TV Premieres for January 2014: Part 2

January is a big month for returning TV shows, especially on cable. Shows premiering through January 12 can be found here. Here are some of the premiere dates for shows returning during the rest of the month.

Archer Season 5 Premiere (Monday, January 13 on FX)

This blog might not exist if it weren’t for Archer. It was the trigger for the first conversation Sam and I had about our mutual pop culture obsessions. You shouldn’t just watch Archer because of that, though. You should watch Archer for horrible people being hilariously ineffectual spies that manage to stumble into success every once in awhile.

Being Human (US) Season 4 Premiere (Monday, January 13 on SyFy)
This US adaptation of a BBC Three sci-fi show started out similar to the original premise. About the only differences were the characters’ names and its Boston setting. The characters have taken their own paths, though, as has the show’s mythology. While I’d prefer for more original concepts to be developed, I’m so glad that this version of Being Human has been allowed to take its own path and leave me guessing where it will go next.
The Fosters Season 1B Premiere (Monday, January 13 on ABC Family)
I went into this show cautiously when it premiered this past summer. On paper, it had quite a few things going for it. A diverse cast, a look at foster care and adoption, a same-sex couple as parents and main characters. Also, ABC Family has had a pretty good track record these past few years. The main thing that put me off was Jennifer Lopez as producer. Did that mean anything? What kind of influence did she have over the show? It could be that her production company was only used for funding and for the name recognition to get the show on the air. Whatever Lopez’s influence was, I encourage her to keep up exactly that level of involvement.
Every main character on The Fosters feels heart-breakingly real. It feels like an actual lesbian couple is being portrayed, not just a same-sex couple in name only (coughMitchandCamonModernFamilycough).  The kids often support one another as siblings but that support has to be earned. It’s not a Brady Bunch-style instafamily. There isn’t that sheen of “We have problems but not really and we’ll easily be able to gloss over whatever issue we had by the end of the episode” that you might expect from a show on a network with Family in its name. I highly recommend The Fosters.
Switched at Birth Season 3 Premiere (Monday, January 13 on ABC Family)

This is the show that gave me hope for The Fosters. It’s also a show on ABC Family with a diverse cast and well-developed characters in an unusual family situation . A white, well-off family finds out that their daughter was switched at birth (you’re surprised, I know). Her real parents are Puerto Rican and Italian. The girl she was switched with had meningitis when she was very young that left her deaf and she lives in a lower-class neighborhood with the women that she knows as her mother and grandmother. The premise created the opportunity to bring in characters from different backgrounds and tell stories that aren’t often told on television. The show has not squandered this opportunity.

Kroll Show Season 2 Premiere (Tuesday, January 14 on Comedy Central)

Kroll Show stars Nick Kroll (The LeagueParks and Recreation) in a variety of sketches with other performers. Each episode usually has some internal continuity that ties together most of the sketches featured within the episode. My favorite recurring sketch is PubLIZity in which Kroll and Jenny Slate (Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, Saturday Night Live) play two publicists named Liz and is a satire of the type of reality show that often airs on Bravo or E!

Suburgatory Season 3 Premiere (Wednesday, January 15 on ABC)

Suburgatory is a show constantly in search of itself. Like many comedies, the writers started to play to the performers’ strengths and the chemistry that developed between its characters. This created a problem because they didn’t seem to know what to do with other characters that didn’t develop as naturally. This has led me to saying something I thought that I would never say: I am glad that Suburgatory has cut Alan Tudyk (FireflyDollhouse) for the upcoming season. It may have been for budgetary reason but this cut shows that the producers and writers are finally starting to consider what does and does not work. Tudyk’s character has long outlived his usefulness and he just takes up more screentime that can be used by the delightful Dalia, played by Carly Chaikin (The Last SongIn a World. . .), and the entire Shay family.

Call the Midwife Series 3 Premiere (Sunday, January 19 on BBC One in the UK and Premiere Date Unknown on PBS in the US)

Many people will site Chummy, played by Miranda Hart (Miranda) as their favorite character but I truly do love this show for the continued excellence shown by Jessica Rayne (An Adventure in Space and TimeDoctor Who). She emanates compassion in the role of nurse midwife in post-war London. A special aired on Christmas Day in the UK and I would guess that it will air on PBS as the premiere of series 3. Christmas nowhere near the month of December!

Top Gear Series 21 Premiere (Sunday, January 26 on BBC Two in the UK and Premiere Date Unknown on BBC America in the US)

The car show that even people who know next to nothing about cars love. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, and The Stig return yet again for another series of car news, ridiculous races, humiliating challenges from the producers, and some Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car. Top Gear episodes have been airing eight days after they air in the UK for awhile now so I would predict that the US premiere will be on Monday, February 3.

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