Tube Talk: New year, new shows

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

Now that the holidays are over, and the post-Christmas crud I’ve been battling (aka the never-ending cold) is finally showing signs of abating, it must be time for a new slate of TV shows to debut.

Included in the onslaught are new seasons of returning series like HBO’s Big Love (Jan. 16) and NBC’s Parks and Recreation (Jan. 20), but the real focus clearly is on brand-new shows premiering in coming weeks. Which ones will succeed? Which will be the first to be canceled? Time will tell. For now, here are a few new shows you might want to check out while you can:

The Cape, debuted Jan. 9 on NBC—Fanboys rejoice: A well-produced superhero series able to poke fun at the genre without sacrificing quality.

Lights Out, debuted Jan. 11 on FX—A different kind of boxing drama that’s already getting great buzz for realistic fight scenes and for its portrayal of a former heavyweight boxing champ dealing with real-life problems, debt and living in the suburbs.

Off The Map, Jan. 12 on ABC—The latest series from Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes sets a beautiful cast of beautiful, dedicated doctors in a beautiful setting (Hawaii stands in for a remote South American jungle.) There are a lot of characters with complicated backstories to introduce—played by Friday Night Light’s Zach Gilford, Wonderfall’s Caroline Dhavernas, and Meryl Streep’s daughter, Mamie Gummer, and many others—so you might want to give this show a couple of weeks to find its groove.

Harry’s Law, Jan. 17 on NBC—David E. Kelley’s latest legal series sounds like a hybrid of some of his past hits (quirky lawyers, ethical debates, mesmerizing closing arguments), but with Oscar-winner Kathy Bates in the lead role, it’s probably well worth watching.

Being Human, Jan. 17 on Syfy—A North American re-make of BBC America’s popular series of the same name. The thing I don’t understand is: when the original is so good (and airs in the U.S.), why tamper with success? I will be curious to see how this version varies from the original.

Fairly Legal, Jan. 20 on USA—The cable network’s latest character-driven dramedy centers on Sarah Shahi (Life) as a litigator-turned-mediator working at her late father’s firm.

Perfect Couples, Jan. 20 on NBC—A new sitcom from producers of 30 Rock and Friends follows the antics of three different couples. Like Outsourced, this show will probably benefit from its inclusion in NBC’s Thursday night comedy block.

The Chicago Code, Feb. 7 on Fox—Rockford’s own Shawn Ryan (the genius behind FX’s Emmy-winning The Shield) brings this new Chicago-based cop show to network TV. If there’s any new series Tube Talkers need to watch, this is the one.

Feel free to share your opinions of some of the new shows by commenting on this article at

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to

From the Jan. 12-18, 2011 issue

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