With another New Year comes another television midseason, offering a host of new shows hoping to find a permanent place on the schedule. While most midseason series will never see the autumn, hidden gems can be found. For instance, when NBC aired the first six episodes of their American adaptation of The Office as a midseason replacement in March of 2005, there was no way of predicting that it would become the Peacock network's flagship comedy and the top-rated anchor of the Thursday night lineup for years to come. Will any of this year's midseason shows enjoy a similar fate? Only time will tell.
In the first installment of your TV Rage Midseason Guide, we'll take a look at the best of what the cable networks have in store for us this winter. Oh yeah, and The CW, too.
- Legit – Thursday, January 17, 10:30 PM. A starring vehicle for Australian comedian Jim Jefferies, Legit follows a foul-mouthed Aussie standup as he attempts to acclimate himself to Los Angeles after arriving from the land down under. Along the way, he makes misguided attempts to become legitimate in life and finds encouragement from his best friend Steve (Dan Bakkedahl) and Steve's brother Billy, played by DJ Qualls. If cringe-inducing awkward comedy is your thing, this show might be what you're looking for. I think it's safe to say there will be a joke or two about his penis.
- The Americans – Wednesday, January 30, 10:00 PM. Set at the height of Cold War paranoia circa 1980, Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Phillip (Matthew Rhys) are Russian KGB spies posing as a married American couple in suburban Washington, DC. Complicating their arranged marriage is Phillip's growing sense of affinity for America's values and way of life, as well as the arrival of a new neighbor who just happens to be an FBI agent working in counterintelligence, played by Noah Emmerich. Uh oh! Despite that far-fetched coincidence – or is it? – the concept is unique and FX has earned the benefit of the doubt.
- Banshee – Friday, January 11, 10:00 PM. From executive producer Alan Ball, creator of acclaimed HBO series Six Feet Under and True Blood, Banshee is a product of Cinemax's ongoing efforts to present original programming, although it was originally developed at HBO. Pitched as Walking Tall meets A History of Violence, the series will focus on Lucas Hood, an ex-convict and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, Pennsylvania, after he is murdered. He continues his criminal activities, even as he's being hunted by the shadowy gangsters he betrayed years earlier. The premise is solid and the cast is largely unknown to American audiences, so it's hard to get a read on this one, but it should be worth a look.
- Monday Mornings – Monday, February 4, 10:00 PM. Co-created by uberproducer David E. Kelley and CNN's resident neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Monday Mornings is a medical drama based on a book by the good doctor and promises to dwell on the personal and professional failings of doctors at a fictional Portland hospital. Keeping his natural accent, Alfred Molina will play the chief of staff who questions his charges about their lapses in judgment during Monday morning morbidity and mortality meetings. Pulp Fiction's Ving Rhames also stars as a top trauma surgeon, along with Jamie Bamber of Battlestar Galactica and Jennifer Finnigan, formerly of CBS's Close to Home. The last thing I want on television is another medical drama, but this one is thankfully light on the soapy aspects and heavy on the drama.
- Boston's Finest – Wednesday, February 27, 9:00 PM. Serving as a lead-in to TNT's acclaimed police drama Southland, Boston's Finest is an unscripted series from executive producer Donnie Wahlberg that offers a candid look at the inner workings of the Boston Police Department's exclusive and highly decorated Gang Unit. I've always been a fan of Cops and I'll watch A&E's The First 48 from time to time, so this could be interesting as long as it doesn't veer too far into reality TV territory.
- Continuum – Monday, January 14, 8:00 PM. Rachel Nichols of ABC's Alias stars in this sci-fi time travel tale as Kiera Cameron, a City Protective Services officer from the year 2077 who ends up in 2012 when a group of fanatical terrorists escape their planned execution and accidentally take her with them. Trapped in the distant past, she infiltrates the local police department and allies with Detective Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster) and teenage tech genius Alex Sadler (Eric Knudsen) in an effort to track down the criminals before they can change the course of history. If you can get past the usual SyFy production values, this looks like a perfectly serviceable action drama.
- Ripper Street – Saturday, January 19, 9:00 PM. Set in and around the bloodstained streets of 1889 Whitechapel, Ripper Street is an eight-part crime series dealing with the aftermath of the infamous Jack the Ripper murders. Presented as part of BBC America's Dramaville, the programme will chronicle the activities of the notorious H Division, which is responsible for keeping order in the chaotic east end of London, England. Populated by a variety of fine British actors (including Jerome Flynn of HBO's Game of Thrones) and adorned with top-notch set design, Ripper Street looks like must-see TV for fans of historical crime drama.
- The Carrie Diaries – Monday, January 14, 8:00 PM. Based on the Candace Bushnell novel, this Sex and the City prequel series chronicles Carrie Bradshaw's coming of age as a teenager in the mid-1980s, discovering love, sex, and Manhattan. The retro atmosphere may be a big draw for the show, as will the obvious popularity of the HBO series that inspired it, and AnnaSophia Robb is poised to knock it out of the park as the title character in a breakout performance. While I have not seen the show, the trailer seems to indicate that teenage Carrie is instantly accepted into New York City's trendy social circles, which is a bit hard to swallow. Nevertheless, I expect this to be one of the most popular new midseason shows. Well, as popular as a show on The CW can be, anyway.
- Cult – Tuesday, February 19, 9:00 PM. Cult is one of the more complex and schizophrenic offerings this midseason: a show about the underground cult following of a CW series called Cult, as a disgraced reporter investigates the dedicated fan base of this fictional television show about a cult leader, played by Prison Break's Robert Knepper, after the disappearance of his brother. Confused yet? According to those who have seen the pilot, the show frequently switches between the mystery-solving aspect, the show-within-a-show conceit, and a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the fictional show. Since this is on the CW, I'm not expecting much. At least it's an original idea, so I might give it a shot.
Do any of these shows strike your fancy? Be sure to check back tomorrow to see what the big four broadcast networks have on tap for midseason!
Yes, I found out after writing this article that the first season of Continuum has already aired in the UK and in Canada. It's funny because I'm Canadian, and now that the connection has been made, I remember seeing a few commercials for this series. I had no idea what it was about. The first season will be premiering in the US on SyFy, though.
Thanks for the kind words, Anonypuss. I hope the guide comes in handy and you enjoy the second part, which will be posted in a couple of hours. Thanks for being our number one fan!
Message Posted On Jan 1st, 2013, 2:10 pm
I got the sense that the (American-y?) author was referring to season one of Continuum, AC. But, irrespectively, I believe that this Canadian-produced show -which depicts an alternating future 2080 with a present 2012 Vancouver as its focal point- was the most highly rated show in Canada during (real) 2012. And that this automatically secured it with a second season (a while ago: Showcase announced this in August - its creator says Canadian broadcast of season two will be Spring 2013). *** And on that vein, for those, like myself, who are not bound by geography, the pilot for Ripper Street' is out as of two days ago - I intend to watch it tomorrow or the next day. *** Anyway: Thanks for the great piece, Joel. It's articles like these that, to me at least, really prove TVrage's usefulness as the primary guide-to-tv (f*ck tv-guide). And, I, for one, will be bookmarking this page (and Pt. 2, undoubtedly) as future reference for this mid-season. Certainly, some interesting shows (Triumph the insult comic dog voice: 'for NBC to cancel!') to check out... *** So, keep up the great work, and looking forward to Part Two!
Message Posted On Jan 1st, 2013, 7:04 am
really enjoyed the first season of Continuum, didn't realise it had been picked up for a second, ripper street looks pretty good so far from the first episode, beyond that Cult sounds like it might be interesting.