By Paula Hendrickson
January was a busy month for new and returning series, but there are plenty more in the pipeline.
About the only thing three of the shows returning in February have in common is that they’re all returning in February. Well, Smash and Community are both on NBC, but they are set in wildly different worlds.
Last year, Smash was expected to be a huge hit, but too many characters and haphazard subplots bogged down the otherwise entertaining series. Extraneous characters like Karen’s boyfriend Dev (Raza Jaffrey), Julia’s husband (Brian D’arcy James) and everyone’s least-favorite opportunist, Ellis (Jaime Cepero), are gone (some might return in guest shots), making room for additions like Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson playing a Broadway sensation named Ronnie Moore.
Having a new focus and Hudson is reason enough to give Smash a second chance when it returns Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. (Central) on NBC.
One of my favorite comedies, 30 Rock, ends its run this week, and the one thing that lessens that loss is knowing another favorite comedy, Community, will inherit 30 Rock’s timeslot — Thursdays at 7 p.m. (Central) on NBC — starting Feb. 7.
Like 30 Rock, Community is one of those shows you need to watch two or three times just to get all of the gags. The core cast — Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Allison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong and Chevy Chase — is amazing, the writing is often brilliant, yet the show constantly struggles for ratings. Airing against another strong comedy, The Big Bang Theory, doesn’t help in the ratings department, but critical acclaim and a loyal fan base persuaded NBC to bring it back for a limited season. If it can maintain or build on 30 Rock’s numbers, maybe Community will escape cancelation again. Just to be safe, watch it now while you have the chance.
TNT’s powerful police drama, Southland, starts its fifth season Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 9 p.m. (Central). Regina King has done stand-out work as Detective Adams, and just as Ben McKenzie’s character (Ben Sherman) has gone from rookie to seasoned officer, McKenzie has shed all vestiges of his breakout role as Ryan on The O.C. If you prefer your police dramas a bit edgier than broadcast network police procedurals, you need to switch to Southland.
New series coming up in February and March include the following:
• Monday Mornings, a medical drama based on a novel by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Monday, Feb. 4, 9 p.m. (Central) on TNT.
• Golden Boy, a drama about the youngest police commissioner in New York City’s history. Tuesday, Feb. 26, 9 p.m. (Central) on CBS.
• Zero Hour, the editor of a skeptic’s magazine is drawn into a mystery adventure and begins to unravel an ancient worldwide conspiracy. Thursday, Feb. 14, 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC.
• Red Widow, a dark drama dealing with organized crime, family and revenge. Sunday, March 3, 8 p.m. (Central) on ABC.
• Bates Motel, a prequel series to the classic Hitchcock film, Psycho. Monday, March 18, 9 p.m. (Central) on A&E.
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 email@example.com.
From the Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2013, issue