the USA. Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey awesomeness is sure to ensue.

MEGAN MASTERS, West Coast Editor
Life Unexpected‘s series finale | Of course, I am dreading saying goodbye to this CW series’ fam. Fortunately, showrunner Liz Tigelaar has promised LUX devotees (like, um, me) a satisfying sendoff for Lux and Co., so I’ll be front and center for the final two hours airing Tuesday, January 18 — and with a big ol’ box of Kleenex in tow. Silver lining? Liz just signed a development deal with ABC Studios, so it shouldn’t be long until her wonderful work is back on the small screen.

Parks and Recreation | Proving you shouldn’t mess with Ron Swanson and that manly ‘stache of his, Parks and Rec is (finally!) returning to NBC. Someone get me a big plate of breakfast foods, and I’ll be good to go.

The Return Of Some Friends | Being the Friends fanatic I am, it’s hard to put into words how excited I am about having Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc back on primetime TV. True, Perry’s Mr. Sunshine (ABC, Feb. 9) and LeBlanc’s Episodes (Showtime, Jan. 9) are a far cry from their old laugh track days, but with just a click of the remote — to Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town, of course — I’ll be transported back to Central Perk. And honestly, where else could I want to be?

Big Love | Will Bill find success in the senate? Will the sisterwives live happily ever after? Will society ever accept the now openly polygamist Henricksons?! I love me lotsa Love and won’t miss a second of its fifth and final season.

Shameless | Showtime, you’ve done it again, you saucy little minx! Shameless is yet another example of the quality programming the cabler has produced in recent years. Simply put, it’s a compelling look at a wildly wayward family headed up in theory by William H. Macy’s 24/7 drunkard, but held together in reality by Emmy Rossum, as his plucky daughter.

To learn more about the TVLine staff and what exactly it is we’re setting out to accomplish here, read About Us.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jesse says:

    Wait, did Slezak bail on EW too? Or is he doing both?

  2. Matt Webb Mitovich says:

    Michael Slezak joins TVLine.com later this month, just in time for IDOL goodness!

  3. Katie says:

    Does your name have to start with an “M” to be a part of this website? Darn.
    Glad it’s finally up and running!

    • Tucker says:

      Heck yeah. The tagline should be “MMMM… TVLine!” ;-)

      Great picks on everyone’s part. (Well, Idol aside. But at least it has something fresh to offer this year.)

      Can’t wait for Gods of the Arena, Torchwood: New World and Doctor Who Season 6. The new crop of shows sound excellent as well.

      And, of course, love to Smallville as it closes out its run.

    • aby says:

      If M is the deciding factor then they need to bring Mandy over from EW.com.

  4. Trish says:

    I’m looking forward to Shameless, Justified and MORE COMMUNITY! And reports from TVLine at TCA!

  5. Rolfe says:

    So excited about the final season of Big Love. I just hope the show is a top quality once again. I’m ready for a big year of TV!

  6. amy says:

    I’m looking forward to (1) more “Fringe,” (2) the BBC America show “Outcasts,” (3) more Coach Beiste on “Glee,” (4) “Downton Abbey” on Masterpiece Theater and (5) hearing that Hannah has left “Bones” so I can start watching it again.

  7. Briana says:

    I’m so excited for Doctor Who and Torchwood. I even started counting down until both shows come back. I’m also super excited for Downton Abbey starting Sunday. I do wish that the sniper kills Hannah on Bones so my friend and I can have a party. We hate her.

  8. Katherine says:

    2011 – The return of my fav heroine to Smallville ~ Chloe Sullivan! She saves the world!!

  9. Green says:

    I am looking forward to Parks & Recreation, Damages (new network might shake things up) and Sons of Anarchy. Others worth a mention include reformatted Survivor and I have to admit I will watch the end of Entourage just out of curiosity. Looks to be a huge year!

  10. DarkHawke says:

    What about The Cape?! Premiere’s coming up on Sunday (with an encore on Monday) and it looks like the best superhero show since The Flash! It’s very iconic, mixing all the dark heroes from Zorro to Batman into something that looks like it can stand on its own and cut a fresh yet inviting course. Best of all, it looks like it has real heart to it and in a non-ironic, aware fashion actually does stand for Truth, Justice and the American Way! I’m very psyched about it (have been since I first heard of it!) and I hope y’all will check it out, 9-10pm this Sunday on NBC!

    [No, I didn’t get paid to write that. I’m just REALLY, REALLY PSYCHED about what looks to be a FANTASTIC new superhero show!]

    • emteem says:

      I hope you’re right because I loves me some superheroes, and it sounds like you’ve seen more than I have because all I’ve seen are the commercials during Sunday Night Football and, um, I would be surprised if that show lasted longer than one week.

  11. Joann says:

    Please list me as ANONYMOUS — I’ve seen a trailer for The Killing, Michael and it’s FREAKING AWESOME!!! I cannot wait for this series to begin on AMC!!!

  12. JuliaB. says:

    I’m looking forward to Justified. I’m so jealous you have three screeners from the show.

  13. Scott says:

    Love you guys, love the site. Now, what do we have to do to get a podcast?

  14. emteem says:

    It took Matt Smith about 20 seconds to get into the groove as the Doctor and Karen Gillan not much longer. I’m not sure which Doctor Who you were watching.

  15. Becca says:

    Chuck and Community most definitely!

  16. SnazzyO says:

    Intrigued by Becoming Human. Saw the trailer, it looked FUNNY.

  17. anonymous says:

    Not so anonymous are ya, Joann? hehehe

  18. cpreynolds says:

    So glad to read you all together. I have followed you for years, Ausiello, loved Matt’s writing on TV Guide and Slezak, well, you’re Slezak. Wish Annie Barrett could eventually join you. Glad to know things are going well for you and keep up the scoop!

  19. toast says:

    I’m definitely looking forward to more of:

    The Walking Dead
    Smallville Series Finale
    The Office
    and my favorite show that I fear will be canceled: Community.

  20. Jem says:

    Slezak, does your being here mean no more Idolatry videos with the rest…?!?!? Nooooooo!!!!

  21. melodious says:

    Not a single mention of the series finale of FNL? Really?

  22. Trista says:

    I’m looking forward to a site that gives me great spoilers!!!


    Smallville – the whole second half of the season.
    Chuck – baby Awesome and hopefully a proposal from Chuck
    Greys – more Mer Der
    One Tree Hill – hoping finally Brooke will get her happy ending
    and the return of my summer faves inlcuding The Glades, Rizzoli and Isles, Covert Affairs and the Closer.

  23. Jen says:

    I’m looking forward to the new season of Doctor Who. Matt Smith makes a great Doctor, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

    Also, I’m happy Smallville, AKA the Worst Show on TV, is finally going to end. It will be all over soon, and certain people who deserve to be unemployed will be. That makes me happy.

  24. Rita says:

    Yes I found Michael Slezak. I was reading ew. com the other day and found him to be in absentia and than a friend of mine told me where he will be from now on..YESSSSS!

  25. madeleine says:

    Breaking Bad!! Best show on tv absolutely!

  26. luli says:

    Happy four years!!!