What's New on TV? Your Guide to The Following, Cult, The Americans and 15 Other Shows
1600 PENN, NBC
PREMIERE DATE | Thursday, Jan. 10 at 9:30/8:30c (time slot premiere; a sneak preview aired Dec. 17)
WHO | Bill Pullman (Independence Day), Jenna Elfman (Dharma & Greg), Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon), Martha MacIsaac (Greek), Amara Miller (The Descendants), Andre Holland (Friends With Benefits)
WHAT | A dysfunctional family comedy where the goofball oldest son (played by Gad) returns home — to the White House — and becomes not only the First Family’s biggest liability but also the glue holding everyone together. (WATCH PILOT EPISODE)
TVLINE’S FIRST IMPRESSION | A little Gad goes a long way, and there’s gobs of him here. Though I happen to like his shtick, you can almost sense the fictional characters’ patience growing thin as his manic riffs protract the narrative. Elfman is much bubbly fun, and MacIsaac is a treat as the almost-perfect eldest daughter. It’s sorta like Modern Family meets Scandal — if there wasn’t a decent fixer within 1,000 miles.
THE AMERICANS, FX
PREMIERE DATE | Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 10/9c
WHO | Keri Russell (Felicity), Matthew Rhys (Brothers & Sisters) and Noah Emmerich (White Collar)
WHAT | Russell and Rhys star as KGB spies posing as married Americans in suburban Washington D.C. circa 1980. Emmerich is their FBI agent neighbor whose beat is tracking foreign agents on U.S. soil. Well that's an unfortunate coinky-dink. (WATCH TRAILER)
PREMIERE DATE | Friday, Jan. 11 at 10/9c
WHO | Antony Starr (Rush), Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale), Rus Blackwell (Magic City), Frankie Faison (The Wire), Ben Cross (Dark Shadows) and Ulrich Thomsen
WHAT | From Greg Yaitanes (House) and Alan Ball (True Blood), Banshee stars Starr as Lucas Hood, an ex-con who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, Pennsylvania, where he continues his illicit activities – all while evading the crime boss (Cross) he betrayed years earlier. Milicevic plays a fellow thief-in-hiding, Blackwell her oblivious husband. (WATCH TRAILER)
BOSTON’S FINEST, TNT
PREMIERE DATE | Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 9/8c (leading into Southland)
WHAT | From executive producer Donnie Wahlberg, this unscripted series promises “unprecedented access” as it follows the men and women of the Boston Police Department, encompassing multiple units including the highly decorated Gang Unit.
THE CARRIE DIARIES, The CW
PREMIERE DATE | Monday, Jan. 14 at 8/7c (leading into 90210, which moves to 9 pm on Jan. 21)
WHO | AnnaSophia Robb (Soul Surfer), Matt Letscher (Eli Stone), Austin Butler (Life Unexpected), Chloe Bridges (90210) and others
WHAT | This Sex and the City “prequel” series, based on the Candace Bushnell novel, chronicles Carrie Bradshaw's coming of age in the 1980s when she asks her first questions about love, sex, friendship and family while exploring the worlds of high school and Manhattan. (WATCH TRAILER)
TVLINE FIRST IMPRESSION | The pilot starts out slow but ultimately draws you in, in part due to a breakout performance by Robb in the lead role. The retro atmsophere is present but never overtly conspicuous. The biggest leap asks you to follow teenage Carrie’s insta-acceptance into NYC’s trendiest, hard-partying social circles. OK….
U.S PREMIERE DATE | Monday, Jan. 14 at 8/7c (leading into Season 3 of Being Human)
WHO | Rachel Nichols (Alias), Victor Webster (Castle) and Erik Knudsen (Jericho)
WHAT | Nichols plays Kiera Cameron, a Protector (aka law enforcement officer) from the year 2077 who accidentally accompanies a band of criminals as they travel back in time to production-cost-efficient 2012 Vancouver. Webster’s the local lawman Kiera perplexes, Knudsen a young tech whiz who helps her, unaware of his ultimate fate. (WATCH TRAILER)
TVLINE FIRST IMPRESSION | Nichols impresses as a formidable lawman who, on occasion, must pause to lament the family she left behind in 2077. Though the particulars of the time jump scream, “Hey, we’re operating on a Canadian budget here,” Kiera has some cool toys packed into her sleek, hi-tech space blouse, while the requisite nerdy time paradox issues are dealt with deftly.
CULT, The CW
PREMIERE DATE | Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 9/8c
WHO | Matt Davis (The Vampire Diaries), Jessica Lucas (Melrose Place), Alona Tal (Supernatural), Robert Knepper (Prison Break)
WHAT | A disgraced reporter (Davis) investigates the unusually rabid fan base of a TV program about a cult leader (Knepper). Joining the journo in his quest for the truth is a production assistant (Lucas) on the aforementioned Cult series-within-a-series. (WATCH TRAILER)
TVLINE FIRST IMPRESSION | Summarizing the show thusly — “The CW’s Cult is about the literal cult following of a CW series called Cult” — illustrates the Mobius strip-like problem the pilot, at least, is plagued by. Frequent toggling between the mystery-solving aspect, cutaways to the show-within-a-show (complete with a CW bug) and peeks behind-the-scenes at the production doesn’t help the bipolar narrative. And… my head just hurt again. (If you’re tuning in for Knepper, as I was, there’s little of him in the pilot, and almost always in character-within-a-character. Or is he? Ouch, again.)
PREMIERE DATE | Monday, Jan. 7 at 10/9c
WHO | Meagan Good (Californication), Victor Garber (Alias), Wes Brown (Private Practice), Tate Donovan (Damages), Katherine LaNasa (Big Love), Laz Alonso (Breakout Kings) and Ella Rae Peck (Gossip Girl)
WHAT | Detective Joanna Locasto (played by Good) returns undercover to the wealthy family she grew up with (as the maid's daughter), to solve the murder of an heiress who was once her closest friend. Alonso plays Joanna’s boss, Garber the patriarch of the dead girl’s family. (WATCH TRAILER)
WHO | Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me), Alana de la Garza (Law & Order), Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show), Mousa Kraish (Parenthood)
WHAT | Dr. Jason Cole (say it aloud: “Doctor J-Cole”), is a brilliant surgeon who struggles to contain “Ian,” a dangerous alter ego who threatens to wreak havoc on the good doc’s personal and professional lives. Rashad plays Cole’s boss, de la Garza a colleague/romantic interest, and Kraish a lab whiz who helps him “hyde” his secret. (WATCH TRAILER)
TVLINE FIRST IMPRESSION | If you were among the 17 people who watched Christian Slater’s My Own Worst Enemy and can get past its similar devices (e.g. Jason and Ian update/taunt one another via iPhone videos), there’s fun to be had in taking a leap with this unarguably guilty pleasure. I just wish the show was shot with some — meaning any — flair to match its far-out theme, instead of being presented as a straight drama.
FAMILY TOOLS, ABC
PREMIERE DATE | Wednesday, May 1 at 8:30/7:30c
WHO | JK Simmons (The Closer), Kyle Bornheimer (Perfect Couples), Leah Remini (King of Queens), Danielle Nicolet (The Starter Wife), Edi Gathegi (House), Jonny Pemberton (Aim High)
WHAT | Based on the UK’s White Van Man, this single-camera comedy follows a blue collar guy (Bornheimer) who puts his dreams on hold in order to take over the family handyman business from his dad (Simmons). Remini plays Simmons’ younger sister, Pemberton her son. (WATCH TRAILER)
THE FOLLOWING, Fox
PREMIERE DATE | Monday, Jan. 21 at 9/8c
WHO | Kevin Bacon (Mystic River), James Purefoy (Rome), Shawn Ashmore (X-Men), Natalie Zea (Justified), Annie Parisse (Law & Order) and others
WHAT | Elite FBI profiler Ryan Hardy (Bacon) is pulled out of “retirement” to once again capture Joe Carroll (Purefoy), a professor of literature-turned-serial slayer who has created a cult of murderers via the wonders of technology. Zea plays Carroll’s ex-wife/Hardy’s onetime lover, Parisse and Ashmore are FBI agents. (WATCH TRAILER)
TVLINE FIRST IMPRESSION | This is stuff as dark and chilling as it is compelling and thrilling, with Carroll’s “friends” oft opting for graphic kills. Bacon serves up a complex character in his series regular debut, while Purefoy, thanks to flashbacks, is afforded the chance to show the duality of a deceptive cretin. Among the supporting cast, Valorie Curry (Veronica Mars) makes quite an impression.
GOLDEN BOY, CBS
PREMIERE DATE | Special Tuesday previews on Feb. 26 and March 5, at 10/9c; regular time slot premiere is Friday, March 8 at 9/8c.
WHO | Theo James (Downton Abbey), Kevin Alejandro (True Blood), Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies), Holt McCallany (Lights Out), Bonnie Somerville (Cashmere Mafia) and Stella Maeve (The Runaways)
WHAT | James stars as Walter William Clark, Jr., the youngest police commissioner in NYPD history, who via flashback reflects on his rise up the ranks. McBride plays the veteran, mentor-like homicide detective Clark is first partnered with, while Alejandro is the department “hot shot” more than happy to take the new kid down a peg or 10.
TVLINE FIRST IMPRESSION | Yep, it’s “How I Met the Job of Police Commissioner,” as Future Clark relates stories to reporters, colleagues and the like. It’s certainly a fresh take on the well-trod procedural formula, especially since Clark makes few friends — and not at all fast — upon leap-frogging into a plum homicide beat. Even McBride’s rumpled, even-keeled cop finds his patience tested by this “golden boy” — though Clark may serve as a spark to light a fire under the complacent vet. Outside of the unique framing device, however, what we have here is crimesolving and interdepartmental politics you by and large have seen before.
HOW TO LIVE WITH YOUR PARENTS (FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE), ABC
PREMIERE DATE | Wednesday, April 3 at 9:30/8:30c
WHO | Sarah Chalke (Scrubs), Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds)
WHAT | A single-cam comedy about a recently divorced single mom (Chalke) who moves back in with her eccentric, no-boundaries parents, Elaine and cancer survivor Max. (WATCH TRAILER)
PREMIERE DATE | Thursday, Jan. 17 at 10:30/9:30c (leading out of Archer Season 4)
WHO | Aussie comedian Jim Jeffries, D.J. Qualls (Road Trip) and Dan Bakkedahl (Community)
WHAT | A foul-mouthed comedian from Australia (Jefferies) transplants himself in Los Angeles, where he makes misguided attempts to become “legitimate” in life. He is encouraged in his quest by his best friend Steve (Bakkedahl) and Steve’s brother Billy (D.J. Qualls). (WATCH PROMO)
MONDAY MORNINGS, TNT
PREMIERE DATE | Monday, Feb. 4 at 10/9c
WHO | Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica), Jennifer Finnigan (Close to Home), Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction), Alfred Molina (Frida), others
WHAT | From David E. Kelley and neurosurgeon/CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, M.D. (on whose book the series is based), this drama dwells on doctors’ lapses in judgement as much as their crowd-pleasing successes. Molina, keeping his accent, plays the chief of staff who, in Monday morning M&M (morbidity and mortality) debriefings, grills his staff on their shortcomings. (WATCH TRAILER)
TVLINE FIRST IMPRESSION | This is about as straight and thus intense a medical drama as TV has seen in recent years, with only the faintest dollop of suds and almost none of Kelley’s conspicuously idiosyncratic characterizations. As such, the drama is high — and with excellent casting of child patients in the first two episodes, so are [sniffle] the emotions. Rhames aka big bad Marcellus Wallace is magnetic as a touchy-feely trauma boss, but an Asian doc whose calling cards are his broken English and brusque manner (explaining the need for surgery, he tells a patient, “Not do? Dead”) could and should irk somebody.
RED WIDOW, ABC
PREMIERE DATE | Sunday, March 3 at 9/8c (two hours); regular time slot premiere is March 10 at 10 pm
WHO | Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill), Goran Visnjic (ER), Lee Tergesen (Oz), Clifton Collins, Jr. (The Event), Jaime Ray Newman (CSI: NY and others
WHAT | This adaptation of the Dutch series Penoza stars Mitchell as a widow forced to adopt her husband's role in a crime syndicate in order to protect her family from international drug lord Nicholae Schiller (Visnjic). (WATCH TRAILER)
TVLINE FIRST IMPRESSION | The pilot… unspools… quite… slow… ly, but by the very end it hints at some promise — due in large part to Mitchell’s steely demeanor amid a sprawling cast perhaps best summed up as “eclectic.” (Truly, I’ll need to see the second hour to get a feel for the actual series.)
RIPPER STREET, BBC America
PREMIERE DATE | Saturday, Jan. 19 at 9/8c
WHO | Matthew Macfadyen (MI-5), Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones), Adam Rothenberg (Alcatraz), Myanna Buring (The Twilight Saga) and David Dawson (Luther)
WHAT | Set in and around Whitechapel in 1889 — during the aftermath of the Jack the Ripper murders – this Dramaville crime series centers on the notorious H Division, which was charged with keeping order in the all-consuming chaotic East London streets. (WATCH TRAILER)
ZERO HOUR, ABC
PREMIERE DATE | Thursday, Feb. 14 at 8/7c
WHO | Anthony Edwards (ER), Michael Nyqvist (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Scott Michael Foster (Greek), Carmen Ejogo (Kidnapped) and Jacinda Barrett (Suits)
WHAT | A thriller about a magazine editor (Edwards) who becomes involved in one the most compelling conspiracies in human history when his wife (Barrett) is kidnapped. (WATCH TRAILER)
TVLINE FIRST IMPRESSION | Equal parts The Boys from Brazil, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Da Vinci Code, this conspiracy thriller weaves in everything but the kitchen sink –and I suspect the sink may even show up by Episode 4. There’s a byzantine and maybe even fun mystery afoot here, but leaving it to a mild-mannered magazine editor (Edwards) and his two demo-friendly staffers to solve is a bit much.