Tube Talk: More new and returning shows

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

The onslaught of new and returning shows continues. Let’s discuss the returning shows first.

FX’s hysterical animated spy spoof, Archer, starts its fourth season Thursday, Jan. 14. Perhaps my favorite part of the show is that even the characters don’t seem to know what year it’s supposed to be.

Archer and his cohorts at ISIS — an intelligence group run by his mother — constantly clash with the KGB, live and work in a mid-century modern environment, yet characters use cell phones, text one another and make contemporary references. Since spies tend to have cutting-edge technology, it’s easy enough to go along with the Cold War timeline.

Later this month, Jan. 28, the second season of Dallas returns on TNT. It’s bittersweet for fans still mourning the death of Larry Hagman. Hagman turned J.R. Ewing into a larger-than-life cultural icon in the ’70s, yet managed to remain a driving force in the show’s latest incarnation. Hagman shot several episodes of the second season before succumbing to complications from cancer in November, but the show will bid J.R. a final and fitting goodbye in an episode expected to air in March.

Two of the most talked-about new series debut nine days apart: The Following and The Americans.

The Following has a dark premise about a charismatic serial killer (James Purefoy) who manages to lead a cult of devoted (and equally insane) followers, and the former FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) obsessed with bringing him to justice. It premieres Monday, Jan. 21, on Fox. The big question is whether the Monday night audience will tune in. Historically speaking, viewers like to ease into their week, so the biggest hits on Mondays tend to be comedies and lighter fare. It might make it hard for the dark and twisted drama to take off. Then again, a huge section of the TV audience time-shifts their viewing these days.

The Americans begins Wednesday, Jan. 30, on FX. It stars Keri Russell (Felicity) and Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters) as KGB sleeper agents living in the United States during the Reagan era. On the surface, their family seems like the typical American family, but they aren’t. Has living as Americans for so long softened either partner’s resolve to follow KGB directives? It’s a fascinating premise.

The Taste isn’t another daytime talk show, it’s ABC’s new primetime reality competition show where a panel of culinary professionals — including Nigella Lawson and Anthony Bourdain — judge each contestant’s cooking with just one bite. The catch is, the contestants range from home cooks to professionals, and the judges won’t know who made the food they’re sampling. You might call it Top Chef meets The Voice.

These are just a few of the new and returning shows coming soon. Even more are slated for February. It’s nice that broadcast networks have finally realized mid-season is a great time for season premieres. It’s chilly across most of the country this time of year, and we’re ready for something new.

Programming notes

Archer returns Thursday, Jan. 17, at 9 p.m. on FX

The Following premieres Monday, Jan. 21, at 8 p.m. on Fox

The Taste premieres Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. on ABC

Dallas returns Monday, Jan. 28, at 8 p.m. on TNT

The Americans premieres Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 9 p.m., on FX

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. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to

From the Jan. 16-22, 2013, issue

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