Happy New (TV) Year!
In case you missed the memo, some (all?) of the 2011-12 TV season's best new series have been held till midseason this year. So what does that mean for you? First, that the season so far has kinda been a big ol' ball of bummer, right? But more importantly, some seriously kicka-- premieres are coming your way, and pronto.
Time to cue up that DVR! Here are our picks for the seven most promising new TV series in 2012 worth getting all warm and tingly about...
'Smash' (NBC, Feb. 6)Dear anyone who has heard this is "NBC's version of 'Glee,' " please grab a Brillo pad, some bleach, and scrub out your brain. (TODAY.com is powered by msnbc.com, which is a joint venture between Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
"Smash" could not be further away in tone, style and concept than that other musical series over on Fox — and in this case, that is a very good thing, because "Smash" feels like its own fantastically unique entity. Starring Debra Messing and Katharine McPhee, and coming from creator and executive producer Steven Spielberg (heard of him?), "Smash" centers around a group of people trying to put together a Broadway musical based on Marilyn Monroe.
Katharine (she's now Katharine, not Kat, "Idol" fans) is surprisingly perfect as the show's leading lady, a young, struggling actress on the verge of her first big break. McPhee's voice is incredible (just wait for episode two). She immediately draws you in and makes you wanna watch every single episode of this infectious series. Fingers crossed, "Smash" could be the breakout hit NBC has been waiting all season long for. And like McPhee's character, you just can't help but root for it. Join us in our standing O, won't you?
'Awake' (NBC, March)Welcome to what is without a doubt the smartest concept of the entire 2011-12 TV season. Jason Isaacs plays a cop who loses a loved one in a tragic car accident — the thing is, though, he doesn't know whether it is his son or his wife who has died.
Isaac's character Michael shifts between two realities (one presumably a dream): In one, his wife is alive. In the other, his son is alive. He wears two different-colored bands on his wrist to track which reality he is living in. He's also a police detective whose cases tend to bleed between worlds in mysterious ways.
OK, so we've probably lost you by now because the explanation of this series is far more complicated than it actually is, and that is thanks to the brilliant, deeply layered exposition of the pilot episode. So bottom line: Just watch this show. "Awake" might just be my favorite new drama in a very long time, if it holds up to the promise of its pilot. Love, love, love.
'Touch' (Fox, March 19)This is Kiefer Sutherland like you've never seen him before: playing a guy whose wife was killed by terrorists and now he's out to save the world. Oh wait, sorry, that also happened on "24," right? Well, regardless, adios Jack Bauer! Because this time, Kiefer is playing a former journalist and luggage handler whose autistic and mute son (anyone else wish Jack's daughter was mute? Ahem, sorry) has the ability to see the future. An ordinary boy with extraordinary abilities? Sounds like a job for "Heroes" creator Tim Kring, right? And guess what? It is! "Touch" was written and created by Kring himself, and we can tell you that the pilot does not disappoint. Danny Glover is also on board, playing an expert on children who possess special gifts. Of course, all that said, we probably had you at Kiefer is back on TV, right?
'Angry Boys' (HBO, Jan. 1)Chris Lilley — Australia's answer to Sacha Baron Cohen — returns to U.S. TV with another hilarious mockumentary. If you missed his ingenious "Summer Heights High," there's a gaping hole in your life that you should fill immediately.
Like "SHH," the crafty chameleon plays six wildly different characters in "Angry Boys," including a domineering Japanese mother, a surfing champ (who's a few nuts shy of a complete package) and black American rapper S.mouse. His hip-hop hits "Slap My Elbow" and "Three-Legged Dog" might not be as catchy as Mr. G's "Naughty Girl," but we're still in E-E-E-E Ecstasy about the "Boys' " American premiere.
'House of Lies' (Showtime, Jan. 8)With the likes of Kristen Bell, Don Cheadle, Richard Schiff and Ben Schwartz ("Parks and Recreation's" Jean Ralphio, yo!) on board, you longtime TV fans are probably already in, right? Well, the good news is we've seen a handful of "House of Lies" episodes and can tell you it's devious, dark and chuckle-worthy, and precisely what we'd hoped for from this power cast. The second episode even hosts a ridiculously funny exchange with Cat Deeley (guest starring as herself) in an airport lounge that you "So You Think You Can Dance" fans will never forget. This series, about a group of management consultants who are anything but ethical (and yet somehow remain likable), could be a new comedy favorite. Not to mention, it's the return of Veronica Freaking Mars, y'all! What more do you want?
'Alcatraz' (Fox, Jan. 16)Hey, lookie here! J.J. Abrams. Jorge Garcia. A mysterious island. And wait a minute, even a little inexplicable time travel! OK, so at first sight, "Alcatraz" shares a few similiarities with that other J.J. Abrams island series, but you will quickly see this is an entirely different animal.
In this suspense-filled drama series, hundreds of the country's worst criminals (all the inmates and guards at Alcatraz) suddenly disappear one night in 1963 and begin reappearing in modern day. Who took them? Why? And why are they returning now? Jorge Garcia and SFPD detective Sarah Jones are on the case. And while we're pretty sure the questions will just keep coming (see: J.J. Abrams), we've heard very promising things about later episodes in the first season, once this show really finds its groove. And we're already hooked enough to go along for the ride.
'GCB' (ABC, March 4) "Pushing Daisies" fans who've missed the hilarity that is Kristin Chenoweth at her TV-comedy finest can prepare to do the happy Snoopy dance. 'Cause Chenoweth is perhaps funnier than ever in this new big-as-Texas-sized series, about a Lone Star State native (Leslie Bibb) who moves back home after her husband unexpectedly passes away.
Chenoweth heads up a group of catty, Scripture-quoting Christian ladies, who treat gossiping like a career and church like a sorority. The first episode drags a bit, but we've heard good things about the episodes ahead, and Chenoweth's Southern sassiness is not to be missed. For the record, though, ABC, the original title "Good Christian B------" was way more win!
— Additional reporting by Drusilla Moorhouse
Check out all the video trailers above, then hit the comments on the Facebook page for our TV blog, The Clicker, to let us know which series you are most excited about. Admit it. You're a little bit tingly, right?